After Your Child's Dedication :: Tips on Raising Christian Kids

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After your child has been dedicated (like we do at our church periodically), you might be thinking about your next steps and guiding them until they meet the age when they are ready to commit their lives to Christ and be baptized.

We’ll talk about what to do, things to look out for and just have fun, enjoy your little one confident in the knowledge that the Creator of the universe is watching over him or her every hour of every day.

Parental Unit Roles

In Proverbs 22:6, the Bible tells us to, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As parents who follow Christ, we should ensure that as our children grow, we provide them a great example as we follow Christ. Every day they should see more of God and less of us. Children tend to copy behavior they see and are exposed to the most and that typically starts at home. Let us know as we have been entrusted with their care, that we are leading them in the way God wants us to.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

As a new dad, I did not know what to expect. I am the eldest of 6 and had minor roles in looking after my siblings but was never responsible for someone’s well-being 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. My tendency was to worry about everything, what my new daughter would eat, what she would wear, what school she would go to.

In Matthew 6:34, we are told to not worry about tomorrow – so don’t. In Philippians 4:6 we are also told to not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. God’s got this, he took care of you and he will take care of your child. I’m sure some of our guardian angels look pretty shook up after some of the scrapes we came through and we have to give thanks for them – they deserve hazard pay. J

In a recent Luvs commercial, a mom constantly fusses over her first child, breaking out the hand sanitizer at a moment’s notice. When the second child comes along, she is a lot less fussy and even hands off the second child to an auto mechanic while she signs a check.

You may not be handing your young child over to a mechanic anytime soon, but trust God as you go through your daily routine that he will look after your little one.

Breaking all da Rules

Kids break rules, they push boundaries, they try to see how far they can go. This is a natural fact of life. Be aware of it, be ready for it and have a plan to correct it. Every parent goes through the same situation.

When we step off the path that leads to eternal life, God corrects us, because he loves us. As our children grow, they will develop their own personas and identities and challenge your authority, even break the rules that you set. In Proverbs 3:12, we are told that, “…the LORD reproves him whom he loves...” We love our children, so we must correct them. We provide great examples, set boundaries, and have to correct them once rules are broken.  

It Can Take a Village

You have chosen godparents for your child, and you want to ensure that you stay on the same page as far as raising your child in a Christian home. Be sure they know what is expected and encourage them to do the following:

  1. Pray for their godchild regularly
  2. Set an example of a Christian life
  3. Help him/her to grow in the faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  4. Encourage them to follow Christ and to encourage others. 

Everything’s Gonna be Alright

Somewhere between all the 3 a.m. feedings, nightly changes, nannies, daycare, after school sports, doctor visits and years and years of education, they will turn out ok. God has a plan for you and he has a plan for your child. Seek his will in everything and watch him work.

 

If you have questions about helping your kids know who Jesus is, or if you want to get them plugged into our children's ministry, please contact us and we will help you!

 

Overcoming Self Hatred by Understanding My Value in God

 

When Jesus responded to the question regarding the greatest commandment, he states in Matthew 22:39, “And the second is equally important, love your neighbor as yourself.”  This verse puzzled me, yet it had a profound impact on my life for years to come.

It was a typical Sunday. My family, all dressed in our Sunday best, piled into our pale green station wagon and headed down the washboard worn dirt road in central Minnesota. Our destination was a small Baptist church in the heart of our small town.

We lived in what was a typical rural Minnesota community. It had a K-12 school, a volunteer fire department, and several churches. The main street held two small grocery stores, a bank, a cafe, and a hardware store.

I was the youngest of four and as a result I was constantly the target of every opportunity the older siblings could find to tease, belittle, and insult my very existence. A favorite tale one of my brothers enjoyed telling me was that I wasn’t really part of the family—Mom and Dad had found me in a trash can. My sister, nine years older than me, came at me from a different angle. She made it clear that my presence, including in the bedroom we shared, was an invasion of her personal space and a situation she tolerated but resented.

My parents were kind and hardworking raised in a time when children were to be seen and not heard, each dealing with their own childhood challenges. Under the guidance of the then popular Dr. Benjamin Spock’s approach to child rearing, they did little to nurture, encourage or guide their offspring. I was well fed, taken care of, and provided a healthy middle class life style for mid-Minnesota. Although I knew I was loved I did not feel valued.

The day I heard Matthew 22:39 now seems so long ago. I was in the basement of the Pillager Baptist Church sitting in a child size pew near the back of the small Children’s Church area. At the tender age of eight, I heard that verse as the leader read, “… love your neighbor as yourself.”

I looked at the Bible I shared with the child sitting next to me. I read it again. Did it really say that? I pulled the Bible closer, leaned in and read the verse yet again. I thought to myself, hmm, that’s easy. Yet it seemed so not Biblical. I read it again. Sure enough that’s what said. My next thought was, if that is what it says, I am to love others as I loved myself, then I don’t have to like anyone. I don’t even need to be nice to anyone. After all, I hated myself.

 

There’s a popular song played on Christian radio in which the songwriter/singer wonders about having a conversation of with his younger self and if he could, would he? He imagines he could warn himself of all the mistakes he would make that could then be avoided.  He could make his life less painful, easier. Then he wonders if that’s such a great idea or not. After all it’s those mistakes that made him the man he is today.

Just a this songwriter ponders this idea, I too think about it. I wonder how my life could have been different if I could have embraced the truth behind Matthew 22:39. Instead, the words of Jesus became twisted and used by Satan to cause my life to be so misdirected.

There was choice after choice I made that were from a place of self hatred. I continued to attend church and Bible camp; read books, including the Bible, from cover to cover; tackled group and individual studies; and I had even attended Christian University.

The message my mind spoke to me daily never changed - “You’re worthless. God loves the world sure, but not you. He can’t forgive you, you have done too many horrible things.” I had heard these messages for years, from the time I was a small child well into my adult life. I appeared to be normal and well adjusted. No one new of my transgression or the battle within my mind. I was afraid to tell anyone any of the pieces. I knew others would be shocked and appalled at my behavior. No one would ever be able to accept me. 

A few years into my adult life, the leadership at the church I’d been attending occasionally had a change. At one point they posted a sign at the front door that said, “No Perfect People Allowed”. Finally, I fit in! If anyone was imperfect it was me. Even so, I still couldn’t overcome that internal voice and I continued to make horrible choices. I’d pray for forgiveness vow to stop only to find myself repeating this ritual again and again. The secrets were getting too big for me. I couldn’t handle the anxiety and the pain they created knocking on my heart all day long.

Everyone has heard that confession is good for the soul. The thought of confessing this to someone else scared me. It created it’s own anxiety, putting pit in my stomach every time I thought about it. God then opened a door to someone willing to listen. Knowing the conversation would be confidential, I made arrangements to meet. As I blurted out my history the expression on the recipient’s face never changed. No looks of condemnation, no utterance of “you’ve got to be kidding”, no expulsion from the office. Instead there were kind words of support with a list of Bible verses to read as often as the words from Satan saturated my thoughts. These verses made it clear that I am an adopted member of God’s family. He loves me and forgives me of everything and anything.

I also I found that my sins were no different than many of those around me including the leadership within our church. This lead me to believe that if they were forgiven I could be too.  I also discovered my value through God’s eyes. I am loved by a Father who is love. Over time I began to understand this value and God’s view of me. It changed how I saw and accepted myself  and others. It gradually affected every aspect of my life.

It’s been a long journey from reading that set of verses 10-20 times a day to today when I have moved to reading other verses. I am traveling closer to Jesus day by day. Is it over? Am I cured? No, the struggle is real and I expect to be at battle until I meet Christ face to face. Until then, I continually remind myself that I am God’s child, I am fully forgiven, I am immensely loved, and I am greatly valued.

If I could have that conversation with my younger self, would I? I think so. What would I say? I would tell myself the truth behind Matthew 22:39. The truth that is laid out clearly throughout the Bible and the message of Jesus. I would tell me to let the truth that you are truly loved sink deeply into you. Finally, I would say to never forget you are God’s child making you more than loved, you are valued.

 

If you are dealing with issues of low self worth, know that you are valuable beyond measure in Jesus. Here are some verses to help you take those negative thoughts captive and meditate on who God says you are.

Romans 6:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

Romans 8:14-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

John 1:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Galatians 3:26-28 New Living Translation (NLT)

26 For you are all children[a] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[b] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[c] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

6 And because we[a] are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”[b] 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.[c] And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Ephesians 1:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. 4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Ephesians 1:7-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. 

He didn't think a connect group was for him...

Anthony Lyle is originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Maryland with a company for work. We asked him about his experiences with his connect group. Here's what he had to say...

What is your occupation?

I move furniture and perform sound system installations. I do a lot of sound work for churches. I work on man caves as well. I have setup personal recording studios as well.

What drew you to the Church at Severn Run, and how long have you been a member?

I’ve been a member for about three years. I kept driving by and stopped in one day and stayed.

Do you consider yourself a “joiner”?

I am not usually a joiner, no.

What made you choose to get connected, and how did you decide which Connect Group to join?

Amber Adams, the Connect Group leader, played a big part in my joining a group. She is persistent!

I joined the Gambrills/Crofton Connect Group (GCCG). It is a diverse group of people from all walks of life who love to fellowship together. We believe that our differences make us stronger and our backgrounds enhance our stories. We believe that Christian education is the way to grow in our faith. We love to share the goodness of Jesus through our personal testimonies of loving well, living Jesus and believing big.

Once I met the leader of the group, Terence Lynch, he and the group made me feel very welcome.

Have you noticed any changes in yourself since becoming a member of the group?

I find myself talking to people more. I share more, spread the Word more.

Some folks may not have become Connect Group members due to schedules or other issues. Has it been a challenge to balance work/life commitments and keep up with the group?

Stuff happens, I had a recent experience with the Red Line Metro in D.C. where I was delayed for a while. For the most part I am able to meet with the group when I need to. God will make a way.

Has being in a Connect Group helped you with relationships, work, personal issues or spiritual growth?

I want to go out and minister more to other people. I like to visit other houses of worship and see how they are growing.

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a member of a Connect Group?

It opens the doors for relationships. We learn how to become a disciple, and not just exist as Christians. Connect Groups are important because they help us grow in the Word. We start to graduate from milk as new Christ followers and become disciples who are feeding on the meat of God’s word.

 

At the Church at Severn Run, part of loving well, living Jesus and believing big is connecting with other members and working together to grow the body of Christ.

We invite you find a Connect Group as you continue on your walk.

Having Compassion

 

I walked to the table and there he was. Amanuel Habtamu. Not smiling exactly, but looking expectant. Or maybe that’s just how I perceived his expression. I felt he looked expectant of me, of anybody, to follow the leading of their heart. His face seemed to say, “I am God’s child. He has great things in store for me. He wants to use you to help me achieve those things and be a part of His plan.”

I was hooked. After years of feeling like we could not commit to yet another monthly debit from our checking account, it became clear to me that this might possibly be one of the most important debits every month.

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”


Matthew 25:40

My kids were excited too. He was the same age as my oldest son, and it became a joy to pray for Amanuel every night. If there was a night when he was inadvertently forgotten, my kids were quick to remind me, “Let’s pray for Amanuel”. There were lots of questions from them about his country, school, and family.

From the beginning it was humbling to know that Amanuel was one among the many Compassion children that Severn Runners supported at a particular facility in Woliso, Ethiopia. When some of the church staff visited the Child Development Center in Woliso, they were able to take packages from Severn Run partners to their Compassion children. Our family sent Amanuel a pair of jeans, 2 shirts, pictures and letters.

 

Our middle son, Jonas (age 8), sat in church with us the Sunday morning the mission team was away. From the stage, we were reminded to pray for the team and their work in Ethiopia. On the screens before us was displayed a collage of some images of their trip. As we scanned the pictured faces, Jonas said, “Look! There’s Amanuel!” In the upper right corner was Amanuel holding up one of the shirts we had sent with the team. For Jonas, in that moment, Ethiopia didn’t seem so far away. He made the connection between the prayers we say, and the letters we write to a real live boy in another part of the world. Jonas saw the light in his eyes and understood the value of our investment in Amanuel’s life.

We may never have the privilege of meeting Amanuel in person, but we have no doubt about our impact in his life. More than a long-distance PenPal, our resources allow Amanuel access to healthcare, clothing, food, education, and most importantly, opportunities to hear about God’s love.

Pray about how God can use your resources to change the direction of a child’s life through Compassion International.

 

For more information, please visit: https://www.compassion.com/about/about-us.htm 

#MyStory :: My Struggle and Jesus' Grace

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It’s easy to think that some people are “immune” to sin, or at least more resistant to it, based on outward appearances. Some people just seem to have it all together, and it feels like they couldn’t ever do anything wrong. The truth is that this is as far from the truth as it possibly could be. We all sin, even the people who don’t appear to on the outside. To show you what I mean, here’s my story…

I grew up in church. I was a Pastor’s Kid, and I spent a large portion of my childhood entrenched in everything Christian. I had loving parents who were devoted followers of Christ, and as I said, my dad was a pastor for many years. I remember playing in the church all the time as a kid. I went to Sunday school every week. I went to summer camps and VBS every year. I went to youth group at church. I did all the things that a “good Christian” should do. Life was perfect, right?

Wrong!

In many ways, I’m very thankful that I grew up the way I grew up. It definitely planted some seeds in my life that are integral to where I am right now, but the thing is, in my teenage years and early adulthood these seeds were dormant and never really grew into much of anything. In many ways, the seeds planted felt foreign to me. I knew everything I needed to know. I knew what the seeds were supposed to grow into, but I never cared to feed or water them of my own accord. Jesus was someone I knew of, but not someone that I walked with personally. I easily fell back into my old ways.

In 2006 I joined the military, got married, and moved to Germany. This is when my life really started to take a dark turn. Now that I was far away from almost everything I knew, I really had zero connection to a life that resembled anything touched by Jesus. I still knew what I knew, but it was distant and it barely had any effect on my thoughts and actions. The only thing that stuck with me through all the years was my conscious. There were many times where I did things that I knew were wrong; things that I knew I shouldn’t be doing, but I oftentimes did them anyways.

My wife and I had our first child in 2008. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend together before Ava arrived, so it was a bit of a shock to me once she was in our lives. We were happy, but things were very different. My wife, Rachel, changed. She used to be very lovey and attached to me. She used to be very physical, which I loved because one of my love languages is physical touch. But after our child, things were very much different. She didn’t like to be touched as much, and we certainly lost a lot of our intimacy. While I loved her and our daughter very much, this change was hard on me. And being that I was still growing as a man, I didn’t really know how to handle this change productively. I turned to pornography to fill the void in my heart. Of course, it never filled the emptiness in my heart, but it continued to be a problem for me for many years.

I also engaged in some very inappropriate behaviors at work. I would swear all the time, and I would not act in any way that a Christian should. I poured a lot of junk into my mind, and all these things just made it worse. It got so bad that at one point when my wife was gone on a trip back home, I spent some personal time with a friend’s wife and her friend, and I essentially cheated on my wife with my neighbor’s friend. Fortunately, I did not make the worst mistake I could have made, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t wanted to. Needless to say, it was a close call, but ultimately I had committed adultery no matter how far it had gone. And this wasn’t the last time either.

In 2010 we moved to Guam. We got pregnant with our second child, which wasn’t planned, so this one was really strenuous on our marriage. Neither of us were in good places, and the tension almost ruined us. I was working nights for a long time, and was using pornography as an outlet even more. I also had someone I worked with there who I started chatting online with and developed a relationship. I eventually got to the point where I went on a date with this girl, and intended to be intimate with her. I remember being at home after I had gone out with her, and I was chatting with her. She gave me the option to come over to her place. Again, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t wanted to, but something inside me wouldn’t let me go. I knew that it was wrong. As much tension as there was in our marriage, I knew that I couldn’t do this to my wife. I’m pretty sure that God was watching over me that night, even though I had completely turned my back on him. I thank him to this day that I did not go over to that girl’s apartment.

However, I was still in a really bad place. Luckily, I cut off relations with that girl, but my heart was still very hard. There were a few other occasions where I almost made some really bad decisions, but each time my conscious (aka, God) kept me from doing it. I attribute that to the seeds that had been planted in my life so long ago, even though I was still neglecting them.

In 2013, I changed jobs in the military, and had to go to school in Monterey, California. This was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. We found a church there that reminded me who Jesus was, and it brought me back from the depths and breathed new life into my soul. I probably would not be where I am today if we had not gone there.

It took some time, but slowly my heart softened as I found forgiveness for my illicit convictions and stopped pouring darkness into my heart. I even ended up telling my wife all the things I had done, which was an incredibly hard thing to do. I knew it needed to be done, but I struggled with actually doing it for several months. Finally, I did, and by the grace of God she forgave me. I certainly didn’t deserve it, but I suppose that’s how grace works isn’t it?

I’m still not perfect. I still struggle with keeping my eyes focused on God and not on beautiful women. Of course, I still struggle with temptations, but I’m very proud of the fact that it’s been many years since I’ve searched for pornography or given a woman other than my wife more attention than she deserves. Our marriage is better for it, and my relationship with Jesus is stronger than it’s ever been. I still have a lot to learn, and I still have many ways in which I can grow, but for once in my life my faith is real, and it really makes all the difference.

 


We’re supposed to pick one woman and that’s the one that God meant for us to be intimate with. When we play with the idea of intimacy with any other woman, even a virtual one, that’s when the devil can get a foothold in our lives that will easily tear us down if not removed. It’s very common for men to struggle with this temptation. If that’s you, know that you are not alone, and you can overcome it with help from the Father. Allow his healing in your life, and you will find that EVERYTHING will be all the better for it.

If you struggle with addiction to pornography, please use these resources to get the help you need.

 

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