Friday, February 02, 2007

The Transforming Truth of the Holy Spirit

by Chip Ingram

Someone has said that we must study doctrine in the light in order
that it would sustain us in times of darkness. In a world where
"truth" is often only as real as one's "experience," this is excellent
advice! It is absolutely essential that we who claim to know Christ
choose to ground ourselves securely in the sound teaching of

This is especially true in regards to our understanding of the Holy
Spirit. Exciting spiritual manifestations are great, and
discouragement is difficult, but neither experience is a valid
indicator of truth. I spent much of my early Christian life
questioning my place in God's family, seeking dramatic demonstrations
of His power, and struggling with false humility and guilt, not
realizing that a healthy dose of biblical doctrine could alleviate the
insecurities that gripped my heart.

I'd like to share with you some of the truth that anchored my faith
and revolutionized my Christian walk.

Understanding that I am sealed in the Holy Spirit has brought
tremendous security. In my early struggles as a relatively new
Christian, I had a hard time believing that God really did love me,
that He would never remove Himself from my life. Then I did a word
study on the word "sealed" from Ephesians 1:13, "...having also
believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." I
began to understand that as an adopted child of God, I am secure. God
had placed his irrevocable seal on my life, and I belonged to Him
forever, regardless of my circumstances or emotions.

Understanding the difference between baptism and filling of the Holy
Spirit has given me a new identity. After a couple of years of
confusion, a very careful study of the Scriptures liberated me from my
search for multiple experiences of "baptism and filling." I came to
understand that the baptism of the Spirit is a one-time, historical
event that placed me in the body of Christ and gave me a new identity.
The filling of the Spirit, on the other hand, is an issue of
submission, commanded by God of every believer. As I give God full
rein in my life, His Spirit will control me. As He controls me, I will
see "fruit" in my life: a joyful heart, thankfulness in my spirit
regardless of circumstances, and a genuine desire to serve and love
others. This truth transformed me! "Doctrine," previously dry-as-toast
historical dogma, began to reveal to me the keys of an abiding, very
personal fellowship with God.

Understanding my spiritual gifts has given me power and freedom. It
amazes me how few Christians realize that they have been given
spiritual gifts, and the even fewer number that have discovered what
they are! My life was transformed as I began to realize that God had
equipped me to do a unique work in His Church. I was able to embrace
the God-given characteristics that made me "me."

Understanding the Holy Spirit's work of conviction has relieved me
from guilt. I have one of those sensitive consciences that are easily
plagued by guilt. There have been times when I've struggled with
feeling depressed, overwhelmed, or uneasy for non-specific reasons.
But a study of Scripture has taught me that the Holy Spirit convicts
of sin (John 16, 7ff), with a goal to restore. The enemy, on the other
hand, accuses and condemns. Now when I feel a vague impression of ill
will or guilt, a sense that God doesn't love me, my doctrine tells me
that those feelings are not from God, and I know to do spiritual
warfare. But if it comes to my mind that I was rude or insensitive to
a friend, or had a specific negative, critical or lustful thought,
that's the Holy Spirit convicting me. I can bring that to Him, confess
it, take it to the cross and find forgiveness. Right doctrine, once
again, revolutionizes our thinking.

Understanding the Holy Spirit's powerful presence in my life has given
me great confidence in adversity. Santa Cruz, California, where we
live, is a center for "spiritualism" of all sorts. At times, the sense
of darkness and confusion in our town can seem overwhelming. But the
truth of Scripture, specifically I John 4:4, assures me that the One
who indwells my life is greater than any other force in the world. I
am left with a tremendous sense of confidence, even in the face of
adversity and "spiritual attack."

About the author: Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in
Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national
radio ministry.

NEWS: Ted Haggard's accuser accuser visits church

AP, via the Rocky Mountain News, USA
Jan. 29, 2007

COLORADO SPRINGS - The former male prostitute
whose accusations against New Life Church founder Ted
Haggard led to Haggard's dismissal as pastor visited the
megachurch Sunday.

Mike Jones told 9News he felt he should visit the church
as part of his research for a book he is writing about his
life and his experiences with Haggard.

He told the TV station he was welcomed by the

"They were all congenial," he said. "None of them
expressed anger, and many expressed gratitude for what
they said was `exposing the deception.' "

Haggard resigned last year as president of the National
Association of Evangelicals after Jones alleged that
Haggard paid him for sex over a three-year period and
sometimes took methamphetamine during the encounters.

Haggard was fired as pastor of the 14,000-member New
Life Church after admitting in November to unspecified
"sexual immorality."

In an apology to the church, Haggard urged members to
forgive and thank Jones for exposing deceit.

Church members had invited Jones to the church several
times. He visited Sunday with members of a New
York-based theater troupe, The Civilians, who are
researching a project on evangelicals.

Associate Pastor Rob Brendle saw Jones in the foyer.
"I told Mike, `I don't want to impose my religious beliefs
on you, but I believe God used you to correct us, and I
appreciate that,' " Brendle said.

"The church's response to him was overwhelmingly
warm," he said. "One of the wonderful and enduring
truths of Christianity is to love people the world sets up to
be your enemies."

NEWS: Baptist Pastor Shot Dead in South Africa

Michael Ireland

FISH HOEK, SOUTH AFRICA -- A 65-year-old
prominent radio presenter and founding pastor of a local
church has been shot and killed in South Africa.
According to Salem Voice Ministries News Service,
Pastor Philip Zanikele Mokson, the founding pastor of
Masiphumelele Baptist Church in Pokele Road, Ocean
View was shot and killed while he was teaching a Bible
class at the Church on Monday evening, January 22.

Family members including his wife, children, and
grandchildren witnessed the event.

SVM News Service says Mokson was a peacemaker who
acted as a link between Western Cape Premier Ebrahim
Rasool and afflicted communities. He was also featured in
a column on page two of the April 16, 2005, print edition
of the Biblical Recorder.

The SVM News Service report says Mokson's attacker,
30 year old Mvusi Dondolo also shot and seriously
wounded a 32-year-old woman named Tamara Bemba, who
was known to have spurned his romantic advances,
despite the efforts of another pastor named Joseph to
protect her. Bemba is paralyzed down the left side of her
body. After others had left the church, the man reloaded,
turned the gun on himself, and took his own life, according
to John Thomas, pastor of Fish Hoek Baptist Church and
a close friend of Mokson who arrived at the scene soon
after the shootings.

Fish Hoek Baptist Church sponsors the work in
Masiphumelele, a teeming township of more than 20,000
residents. Residents are predominantly young and poor.

As many as 25 percent of them are HIV positive.
The man who shot Mokson had been baptized as a
member in late 2006, and the pastor had sought to counsel
him during a period of deep depression. The man, also
known as Vusi, had attempted suicide at least twice. On
one occasion Mokson had discovered him hanging inside
the shack where he lived and cut him down.

Others had also counseled Dondolo. Pastor Thomas said
Dondolo had apparently asked Bemba to marry him, but
she told him she was not interested. "Look, this could
have sparked the shooting. We don't know for sure,"
Thomas said.

"Pastor Philip Mokson was a peacemaker and a godly
community leader, a committed Christian, who gained the
respect of the community. Whenever there was a problem
in the community, residents would call him. For He stood
as the face of justice, and had a deep caring for his
community," Thomas told SVM News Service.

"He was a founding trustee of Radio CCFM and their
Xhosa presenter. In addition, he was a trustee of the
Living Hope Community Centre, a health-based NGO
(Non-Governmental Organization) in Masiphumelele, and
a member of the Cape Town division of the Baptist
Church's Seminary."

Pastor Thomas also said: "A relative of a Masiphumelele
resident had drowned in the Eastern Cape while Mokson
was on holiday in Uitenhage in December, and the pastor
had called the resident to offer his condolences. When the
family had traveled up to the Eastern Cape, he said, their
car rolled and they were injured. Mokson later fetched
them at an Eastern Cape hospital and drove them to their
relatives' home in the Eastern Cape. That's the type of
man he was," said Thomas.

Thomas explained that he had worked with Mokson for 18
years and had known him for 20. "Technically, I'm his
boss, but we were more than colleagues -- we were great
friends," he added.

"Pastor Philip's death came as a big shock (to myself) and
my department," Sifiso Mbuyisa, the Director in the Social
Dialogue and Human Rights department in the Premier's
office, said on Tuesday.

"He was a key leader in the Masiphumelele community
near Ocean View. I remember his great help in dealing
with the Somali crisis and the fires. And we worked
closely together whenever there was a crisis, " Sifisco
said, adding: "His death is a great loss to the community,
his church and to us."

SVM News says that following the shootings, thousands of
township residents surrounded the church building in
hushed silence, remaining into the early-morning hours in
quiet tribute to the respected and influential pastor, who
was considered a leading elder in the community.

Pastor Philip Mokson leaves his wife Minah (65), and his
daughters Nolifa (33), and Nomzana (35).

Mokson's funeral was held in his home town of Uitenhage.
A memorial service for Mokson was scheduled for Jan. 27
at the King of Kings Baptist Centre, a multi-pronged
ministry center sponsored by Fish Hoek Baptist Church.

© 2007 ASSIST News Service,

Time: A $5 Wallet

personal/ministry resource from Crosswalk

A $5 Wallet

By Glynnis Whitwer

John 15:1-2, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He
cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch
that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."


"Wouldn't it be weird if someone only had $5, then bought a $5 wallet?"

My 11-year-old son Robbie laughed at his own wit, as he related this
latest pearl of wisdom. After passing along that gem of insight, he
ran off to play. I considered his words, and the idea of someone
spending their last dime on something, only to be unable to use it

What started out as a humorous observation became a haunting question
for me over the next few weeks. I knew God had a message in it for me,
and one day I got it! I was that woman who bought a $5 wallet with her
last $5. Only it wasn't money spent on a wallet. It was my life!

A woman who spends all her money is living with no margin for
financial emergencies. She doesn't even have money for necessities.
However, my problem wasn't monetary. It was my schedule. I had
invested so much of my time in "good" activities that I had no margin
in my days or my life for any emergency, let alone all the things I
had to do. My overloaded schedule left me drained and empty, both
emotionally and relationally.

The year 2006 was a challenging one for me. My husband's consulting
business was growing, which left me assuming most of the household
responsibilities. Plus our two adopted daughters consumed so much of
my time. Add to that the needs of our other three children, the
blessings of my own work, volunteer roles, writing and speaking, and I
knew I was on overload. There was simply no margin in my life.
Christmas was the final straw when I barely got the tree up and then
left it sparsely decorated.

So I started praying and asking the Lord to reveal the things that
needed to be dropped. A few things were easy and obvious and those
went quickly. I had to ask for help in a few areas of my life, and am
learning to accept things done around the house in ways different from
mine. I'm still praying because there's more to be pruned. The last
options are big and I need to be sure of the Lord's direction before I
eliminate something based on my frustration rather than the Lord's

My son's innocent comment has become a profound guiding principle in
my life. I don't want to be the woman with a beautiful wallet that is
empty on the inside. I know Jesus came to give me an abundant life,
but that meant spiritually, not an over-flowing to-do list.

In 2007, I think I'll keep that "$5" and forgo the "wallet." I'd
rather have the margin (and the spiritual, emotional and relational
health that comes with it) than more great opportunities.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the wonderful blessings You have
given me. I thank You for my church, ministry opportunities, my job,
family and for health. Help me to align my priorities every day with
Yours, and to make decisions that bring honor and glory to You through
how I live my life. Please show me what I need to prune in order to
create more margin in my schedule. I want to give You all the glory
through my obedience. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

When You're Running on Empty by Cindi McMenamin

A Busy Woman's Guide to Prayer: Forget the Guilt and Find the Giftby
Cheri Fuller

P31 Woman Magazine

Application Steps:

Consider if your schedule is overcrowded. Ask God to reveal one
responsibility that can be delegated or released. Then act upon His


What does having margin in our schedules really mean?

Why would God want us to have more flexible time?

What relationships/commitments take the most time in your life? Are
these at the top of your priority list?

What is one thing you know God is asking you to do, but you haven't done yet?

Why haven't you done this?

Power Verses:

John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I
came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NAS)

Isaiah 26:3, "You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their
purpose firm and put their trust in you." (TEV)

Ephesians 5:17, "Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you
understand what the Master wants." (MSG)

25 Things About God

Posted by: "Donna Kay Lutz"
Sat Jan 27, 2007 5:44 pm (PST)

FWD: 25 Things About God

1. Give God what's right -- not what's left.

2. Man's way leads to a hopeless end! -- God's way leads to an endless hope.

3. A lot of kneeling will keep you in good standing.

4. He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.

5. In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma--but never let
him be the period.

6. Don't put a question mark where God puts a period.

7. Are you wrinkled with burden? Come to the church for a face-lift.

8. When praying, don't give God instructions - just report for duty.

9. Don't wait for six strong men to take you to church.

10. We don't change God's message -- His message changes us.

11. The church is prayer-conditioned.

12. When God ordains, He sustains.

13. WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.

14. Plan ahead -- It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.

15. Most people want to serve God, but only in an adv isory position.

16. Suffering from truth decay? Brush up on your Bible.

17. Exercise daily -- walk with the Lord.

18. Never give the devil a ride -- he will always want to drive.

19. Nothing else ruins the truth like stretching it.

20. Compassion is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back.

21. He who angers you controls you.

22. Worry is the darkroom in which negatives can develop.

23. Give Satan an inch & he'll be a ruler.

24. Be ye fishers of men -- you catch them & He'll clean them..

25. God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

Caring for a Difficult Person

personal/ministry resource

Caring for a Difficult Person
Some personalities require extra attention.
by Louis McBurney

1 John 4:7-8; Colossians 3:12-14

A passive-aggressive person appears friendly and is eager to get
involved in the church-until you entrust him or her with an important
task. Then, to your surprise and confusion, this person often drops
the ball. This type of personality submerges negative feelings and
resists open, healthy discussion of problems.

Instead, this hidden hostility takes the form of procrastination, lack
of cooperation, and behind-the-scenes manipulation of others. How does
a church leader handle such a frustrating personality?

Confront. Assertive confrontation lessens your vulnerability to
passive-aggressive people and reduces your frustration. Set up a
meeting, and prepare to be persistent when he is late or misses the
appointment altogether.

Identify the pattern. When you do get together, identify what you
perceive happens in your interactions with him, and then invite the
person to share his perception of those events. Be specific; give

Own your feelings. You might say, "Last spring I asked you to organize
some summer events you had expressed interest in. The events never
happened. When all was said and done, I was disappointed and angry."

Break out of the pattern. Make clear you prefer to avoid perpetuating
a pattern of relating that leaves you both guilty and frustrated. If
he wants to commit to a future ministry activity, ask him to arrange
an accountability system that will enhance the likelihood of his
success, such as a series of deadlines.

Make him responsible for his future choices. Invite him to express his
anger or fear more openly. Listen, but say, "I know for me it's more
comfortable when I'm direct with my feelings-well, like I'm doing now
with you. Otherwise I'd struggle with my anger and end up feeling
guilty or just avoiding our relationship. Think about what I've said
and let me know what you think."

Follow up your confrontation with some distinct boundary
identifications depending on the response (or more likely, the
non-response) you receive.

To Discuss

Think about some recent conflict in your extended family or work
place. Has that conflict centered on one person? Does that person
exhibit any of the passive-aggressive characteristics?

How comfortable are we with confrontation? Describe a recent example
in our church of a loving confrontation.

Where is the line between compassion for one who struggles emotionally
but causes disruption in the body of Christ and the need to make sure
the mission of the church doesn't get sidetracked?

From Building Church Leaders, published by Leadership Resources (c)
2000 Christianity Today Intl.

FAITH: How to stand when you don't understand

by James O. Davis
Global Pastors Network

It is true that we live life forward and learn life backward. When the
Lord teaches us something in the light, we must not doubt it in the
dark. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.
As ministers, we are called and challenged to fight the good fight of
faith. As we have just begun this new year, please know that there are
six lessons of God's love that will carry you through whatever you

First, we are governed by God's providence. The word "providence"
simply means to see ahead of time. God sees ahead of time for our
lives. He never learns anything new. The Holy Trinity never meets in
an emergency session and say, "This tragedy caught us by surprise. We
did not see it coming." Even though the tragedy does not make sense to
us, it always makes sense to God. God knows what is best for our
lives. What we may consider to be "bad" for us God may consider to be
"good" for us. We have come to realize that there some things in life
that we may want but do not need; and some things that we may need but
do not want. Only God knows what is truly best for us.

Second, we are growing by God's plan. We grow spiritually more in
sickness than in health; more in tragedy than tranquility. God's
primary goal in our lives is not to make us happy or healthy, but to
make us holy. It has been said, "We do not live our lives by
explanations, but by the promises of God." God's Word is still
faithful and reliable even though we may not understand what is going
on in our lives or why God has allowed a difficulty to come our way.
Faith is like film: It is better developed in the dark. Mother Teresa
once said shortly before her death: "You will never know that Jesus is
all you need until all you have is Jesus."

Third, we are graced by God's prayers. Even though we cannot see God,
He can always see us. He never takes His eyes off us. Did you know
that you are on the prayer list of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is
praying for each of us. Sheri and I do not fully have answers for the
deaths of our daughter and son. We have to daily commit our lives to
God's will and wisdom. We must always remember that where reason
cannot wade, faith must swim.

Fourth, we are gladdened by God's presence. Have you ever wondered why
God takes so long sometimes to answer your prayers? Have you ever
wondered if God was going to come through for you? For Christians,
waiting time is not wasted time. While we are waiting on the Lord, we
must not forget all the times He has answered our prayers.
Forgetfulness leads to fearfulness and fearfulness leads to
faithlessness. Fear will make you sick and will shorten your life.
Fear will take the blue out of your sky and the joy out of your heart.
If the icy fingers of fear have gripped your life, then ask the Lord
to melt them away by His Holy Spirit.

Fifth, we are guarded by God's person. When Jesus came walking on the
water, He announced, "It is I; be not afraid." Someone has said, "The
will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep
you." Whatever is over your head is still under the Lord's feet. Are
the waves of life crashing over you? Have you been panic-stricken,
filled with fear, wondering whether you will make it through your
terrifying storm? If so, please take heart; the waves that are over
your head are still under the Lord's feet.

Sixth, we are guided by God's purpose. What is God's purpose for our
lives? It takes us from one side to the other side. God's purpose was
fulfilled as He carried our children from this side of life to the
other side called heaven. Even though God has not promised us smooth
sailing, He did promise us a safe landing. God will make sure that we
make it through the storm and land safely on the other side. In the
near future, time, distance and gravity will simultaneously collapse
and we will be standing on the peaceful shores of heaven.

Please remember that the best is yet to come in the years ahead! Take
a moment today to pray for fellow servants worldwide who are facing
life's toughest moments, even death. Our Lord takes death out death
and the gloom out of the grave! Blessings!

Prepare Your Kids for Life on Their Own

personal/ministry resource

Prepare Your Kids for Life on Their Own
Whitney Hopler
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications
of Connie Neumann's book, Parenting in the Home Stretch: 12 Ways to
Prepare Your Kids for Life on Their Own, (Revell Books, 2007).

As your kids progress through the teenage years and start to think
about life after high school, you may start to panic. Soon they'll be
moving out, away from you. Have you taught them what they need to get
started in life on their own?

Teaching them some key attitudes and skills will help prepare them for
when they fly out of your nest. Here's what to focus on:

Teach them how to deal with authority. Give your kids a combination of
unconditional love for who they are as people and clear limits on
their behavior. Set appropriate consequences for misbehavior, and
follow through consistently on discipline. Motivate your kids to obey
not out of fear or duty, but out of love and respect for you and
others in authority. Train them to face tough situations with courage
rather than running away in anger. Say "yes" to your kids as much as
possible, but be strong enough to say "no" whenever necessary. Think
carefully about your values and decide which ones are critical to you.
Then choose your battles with your kids. Don't budge on issues that
are important in the long run, and let other issues (such as personal
preferences) go.

Keep your emotions under control when you discuss hot-button issues
with your kids; be as calm and rational as possible. Let your kids see
you in prayer, asking God for wisdom. Help them understand that, just
as they need to answer to you, you need to answer to God for how you
raise them.

Teach them how to handle money wisely. Give them a regular allowance
and require that they use it to pay for certain things. Explain that
they should strive to spend just 80 percent of every dollar they
receive, save 10 percent of it, and give away 10 percent. Encourage
them to give their time and possessions to others, as well. Open a
savings account for each of your kids and teach them to set short- and
long-term savings goals.

Talk with your kids about how much goods and services cost in real
life. Take them grocery shopping with you and show them how to compare
prices. Discuss the cost of expenses such as rent, car maintenance and
insurance, and utility bills. Decide on a clothing budget and let them
buy their own clothes (subject to your veto if any items aren't modest
enough). Help them analyze the value of items they're considering
buying. Once your kids have regular after-school jobs, open checking
accounts for them and teach them how to reconcile the account to their
monthly statements.

Explain how to use credit wisely and avoid debt that plagues far too
many young adults today. Let them know how much interest they'll pay
if they buy things before having the money to pay in the bank to pay
for them. Stress the importance of always paying off credit cards in
full every month. Teach them to be honest in all their financial
dealings. Show them how to make – and stick to – a budget. Explain the
basics of investing to them. Gradually, as they grow older, stop
paying for all their expenses and shift the financial responsibility
more and more to them.

Teach them personal responsibility and self-discipline. Give your kids
responsibilities around the house. Set deadlines for them to complete
those responsibilities, and set consequences in motion if those
deadlines aren't met. Model responsibility in your own life by letting
your kids see you honoring the commitments you've made to others. Help
your kids make sure that their commitments match their priorities.
Teach them how to say "no" graciously to requests that don't align
with their core values. If your kids are part of a team, encourage
them to be faithful by attending practice regularly and not dropping
out mid-season. Make a family calendar to organize your time.

Require your child to replace something that he or she broke or lost.
Have your kids get themselves out of bed every morning when their
alarm clocks go off. Have them pack their own school lunches. Don't
bail your kids out of crises when they fail to do their homework or
complete projects on time; let them experience the natural
consequences. Spend time regularly with your kids, teaching them to
make good decisions.

Teach them chores and life skills. Require your kids to perform
specific chores at home to teach them the value of hard work (which
will prepare them for professional jobs) and give them a sense of
belonging and accomplishment. Supervise your kids to make sure they do
the work well and on time. Inspect their work and insist that they do
the job over if it isn't done correctly.

Don't divide chores along traditional gender lines. Teach both boys
and girls how to do laundry, cook basic meals, wash dishes, clean
floors and bathrooms, pull weeds, mow grass, sew buttons on clothes,
and perform basic house and car maintenance (such as changing an air
filter or changing a flat tire).

Get a family pet if you don't already have one. Realize that, besides
providing great enjoyment, pets teach kids invaluable lessons about
responsibility. Have your kids learn how to take care of the family
pet (or pets) on their own. Clear clutter out of your house regularly
by giving away or throwing away items you no longer use.

Teach them your core values. Think and pray about what matters most to
you so you can clearly articulate your core values to your kids. Help
your children discern truth from lies. Explain the importance of moral
absolutes, and train them to think critically and respond wisely to
relativism in our culture. Teach them that there is a difference
between who a person is and what a person does. Encourage them to show
love and compassion to others. Model a life of honesty and integrity
for them. Don't lie, cheat, or steal. Treat others the way you want to
be treated. Don't cut corners with your work; give your best effort to
everything you do. Expect the same just behavior of your kids. Require
your children to apologize if they've hurt someone's feelings. Make
your kids stick to commitments they've already made even when better
offers come along. Urge them to respect other people's time by being

Teach them to use their gifts and talents. Help your kids discover
their God-given natural talents and spiritual gifts. Encourage them to
develop those abilities and put them to use through service. Become
involved in what interests your kids most – attend their games and
performances, read their writing, view their artwork, discuss their
ideas. Let your kids freely choose what activities they want to
participate in, rather than forcing your own preferences and agenda on
them. Limit time your kids spend watching TV or playing video games.
Provide plenty of unstructured time for them to be creative. Buy them
supplies they need for creative projects. Know each of your kids'
personality type and primary love language. Urge your kids to follow
their dreams. Regularly talk with your kids about what's on their
minds and help them work through issues that are important to them.

Teach them to grow spiritually. Actively live out your faith in front
of your kids and talk with them about what you believe and why it's
important to you. Participate in church regularly as a family. Read
and study the Bible together. Pray together. Urge your kids to think
and pray through issues of faith for themselves so they can be clear
about what they believe and why. Inspire them to connect with God
regularly through private devotional times. Encourage them to put
their talents and gifts to use through ministry.

Teach them about guys, girls, and hormones. Explain your family's
standards of appropriate dress, and model those standards by being
modest yourself. If you're married, let them see what a successful
marriage looks like in the way you talk to and treat your spouse.
Figure out what rules you want to set about dating, and be able to
clearly explain those rules – and the reasons behind them – to your
kids when they ask. Explain the vital importance of sexual purity
before marriage. Take a firm stand against pornography. Regularly
express affection for your kids so they feel secure and won't be
tempted to seek affection in unhealthy ways. Get to know their friends
well. Teach your kids how to treat people of the opposite sex with
respect. Give them strategies for dealing with peer pressure about sex
and getting themselves out of bad situations. Pray for their future

Teach them to take good care of their physical health. Prepare
nutritious meals for your family. Drink plenty of water and limit soda
and other unhealthy beverages at home. Have healthy snacks – not junk
food – available at home. Exercise regularly and urge your kids to do
the same. Set some times to exercise together. Make sure your kids
stick to a regular bedtime and get enough sleep. Have them take a
multivitamin daily. Urge them to avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and other
drugs. Encourage them to have a healthy body image (not necessarily
what's portrayed in the media). Teach your kids to read food labels.
Help them effectively manage stress in their lives. Explain how they
can tell if they need a doctor's care, and how to take medicine

Teach them what a loving home is like. Eat meals as a family together
regularly. Celebrate your kids' birthdays well. Establish and enjoy
family holiday traditions. Tell them stories of when they were
younger. Help them learn about their heritage by telling them stories
from your own childhood and what their grandparents' and other family
members' lives were like. Preserve memories of both small and large
events in your kids' lives through photos and video. Save some of your
kids' school papers, artwork, and other documents. Invite their
friends to join some special family events and activities in your
home. Talk with your kids about how trust and privileges work
together. If you're a single parent or in a blended family, seek God's
healing for your emotions and His wisdom for solutions to your
problems. Carve out plenty of time and effort to help your kids heal
as well.

Teach them good manners. Encourage your kids to treat other people in
ways they would like to be treated themselves. Train them to address
their elders respectfully. Urge them to speak up politely at school
when necessary. Explain how to properly speak to people in person, on
the phone, and by mail and e-mail. Enforce consequences for
mistreating other people. Don't gossip yourself, and reprimand your
kids if you overhear them gossiping.

Prepare yourself for when your kids leave. Make sure that you don't
depend too heavily on your kids for your own personal fulfillment.
Invest time and energy in your marriage to build (or maintain) a
healthy relationship once your kids have left home. Pursue a career
and and/or volunteer work about which you feel passionate. Remember
that your kids ultimately belong to God, who created them. Pray for
them daily, and trust God to continue to watch over them throughout
their entire lives.

Adapted from Parenting in the Home Stretch: 12 Ways to Prepare Your
Kids for Life on Their Own, copyright 2005 by Connie Neumann.
Published by Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group,
Grand Rapids, Mich.,
Connie Neumann writes a parenting column for a regional publication
called Family Times and has written dozens of articles in parenting
magazines. She has also worked as an editor, staff writer, copyeditor,
consultant, and proofreader. The mother of two teenagers, Connie lives
with her family in Summerfield, Fl.

Your Attitude . . . Your Choice

personal/ministry resource

Your Attitude . . . Your Choice
Written by JB & Shugie Collingsworth

Your attitude is your own. No one else controls it. You make choices
every day that determine your attitude. Your attitude makes an
impact on your marriage, your relationships, your work, your whole
life. If you knew what to do to establish and maintain a good
attitude toward life and especially toward your marriage, would you
do it?

God's Word has clear instructions and guidelines for us. While we
may say we believe God's Word is true, it is another thing to apply
specific instructions for life found in God's Word to our own
situation. Let's look at verses that refer to our attitude or
outlook on life.

Attitude of Humility
"Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one
another in showing honor." (Romans 12:10, HCSB)

"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider
others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out
not [only] for his own interests, but also for the interests of
others." (Philippians 2:3-4, HCSB)

When we join our life with another, the future should not be one of
competition but of cooperation and oneness. Becoming one does not
happen by accident, but it can become reality when two people commit
to love, cherish, honor, and prefer one another. Selfishness has no
place in marriage. You must come to realize that who you can become
together is much better than who you are individually. Commit to
offer your best to your marriage and to bring out the best in your
mate and you will reap great rewards.

Attitude of Love
"Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God,
and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God" (1 John
4:7, HCSB).

"No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his
life for his friends" (John 15:13, HCSB).

"This is what I command you: that you love one another" (John 15:17,

Ask God each day to fill your heart with His love. You will be
amazed at your response to others when you are filled with His love.

Attitude of Kindness
"A gentle answer turns away anger" (Proverbs 15:1, HCSB).

"And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one
another, just as God also forgave you in Christ" (Ephesians 4:32,

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the taste and health to
the body" (Proverbs 16:24, HCSB).

When you face everyday demands and challenges, it is easy to fail to
be kind, especially to your spouse. However, when you choose an
attitude of kindness and commit to obey God's instructions, you will
bring peace to your household and God will bless you.

Attitude of Goodness
"Do everything without grumbling and arguing" (Philippians 2:14,

"Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who
promote peace have joy" (Proverbs 12:20, HCSB).

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control … If we live by
the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25,

"So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the
proper time if we don't give up" (Galatians 6:9, HCSB).

Choose goodness – do the right thing, even when you don't feel like
it. Give grace to your spouse. Remember, "while we were still
sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8, HCSB).

Attitude of Joy
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice"
Philippians 4:4, HCSB).

"Now I am coming to You, and I speak these things in the world so
that they may have My joy completed in them" (John 17:13, HCSB).

Joy is not dependent on your circumstances but on your relationship
with God. You can choose an attitude of joy. When you do you are
giving a blessing to your family and to all those around you. When
you choose joy over discontent and a bad attitude you are displaying
the life of Christ and his characteristics which are available to
every believer.

In Summary
Get up each day and choose an attitude that will benefit yourself
and also bless those closest to you. You will not regret it!

JB & Shugie Collingsworth travel around the country, coaching
churches and couples on how to build strong marriages. Their
ministry is based in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Two guardrails to keep a couple on the road to intimacy

marraige resource from RW Ministry Toolbox
includes practical pointers...

Two guardrails to keep a couple on the road to intimacy
by Selma and Rodney Wilson

In January of 1993, I knew Mom was dying of breast cancer, but Dad
refused to accept it. I'm a Daddy's girl, and to see him gripped by
denial was heart wrenching. He was trying so hard to be the provider
and protector that he had always been. But he could not protect Mom
from death.

I'll never forget the night Dad finally broke. He came in from working
the fields of his farm, sat down in "his" chair, and wept. I knelt
beside him, held his hand, and cried too. Then Dad said something I'll
always remember: "I have gone through everything with your Mom, but
she's going someplace I can't go yet, and I want to go with her."

That's the example of emotional intimacy I witnessed in my parents'
marriage. I really think Mom wouldn't let go until she knew Dad was
ready to let her go. Two short weeks later, after 46 years of
marriage, she left his arms, dying peacefully in her sleep. We took
great comfort in knowing that the second she left my Dad's warm and
protective embrace, Jesus wrapped his arms around her.

The necessity of emotional intimacy
That year was one of the most difficult journeys of my life, but along
the way God gave me many gifts -- one was Rodney. We had been married
16 years, and our commitment had never been more tested. During the
year prior to Mom's death, I gave my all emotionally, physically, and
spiritually to my parents. I traveled often from our home in Nashville
to their farm in East Tennessee. It broke my heart every time I would
leave Rodney and my two beautiful girls, ages 9 and 7, standing on our
front porch, waving goodbye to me.

Rodney was my anchor during that difficult time. You see, in giving so
much to Mom and Dad, I had little left to give him. I would return
home empty, exhausted, totally depleted. But rather than demanding I
give to him, Rodney gave to me. He would lovingly wrap his arms around
me -- emotionally, physically, and spiritually renewing my strength.
When I was too exhausted to pray, the Holy Spirit and my partner on
the journey of life would intercede for me. Rodney stood in the gap
and gave me the freedom to feel and express every emotion churning
inside me: anger, fear, guilt, and exhaustion. Never once did he say,
"You shouldn't feel that way." Instead, he listened, and he allowed me
the solace of silence.

Rodney has seen me open and vulnerable. He has witnessed both my good
days and my bad -- and he has loved me unconditionally through all of
them. Although that year was one of the most painful of my entire
life, it built our marriage more than any other. You see, just as
Genesis 2:25 describes, I stood before Rodney emotionally naked -- and
I felt no shame.

Not long ago I shared with Rodney my fear of getting breast cancer.
And just like my faithful Dad, Rodney gave me assurance that he would
be there with me every step of the way, whatever happened. It was a
sobering conversation for both of us. Yet there was depth. There was
closeness. There was reality. There was emotional connection. We
didn't wear masks. We didn't pretend. And that took our marriage to a
new level of intimacy.

Wired by the Creator
To be connected emotionally is to take the risk of removing your masks
and allowing your partner for life to see the real you. No concealing.
No competition.

Quite the contrary: You share your lives as partners -- teammates
cooperating, encouraging, and helping each other along this journey.
You offer each other the treasures of peace, comfort, and freedom to
be yourself.

Don't you long for that? Don't you yearn to be connected to your
spouse, for him or her to know you deeply -- the real you -- in every
area of your life? God wired you to have that yearning. And he wove
into your very DNA creativity, wisdom, love -- and an incredible range
of emotions to enable you and your mate to intimately experience life

In The Christ of Easter (Broadman & Holman, 2004), Calvin Miller says,
"Emotion is not the evidence that a religion is true, but emotion is
always the by-product of true religion. Why? Everything which impacts
our lives at the deepest level of our souls cannot help but elicit our
deepest, most profound feelings." God feels the deepest of emotions
and wants you to feel them, too. God wants a deeply spiritual
relationship with you. But he also wants to be intimate with you
emotionally. Such intimacy with God requires being real, making
yourself vulnerable.

God also wants you to be real with your mate. He created marriage as a
safe haven for a man and woman to be vulnerable. However, God can't do
much if you wear masks and play the game of surface relationships. But
oh, the extraordinary things he can do when he has your hearts -- your
real, unmasked hearts!

Emotional intimacy fuses you and your mate together. You know your
mate like no one else does. There's a certain extraordinary mystique
about that. You are in an exclusive two-member club -- just as God
planned from the beginning.

Safeguarding your emotional connection
Giving yourselves to each other emotionally is not just a good idea,
it's your responsibility. God wired you for emotional bonding, and the
need is powerful. When deprived of this type of intimacy, the enemy
can tempt you (see 1 Peter 5:8). He may try sending someone into your
path who gives you the emotional attention that you crave from your
mate. Then, in your mind, "the other man" or "the other woman" can
quickly become everything you feel your mate is not. That's a
dangerous scenario.

Emotional bonding with someone else can easily slip into a physical
relationship. Numerous couples have sat before me (Rodney) seeking
help from an affair begun by a lack of emotional connection within the
marriage. That's why it's vital to erect emotional guardrails around
your marriage. What's in our hearts and minds will make a difference
in our marriage relationship.

Let's look at two critical guardrails to put in your marriage.

1. Guard your heart.
You should only think of one man or woman as your emotional home, and
that person is your mate. Connect fully with the wisdom, power, and
protection provided in Philippians 4:7 (NIV): "And the peace of God,
which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus." This protection and peace comes when you let your
love for your spouse flow out of your love for God. By seeking after
him, the byproduct of peace will come. And it is that by-product of
peace that will guard your heart, keeping it focused only on your

2. Don't share deeply with someone of the opposite sex.
Guard your emotions and share them only with God, your spouse, a
Christian counselor, or a close friend of the same sex. Emotions are
the subtlest of attractions. Physical attractiveness is easy to spot
-- and thus guard against. But a warm, caring, sensitive personality
can draw you in so subtly, so smoothly, and so quickly that if
guardrails are not securely in place, you'll find yourself much closer
to the cliff of emotional bonding than it's safe or wise to be.

If you're thinking, "That would never happen to me! I would never have
an affair!" think again. Never overestimate yourself, and never
underestimate the enemy.

There's a reason the department of transportation erects guardrails at
dangerous curves in the road: Without them, people would accidentally,
but quickly, tumble over the edge. It's not any different with our
emotions. Boundaries must be established when relating to the opposite
sex, or you can easily and quickly find yourself going over the edge

For you to enjoy abundant emotional intimacy with your spouse, these
guardrails must be in place at all times. We are to be alert
constantly. With God's boundaries in place you are free to enjoy a
level of emotional intimacy that results in an extraordinary marriage!


How to move past surface talk
By Rodney Wilson

All of us have room for improving our emotional intimacy with our
mates. To move in the right emotional direction, let's talk about
talking. Years ago, David and Vera Mace, a Quaker couple known as the
founders of the marriage enrichment movement in the United States,
taught us four levels of communication between mates:

1. Stern Talk. That's sarcastic, manipulative talk. The style with the
stinger in its tail!

2. Surface Talk. That's small talk: "Have you paid the electric bill
this month?"

3. Search Talk. That's the dreaming stage when you share what your
goals and ambitions are.

4. Straight Talk. That's the deepest level of conversation. At this
level, whether the emotions are positive or negative, you and your
mate feel freedom and safety to share them.

Selma and I like to draw a line between levels of Surface Talk and
Search Talk. That line represents the difference between a couple's
merely sharing a house and sharing a life together. To get beyond
routine small talk, you need to take a major step.

It's much like walking up to a lake and sticking your toe in the
water. What you sense when you do that determines whether you'll go
farther into the water. If the water is warm, if it's "receptive," it
makes you want to go deeper. On the other hand, if it's cold, you'll
pull your toe out quickly and stay right where you are.

When your mate shares even a little that's below the emotional
surface, your response can determine where the conversation will go.
If you're supportive, you're inviting him to go deeper and share more
with you. If, however, you are critical or make fun of his dream or
feeling, you're telling your mate that the water is cold; don't go any

Be aware of the influence you have when your mate wants to share
emotionally with you. Encourage your mate to go deeper by asking him
to elaborate on the dream or feeling.

Selma and Rodney Wilson are co-editors-in-chief of HomeLife magazine.
From Extraordinary Marriage: God's Plan For Your Journey (LifeWay
Church Resources, 2004), by Rodney and Selma Wilson. (c)Copyright 2004
LifeWay Press.

Ways You Can Make Your Marriage Better

Written by JB & Shugie Collingsworth

Recently one of our children was moaning about a poor test grade. With
a desperate look and a plea for sympathy, he suggested, "I don't think
I have ever been taught how to study. I really just don't know what to

It sounded like an excuse, but I decided to start where he was and
told him we would help him learn how to study. I asked, "Did you read
the material more than once?" "No," he replied. I continued, "Did your
teacher give a study guide?" "Well, she gave us terms to define but it
was not required, so I did not do them."

"Okay," I replied, "Let's start with the obvious and figure out what
studying is. It really is not rocket science. Read the chapter at
least twice, with a highlighter in hand, marking each term as you come
to it. Then type up the terms and

define each so you can use this sheet to review in preparation for the
next test. Ask if the teacher offers tutoring or group study time and
plan to attend."

This child's schedule began to change gradually and he actually put
into practice some of these simple, basic suggestions. Guess what?
Next test he made a much better grade and he was so proud of himself!

Why am I telling you this story? In marriage we sometimes complain and
blame our unhappiness on our spouse.

Usually that is time to go back to basics and put into practice some
of the simple clear instructions God has given us in the Bible. Here
are some suggestions for you to put into practice today.

1. Be nice to your spouse! It is amazing how relationships improve
when we decide to be nice and kind and thoughtful. Not only will your
presence and your deeds of
service pour out a blessing on your spouse, you will find yourself
much happier for having been nice.

2. Watch your tongue. We choose our words and they have the power to
build up or tear down. Can you determine to choose words wisely, at
least for a day? God's word instructs, "Let no unwholesome word
proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for
edification . . . , that it may give grace to those who hear,"
Ephesians 4:29.

That instruction is for you and me!

3. Turn away from temptation and evil. God knows we will have
opportunity to behave badly, but He has given instructions for our
good and for the success of our
marriage and family. Obey God when He says, "... deny ungodliness and
worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the
present age," Titus 2:12. In

Ephesians 5:4 we find, "Do not let immorality or any impurity or greed
be named among you, and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or
coarse jesting, which are not fitting..."

4. Read a Proverb a day. Whatever the day of the month is, read that
Proverb. And commit to obey what God says through the passage each
day. We should know by now that God is much more trustworthy than we
are. We do ourselves a favor when we follow His instructions rather
than our selfish whims.

5. Never forget you are not on your own! You will find joy and
contentment when you lean on God and allow Him to accomplish His will
in your marriage, both in the good times and in the unavoidable bad
times. So, allow Him to rule in your life and anticipate His
supernatural intervention.

"Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might," Ephesians 6:10.
"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me," Galatians 2:20.
"Put on the Lord Jesus Christ," Romans 13:14.
"I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may
dwell in me...for when I am weak, then I am strong," 2 Corinthians

These are just a few of the basics, but we trust you will see a change
for better in your marriage when you put these suggestions into
practice! May God bless you and your marriage.

JB & Shugie Collingsworth travel around the country, coaching churches
and couples on how to build strong marriages. Their ministry is based
in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Escaping Negativity

ministry resource Written by Les and Leslie Parrott

This article is courtesy of HomeLife.

Do you tend to have a negative outlook on things? Whether it's your to-do list, your job, or even making nit-picky complaints about your spouse, we're probably all guilty of negative thinking from time to time.

The good news is that no one is born with a bad attitude; it's developed over time. With a little effort, we can move past negativity and begin to turn our attitudes — and our relationship with our spouse — around. Here are four ways to nip the negativity in the bud:

• Look for the positive. This simple step can be revolutionary for some couples. It involves trying on a new mindset, one that looks for good things in your partner and positive solutions for your predicaments. Look beyond the negative traits of your spouse and see the good.

• Refuse to be a victim. Whatever your situation, no matter how tough, you will gain nothing by being a victim. Self-pity will likely drain the energy from you and your relationship. Don't allow it to sabotage your attitude and your marriage.

• Give up grudges. Nothing keeps good attitudes from emerging more than a good grudge. Bitterness and resentment are the poisons of positive thinking. So in your desire to build a better attitude, it's essential to give up your grudges, no matter how well justified they seem.

• Give yourself and your marriage some grace. Negative attitudes can be habit-forming, and it can be hard to break out of that pattern. Give yourself and your partner grace along the way. Remember each new day presents another opportunity to start fresh. And each day that you make this effort to improve your attitude brings you closer to the marriage you desire.

Adapted from I Love you More by Les and Leslie Parrott (Zondervan).

Measuring the Worth of a Year

ministry resource from Crosswalk

Measuring the Worth of a Year
Henry Blackaby
Baptist Press

Life is very short, at best. It passes quickly, and it is uncertain at all times. "It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" ( James 4:14). David understood this all too well and pleaded unto the Lord:

Lord, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am.

Indeed, You have made my days as handbreaths,
And my age is as nothing before You. ( Psalm 39:4-5)

Like the years before, 2006 passed very quickly. Did you make time to take a careful and thorough inventory of not only the events of the year, but how you lived your life through those events? If not, take the time to meditate on each of the following questions:

Did I gain a heart of wisdom as I passed through the year 2006?
Am I a better person?
Am I a wiser person?
What consequences have resulted in my life, and the lives of others, from the decisions I made?
Did I learn through tragedy?
Did I invest in the lives of others?
Was I a good steward of what came to me in 2006?
What happened in my family in 2006?
Have I gained a maturity toward Christlikeness?
Did I gain a greater knowledge of God through the Scriptures?
Did my prayer life grow deeper with God?
Did I clearly help my church?
Did I become more effective as a Christian in my workplace?
Am I walking more confidently in God's will for my life?
Have I positioned myself to even greater heights in 2007?
If you answered "No" or "I'm not sure" to any of these questions then you need to ask yourself, "Why?" Why did 2006 not measure up to God's desired will for my life? Why did I not seek God with all my heart? Why did I not grow as a Christian? Was I self-centered instead of God-centered?

Do you need to remove sinful habits from your life? If so, ask God to remove those. Or perhaps you have broken relationships. Ask Him to forgive your transgressions against others and to remove any sin that is causing you and those around you harm. Or, if necessary, ask Him to place within you a heart of forgiveness towards those who have sinned against you. Do not let your heart be filled with anger. Regardless of the circumstances, you must go and mend any broken relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. These relationships need to be redemptively resolved in order to honor God in the year ahead.

In 2007, be inspired to be God's best! Be determined that all of the questions posed here will be answered this time next year with an emphatic and resounding "Yes!" Allow God to move you from where you are now to where He wants you to be. Make the right choices for your life and grow closer to Him. Ask God to fill your life, and the lives of those you touch, with joy and gladness. And finally, surrender your life fully to Him so that He can create in you "a clean heart" and a greater spiritual maturity with each passing day.


For more information about Henry Blackaby's ministry and travel schedule, visit his website at, call (770) 603-2900, or contact Blackaby Ministries International, P.O. Box 16338, Atlanta, Ga.

A Building Block for Parenting: Setting Boundaries

by: Ryan Rush
Home on Time Ministries

Kids need boundaries. That probably doesn't surprise you, but this might: Kids want boundaries! That's right. Providing parameters for our children gives them a sense of comfort and security that nothing else can. Boundaries are the clear lines of behavior we draw within the home that children know they are not to cross. In this sense, the parenting process is as much an organizational task as anything else in life. Organizing the boundaries we will place in our homes is an essential building block to raising successful kids.

I talk with parents all the time who are frustrated with the level of cooperation they get from their kids, even in things as common as doing chores or disrespectful attitudes. My first question is this: "What boundaries have you set for acceptable behavior?" In other words, I want to know whether the child has been given a standard to follow, or if they constantly have to guess what the acceptable behavior should be

The Danger of Moving Boundaries. One mistake that parents often make is allowing inconsistent boundaries. If a football player never knew where the boundaries were, he would get frustrated when one time he's called for being out of bounds and another time he's allowed to run completely off the field. There would be no way to measure success. In the same way, all parents are guilty at times of similar inconsistencies. Sometimes we allow for almost complete freedom, and then other times we hold high expectations for behavior. This creates a real challenge for kids, because they can never be sure exactly which standard he or she must adhere to for the moment. An example of this is parent's expectations during mealtimes. When we allow kids to grab bites as they run around the dinner table at home, why should we be surprised when they don't want to sit in a high chair at a restaurant?

The Freedom Boundaries Bring! There is a common misconception that setting forth clear boundaries for kids is too strict or stringent. I would adamantly disagree. When kids are given a clear outline of behavior that's acceptable and behavior that is not, it gives them the freedom to move within those boundaries without constantly guessing what behavior will bring disciplinary action. Children who are disciplined live with security and freedom that undisciplined kids will never enjoy.

With these foundational principles in mind, here are three steps that every parent can take to help kids understand the boundaries in your home:

1. Establish clear standards of behavior. All too often, parents simply tell kids to "be a good boy" without clearly defining what that would mean in a given situation. Set up some clear parameters that show how behavior would dictate this order. Using the restaurant example again, acceptable behavior for a young child might mean sitting still at the table during the meal, not playing with the food, and talking in a quiet voice. These are all very clear, attainable goals.

2. Use "What-if" scenarios to apply to future situations. You don't have to wait for tough situation to deal with difficult scenarios. In fact, it is far easier to address them beforehand. With the earlier example, going over some questions with children before eating in the restaurant could certainly help. At this point, the parent can even make it fun! "When we get to the restaurant, would it be okay if Daddy gets up and runs around the table screaming? What would happen if he did that?" These steps work for kids of any age, by the way. For older kids, the "what-if" questions just change: "If you are riding in a car with some friends, and the driver stops at a convenience store and buys beer for everyone, how will you handle the situation?"

3. Move from "Moses" to "Micah." The Israelites had all sorts of laws during the time of Moses. God had laid out a very detailed plan for His people to follow, because that was the first way they could know exactly what they were to do. At times, though, the law must have been overwhelming to God's followers. Later in the Old Testament, Micah sums up God's laws for the people in one simple sentence: "And what does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8, NKJV)

This transition not only profoundly simplified God's law, but also made an important adjustment in the lives of the Israelites. The command moved from the law to the lesson behind that law. The new command was principle-based rather than action-based. This allowed it to cover every area of life. This is also an important transition for parents to make. In early childhood, the most important thing kids need is a list of "do's" and "don't do's." As they begin to grow, they need to embrace the principles behind those rules, so that they can apply them to every area of life. This is important for two reasons. First, as life gets more complicated, it will become impossible to anticipate every situation and make up a rule for your kid that applies. Secondly, the principle-based behavior cultivates initiative your child will need as he moves into adulthood.

Boundaries are an essential building block of parenthood. Without them, kids can never be sure when they are "out-of-bounds." On the other hand, when children are given a clear understanding of what is acceptable, they really have the freedom to shine! Choose to give your kids the freedom they deserve - within a clear-cut set of boundaries.

Ryan Rush is the founder of Home On Time Ministries and author of Home On Time: Life Management by the Book. This 192-page paperback, published by 21st Century Press, reveals four secrets of time management that are found in the Ninetieth Psalm. Insights and tips on how to take control of life at home and every other area make this an essential tool for any active family. The book also features a special bonus section called "The First Forty Days" to help you begin your new family habits and goals.

Hear the Silent Message in Unanswered Prayer

by Whitney Hopler
The following is a report on the practical applications
of Pete Greig's new book, God On Mute: Engaging the Silence of
Unanswered Prayer, (Regal Books, 2007).

You've prayed repeatedly for God to intervene in a situation close to
your heart – but all your requests have been met with silence. You've
prayed with great passion and faith – yet still, God doesn't answer.
Do unanswered prayers mean that God doesn't care, or worse, that He's
not even there? When you're heartbroken over His silence, it can seem
that way.

But God has a message to send you through the silence. Here's how you
can hear Him, even when He doesn't answer your prayers:

* Be honest.
Admit your disappointment, frustration, confusion, doubt, sorrow,
anger, and any other feelings you have about the fact that you haven't
yet received answers to your prayers. Don't be afraid to express
yourself completely to God, without shame or pretense. Pray about
every concern you have. Ask God hard questions.

* Trust in God's love.
Know that nothing – not bankruptcy, divorce, illness, death, or
anything else – can ever separate you from God's love. Regularly
remind yourself of specific ways God has already shown you that He
loves you, such as through answered prayer in the past and His
promises in Scripture. Recognize the blessings you currently have that
you haven't noticed before, and thank God for them. Remember that God
often expresses His love through the kindness of faithful people.
Choose to take God at His word and believe that He cares about you, no
matter what.

* Seek God Himself instead of just His miracles.
Understand that, although God sometimes does choose to perform
miracles for certain purposes, He often decides not to do so. Believe
in the truth that a miracle is always possible, but remember that
miracles are rare by definition. Check your motives to make sure
you're not just vying for a miracle, but instead are seeking to grow
closer to God. Don't expect God to be like a divine vending machine
who dispenses miracles on demand. Love God Himself more than what He
can give you.

* Realize that silence doesn't mean absence.
Know that God is still present with you, despite His silence. Remember
His promise never to leave or forsake you. Understand that God
sometimes decides to withdraw from your conscious experience and
deliberately make Himself less obvious and less immediately available
in order to reduce your dependence on outward things and help you live
by faith instead of sight. Ask God to reassure you of His presence as
you struggle with unanswered prayers.

* Be willing to accept "no" as an answer.
Consider carefully whether God has truly not answered your prayer, or
whether He has answered it, but chosen to deny your request. Ask God
to give you the strength to accept His will, even if it's contrary to
your wishes. Realize that your power to choose God's will over your
own preference is a significant opportunity to grow in faith and
maturity. Remember that God's wisdom is often beyond human
understanding, but He is always working out the best for you from His
eternal perspective. Ask God to help you learn the valuable lessons He
wants to teach you through your suffering, so that suffering will
ultimately lead you to greater joy.

* Ask yourself if your prayers are trivial.
Acknowledge that some prayers are inconsequential or just plain
stupid, such as praying for God to miraculously fill your car's gas
tank when it's nearing empty and you haven't yet found a gas station.
If that's the case, choose to pray in another way or do something
practical yourself.

* Ask yourself if your prayers are conflicting with someone else's
prayers. Remember that God considers prayers from all the more than
six billion people on our planet. Realize that He may say "no" to your
request so He can say "yes" to someone else. Know that God won't act
if your prayers contradict something He wants to accomplish in another
person's life.

* Ask yourself if your prayers would impact the laws of nature in a
destructive way if they were answered.
Understand that some prayers aren't answered because they would be
detrimental to the world and other people's lives in some way.
Remember that, although your prayer may seem reasonable to you, God
may be protecting people's lives by refusing to answer it.

* Ask yourself if you're expecting God to spare you from the normal
consequences of living in a fallen world.
Acknowledge that, in our fallen world, suffering is common for every
human being. Expect to have trouble in this world, as Jesus predicted
we all would. Discuss your situation with some faithful friends and
honestly consider whether God is asking you to pray against your
suffering, or whether He simply wants to give you the grace to endure
it with Him alongside you.

* Ask yourself if your understanding and expectations of God are wrong.
Seriously consider whether you're asking the wrong thing of God based
on an unbiblical set of expectations. Make sure your prayer life
reflects God's character and His promises in the Bible. Talk with
someone you trust about whether or not he or she thinks your request
is sensible.

* Ask yourself if you're praying for the second best when God wants to
give you something better.
As you keep praying for the good outcome you hope for, remain open the
possibility that, at the right time, God will give you something even
better, something beyond what you hope for now.

Recall the ways God has given you the best in the past and know that
He may be delaying His answer to your current prayer until it's time
to give you the best again.

* Ask yourself if your motives are selfish.
Don't covet anything, seek something that's inherently sinful, or
insist on something and try to manipulate God to get it. Feel free to
express your desires openly to God, but always with the overriding
desire to fulfill His purposes for your life. Ask God to help you
approach Him with pure motives, genuinely wanting what He wants for

* Ask yourself if your unanswered prayers are leading you into a
deeper relationship with God.
Understand that God will sometimes not answer your prayers because He
is the ultimate Answer and He wants to draw you closer to Himself.
Decide to pursue God Himself rather than what He can give you. Know
that when you make your relationship with God your top priority,
everything else will fall into place.

* Ask yourself if you're asking God to override someone's free will
and force your desires on that person.
Rather than expecting God to mechanically control someone (which isn't
a loving thing to do), expect Him to just influence that person while
still respecting his or her free will. Pray into the situation
creatively and one step at a time.

* Ask yourself if Satan is opposing your prayers.
Know that Satan will sometimes try to block your prayers from being
answered by contesting them. Ask God to help you persevere in prayer
and stand in courage against evil so you can break through spiritual
opposition. Learn about spiritual warfare and use Scripture as your
weapon in the battle. Ask God to reveal how you should best pray into
the situation. Try fasting. Spend more time worshipping Jesus than
thinking about Satan.

* Ask yourself if you have the faith to believe God will answer your prayers.
Realize that some prayers aren't answered simply because you just
don't believe that they will be. Ask God for the faith to believe.
Seek to grow in faith by worshipping, fasting, and memorizing God's
promises from the Bible.

* Ask yourself if you want an answer enough to keep praying.
Don't give up. Pray about the situation regularly and ask God to help
you persevere until He is ready to give you His answer about it.

* Ask yourself if there is a secret sin you need to confess.
Understand that disobedience may block your prayers from being
answered. Find a Christian friend you trust and confess any sin you
haven't yet confessed. Repent of that sin by turning away from it and
turning toward God. Pursue healing for wounds that keep you tied to
sinful thought or behavior patterns. Ask God to give you the strength
to forgive or apologize to people to whom you need to do so.

* Ask yourself if you're actively pursuing justice.
Know that some prayers aren't answered because of disregard for
oppressed people – in your own community, and around the world. Make
sure you're seeking to express God's love for people who are
marginalized in society, such as the poor and the disabled. Practice
hospitality. Volunteer for service projects. Act politically to
support causes that God leads you to support.

* Ask yourself if you're trying to find answers in situations where
you need to simply trust instead.
Realize that if you're doing everything right, but your situation
still doesn't make sense, you can still hold onto God like a hurting
kid embracing his or her father. Stay connected to God and keep
trusting Him while you go through your current challenges. Know that
your challenges are not in vain because God will use them to make you
a better person.


Adapted from God On Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer,
copyright 2007 by Pete Greig. Published by Regal Books, a division of
Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca.,

Pete Greig is an author, church planter, and one of the founding
leaders of 24-7 Prayer, a British charity that has grown in six years
from a single night-and-day prayer room into an international,
interdenominational Christian movement committed to prayer, mission,
and justice. A popular speaker, he has spoken to hundreds of thousands
of people on five continents. His books, which have been translated
into a number of languages, include: Awakening Cry, The 24-7 Prayer
Manual, Red Moon Rising: The Adventure of Faith and the Power of
Prayer, The Vision and the Vow: Rules of Life and Rhythms of Grace,
and Practitioners: Voices Within the Emerging Culture.

What Difference can One Mom Make?

by Elisabeth Corcoran
"I look at the enormity of the problem and I can't help but think,
'what can one person do?'" It's occurred to me that I used to think
that way but that I don't anymore. One person can do much.

One person can pray with all she's got, begging God to intervene in
any situation, to pour out his power, to give her wisdom to know what
she can and should do. One person can give of her time in a way that
will be a sacrifice to her and of great benefit to others. One person
can give money…even a little bit of money…and that can be added to
what others have given and then multiplied when God steps in. One
person can call attention to an issue that is usually talked about in
hushed tones…making people aware of something they may have had no
idea about. One person can enter into the darkness, carrying her
little bit of light, and shed great illumination where only dim
shadows used to dwell. One person can touch another person's life in
small ways – with a kind word, a gentle touch, a moment of time to
listen and hold and cry with. One person can take her gifts and pour
them out into someone else's life, knowing that freely has she
received and freely should she give. One person can take her hurt and
ask Christ to turn it into a blessing as she connects with the pain of
another hurting heart. One person can move into another person's life
in large ways – with a shout against injustice, a rallying of a group
to do something of meaning, a hand reaching out to draw someone out of
their circumstances permanently.

Moms, we're told time and again that we as women have the ability to
set the tone of our home. That our daughters will learn how to be
women and mothers by watching and modeling after us, and that our sons
will grow up to look for wives that mirror their mothers. We have been
given not just the ability, but the responsibility, to do great good.
One life at a time. In our home. And in our world.

This year…2007…can be the year that we allow our one life to do a
world of good for someone else's life. What can one person do in
comparison to the vastness of our world's problems? Each one of us can
do much. We each have so much to give. And we are called to do just

Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we
must care for those in their distress. -James 1:27-

My challenge to myself and to each one of you is this: go be a light
in the dark in this New Year, ladies.

(c) Elisabeth K. Corcoran, 2007

Elisabeth Corcoran is the author of In Search of Calm: Renewal for a
Mother's Heart (2005) and Calm in My Chaos: Encouragement for a Mom's
Weary Soul (2001). She is wife to Kevin, and mom to Sara, 10, and
Jack, 8-&-1/2. Her passion is encouraging women and the Church which
she fulfills through serving in leadership on staff part-time at
Christ Community Church – Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois,
and writing and speaking as much as she can. In Search of Calm can be
purchased through Xulon at #1.866.909.2665 or; Calm
in My Chaos can be purchased at #1-888-644-0500 or; or
they are both available at, or ordered through your local
Christian bookstore. You can learn more about Elisabeth and her
ministry at