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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The Storm Will Pass

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An hour before I took the picture above, a real spring storm blew through our area. It blew in from a completely different direction than most storms. The winds were really whipping, causing debris, porch pillows and vegetation to blow and bow down.  Earlier in the day I had heard we were in for storms, but it seemed unlikely at the time, because it was lovely in the morning.  But sure to the prediction, they came in just as they said.  I was glad I had secured things outside, and I was especially glad that I was inside where it was safe and dry!

I went about the work I was doing, and kept an ear and eye on the outside, for safety sake.  It wasn’t long, though until I looked through the window and saw the clouds clearing.  Then I saw the sun hitting the backyard.  I stepped onto the back porch and everything was cool, refreshed, and though dripping with the drops of the precipitation, it was evident that the storm was over.

I know many people who are going through storms in their personal lives.  I would have to add, that the storm is in their personal Christian life.  It’s a storm sent by the Lord for His purposes.  As I watch, I see the pressures of the trial causing them to bow, just like the trees in my front yard bent as the wind pushed against its branches.  They are bowing with the ache and the pain of the trial, but they are not broken.  They are trusting the God of their life to do His work, and they are firmly planted on His Word, even when their hearts may want to waver or ask why.

We’ve all been warned that trials will come to us.  Maybe you’re one who is experiencing one right now. Perhaps your trial is just around the corner. It’s easy to get caught off guard because the “sun is shining” today and we can’t imagine that dark clouds may be ahead.  We must prepare now for the storm that will come.  Like my friends, we must anchor our hearts in the Scriptures.  We have to know God’s character because we know His Word.  His Truth will keep us from breaking.  Knowing the Sender of the storm will remind us that He is there with us. And though we may never know why God sends or allows difficulties to come our way,  we can be sure that they went through His sovereign hands before they touched our lives.

When we find ourselves in the storm, we need to also remember that they won’t last forever.  There will be an end.  If not here, for all eternity, there will only be peace.  We may feel like quitting and throwing in the towel, but we must endure so we can see the joy of the blessings of the storm. When I was waiting out the storm yesterday, it didn’t last for long, really.  I’ve been through worse spring tempests.  We need to remind ourselves of the truth that though it seems that this trial is going on forever, there is a day when it will be over.

Hopefully when the storm is over, we won’t forget the things we’ve learned.  The lessons will be like the water droplets on my roses – little reminders that the storm was there.  There will be a freshness, a newness, and even sunshine in our hearts afterwards if we prepare for the storm, endure the storm and remember the storm.  

It’s time to go sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.  The storm is over.  To my friends who are experiencing difficulties today, I say, your storm will pass and the sun will shine again and God’s presence will refresh your spirit through it all.  

This won’t last forever.

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Are you going through a storm?  I’d love to pray for you.  Just leave a note asking for prayer – no need to share about the trial – God knows.

Lovingly,

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Family Friday – Mother’s Day Dilemnas

That holiday is approaching.  You know, the one where our family bows at our feet, singing our praises for the sacrifices of

  • laundry at midnight
  • science projects aided
  • homemade cookies baked for classroom parties
  • wounds kissed and cleaned
  • A patient, listening ear always ready to fix a relationship problem.

Okay, maybe not.  In reality, likely not.  Not if you still have children in your care.  Not if you’re a single mom.  Not if your husband is caught up in the pressures and stuff of life.  But I’m not here today to shake my finger at them because it’s so easy to forget.

I admit forgetting, too.  As a little girl, I was pretty much only focused on what my mom could and would do for me. Because she was so consistant, I came to expect a hearty meal every day at 5:00, clean clothes in my dresser, hugs when I was mistreated, and words of wisdom to guide my life.  It wasn’t until I became a young adult that I realized how much was sacrificed in order for me to possess that kind of home environment.  It was then that I really learned to say thank you to my loving mom.  I began to comprehend how truly blessed I was.  Every Mother’s Day since then, it’s been my goal to express to her how grateful I am today for all she was and still is.

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So let me stop to say, Mom (Millie Ray), thank you for all you did to make home so special.  Thank you for the meals you prepared that were both delicious and graciously served.  Thank you for taking the effort to decorate our home and keep it clean, and also teach me how to do those household tasks.  Thank you for sacrificing your own career so you could be home for us.  Thank you for loving God and making sure I knew Him, too.  And thank you for loving my dad and showing me that marriage was for keeps.  I appreciated it as a child, but today I once again say thank you and I love you!

To all you readers who are moms, I say, enjoy Mother’s Day by not expecting anything from your family.  Put your thoughts on your mom, or some other woman that the Lord has put in your life to encourage you, love you and support you.  Be grateful for them.  Do something to show your gratitude.  Stop and thank the Lord for your children.  Keep your focus on gratitude, rather than on your expectations. I learned this the hard way!

This is one holiday that makes me hurt for some dear women.  To those of you who wish you were a mom and find pain on this day, I say I’m sorry, and even greater, God understands and sees your grief.  Remember that He is a good, good Father, and don’t doubt His love because He has withheld this from you.

To those who didn’t have a loving mom, I say, God saw, God knows, and that is the reason we needed a Savior.  He gave us His son so we could all understand the greatest kind of sacrificial love.

To those whose mom or child is in heaven, remember that we’ll be joining our loved ones sooner than we think, never to be separated again. I love to think about what my daughter, Ashley is enjoying in heaven at this very moment!

Let’s allow Mother’s Day to find us showing our families that our greatest desire is God’s, “Well Done,” and that the joy of His comfort is enough for every pain in our hearts.  There are many coming behind us that need to learn from us that holidays are man-made, but the joy of being a Christlike woman is God-made!  That’s a gift that only He can give us, and that is enough!

Find refreshment in Christ!

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The Resale Value of Your Christian Life

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After over 200,000 miles on the road, even a favorite automobile has to be laid to rest and replaced with newer wheels, a stronger engine and less numbers on the odometer.  That is the story of our dearly loved and used Toyota Highlander.  It served us well, but there were issues that needed to be addressed – and so as we prayed, we began looking for its replacement.

No matter what we chose, any car we sat in was definitely going to be an improvement. We would never choose one with more miles than our Toyota.  The upholstery would be newer and the accessories in the dashboard would surely be an upgrade, maybe even including a back-up camera or navigational system!  But the blessing was that Toyota Highlanders seem to hold their value and have a good resale.  So, we had planned to trade the car in, which would, of course, help us purchase a car that was a newer/better model.

When most people shop for a car, they’re looking for the real deal – something that will be dependable and road-worthy.    However, if I’ve learned anything, I have come to understand the importance of buying one that has good resale value (I’m a typical girl-y girl who usually goes for what looks good! I’m learning!!).  Resale is really important in the long-run.  If others want what you own, it will profit you and them!

That is also true in the life of a genuine Christian –  a person who has put their complete trust in the cross-work of Christ on behalf of their sins.  A Christian should be like a “New model” of the “old” sinner they were.  Like that old car, they have gotten an upgrade!  Old things are passed away and all things are become new!

People will look at that kind of Christian and want what they have because:

  •  They don’t do the things they used to do.  Their motivation is eternal rather than temporal.  Their longing is for a heavenly reward, rather than the praise of men.
  • They don’t grind away at their job, complaining and grunting their way through their day!  They work hard.  They serve others with a smile and a sweet spirit.
  • They have purpose now – they’re living with the Holy Spirit of God inside them, and longing to be more like their Savior every day they live!
  • They’re constantly being changed by the conviction of the Spirit of God.  Though they fall, they will rise up and keep going, with God’s help.
  • Their life has purpose and meaning.  Even though the tears may fall in times of trial, they have an inner peace, because they know the One Who is triumphant over sin, death and the grave.

A true believer who lives out the Christian life makes others want what they have!

Does that describe you?  Can the world tell the difference between you and an unsaved person?  There are many Christians “on the lot” that are just your standard, no-frills-added believers.  They “got saved one day” but they:

  • Don’t tell others about Jesus, or about their own salvation.
  • Don’t live out the Gospel in their every day life.
    They fail to ~

    • Love people – especially the “hard to love”
    • Forgive those who hurt them
    • Serve as Christ did
  • Don’t separate from the world.
    • They do what everyone else does.
    • They succumb to peer pressures and the World’s philosophy.
    • They look and act like everyone else.
      • This doesn’t mean you have to wear culottes and tennis shoes!  Nor does it mean you can be careless about necklines and hemlines.
      • If the world says ballgames are on Sunday, they go!  If teams have practice on Sunday, they practice.  If they’re too tired to attend services, they listen to their flesh instead of depending on the Spirit to help them.
  • Their lives look just like everyone else on their street.

Friends, I’m not talking about us being perfect Christians any more than I think we’ll ever find a perfect car.  But what I’m begging us to consider is, Do others want our life as a Christian because they see its value, its power, and its transforming work going on in our lives every day of the week?

It’s time for each of us to be the best model of a Christian so that others will look at us and know that what we have is what their empty hearts need, too!  Let’s live up to the precious resale value that we truly possess!

How are you living out your Christian life today in a way that makes it desirable to others?

Lovingly,

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Bringing People To Jesus

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I’m one of those strange people who enjoy grocery shopping.  I love to walk the aisles and see new items and also find the best deals on the things I’ve written on my list.  Sometimes, though, it can be difficult when you’re trying to find something you don’t usually buy.

Such was the case this week when I went looking for Gluten Free tortillas.  Would they be in the Organic section?  No.  How about the Ethnic food aisle?  Not there.  An employee at the Kroger store where I was shopping must’ve seen my desperate searching and came to ask me if I was finding everything I needed.  I explained that I was looking for Gluten-free tortillas, to which she said,

“I think they’re over in the dairy (I would’ve never looked there!).  Follow me and I’ll take you there.”

I told her she could just point me in the right direction, but she insisted that she was happy to walk over with me to be sure they were really there.

As my cart and I shadowed her steps across the store, the Lord brought to my mind that this is exactly how my life should tell others of Christ!  It’s not enough to just give an explanation of who He is and what He did!  They need someone (me) to say, “Follow me and I’ll show you where you’ll find Him!”

How and when does that happen since He’s not simply on the other side of the building?

  • At home –  I engage in people’s lives and have a hospitable heart so that I can invite others into my home where I can share the Gospel.
  • In my neighborhood – I invite my neighbors to my church and church activities.
  • In my social contacts – I give them a Gospel tract and a testimony of God’s goodness to all of us.
  • At church – I engage in conversation with visitors at church and I look for a opportunity to ask them about their relationship with Christ.
  • At the grocery store, bank, doctor’s office – I learn the names of the people who work there and build relationships so that I can share the Gospel.

It’s such a privilege to share Jesus with others.  Why? Our lives are empty and searching for something and He is the answer!  He came to die for the sins of the entire world, yet each person individually.  He came to take our place on the cross.  He took the punishment that should have been ours so that we could have a relationship with God and go to heaven when we die. He’s the only way to heaven.   Having a relationship with God now makes life’s trials have purpose, and makes this life here abundant and purposeful!   This is a message that every person needs to hear, and it has to come from people who know the Truth!

I love Kroger for lots of reasons, but their personal touch is one thing that always stands out when I’m there.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, others should constantly be receiving a personal invitation from me to come to my Savior.  It happens when I invite them into my life and ask them to follow me.  “Oh, Lord, open my life and my lips to bring others to You!”

It’s my duty, but it’s also my highest privilege!

I struggle with this – I really do, but I so want to bring people to my Savior!  Are you inviting others to follow you so you could take them to Jesus? How are you accomplishing that?

Lovingly,

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