God’s people had been through a lot over their early years; they finally left Egypt very wealthy, and were on their way to the Promised Land but they were not grateful. They grumbled about the miraculous manna from heaven, they criticized their leadership, they were led by God...
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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...
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...
Is GOD in Your Goals? As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt. These are...
God’s people had been through a lot over their early years; they finally left Egypt very wealthy, and were on their way to the Promised Land but they were not grateful. They grumbled about the miraculous manna from heaven, they criticized their leadership, they were led by God himself in the form of fire and cloud. Yet they asked to have a golden calf built so they could bow down to it. There definitely seemed to be an absence of joy during those times. Fast forward to present times and there seems to be an absence of joy in the present day as well, at least among believers and it should not be so.
Joy is a Person and a Path
When Jesus appeared as the Savior, he brought joy in the form of his person, and a path of eternal life to be reunited with God. In Matthew 3:17, we read: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Jesus brings God great joy. We, as Jesus’ disciples also bring the Father great joy when we follow his commandments and share his love with others.
I’ve been meditating on a line from Nehemiah 8:10 recently. It says: ...Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Whenever I feel down, things not going my way, anything that could go wrong seems to go wrong, I remind myself that I am weak on my own, but in God, I am strong. No need to be a grumpy, sad, overcast believer. Turn that frown upside down and rejoice because God has already won whatever battle, or condition, or circumstance for us.
Rejoice in Everything
When I read through the scripture there is so much emphasis on joy and rejoicing, it is clear that God wanted us to be happy in everything. The shepherds saw the star signaling the birth of Jesus, they were filled with joy (Matthew 2:10). A sinner repents and returns to God, heaven rejoices (Luke 15:7). If you experience any kind of trouble, count it all joy (James 1:2-8). If you are having a good day, be joyful, a bad day, be joyful. If you are having a meal together, be joyful (Acts 2:46). In this way we can show a broken world that we have something that they need.
Have you ever noticed when you go to a store that a salesperson most always will approach you with a smile and try to be very helpful? If you had to choose between a person with a smile and a person with a grumpy look on their face, whom would you want to be your salesperson? In the same way a broken world needs a joyful messenger to share a message of love.
If we live as believers and love Jesus, we have to live joyfully. We should perform a course correction in our lives if that is not already our norm. I’ve personally been working hard on myself in that respect. I’ve recently been through a nerve-wracking trial and I just stopped worrying about it and saying to myself, God’s got it. I cast my cares on him and I felt better immediately. I’ve been putting his word first, acknowledging him (Proverbs 3:6) and everything is working out for good.
I recently added a sticky note reminder to my work computer with the following items of encouragement:
- LG – let it go, and Let God,
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and
- The joy of the Lord is my strength.
These sayings serve as daily reminders that I am loved and I need to reflect the love of God to others every day, no matter what.
As we fast approach Christmas Day, let us choose to follow the path of joy. Let us continually seek the joyful fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) every minute of every day of our lives.
Every day we remain on earth is another opportunity to demonstrate God’s love to someone. I like to pray that God be reflected through me, especially his joy.
If joy makes us strong, then sorrow probably weakens us. There are times when we may feel we have no choice but to be sad, but we have a comforter in Christ who knows and who is there for us. Let us choose joy no matter the issue (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
We have a short time on earth and an eternity in heaven, let us act in a way that the Father will say that this is my child in whom I am pleased.
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:
- Pray for their godchild regularly
- Set an example of a Christian life
- Help him/her to grow in the faith of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- 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!
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.
Is GOD in Your Goals?
As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt.
These are admirable goals, however, as Jesus followers, we are asked to be different from the world, to be in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). Romans 12:2 tells us how, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) This probably explains why we set goals every year and then are never quite able to meet them – we think we are strong enough to do things our way. As believers, we are strong in God and should seek his will before starting any new project, New Year’s Resolutions included.
The Bible contains stories of ordinary people who set goals to be used by God and who accomplished extraordinary things. David v. Goliath, Moses v. the Red Sea, Daniel v. the Lion, and Noah v. the Flood. God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20)
So, for the new year, let’s change things up a bit. Let us seek to align our goals with God’s purpose for us. Let us also seek his wisdom and guidance for our personal goals that his will be done.
It might help to focus on what Jesus said were the two greatest commands: Love God with all your being, and love others as yourself. Here's what it could look like:
Put Him first. He has forgiven you and he has sent his son to be a sacrifice for you, so you could be closer to him. Love him with everything thing you have; your mind, your heart, your soul. Think of him constantly, meditate on his word, and talk with him daily.
Be the light of God to them. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. That is an ongoing goal. As a young man in high school, I ministered to others in my class and recently spoke to one of my classmates. Thirty years later he contacted me and thanked me for sharing the gospel with him. He is now a believer. It may not take 30 years for your love to impact someone like that, it could be 30 minutes or 30 days, the point is that we need to love on others as Christ loved us.
Some people struggle with loving themselves--their thoughts are filled with self-loathing or extreme self-criticism. This year, Remember who you are...or more importantly, whose you are! If you have a relationship with Jesus, you are a child of God. A prince or princess of the Most High King who was pursued passionately. You are forgiven, you are healed, and you are set free. You are loved. Don’t beat up on yourself if you make a mistake, ask God for forgiveness and move on.
Forgive Yourself (Romans 8:1)
Grow in grace. Feed your spirit self. In the physical world we tend to want to eat healthy. The same needs to happen in the spiritual world. I have personally turned off the news because I only see division, I see separation, which I think is the opposite of what God wants. What you read, what you watch, what you listen to, and who you spend time with affects you.
We have a natural tendency to lean towards negative thoughts and words, however, I have seen significant improvement in my personal life just by speaking positively and reminding myself that: I am a child of God. I am a friend of God, I am created in His image, and I am blessed and highly favored. I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.
Part of loving God and others is to pray for them daily. We should pray for our leaders that they will seek God’s wisdom as well. Pray for missionaries and their families who are under threat in the Middle East and other areas. Pray for folks without heat or shelter this winter, ask God how you can help them. Pray for police officers and protestors, school administrators, children in need, missing children, people with dementia. There are so many needs; we need to address them.
It is important to set goals that align with what God wants. As you set goals for yourself in the new year, ask God for his guidance, and thank him for the outcome in advance.
Here's how you could focus on these principles each week of each month:
Week 1 Focus on Loving God:
- Give him praise, give him thanks, honor Him daily
- Seek his will in the word
- Pray daily
- Give tithes and offerings for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Week 2 Focus on Loving Others
- Be a light to pre-Christians
- Be a friend to others
- Share God's love with others
- Encourage other believers
- Smile – it’s contagious
- Serve where ever God shows you a need
Week 3 Focus on Loving Yourself
- Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
- Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Slow down and take time to do the things that make you happy and bring you closer to God
Week 4 Speak Life Every Day
- Speak these verses:
- I am a friend of God (James 2:23)
- Praise him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Find other verses to say and memorize
- Speak kindly to the people around you
- Share an encouragement with someone
- Tell the people you love how much you love them