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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Should I Allow My Children to Doodle in Church?

What’s your philosophy about church behavior? Have you ever thought about it? What do you allow your children to do? What should you not permit in church? May kids be allowed to use their phones to access the Bible? 

When I was a child, my family went to a formal church. When we entered the “sanctuary,” we were expected to be quiet and reverent. That meant no talking and no wiggling. The organ played, followed by the choir’s “call to worship,” and the service began. In those days, there was no junior church. When we were old enough to sit still, about six years old, we sat in church next to our parents.

I confess I am a doodler to this day. If I’m taking notes, I’m also drawing flowers, leaves, checkerboards, and stripes along the page. Yes, I’m listening, too, and I usually doodle whenever I’m listening—even when I'm on the phone.

What should we expect from our children in church? Is it okay if they draw or color? Is it okay if they have a digital Bible? 

Here's my thinking. It’s fine if you differ with me. In fact, I’d love to hear what works for you with your children. Please feel free to comment.
  1. I have no problem with children coloring and drawing, as long as they are quiet. Sometimes, coloring or doodling actually helps children to listen. As children get older, you can encourage them to take notes on the sermon, and the family can talk about the sermon on the way home. 
  2. I think that it’s a huge temptation for kids with cell phones to do anything but follow the sermon. I personally prefer that they look Bible references up in a real paper Bible and take notes manually as well. There’s something about actually reading the words and writing out notes that enforces what the child is hearing. I think that cell phones should be turned off and put away during church. (That goes for most adults, too!) It’s so easy for anyone to be distracted by social media or chat notices. Teens might be very tempted to text their friends and respond.
  3. I love it when the family sits together in church. You may think this is radical, but my opinion is that most junior churches—while teaching well and on a level children can understand—are unnecessary, unless the church building is too small to keep the children in with their parents. There is something about the whole family singing and worshiping together that makes a deep spiritual impression on young people. There’s nothing wrong with junior church, of course, but there’s also nothing wrong with the family sitting together in church.
  4. I think children learn proper church behavior when they are next to their parents in church from a young age. They can listen, and God can speak to their hearts. You’d be surprised how much even very young children can understand!

It seems that, in Bible times, children were encouraged to go and listen to Jesus, along with adults. Consider these examples:
  • And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children (Matthew 14:21).
  • And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children (Matthew 15:38).
  • But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).
  • There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? (John 6:9)

Let children doodle in church? Yes, or no? What do you think?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Genocide and the Reality About Down's Syndrome

I had my children in the 1980’s. Back then, there was a debate about whether or not to have ultrasounds. Some deemed the procedure too strong for the tiny baby, as the sound waves bounced off its little body. So, even though some of my friends had ultrasounds and knew whether they were expecting a boy or a girl, I opted not to. I had surprises with each birth.

Today, virtually every mother has ultrasounds at least once during pregnancy. A lot of people stage creative gender reveals, and most know ahead of birth if there’s any physical defect.

Sadly, most mothers who find out their child is going to have a defect are urged to abort.

Our own daughter was told it looked like something was wrong with her baby. She asked her midwives if this truly indicated a birth defect. They said that every time they had delivered a baby after the mother was advised about this particular problem, the baby was 100% fine! Can you imagine if mothers aborted absolutely healthy babies because they were advised the child had a problem? It happens all the time.

Please understand, I don’t believe in abortion for any reason. Why? Because abortion is actively, intentionally killing a human being. The sixth of the Ten Commandments says, Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13). You can’t get any plainer than that!

We get back to the “problem” of birth defects. The mother is told her child has—or probably has—one or more difficulties. She's encouraged to abort her child. When mothers find out that their child has Down’s syndrome, many abort their babies.

It is genocide!

Genocide—the deliberate killing of a large group of people

In Spain and the rest of Europe, 90% of unborn babies diagnosed with Trisomy 21 (Down's syndrome) are aborted. In Iceland, not one baby with Down’s syndrome has been born in the last five years.* All were killed. It’s estimated that in the U. S. A. 67% of unborn children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.**

There’s an excellent article by BBC News with video and photos that you can access here. It includes an interview with a mom who decided to have her son and the difference he made in their family. Here's another one, with ABC News, about a mom's rejoicing over her little boy. You can watch it here.

I decided to ask moms of children with Down’s syndrome to answer this question: How has your Down’s child changed your family? Here are their answers:
  • “Our son has brought us the meaning of unconditional love and acceptance to all. He’s opened our eyes to a whole other world of special needs. He has also taught us to show love in very open ways! But, he notices the smallest change in body language and knows when people are feeling a certain way—goes to them and comforts them. It has taught us to be more open with our praise and affection to others. He has taught us to slow down and enjoy life!”
  • “My son is such a miracle—a gift for me every day, straight from God's funny bone. He has brought love without boundaries, forgiveness without conditions . . . . I wake up to a teenager telling me, ‘Sweetheart, you're beautiful. I love you, I'll miss you.’ Who gets that in their life from a sixteen-year-old? The specialists mentioned Down’s syndrome when I was four months pregnant. I didn’t know then the tears would be tears of joy. ‘Fearfully and wonderfully made’ takes on a meaning of its own.”
  • “I enjoy the little things and the journey so much more. Things I took for granted with my other children are such great causes for celebration with my little guy. I see people in a new way. He teaches me that every day. He has an innate ability to read people's emotions that is amazing. For example, one Sunday a lady who had recently lost her husband had returned to church. As she was leaving, he called ‘wait’ and ran to her and gave her a big hug and kiss. He has never done that before. But at four years old, he knew she needed an extra hug. He has taught me to look beyond a diagnosis and see the amazing person behind it. He has definitely changed my life for the better in every way!”

A child with Down’s syndrome is a blessing! He’s a life changer. He’s sweet and caring and sensitive. He's extraordinary!

Let’s oppose abortion and encourage moms who find out their unborn babies might have a congenital defect to go ahead and have their little blessings. Let’s be supportive and encouraging.

An extra chromosome means extra love!

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: 
marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, 
and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; 
and in thy book all my members were written, 
which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! 
How great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:14-17)


Monday, March 20, 2017

Guest Post: Fighting for Joy

This young woman’s story will touch your heart. Erica is a beautiful single mother of four. She had to escape an abusive situation. Whoever you are, what Erica shares will challenge your heart.

"I hope this blesses you today, wherever you are in your life. Here's my story about my fight for joy:

Since my divorce, I came across Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, the New York Times bestseller. Reading this book was a turning point in my life in my fight for joy. She tells her story. I learned from her book to take my eyes off the mess of my life and to start counting things I could be thankful for—writing a few things down each day in a notebook with the goal to get to one thousand things and just keep going from there. I started this notebook and I'm almost at my one thousand after two years of writing. A miracle began in my heart as I began to see God in every part of my life by being thankful and grateful, even in the heartache and mess of my divorce. It was something I had to force myself to do (finding things to be thankful for) but then it came easier and easier. I began to find myself automatically thanking God for everything and seeing God in everything rather than focusing on the mess of my life. The result of this was pure JOY! I was amazed at the work that was being done in my heart by just being thankful.

Then I read these verses: 1 Thessalonians 5:18, In everything give thanks [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will] concerning you. I just sat there and said it over and over to myself this is God's Number One Will for me . . . to give thanks . . . give thanks . . . and then another verse, Psalm 100:4, Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 16:11,
 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. As I meditated on these verses I thought to myself, "Okay, it's God's will for me to give thanks in everything, and as I am giving thanks in all things I am entering into His presence, and in His presence is pure JOY!"

God showed me how to be thankful-grateful in the midst of deep pain and the messiness of life! My life has been forever changed. It has changed my heart not only into a joyful heart, but I found myself content. (I was very discontent with my life—very angry at times with my life.) 
Philippians 4:11, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am (Yes there are days when I find myself fighting to find things to be thankful for . . . and slipping back into discontentment and frustration . . . when I fall off the wagon, I just have to ask God to help me pick myself up and jump back on.), therewith to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted).
 When I look for it there is always something I can be thankful for, and then my joy and contentment returns. I thank God every day for this miracle He performed in my heart. It's the best place to be joyful and content even in the deep pain and mess of my divorce and seeing my children and what they are going through now—so much heartache! I never thought I'd come to this place of contentment and joy . . . or even thought it possible to have joy even in the midst of so much pain. It's like Paul and Silas when they sang praises to God in the prison. They had joy that came from entering into the presence of God through thanksgiving! It wasn't until three years after my divorce in the fight for joy that I came to this turning point in my life.

I am praying for all those fighting for joy.”

Lou Ann: Thank you, Erica, for sharing your testimony of how you fought for joy. I appreciate your letting me share it with my readers.

If you've been blessed by reading Erica’s story, please comment and let her know.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Three Singles and God

When Jesus walked this earth, he loved spending time with three adult singles who lived together. Now, we don’t know if any of them was widowed, but the brother and two sisters lived in Bethany. Each had a personal relationship with Him. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus (John 11:5).

Let’s look at them individually.

Lazarus was the man of the family. We don’t know much about him personally, but the Bible says that Jesus loved him. One of the few times that the Bible records Jesus weeping was after his death. (John 11:35) We also know that Lazarus followed Jesus before and after he was raised from the dead. Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him (John 12:2b). What did he do for a living? We’re not sure. Jesus’ purpose in raising Lazarus from the dead seems to be that people would believe in God. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me (John 11:41b-42).

Martha was probably the elder of the sisters. The Bible says the house they lived in was Martha’s. Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house (Luke 10:39). We usually find her directing people. She even told Jesus what to do on several occasions. Jesus scolded her, but at the same time, it’s evident he loved her. Martha was a hard-working, service-minded, hospitable, practical, and organized woman. Martha was cumbered about much serving (Luke 10:40b). On a later occasion: There they made him a supper; and Martha served (John 12:2a). She had great faith in Jesus, evidenced when she said, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (John 11:21b).

Mary is the sister who’s known for her worship. She’s always found at Jesus’ feet, listening, adoring, and worshiping. Jesus praised her, saying, But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42). Mary is a role model for every woman who wants to worship Jesus as He deserves.
  • And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his Word (Luke 10:39).
  • Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (John 11:32).
  • Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment (John 12:3).

What can we learn from these three single adults?
  • Like Lazarus, be Jesus’ faithful friend.
  • Like Martha, have faith and be hospitable.
  • Like Mary, worship. Sacrifice time and money to adore Him.

It’s fascinating that Jesus’ often stopped in at their home. Would Jesus feel at home in our house? Would He feel comfortable stopping by to visit?

Would we take advantage of the opportunity and sit at His feet to hear the Word of God from God Himself?

What would it be like to have such a transparent friendship with the Son of God?

Is it possible today? I believe it is. 

Here’s how we can have this same, intimate friendship with Jesus:
  1. Become acquainted. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20). Do you know Jesus?
  2. Invite Him to drop in and see you where you live. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20). Do you have a relationship with Jesus?
  3. Trust Jesus to do what only He can do. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world (John 11:21-27). Do you trust Jesus as the Son of God—Someone who’s all-wise and all-powerful?
  4. Worship Him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment (John 12:3). How do you worship Jesus?

Let’s be like Lazarus, Martha and Mary!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Do You Have Issues with Trusting God?

Do you have any issues with trusting God? Does it come hard to really, truly put your life in God’s hands? Is it a daily struggle? Do you succeed sometimes and find it difficult at other times?

I believe there are two very important reasons why we struggle:
  1. We may not have entrusted our lives to Jesus for salvation.
  2. We may want to keep control. Basically, we fear what might happen, if we completely trust God.
They’re legitimate. Let’s face it, if you don’t know the Lord, there’s no way you’ll trust Him. And, if you’re scared, you won’t trust.

Let’s take these one at a time and see what Scripture says. 
  1. Jesus loves us so much that He paid for our sins on the cross with His own blood. He said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Jesus also said, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already (John 3:16-18a). How can you be saved? For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). Have you believed? Have you called upon Him for salvation, trusting Him to wash your sins away? Have you asked Him?
  2. God really wants the best for us. Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He even knows what the best is. The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nehemiah 1:7).
I love these verses: Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct (make straight) thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I know you’ll enjoy reading these Bible verses about trust. They’re only a selection of the many in the book of Psalms:
  • The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower (18:2).
  • As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him (18:30).
  • O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee (25:20).
  • In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness (31:1).
  • Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! (31:19)
  • How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings (36:7).
  • Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (37:5).
  • And the LORD shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him (37:40).
  • Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust (40:4a)

Just like the psalmists, we can trust God for His leadership and protection. We don’t need to fear. Since God is God, He sees everything—and without time limitations. He sees past and future and present. He knows our needs and promises to meet them. He is all-powerful, too.

When you need to know how to trust, turn to the Psalms and read a few chapters. They'll challenge you to trust more fully and with a better understanding of our great Lord.