Archives For October 2011

By Lisa Cherry

Last month we launched POTTS (Parents of Teens and Tweens), and the response has been nothing short of astounding. There are now dozens of local POTTS groups starting up to serve families all over the nation!

But last week's breakthrough in Canada was more than astounding. I would call it miraculous!

On Saturday afternoon I was invited to speak at a megachurch at the main service…the following day! Yes, me…from a small (but growing!) church in Carbondale (where??)…in southern Illinois. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Our God is amazing!

Kalyn, Kyla, Nathan, and I had the awesome privilege of participating with the Holy Spirit in a powerful service at the Prayer Palace in Toronto, Canada. Under the leadership of their dynamic pastoral team, we were able to see how incredibly God orchestrates His people. Connecting, moving, equipping and calling them to accomplish His plan.

Thanks are due solely to the Lord for His mercy in raising a standard against the enemy who is poised to hijack a generation. By God’s grace, we are lifting up hope and healing parents’ hearts!

Trick or Treat? Kid Worldview

admin —  October 25, 2011

Image courtesy of Terrence Larson

Perhaps no other holiday conjures up more controversy for Christian parents than Halloween.

Trick or Treat? Or not?

Ignore it? Fight it? Or try to carve out a middle ground by embracing its “innocent” side, while shunning evil overtones?

Looking for one clear answer? Well, look somewhere else…that’s a family decision based on prayerful consideration and perhaps, consultation with your pastor or trusted Christian friends.

But as your weekly guide to sharpening a biblical worldview in our families, let me pose a Halloween strategy we should all agree to adopt.

As Christian parents, let’s acknowledge the 10,000 lb. gorilla in the room and use the media and merchandise hype over Halloween as a launch pad for probing questions within our families.

What about ghosts? What about zombies? What about monsters? (See our prior post about that fun topic.)

Your children see these images anyway…so why not convert what could be negative or even frightful figures into teaching tools?

We do at our home and believe me, we’ve had some lively discussions, particularly about ghosts and supposed haunted houses.

On the ghosts and zombies front, we’ve talked about the very foundational issue that lies at the core—Is God’s Word true about life after death? Does a soul “float” or “wander” after a body dies? Or is there an immediate—and eternal—destination for the believer and non-believer?

God is quite clear in His Word—throughout the Old and New Testament—that believers will find eternal rest with Him at the moment of death, whereas non-believers will be separated from Him for eternity.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ " (John 11:25-26)

Jesus was quite specific about this timeline for the soul at death when He spoke words of comfort and forgiveness to the thief on the cross, who in his dying hours, acknowledged Christ’s divinity: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus was just as clear about the fate of one’s soul after death in his vivid parable about the death of a man named Lazarus, a downtrodden beggar, and the indifferent wealthy man who, in life, ignored the suffering of others. (Luke 16: 14-31)

The once powerful man who shunned the ways of God was cast into eternal torment, forever separated from God and those, like Lazarus, who lived a life on earth in faith.

Do those stories paint a picture of a soul wandering in limbo (i.e., ghost or zombie) waiting for God to decide a dead person’s fate for eternity? Not at all.

“But wait!” you might say. “Aren’t there stories about ghostly figures in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament?”

Yep. And that’s why this topic can—and will—lead to long and intense discussions around the kitchen table!

So I won’t tackle every instance here. But let me tell you how my husband and I couch this issue in our family.

We remind our children that the Bible is quite clear that there’s a vast unseen spirit world around us—with the eternal battle of Good versus Evil waged in the hearts and minds of men…and in the very ruling powers of nations that determine the course of this world’s history.

Would the devil love to tempt believers into an obsession about the dark spiritual forces on earth? You bet.

Does satan have the power to conjure images or spirits that might trick even well-meaning believers into exploring this dark side? Absolutely.

Would he not revel in a holiday like Halloween where his evil images are plastered for all to see? Certainly.

So as Christian parents, should we be on guard to shield the hearts and minds of our children? Without a doubt!

But totally shutting out Halloween may be impossible, without unplugging the TV and computer, staying out of the stores from August through October, and pulling down shades in the minivan as your drive past homes even in your own neighborhood.

That’s why the best approach may be to boldly acknowledge and confront the barrage of images on your family—keeping up the shield of faith and fighting back with the sword of His mighty Word.

What Jesus Did: Kid Worldview

admin —  October 18, 2011

Image courtesy of Efron Nitrauw

Chances are you’ve seen the letters WWJD seared on a bracelet, tee-shirt, bookmark or trinket. Kids who go to Vacation Bible School, church camp or any youth gathering likely will show up with these letters adorned on something.

“What Would Jesus Do?”

A great question—and one that may spur a passing thought or conversation. “Hmmm…what WOULD Jesus do?”

As Christian parents, grandparents or those with a passion for youth, we certainly want to encourage such introspection. If WWJD is the catalyst, GREAT … let’s celebrate such a godly reminder.

But let’s pause for a moment, keeping a biblical worldview, and consider whether that’s truly the best question to ask.

Our pastor once remarked that he would like to use a pen to correct those letters. He thought the better choice would be WDJD – What Did Jesus Do?

When he said that, some in our Bible study class immediately thought, “Isn’t he being a little too nitpicky?” And, frankly, his suggestion didn’t go over so well until he further explained his reasoning.

“What Would Jesus Do” asks us to get into the mind of Christ. It asks us to project our ideas, our interpretations of His life and then determine our own answers about what He would do.

Now certainly we can and should measure our own thoughts and actions against the words and statements of Jesus as recorded in His holy Word.

But our pastor wisely cautioned against trying to step into the mind of Christ, because Scripture tells us we’re incapable of grasping His thoughts—and we may inadvertently give the devil a foothold to tempt us with his first seductive question that hooked Eve into sin: “Did God really say…?” (Gen 3:1)

And God’s Word leaves little doubt about the foolishness of trying to step into the mind of God.

"’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)

So how big of a deal is trying to “think like God” anyway?

Think of the trouble it brought Adam and Eve, and consequently, the rest of mankind ever since.

Satan knew their weakness and planted seeds of doubt about the truthfulness—and ultimately, the authority—of God’s Word. “You will not surely die,” Satan said to Eve, luring her into applying her own reason into God’s straightforward command.

Consequently, Original Sin began with man trying to “out think” God—and the battle has been waged ever since over God’s indisputable authority pitted against man’s desire to assert his own authority.

Thanks be to God, we know who will win that battle in the end!

So when we see WWJD, let’s remember to also celebrate WDJD—and use that as a talking point with our family.

We don’t have to guess or wonder what Jesus DID—He loved us so much that He was eager to take our sins on His body and be pierced for us on the cross. His sacrificial gift took our well-deserved punishment away forever, so we could someday be His innocent children worthy of eternal life in heaven.

So WWJD? Gee, I don’t honestly know because, believe me, there are times when His words and actions as recorded in the Gospels take me by surprise.

But, thanks to the gift of faith given me, I do know WDJD. Why not talk about what He has done—and is continuing to do—the next time you see WWJD?!

Image courtesy of Il

This is one of those times when you’re just going to have to trust me…

Yes, your eyes may quickly dart off the screen if I admit the subject--quantum physics.

But…WAIT!!!   DON’T GO!!!

I promise… if my pea brain can wrap around this story, then you’ll do just fine—and you’ll see what quantum physics has to do with a biblical worldview in parenting.

So hang in there as we dive into the infinitesimally teeny-tiny world of subatomic particles…

Our boys were clicking through the TV options one night and landed on the Science Channel.

Now, I’ve learned from experience that these shows can be “R-rated,” meaning “R”adically secular and often radically at odds with a biblical worldview. Adult supervision advised.

So with some degree of caution, we listened to what amounted to scientific head-scratching about the behavior and essence of energy particles on the smallest known level, in the so-called quantum world.

Recent experiments have revealed the perplexing nature of the most miniscule particles of energy. In some respects, they behave simply like any other matter…as particles, or “stuff” (matter) that can be measured and will show predictable movement.

But, at other times, these electrons behave as waves, with no resemblance whatsoever to physical matter, or “stuff.”

That’s a big difference—kind of like trying to compare the ripple of a wave rolling across the lake to the actual pebble that caused the ripple.

Interesting, I thought, but not what I considered terribly exciting or relevant.

But then our son picked up on another key point that, frankly, I missed. The behavior and nature of these tiny energy particles/waves changes when observed or measured. (Here’s a great cartoon clip that shows this phenomenon.)

I chalked it up to another “Gee, that’s interesting” moment and didn’t give it another thought.

Our son, Jacob, did. The next morning he admitted to staying up until after 2:00 a.m. thinking about this issue—using his Bible for perspective and insight.

He was intrigued that the very act of OBSERVING the movement of tiny energy units changed the manner in which they moved and behaved. (Kind of like how your kids might have a rowdy pillow fight if they thought you weren’t watching…but then might lie on those same pillows like sweet, innocent angels if you were in the room!)

Jacob opened his Bible to the Genesis account of creation and noticed something I had glossed over time and again when reading. It wasn’t until the end of Day 3 in creation that Genesis records God’s observation of his handiwork.

At the end of Day 3 (not Days 1 and 2), the Bible notes, “And God saw that it was good.”

Jacob’s questions… Did God’s observation of His creation cause changes in matter? Could His very act of observation have sparked the establishment of the laws of nature that govern the most elementary levels of energy and matter? Why doesn’t the Bible include “God saw that it was good” on days 1 and 2, as it is on 3 through 6?

Well, not the type of questions we were likely to answer over breakfast!

But what a joy as a parent to know that our children can learn to start with God’s Word in analyzing the world around us…whether it’s for simple everyday issues or for complex scientific questions about the very nature of His universe.

That conversation reminded me, too, that we shouldn’t shy away exploring secular scientific sources with our children. With proper discernment, they will see in science the majesty of His creation.

Even though the secular world might call our world “random”--the accidental product of billions of years’ worth of coincidental events—we, as God’s children, know the truth. His fingerprint is all over His creation! If our universe was such an “accident,” how could we have mathematics, measurable laws of nature and even exquisite (and, yes, sometimes bewildering) laws governing in the quantum realm?

Truly, our universe is no accident. As the Apostle Paul notes, its breathtaking complexity offers a daily witness to everyone: “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20)

So the next time you find yourself shying away from a complex scientific discussion, lean in and listen with discernment instead. Armed with God’s Word and His wisdom, you might discover another way to explore His glorious power with your children.

Image courtesy of Emre Telci

By Beth Groh

How strange to see our Christian faith presented as a topic for a possible multiple choice test question.

“Jesus is a central figure for: (a) Judaism, (b) Islam, (c) Christianity or (d) Buddhism?”

OK, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But the point is that I discovered last week our son’s seventh grade secular world history textbook has a section on comparative religion.

Bad idea? Not really. Our children do need a working “vocabulary” of world religions. That exposure may come in a public school classroom, around the table in your home school, at a Christian day school or, perhaps, at Sunday school.

No matter what the source or setting, comparative religion should be welcomed by parents who want to instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their children – so long as a few red flags are flapping in the wind!

My “Proceed With Caution” light flashed as Ryan and I read through that section of the textbook.

My “Type A” parenting side wanted to jump in and tell him what I thought of the other religions and the spiritual implications for those outside of a faith in Christ.

But the Holy Spirit must have zipped my lips just in time. Instead of offering opinions, I posed questions. This was a God-given opportunity for the Lord to train Ryan in how to heed the advice of the Apostle Peter (1 Pet 3:15) and “[a]lways be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have...”

(Taking some liberties for a flawed memory, I’ll share my best recollections of how our question session unfolded.)

“Ryan, the book uses a big word called monotheism. Do you know ‘mono’ means ‘one’ and ‘theo’ relates to religion?”

We then talked about other words that contain those roots—such as a monopoly and theology. (Why such details? I wanted him to be very aware of that word so that his red flags would raise someday if he took another religion course on world religions.)

“If the teacher talks about monotheism, could it mean that there’s only one ‘god’ and all religions are all talking about the same thing, only with different names and traditions?”

Hmmm… an honest pause from a 7th grader who was looking for help from Mom on how to answer…

“Let’s think it through this way… if a Muslim prays to Allah, is that God?”

Again, he hesitated and said he didn’t see how it could be, but explaining why seemed like a tall order for a 12-year-old.

“Is God just ‘God’ or is He more?” Ah, the light bulb went on and he told me about the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. (Our church’s emphasis on foundational creeds paid off!)

“If another religion denies God the Son, can God deny one part of His being? Is God 'God' if He's not inseparable from the Son and Holy Spirit?”

We talked about the illustration our pastor often makes around Easter, using an egg as a representation of the Trinity. The egg’s three parts—shell, yoke and whites—make up the whole, but individually would not be considered an egg. (A messy, but effective, children’s sermon!)

“If a teacher or book ever says that all religions are the same—and all will just be ‘true’ in the mind of each believer—is that correct?”

“Can all religions be true when Jesus said, ‘I am the way…?'”

“Is there a way you can be respectful and raise those questions in class?”

Heavy talk for an afterschool homework moment! But, oh, so important.

In today’s secular humanist society and educational system, we must arm our children to stand up for God—and not bow down to the ‘god’ of political correctness.

Often without realizing it, well-meaning Christians deny the very Deity of Christ with an “I’m OK, you’re OK” theology that makes Christianity just another religious belief system to pull off the shelf—a faith of equal merit and relative “truth” as those other beliefs.

Whew… a heavier lesson than I expected when helping our son fill out a study sheet for class. But what a blessing when God opens a door to prepare our children for an increasingly hostile world taking aim at His truth.