Category: christian living

There IS Something We Can Do For Our Fellow Persecuted Christians (The ISIS Crisis)

Alone we are just a single voice but together we can be the collective voice of our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria telling the world what is happening and how we can help!”

 

I will be honest with you: I’ve seen the headlines about the unthinkable atrocities going on in Iraq and Syria and I have avoided them as much as I’ve been able. I haven’t read the stories and I have even averted my eyes from the pictures.

It’s not because I don’t care deeply. It’s because I care too deeply and up until now, I have thought there is absolutely nothing I can do to change the situation; so to keep myself from being mentally and emotionally tortured by the internalization I tend to do of tragedy, I have avoided it.

But that’s not what Scripture commands: “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31:9

And thanks to the joint efforts put together by some fellow bloggers, there is something we can do now–all of us, including you.

We can be their voice. It’s one of the huge blessings of the Internet. We can give money and encourage others to do the same, raising awareness and using the power of social media to fund the mission efforts in these countries seeking to provide food, shelter and other necessities to Christians fleeing from the brutal persecution.

This is what the Food for the Hungry campaign is about:

FH campaign is focused specifically on helping refugees fleeing the fighting in Iraq and Syria. FH is partnering with Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development (LSESD) which works with the local church in the Middle East to help those fleeing the ISIS onslaught to find safety and shelter.

$125 – Provides one week of emergency food rations to 10 people to guard against malnutrition
$65 – Ensures that three families receive essential hygiene items, including a bucket, jerry can, soap, and disinfectant
$22 – for one family for hygiene items

For a real-life peek into what many of these families are going through as they flee for their lives:

There are 2 ways I’m asking you to consider helping:

1. You can give here now.

2. You can share this post, the video, and the link for giving as often and in as many places as possible over the Internet.

All our voices, united together, helping our brothers and sisters. This is what it means to “visit those in affliction.” Will you be a voice?

When God’s Will is Wildly Different Than Ours

Of all things in the Christian life, I marvel most when the irony of God’s will completely contradicts human logic and ultimately reveals a magnificent display of His glory, a finished, breath-taking tapestry we’ve only been able to see from the messy underside.

I think we don’t get to see the wonder of God’s power very often because we are too afraid to walk in faith. I spoke recently with a young woman expecting her first child. She was hardly considering quitting her job to stay home with her newborn not because they couldn’t afford it, but because she didn’t feel comfortable when the checking and savings account fell below a certain amount.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?…you of little faith!” Luke 12:25-28

Reading the story of John Bunyan again yesterday left me in awe. He had one passion: to tell others about Jesus. So much so, that he disobeyed the law to keep preaching. And then he went to prison. For 12 years. How easy it would have been for bitterness to set in. How tempting it would have been to shake a fist in God’s face (after all, he had children to care for) and say, “I was doing this for you! Why did you let this happen?”

In fact, would any of us not have reasoned that “if preaching is against the law, I’m biblically bound to obey”? We so quickly default to our own understanding and raise it higher than God.

But his faith did not waver. And because of that, John wrote the most powerful, most popular book besides the Bible, ever read–The Pilgrim’s Progress–among many others.

But the great irony is that his voice for the Gospel has reached hundreds of thousands and that number growing, long after his life, and far more-reaching than his preaching voice.

Faith. God took John’s obedience woven with his very heart’s desire and multiplied it beyond what he could ever have imagined. He’s done that all throughout history.

I’ve watched Him do that in my own life.

I should not have 10 children. Logic told us we couldn’t afford them. People told us that too. And we couldn’t. Human wisdom would have had me back out in the work force because we had too many bills. And certainly logic would have stopped the babies. But we knew what God had said to us and we believed that He was going to show up. He did. Not before heartache and fear and being pushed to our limits, but when He did, it was amazing. If you ask me how I know He lives, I’ve seen Him do what could never be done on human terms.

I think God delights in showing Himself mighty in our lives. I think we really never get to see what true faith is until we come to the end of ourselves and our own wisdom.

Think of John Bunyan, then let God move your mountain.

Why We Must Be Theology-Loving Christians

“I don’t really get into ‘theology’ or ‘doctrine.’ I mean, I love Jesus. That’s really all that matters.”

This is a frightening reality among most Christians, and particularly Christian women. Frightening because our theology defines how we live. It informs all our decisions and thus, our whole direction in life. Theology matters.

Theology is the study of the nature of God and truth. It’s not just a cursory glance, but a delving in that shapes our life choices.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:3-5

“Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live…You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood.” Psalm 119:116-118

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6

We must make the Word of God, from where our theology is formed, absolute priority in our homes. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, and let it encompass your lives. Too often the Bible is something from which we enjoy cherry-picking pretty verses that make us feel happy at just the time we’re discouraged. And it can do just that.

But if we view His Word only as a book from which to draw out a few verses now and then to satisfy us in a particular problem, we have largely overlooked its meaning and power in our lives. It is, in its entirety, for our “teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16) to equip us for all of life.

We learn how to respond, think and act like Christians by studying Christ and the character of God throughout His Word, by understanding His holiness which leads us to pursue holiness. We learn about salvation and God’s plan for mankind and how His ways are not our ways. And if we are willing to look and study long enough, we might find we have to let die some strong elements of wrong theology we were taught since childhood.

Essentially, true followers of Christ will seek to know more and more about the nature, thoughts and wisdom of the One whom they serve. They want to know truth. True Christians will seek theology.

We ought to be poring over His Word ourselves, and passing that thirst onto our children, making it one of our top priorities. Whatever effort you are placing on math or English or science, I would encourage you to double that effort teaching God’s Word.

Take every problem, question and concern to His Word. It speaks to every area of life and it is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path. Love theology. Don’t be afraid it.

Our Health Insurance Alternative (Saving Money on Health Insurance)

Dropping our Blue Cross Insurance was the best thing we ever did–financially and ethically. Not only were our premiums becoming increasingly expensive, but we were still paying large sums out-of-pocket, all while much of our money went to greasing the great big Insurance Machine.

We knew about Christian medical sharing programs, but were a little concerned they might not work as well in real life. Not to mention, I had been pregnant several times when we considered joining and thought our maternity care would not be covered. (It is.)

We joined Samaritan’s Ministries about 4 years ago and have been beyond excited about the way it works and how it has benefited our family.

What is a “medical sharing program”?

Samaritan’s is comprised of over 30,000 families who have agreed to pay a monthly “share” which is distributed among needs for that month.

If you have a medical bill over $300, you submit your “need” to Samaritans along with copies of your bill(s). They distribute the expense among as many families as it takes to cover it. You will then receive checks from individual families (usually along with an encouraging note) for part of your submitted need until full amount is received. (On rare occasions, the needs for the month exceed the shares and you receive a percentage. This has not happened to us as long as we’ve been members.)

Thus far in our experience with Samaritans, we have had our submitted medical bills covered 100% every time. We never had that experience with regular insurance companies.

What do you tell the doctor/hospital?

Samaritan’s provides you with a membership card which you can present at the time of treatment. You are considered a “self-pay” patient which hospitals and doctors actually prefer, since it alleviates the red tape of bureaucratic companies.

Does it work when there is a large medical expense?

Yes. We really got to see Samaritans in action when my father had a heart attack in 2011. Also a member, my Dad had a near-death experience when he had a massive heart attack and we rushed him to the ER. His bills exceeded $100,000, and every penny was paid by Samaritan’s members.

Consider that if they had still been on their former insurance which only paid 80%, they would have had to pay $38,000 just on the price their self-pay was. With insurance, the actual amount would have far exceeded that number and their out-of-pocket would as well. You aren’t just saving on premiums.

You can opt to pay extra and increase your share coverage.

How much does it cost?

A family pays a monthly share of about $400.

Another amazing thing…

In our newsletter each month there is a section for “special needs” which includes certain medical needs of members not covered by Samaritans because they are pre-existing. Members are offered the opportunity to give, in addition to their regular share, to these families to help cushion the expenses.

One month we gave $25 to such a need–an expensive operation. Several weeks later we received our check back. The note accompanying the check read that they had received more than they needed to cover the bill and he was actually having to return money to different members!

I was speechless.

Samaritan’s isn’t only an efficient, well-oiled machine that members can feel secure about, it’s a beautiful picture of the Body of Christ coming together to meet one another’s needs, just as Christ mentions in Scripture.

They have my highest recommendation.

Oh, and one more bonus: if you refer me, I get a credit on my next share amount. Which is also good news for you if you join. When you start sharing your positive experiences (and you will!), you’ll save more too.

*You must be a Christian and member of a church to join.

Are We Raising Teens Who are Barely Christian?

According to the National Study of Youth and Religion, only 8% of American youth are considered “highly devoted” Christians, possessing a faith that makes a significant difference in their lives.

Kenda Dean, author of Almost Christian observes:

“Even if teenagers immerse themselves in youth ministry programs, are involved in churches, and manage to dodge overwhelming counter influences, they are unlikely to take hold of a ‘god’ who is too limp to take hold of them. Perhaps young people lack robust Christian identities because churches offer such a stripped-down version of Christianity that it no longer poses a viable alternative to imposter spiritualities like Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

The elephant in the room in the discussion about the National Study of Youth and Religion is the muddled ecclesiology of American churches, a confusion present, not only in young people but in congregations themselves.  We have forgotten that we are not here for ourselves, which has allowed self-focused spiritualities to put down roots in our soil. (Emphasis mine.)

It would be unlikely for teenagers to develop any religions framework besides superficial Christianity if churches have supplanted the gospel with a religious outlook that functions primarily as a social lubricant, with a ‘god’ who supports teenagers’ decisions, makes them feel good about themselves, meets their needs when called upon but otherwise stays out of the way.  If this is the god we offer young people, there may be little in Christianity to which they object, but there is even less to which they will be devoted.

By contrast, the God portrayed in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures asks, not just for commitment, but for our very lives. The God of the Bible traffics in life and death, not niceness, and calls for sacrificial love, not benign whatever-ism. If the God of Jesus Christ is a missionary God who crosses every boundary–life and death and space and time–to win us, then following Jesus is bound to be anything but convenient.

We reap what we sow. We have received from teenagers exactly what we have asked them for: assent, not conviction; compliance, not faith. Young people invest in religion precisely what they think it is worth–and if they think the church is worthy of benign whatever-ism and no more, then the indictment falls not on them, but on us.”

In short, are we teaching real Christianity to our children? Are we living a life that has been transformed, in every part, by a faith in Christ? And are we espousing the same doctrine as the first century Christians, one that cost many their own lives? While most of us will never be required to give a fraction of that for Christ’s sake, are we willing to give up other things if discipleship deems it? Things that might cost us popularity, comforts, friendships?

Are we teaching a Christ worthy of losing all?

I would love your thoughts.

Raising Children to Love Him: Don’t Miss This One Thing! (Live Interview-I’m Talkin’, Y’all)

 

Recently, Christian Heritage Online invited me to speak in a live webinar on the topic of Raising Visionary Kids. If you missed that, you can listen to the podcast HERE.

The interview addressed an important topic for all parents, but particularly the homeschool community, especially now as some of the foundations are being shaken with recent scandals among popular leadership. So I hope you find some time to listen in and I would love to talk more about this subject of  raising children who love the Lord, in the comment section.

We have to be wise and discerning as parents, carefully dividing the word of truth as we disciple our children. We talked about some good stuff in the broadcast that I hope will encourage you as you seek to do that.

By the way, the interview includes a rare “Green Room” discussion at the end and the producer, Daniel Craig, brought up a most important point addressing the responsibility of this generation in light of some of the conversation in the interview. I strongly encourage you to catch that.

Live webinar: Teaching the Reason Behind the Rules

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