Preparing a Child’s Heart To Know Christ

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I’m thrilled that gardening season is here!  Each day I enjoy going outside and tending to each potted plant, window box and flowering bed.  I pull off dead blooms, fluff the tender foliage so it will hang beautifully over the edge of the pot, and then give a gentle showering of water so it can soak into the roots, adding growth.  From time to time I also add Miracle Grow – a plant food that speeds up the growing process and makes sure the plants are healthy.  The results are beautiful!!

As we’ve talked all week about a child being saved, every one of the steps above, regarding tending a plant, could be applied to bringing a child to the place where they understand their need for Jesus Christ to be their Savior.  We need to harvest the garden of their hearts so it will be their early understanding that they are sinners who are in need.

Making the plant application, let’s look at a few practical ways that parents can help their children get to that point early on in life.

  • Pull off dead blooms – This involves seeing that something is in their life that shouldn’t be and literally “nipping it in the bud!”  =)  When they disobey, for instance, we don’t overlook it or redirect their attention to a “better option,” NO!  That sin must be dealt with in a biblical manner.  Even from the time they’re very young they should understand that obeying isn’t simply making mommy a happier person – obeying mommy means you’re obeying God!  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Galatians 6:1  Teach them that simple verse by saying it each time they disobey you.

    “Disobedience is sin.  Each time you disobey Mommy, you’re sinning against God.  But God loves you.  Let’s ask Him to help you obey.”

    Using God’s Word as your guide, teach the child that what they’re doing is sin that makes God sad.  “You needed a Savior so God sent Jesus to die for your sin!”  You don’t have to preach a message, just those simple statements about God’s holiness (you didn’t say it that way, but that’s what you’re teaching) and His love, points them to their need for Jesus when they sin.

  • Fluff the tender foliage.  Encourage any tenderness the child shows towards their sin.  Let them cry, but then comfort them and remind them that God loves them and so do you, and God wants to help them NOT sin.  Any time they want to move forward in an invitation, or they ask questions in family devotions, encourage that!  Listen.  Answer their questions. Be supportive!
  • Give a gentle showering of water to encourage growth.  Sprinkle truths about God, His Word and the application of it through everything you do each day.  It’s far more meaningful to see a mom live out the Gospel each day and share out of the overflow, than to occasionally get a “lecture” every now and then from an inconsistent life.  Consider:
    • Let thankfulness be in your words about God’s provision for your groceries, your home, your clothing…everything you have.
    • Point out the beauty of God’s creation when you are outside.  Speak Scripture – “The heavens declare the glory of God – Hey kids, how does that sunset tell about God’s glory?”
    • Speak about what you learned in your Bible reading and how it applies to what’s going on at that moment.
    • Whenever there is a need, stop and pray.  Show your child that you’re dependent on God in every situation. – If you see an ambulance or a car accident, why not pray for those involved? If they’re anxious about a test they’re headed into school to take, stop and pray before they get out of the car.
    • Be living out the Gospel by sharing it with others when you’re out, when people are in your home and at church.  Your children need to see your example of a Christian who is a follower of Christ.
    • Read Scripture with your child.  I love the idea of reading the psalm of their age every night of that year!  Most psalms in the early chapters are very short, so I imagine that both you and your child  will have it memorized before the year is out!
  • Add some Miracle Grow – Make sure your child is regularly in places where they will receive extra doses of the Gospel outside of your home – Sunday school, church services, revival meetings, Youth group, youth activities, and Christian camp.  Don’t send your child to church services – go with them.  Then send them on their way to the extra outings, praying that the Gospel will be proclaimed and their heart will be tender.

Tending to my plants is messy and daily.  My hands end up covered with dirt, and if I neglect their care, you can only imagine the ugly results!  The same also applies to the tending of our children’s spiritual needs.  It’s a daily discipleship that is often messy and inconvenient, but the results aren’t just for a summer of glory – it’s for eternity, and it’s such a blessing to be a part of that! This is our heart as parents, is it not? ~

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.  III John 1:4

God is the One who will bring the fruit.  We just need to be faithful to plant and water, then leave the results with Him.

What are you doing today that will point your child more towards Christ? 

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What’s Wrong With With Waiting Until a Child Is Older To Be Saved?

“My five year-old has been asking us so many questions about salvation, and about asking Jesus to forgive their sins, but we’re putting him off right now, because we want to make sure he’s ready.”

I have heard that statement so many times and I can’t tell you how it saddens my heart.  I understand that the parent is fearful that the child won’t remember what he has done, and may have doubts later on, but as I mentioned in an earlier post here, I don’t have a problem with that at all.  Read the post to understand why.

However, I have three reasons why I believe it IS right to allow a child to pray to be saved when they bring up the need to you.

  1. Jesus said, Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not. Can it get any clearer?  Don’t hinder them from coming to Christ!  Bring them!  Encourage them to do so. You will be obeying Christ’s command.
  2. A child’s heart is soft when they ask to be saved, but it will harden as they get older.  Why run the risk of them turning away from the Lord?  What a tragedy it would be for a parent to put a child off who is asking to be saved, and then the becomes desensitized towards their spiritual need!
  3. The sooner a person comes to Christ the longer they have to serve Him!

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Think of two candles, one very long and the other very short.  The long candle represents a child and the short, an elderly person.  Often when we have an older person saved in a service we have a huge time of rejoicing, which is definitely worthy of joy to see this heart finally yielded to Christ!  But when a little child gets saved, it’s often given a little nod.  But think of those two candles.  That short candle, representing the older person only has a little time left to “burn” for Christ.  The child, however, has their whole life to make a difference for the Lord in this world!  That reason in itself should make us realize the urgency in bringing little ones to the Savior!

I trust this helps every adult who can influence a child to have a heart for little ones coming while they’re young!  Let’s obey Christ’s command, do it while their heart is soft, so they can use their whole life to serve God!

If you know a parent with little ones who might need this encouragement, feel free to share this article on your Facebook account or Twitter.

Lovingly,

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How To Tell If A Child Is Ready To Be Saved

Recently while reading through an old journal, I read some memories of when my girls were little.  I read stories like :

  • the funny account of the day one of my girls told me my dresser had a rash…she was looking at the dust on its surface!
  • The day she emptied a jar of face cream and spread it all over my bedspread and herself.
  • Both my girls loved helping in the kitchen when I was baking.  What fun we shared as they helped stir in ingredients for cookies, or roll a little pie for their daddy.
  • Feeling frustrated at discipline – trying to figure out how to reach the child without breaking her spirit.

Parenting is full of fun days, hard days and days when you have NO IDEA what to do.  It’s for that reason that I’ve chosen parenting as the next topic in my summer series.

What a joy it is to have children given to us by God to raise for His glory – and what a huge responsibility it is!  As Christians, it must be our daily goal to point those little ones to Christ in everyday ways, in intentional ways and in ways that will prepare them to trust Him as their Savior as soon as they can understand.  But that’s where we get hung up – we wonder how much do they need to understand to make a real decision to be saved?  I’ve written several posts about that and I’m going to repost those this week, because it’s just a burden on my heart.  The bottom line is this – Jesus said to suffer the little children to come to him and forbid them not.  If a child is saying they want to trust Christ, who are we to say they don’t know enough?  Jesus loves them.  So, let’s start in, shall we?

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Trusting Christ as a little girl has created in me a love for talking to children about God’s gift of salvation.  I can relate to them because I remember how it was for me all those years ago when I knew I needed to receive God’s gift of salvation for my own!

Here’s what I remember about myself at that time

  • I was a sinner.  Oh, I was a “good girl.” You see I wanted to please and obey my parents and others in authority.  But even at seven, I remembered lying, disobeying, being sassy or disrespectful.  All that was sin, and I knew I was guilty.
  • I knew I wasn’t going to go to heaven because of my sinful heart.  It had separated me from God.
  • I knew Jesus loved me so much that He took my punishment on the cross, and that what He did made it possible for me to be forgiven by God.
  • I knew that all I had to do was receive God’s free gift of eternal life by calling on Him to save me.

That’s pretty much it.  There was a TON I didn’t know.  But I knew enough about salvation to do the calling. Along with my love for telling children about Christ, I’m also passionate about us as adults not making it hard for a child to be saved.  It’s as though we feel they have to be on an adult level of understanding before they can really trust the Lord. I heard a preacher say recently something like this,

Often when a child talks to us about salvation, we ask adult questions they cannot answer,

and we say they’re not ready to be saved.

Then when an adult needs to come to Christ we tell them to just have

childlike faith!

There was so very much I DIDN’T know about the Lord, His Word or my eternal destiny.  But you know what?  That didn’t change my decision to receive Christ that day!

I hear many adults wonder about their child and say, “What if they’re not ready?”  Then don’t push them, but if they’re asking you questions, just lead them to Jesus!  Will you regret that they came too soon, or that they needed to make it sure later on?  No!  Bring them to Him!  Then continue to guide them and teach them.  Make it easy for them to find Christ!  Don’t put them off because you wonder if they are really ready.

Another question is, “What if they don’t really understand?”  I ask a child questions.  Here’s what I may ask:

  1. Why did you raise your hand in class?  Even if the invitation was so very clear – “Come see me if you want to know how to have Jesus as your Savior and have your sins forgiven.”  Sometimes a child will shrug their shoulders and not have a clue.  Maybe they came because a friend came up.  I’ll just pat them on the shoulder and say, “That’s okay.  Thanks for coming to see me!”  End of discussion.
    If they say, “I want to talk about Jesus…” then we go forward.
    If your child is talking to you and others about needing to be saved, then it’s obvious the Holy Spirit is working in their heart.  You might ask them, “Why do you think you need to be saved?  When should a person ask Jesus to save them?”  As a parent, use every discipline time as another reminder of their sinful nature and their need for Christ.
  2. Have you ever sinned?  If they say, “yes.”  I’ll ask what sin is and why is it a problem.  If they say, “No!!!!”  It’s usually also the end of the discussion.
  3. What did God do for us because we have sinned and we cannot enter heaven with sinful hearts?  I have them read with me John 3:16 and Romans 6:23.
  4. What do we have to do to receive a gift?  What do we do to receive God’s gift of eternal life?
  5. Are you ready to pray and receive God’s gift of salvation?
  6. I have them pray out loud – not so I can grade their prayer, but to make sure they’re not praying for their Papa’s surgery or their gold fish that died.  (Trust me, it can go there if the child isn’t really serious about salvation at this point.)

If you can keep a child on point through those brief questions, that in itself is also a good indicator that they’re really thinking about their need for Jesus.  Once I had a child respond at an invitation and when I started asking them questions they went off on conversations about their toys, their dog and vacation time.  It was obvious to me they didn’t come because they were wanting to receive Christ.
If, however, the child prayed and admitted they were a sinner and asked Jesus to come in their life, then rejoice with them and remind them that the angels in heaven are also rejoicing!!!

It grieves my heart to hear a parent say to me that their child has been asking to be saved, but “We don’t feel he’s ready.”  To me, that’s a scary place to be.  Don’t stand in front of the cross and hinder them; move aside and join them on your knees as they, in their childlike faith pray to be saved!

My girls were saved at a very young age, and both have said they never doubted their salvation.  Neither have I.  I knew God would keep His promise when He told me I would have eternal life!  I believe that’s the very essence of child-like faith!

How about you?  Do you have a certainty that you will go to heaven when you die?  This is an excellent video  (left side of screen, click to enlarge) about how you can have a relationship with God and eternal life with Him.

Because Jesus loves the little children,

P.S. I got saved while attending Sunday School. You might like to read this post about the value of Sunday School and what it did for me!

Ten Choices That Will Help Get Your Marriage to the Finish Line

0427170702aHappy Friday y’all!  I’m here today with a brand new post as we finish out this week talking about marriage.  So far this week we’ve discussed roller coaster days, making more deposits in your relationship than withdrawals, and the high cost of foolish choices. Today I want to talk about wise choices and how they will effect your home.

Many women were so very grieved this week to hear of a well-loved Bible teacher announcing her divorce to her husband.  Serious infidelity and substance abuse got a grip in her husband’s life, bringing their marriage to an end.  I don’t know all the details, of course, but it has impacted the world with its sad ending.  I’m afraid that some women will hear that, and then feel helpless themselves.

“If her marriage is falling apart, and she’s a famous Bible teacher, how can I ever hope to have a happy marriage?

When you consider the trials, the disagreements, the financial woes, the verbal misunderstandings, the pride, the emotions, the daily pressures, and the parenting conflicts, it’s a miracle that any marriage survives, but it can!  

But how?  I believe with all my heart it’s  through the presence of the Lord and His guidance, His example of love, and the counsel of His Word that allows a Christian couple to remain together for a lifetime.

Satan wants to destroy our homes, but God is greater, friends!  I’d like to share with you some choices we have to make to see our marriage to the Finish Line.

  1. Stay on your knees in prayer for your mate and your marriage.  Think about it – if you’re not praying for your husband, who is? Pray for ~
    • His heart for God
    • His purity
    • His protection from Satan’s attacks
    • A tender heart to sin
    • A fear of God
    • A desire for God’s house
    • His leadership in your home – Note:  Talk to the Lord about this – not him!
  2. Keep the fun in your relationship.  Don’t stop laughing, flirting, dancing in the grocery store aisle, or any of the things that made you smile when you were dating!
  3. As your children grow up, release more and more of that attention they were getting and lavish it on your husband!  A wife who makes her children the center of her attention even after they’re able to care for themselves is pushing her husband out of her life, and that is a dangerous action.
    • Send the child back to their bed.
    • Put them on a schedule and spend time with your husband.
    • Leave them with a caregiver and go on dates.
    • Be excited about your empty nest rather than crying on Facebook about how you miss your little boys! I know I’m stepping out on a limb on that one, but I love you, ladies, and someone needs to tell you to build a bridge and get over it.
    • Don’t make your children the center of your world – make your husband the center.  Doing so will give your children the security of parents who love each other and are going to stay together forever.
  4. Keep the tenderness in your relationship.
    • Use tender words, rather than angry, cross ones.
      • Make sure your conversation is more than about who’s picking up the gallon of milk.
    • Use tender touches.  Hold hands.  Kiss goodbye and hello.  You never know when that might be your last kiss.  We’re not promised tomorrow!
  5. Be first.  To forgive.  To serve.  To love.
  6. Be thoughtful.  Pick up his favorite treat.  Make a nourishing breakfast before he leaves.  Ask what he would like for supper.  Ask if there’s an errand you can do for him, or a way to lighten his load.
  7. Do what he enjoys doing on his day off.  I”m not much of a hiker, but I think my husband’s favorite date in recent years was a January birthday hike I planned, complete with a picnic lunch of homemade soup in Mason jars..  It was freezing cold and snowy., but we had so much fun!
  8. Make plans for the days ahead.  Doing so says, “I’m planning on spending all my life with you, and it’s going to be wonderful!  What do you want to be like as you age?  What trips could you dream about?  What goals could you write down and look forward to as your lives change in the years ahead?
  9. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses as to why you prefer to be slouchy at home.  It is possible to be comfortable and look great for your husband.   I’ve seen one too many videos of wives saying, “Yeah, my hair looks awful; I haven’t washed it in a week.”  Really?  Shampoo is cheap, and it doesn’t really take that long to get your hair cleaned.  Men are visual – give him something great to look at!
  10. Make a play list of all the love songs you listened to while dating.  Let your hearts spin along with the music and remember where it all started between you both!

Because there is a God in heaven, there is hope for our marriages.  Don’t let yourself feel in despair or like there is no chance that your marriage can be awesome!  Which of these suggestions do you need to start on?  Ask God to help you and see what a difference it can make in your home!

Refresh your marriage!

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Foolish Choices that Could Destroy Your Marriage

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Someone told me recently that they had enjoyed reading my blog until they began reading my posts about The Foolish Woman! They were teasing, but the implication was that it’s not always easy to read things that hit home and bring conviction. I trust that you will read on anyway, and consider the description of the foolish woman from Proverbs 7.

Proverbs 7:6-10 reads, “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement. And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, passing through the street near her (the foolish woman’s) corner, and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot and subtil of heart.”

I see here that another foolish characteristic of this woman is the choices she makes. She’s going out in the evening when it is dark outside. This is a romantic setting and she is setting herself and this foolish man up for a huge fall by being out at this time of night. She has no concern how this might look to others who might see her standing on the street alone with this man.

What a warning this must be to us! We have to let our mind run ahead to look out for situations that could put our testimony at jeopardy. Some potential danger zones would be:

  • Having a man in your home when you are there alone.
  • Listening to a man tell you about his marriage problems or you talking to him about yours.
  • Sending private emails to men (Why not send a carbon copy to his wife?).
  • Having chats with men on the Internet.
  • Riding alone in the car with a man.

Some may say, “My goodness! Are you suspicious of everyone?” No, but we need to make good, wise choices before we are in a situation that destroys our testimony and possibly our marriage.   What seems harmless could lead to other things.

If we guard our hearts and are also thoughtful enough to protect the men around us, we will know that our choices will label us as wise instead of foolish.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Make wise choices and guard your marriage.

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Make More Deposits

While waiting in line at the bank, a man developed a very loud case of hiccups. By the time he reached the teller’s window, the hiccups seemed to have worsened. The teller took the man’s check and proceeded to run a computer verification of his account.

After a minute she looked up from her terminal with a frown and said that she would be unable to cash his check.”Why not?” the man asked incredulously.

”I’m sorry, sir,” she replied, ” but our computer indicates that you do not have sufficient funds to cover this amount. As a matter of fact,” she continued, “our records show your account overdrawn in excess of $5000.””It can’t be!” he cried. “You have to be kidding!” “Yes, I am,” she answered with a smile, counting out his cash. “But you will notice that your hiccups are gone.”

Probably most of us know the sinking feeling to know of one time or another when there weren’t sufficient funds in the bank to cover our withdrawals. It makes for a rough day, doesn’t it?

While we are ever so careful to guard our bank account from being over drawn, I wonder what the records would show on the monthly statement of our marriage? How many withdrawals have you made? Wives need love, affection, attention, compliments, encouragement, dates, pampering, help around the house, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on… Each one of those represent a withdrawal from our marriage account.

We can also make withdrawals by nagging, belittling, giving a cold shoulder, being unforgiving, negligent to his needs, etc.

Now, think back on this past week – what kind of deposits have you made? Not the monetary kind – but the relational kind.

  • Have you shown respect for your husband with your words?
  • Have you elevated him in front of others?
  • Have you thanked him for being a provider for your family?
  • Have you done a thoughtful gesture for him? (Bought his favorite candy bar, written him a note, made his favorite meal, took him out on a special date or created one at home- you get the idea)
  • Have you spent time doing something he enjoys even though it might not be your favorite activity?
  • Have you done something to lighten his load?

These things (and many others) are ways we make deposits into our marriage. There’s a double blessing here – we’re meeting the needs of our husband and rediscovering what a joy it is to be married. It’s fun! It is God’s plan and He can only do what is good!

Take a thorough check into your “account” and make sure you’re not overdrawn! If it’s been a while since you’ve put something into your marriage, you might surprise your husband so much you’ll scare his hiccups away!

Refresh you marriage today!!

Come back the rest of this week for more marriage posts that will encourage you to make your relationship the best it can be!

With love,

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Summer Date Night Ideas

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One day last week, my husband was cleaning out some of his office boxes that had been stored away in our garage when he came across a stack of preserved letters, notes and cards, most of them written by “Yours truly.”  We began reading them and found ourselves laughing, crying, and rejoicing over the years, the experiences we’ve shared, and the goodness of the Lord in it all.

It became so obvious to me that the written note is so important!  Without that, how would we recall these precious memories?  How would we have remembered how awed we were by God’s provision, or how near the Lord was during that trial?

Since that afternoon, I’ve determined that I must
a.) Continue writing notes.  Texts are great, but in ten years, how will we be able to reread that form of media?
b.) Read through the stack I have tucked away from the 36 years behind us!

Now, here are 30 great Summer Date Night ideas! 

  1. My first encouragement to you about a summer date night is to make a time when you and your spouse can sit down and read through some of your cards and letters you’ve saved.  Go out on your back porch to read them, or take them to the lake where you can sit at a picnic table.  Just do it.  It will remind you where you’ve come from and how special your relationship really is!  I fell in love with my husband all over again!
  2. You don’t have any notes?  Sit down and write your husband one today and leave it in a special place where he’ll find it.  Write it on pretty paper.  Spray a little perfume on it.  Then tuck it away so you can start that file you’ll be able to read again when you’re old and gray.
  3. Make your own Drive-In.  Make the setting outside your home perfect for watching a movie or show on your laptop or tablet.  Turn on the patio lights, light candles, get a bowl of popcorn popped and a comfy swing to share!
  4. Bookstore Date–  I first shared about this here ,and no matter if you have done it before, this date can be done over and over again and it will be new each time.  It’s one of our favorites!
  5. Read your favorite books to one another – or find a new one to read!
  6. Bake cookies together
  7. Watch the sunrise, then make breakfast together
  8. Attend a local baseball game
  9. Go for a long drive
  10. Have a picnic
  11. Play Frisbee
  12. Visit the farmer’s market
  13. Video Record the Story of How You Met & Fell in Love
  14. Cook a Late Night Dinner Together
  15. Write a Prayer List & Pray Together
  16. Make Smoothies or Milkshakes
  17. Share 5 Goals Over a Late Night Snack
  18. Do a Puzzle Together
  19. Play a Game
  20. Have a Chip & Dip Night – Add Conversation
  21. Record Each Other Sharing a Recent Memory
  22. Tackle a FUN Project
  23. Write a Gratitude List about one another
  24. Have an Ice Cream Sundae Night
  25. Search for Funny YouTube Videos
  26. Go to Yard Sales and see who can find the best bargain
  27. Go to the Local Bike Trail and ride bikes.
  28. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert
  29. Begin a Date Night Journal and Write down each time you have a date, what you did and any fun memories you created.
  30. Go to a Theme Park Without your children and leave your phones in the car.  Ride all the water rides.  Eat the snacks.  See the shows.  Stay late for the fireworks!

I hope you’ve had a great first week of June, and I hope some of the ideas shared this week will inspire you to create some fun at home this summer!  Each day is a gift from God and is worth celebrating!  So enjoy!!

Stay refreshed in God’s Word this weekend.  We need Him every single day!

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