Laughing with God and Each Other

by guest blogger Michele Olson from Lake Girl Publishing

Have you ever loved an episode of the iconic TV masterpiece, I Love Lucy? Whether it’s the chocolate factory, stomping the grapes, or one of the many hijinks that Lucy and Ethel arrive at every week, the show has given countless people a ton of laughs.

The Bible talks about laughter in Proverbs 17:22 from The Message (MSG):

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. Laughter can lead to a cheerful disposition.

I like to envision Jesus laughing. We get a hint of that when he talks about the children in Matthew 18:

“Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”

When he talked about this, he was with a child. Can you imagine Him enjoying the child before He made this statement – laughing and playing with the little one?

And from Mark 10:16

Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

Our Lord loved play, children, and laughing! We don’t often envision Him like that, but as a human, he had those moments, too.

As God, He loves everyone. As Jesus, He had people whose company He enjoyed while on earth. A good example is His friendship with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. When Lazarus died, Jesus wept as we read in John 11:35. He wept in His humanity. It is possible He was thinking back to their times of laughter and fun. He was engaged with them as true friends and the sorrow on their faces brought Him to tears. Jesus knew firsthand every emotion we will ever experience.

Being a Christian is serious business, we are about the work of the Kingdom. But, let’s remember that within that calling, is the joy of laughter and humor. If you look closely, you’ll see the Holy Spirit puts moments in your path to make you smile, really smile.

When we are told in Scriptures that every tear will be wiped from our eyes, perhaps the next moment will be the biggest moment of laughter and sheer joy that we’ve ever known!

Enjoying the laughter in life, along with the sorrow is a big reason I wrote Being Ethel (In a world that loves Lucy), my novel that takes place on Mackinac Island in 1979. There’s romance, suspense, and an I Love Lucy loving nun! It’s a faith journey through the main characters who love to watch I Love Lucy together. If you wonder if it’s a book that might bring a smile to you, here are a few questions that will help you find out!

  • If you relish in re-enjoying or discovering new places, you’re gonna to love it! (Mackinac Island)
  • If you love a clean romance with mystery, almost cozy, but no murder, you’re gonna love it!
  • If you love Old Hollywood and have seen your share of black and white movies, you’re gonna love it!
  • If you love watching I Love Lucy and new insights from “fellow” viewers, you’re gonna love it!
  • If you love all the great TV and movies that focused on nuns, (Can I get a Hayley Mills, Julie Andrews what what?), you’re gonna love it!
  • If you like to see a faith walk of someone who struggles, but in an engaging, authentic, real person way, you’re gonna love it!
  • If you love the simplicity of the 70s and a life with no cell phones, you’re gonna love it!
  • If you love a Nora-Ephronesque approach to life with a bit of snarky attitude, you’re gonna love it!

It’s my great joy to share Being Ethel (In a world that loves Lucy) with others. Within the story is the greatest story ever told. Remember, our Savior laughed, and you can too. In Him we know ultimate creativity, love, and laughter. Rejoice and laugh! It will do your heart so much good.​


About the Author Michele Olson

Michele Olson--Women in Business SummitMichèle Olson has an over-forty-year career in advertising and marketing as a writer in all mediums, with an emphasis in health writing. She has also enjoyed a professional voice career including time as a DJ (yes, even when they still played records!) and has voiced local to national commercials and voice projects.

It has always been her dream to segue into fiction and Being Ethel (In a world that loves Lucy) is the first in a series based on Mackinac Island—a tiny island in the Straits of Mackinac that connect the Upper and Lower Peninsula of Michigan. A visitor there along with her husband for over thirty years, she loves to tell people about this unique place with no cars and plenty of fudge!

A mom, a mother-in-love, and a “Gee Gee” (G as in good), Michèle resides with her husband in the shadow of Lambeau Field, where life around football abounds. She cherishes her faith and family above all and is delighted to take you on this trip to Mackinac Island, a place that has brought her so much respite and joy. This is the first in a series of three novels to be set on the island. Next? It’s a trip back to Mackinac in Being Dorothy (In a world longing for home).

She loves connecting, so reach back through all the social media links provided.

Facebook.com/LakeGirlPublishing
Twitter @MoDawnWriter
Instagram.com/lakegirlpublishing
Email Info@LakeGirlPublishing
Website: LakeGirlPublishing.com

Bible Verses about Children

by Guest Blogger Alvin Gann

Scripture about children is abundant and can be found in both the Old and New Testaments. These passages teach parents how to raise their kids and disciple them to follow Jesus. While the Bible is full of Scripture about children, these Bible verses often address varying topics.

Here are several of them with downloadable wallpapers for your desktop and mobile devices:

Children Matter to God and His Plan for the Kingdom

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.” Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)  

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)


The Discipleship and Discipline of Children Is Important

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (NIV)

    

 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom, but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother. Proverbs 29:15 (NIV)

    

Parents Should Not frustrate Their Children

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Colossians 3:21 (NIV)

  

Young People Have a Role in God’s Kingdom

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

  

 The Bible has much to say about the importance of teaching children! Various passages in the Bible teach us about parenting, discipling kids and raising them up as Christian leaders, and the simple faith of a child as a perfect example of what God seeks from those who want to enter His Kingdom.

Curious to learn more about what the Bible says about children? There is a resource from Let the Little Children Come that provides various Bible verses about children that address each of these topics and more! This resource includes Bible verses on each subtopic, along with an option to read these verses in six different translations. Also included in this website page are various Bible quotes about children on downloadable wallpapers! These can also double as social media images that you can share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Visit Let The Little Children Come for more resources on the Gospel for kids.

______________________________________________________

Guest blogger: Alvin Gan

Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of 2 websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.

www.LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com  specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively.

www.BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.

Celebrating Easter Every Day

by Guest Blogger Lee Ann Mancini

Whenever I hear of an upcoming celebration, I feel the joy rising up within me. I love celebrations. Whether informal or formal, I’m always glad to have a reason to celebrate. The word celebrate literally means “to assemble to honor.” It comes from the Latin word celebrare meaning “to honor a person, day, or season with festivities.”

There are many special occasions in life that we celebrate, such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, national holidays, etc. However, for the Christian, the most important celebration of all is Easter. Why is that the case? First Corinthians 15:14 boldly states, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.” If Christ had not risen from the grave, our faith would be useless, our salvation meaningless, and our preaching pointless. As a matter of fact, while Jesus’ birth was miraculous and His deeds were extraordinary, His greatest work—that of conquering death—was of incomparable significance. The importance of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be exaggerated. Without the resurrection, there is no salvation—or Christianity!

Knowing this, we can easily see why Easter is the most important holiday of all for the Christian. It is a joyous time to worship the Lord with family and friends. But in addition to celebrating on Easter Sunday, we should celebrate what Jesus has accomplished every day of the year! What do I mean by this?

I mean we should follow the commandment set forth in Deuteronomy 6:4-8, which says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” We are called to celebrate what Christ has done for us every day of the year! We are called to express our love and devotion to Him in every season!

Help Your Children Express Their Love for Jesus Every Day!

Here are some ways you can help your children express their love for Jesus both at Easter and every day of the year:

  1. Teach your children to say simple prayers.
    • “Thank you, Jesus, for the Easter miracle of rising from the grave. Help me to remember to thank you every day for what you have done for me and for everyone who believes in you.”
    • “I love you, Jesus! Help me to see new life all around me. Help me to give thanks to you because your death has brought me new life.”
    • “Dear Father, thank you for giving us your Son and for raising Jesus to life so we can live with you in heaven forever.”
  1. Lead by example. Encourage your children to engage in simple acts of kindness.
    • During Easter, visit someone who is elderly or lonely. Bring them flowers with a Bible verse attached. Spend time with them, and remind them how much Jesus loves them.
    • Express your love for Jesus through your words and actions. Say a kind word to a stranger, or lend a helping hand. After doing someone a favor, remember to tell that person, “Have a blessed day!”
    • Encourage your children to draw pictures with handwritten notes at the bottom. Send these in the mail to a loved one. Add your own personal message, expressing how much you love that friend or family member and are praying for them. Show you care for them just as Jesus loves and cares for you!
  1. Here are some other fun ideas:
    • Pick one day each week to do something different with your children:
      1. Tuesday or “Two’s Day”: Every time you say Jesus’ name, say it twice.
      2. Thursday or “Thirsty Day”: Every time you take a drink of water, say, “Jesus, you give us living water.”
    • Saturday or “Salty or Sugary Saturday”: Make foods that are fun to eat using salt or sugar. Thank Jesus for all the wonderful treats!
    • Bulletin Boards: Bulletin boards are not just for school! Have your child cut out pictures from magazines, draw pictures, or take photos that reflect the risen Jesus and new life. Post them on a special bulletin board.
    • Placemats: Make homemade placemats! Pick a Bible verse. Have your child draw pictures of God, Jesus, and the Bible that relate to that verse. Alternatively, cut out pictures from biblical magazines. Glue them on a piece of paper, and laminate them to use as placemats. Once children learn the Bible verse, make a new placemat!

I know some of these ideas may sound simple, but ask yourself, “When is the last time I did something like this to help my child grow in the faith?” If you have done something like this recently, that’s wonderful! Keep on doing what you’re doing! If you have not, then it’s never too late to start!

Celebrate the Day of Ascension

In addition to Easter, don’t forget to celebrate the Day of Ascension—or what some Christians call “the Feast of Ascension.” This refers to the day Jesus went to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. Only after the ascension was Jesus’ work complete. Hebrews 10:11-12 states, “Day after day, every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again, and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this Priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God.” Jesus’ sacrifice was “finished” on the cross, but His work was not completed until He ascended to the Father! Just as the apostles saw Jesus ascend into the heavens, we too will see Him descend on the very last day. What a celebration that day will be!

Please Check This Out

Please check out this wonderful reading of God’s Easter Miracles. The sound effects are wonderful! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C5GGlQH20Y&t=301s


More about Guest Blogger Lee Ann Mancini

LeeAnnMancini

Teaching women and children to raise up the next generation for Christ, Lee Ann Mancini’s desire is for children to begin to know and love Jesus from an early age. Read more.

 

Lee Ann’s passion for teaching children how to love people as Jesus did eventually led to the creation of the Adventures of the Sea Kids:

The Age of the Earth

by Guest Blogger Joseph Kezele

The age of the earth is an absolutely crucial topic in the controversy between evolutionists and Bible believing creationists,  but it is not the real issue.  In general evolutionists understand better than many Christians that the repeated assertion of long ages for the universe and earth itself casts doubt upon the veracity of Scripture. When that assertion is accomplished in the mind of an individual,  then it naturally follows to have doubts about the veracity of the rest of the Bible, and the authority of Scripture is overturned.

So how can the Earth be dated? Rocks cannot be dated by appearance, chemical content, the order of the rock layers or by index fossils. Index fossils are said to be specific fossils that are characteristic of specific rock layers. The problem for the evolutionary model is that the order of the rock layers and of fossils in the rock record is not consistent from place to place.

Indeed in many locations layers according the secular geologists representing tens or hundreds of millions of years are missing in various places. The Grand Canyon has great examples of this, one of which is where the Coconino Sandstone directly rests upon the Hermit Shale. When you look at the contact between these two layers, it is level and so tight not even a razor blade can be inserted between them. There are no signs of unevenness, no erosion, for hundreds of miles. It is impossible for millions of years to pass with no unevenness developing. The simple explanation is that the supposed missing time simply never existed.

The attempted scientific fallback position lies in radiometric dating, using pairs of elements, a mother element, which is unstable and is therefore radioactive, and a daughter element, produced by decay of the nucleus of the mother element. A common example is the decay of uranium to lead. This method is unreliable because it depends upon three assumptions which cannot be observed, but which can be disproven.

The first assumption is that there was no daughter element in the sample when it came into existence. There is no way to know this, except for one special situation. The second assumption is that the rate of decay of the mother element has always proceeded at the very same rate at which it is measured to occur today. This has been disproven by elegant experiments. Go to https://www.icr.org/rate/ for details. The third assumption is that nothing ever entered or left the specimen to alter the ratio of mother element to daughter element. This also is unknowable, and in the case of Carbon-14/Carbon-12 this assumption has been disproven more than once.

When samples of known age have been dated using radiometric methods, the results are seriously in error. New rock formed after the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens measured 30 years later should have shown it to be around 30 years old, but standard radiometric dating gave the significantly incorrect date of 350,000 years. This is just one of many examples of  wild disagreement between known dates with calculated dates using radiometric methods. Since this is the case with samples of known ages, how can we have confidence in dating of samples of an unknown age?

So how do secular geologists date rocks? You ask’ “How old is this particular rock?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the fossils we find in it.” You then ask, “How do you know the age of that fossil?” The answer is, “300 million years because of the rock it is found in.”  Do you see how this works? Circular reasoning. The dates of the rock layers are arbitrarily assumed, in order to create a record of deep time, which is necessary to provide for long, long ages, to give evolution enough time to happen, since it is so improbable. Attempts are made to find dates by radiometric methods that are consistent with the assumed dates. Different pairs of mother-daughter elements give widely different dates from the very same sample, so the number most consistent with the desired date is cherry picked, to “prove” its age.

However, there are many methods that provide ages consistent with the biblical time frame of less than ten thousand years, even close to the six thousand year age of the universe and Earth given by the chronologies in Chapters 5 and 11 in Genesis. Some examples are the strength of Earth’s magnetic field, the decay of comets, the erosion of Niagara Falls, coral reef growth, sodium, potassium and uranium in the ocean, and spiral galaxies.

Scientific data from observations confirm what Scripture gives us about the age of Earth without relying upon assumptions. After all, the author of the world is the author of the  Word. He does not contradict himself.


joseph-kezele
Guest Blogger Joseph Kezele

Joseph Kezele studied the sciences and music at the University of Arizona, while earning his B.A. in Russian in 1971, and his M.D. in 1975. He then completed a Pediatric Residency and practiced Emergency Medicine for 25 years in the Phoenix area, and was a diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine and fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians. He is now retired from the practice of medicine, serves as President of the Arizona Origin Science Association, and is Associate Professor of Biology at Arizona Christian University in Glendale, teaching Human Genetics, Nutrition and Wellness, Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, Organic Chemistry and Creation Science Apologetics. Dr. Kezele has also been named a Logos Research Associate, and had the privilege of participating in a dinosaur dig in Montana and excavated a triceratops horn and the triceratops cervical condyle from which Mark Armitage isolated intact osteocytes in soft tissue.

He has participated in 24 foreign mission trips, teaching medicine, standard evangelism and creation science evangelism in India, Zambia, Mexico, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Armenia and Moldova. Dr. Kezele is one of the principle presenters in the Institute for Creation Research’s 4 DVD series Made in His Image.

Dr. Kezele teaches Creation Science Evangelism at Black Mountain Baptist Church in Cave Creek, Arizona, where he and his wife Patty attend. Their three adult children live and work in the Phoenix area.

You are invited to visit his website, Arizona Origin Science Association.


 

Jesus Loves the Little Children

by Guest Blogger Alvin Gann

Have you ever sung the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” back in your childhood years? For many Christians, it often brought images to mind of Scripture that told the stories of Jesus with children. Jesus loved little children. They held a special place in His heart.

Here’s a quick reminder about the lyrics for the song (along with the chord chart, for the musicians who are reading this):

G
Jesus loves the little children
D
All the children of the world
G
Red and yellow, black and white
    C       G
They are precious in His sight
          D       G
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Lyrics by: Clare Herbert Woolston
Tune by: George Frederick Root

Over time, the song has been extended as well. For example, here is a version by Cedarmount Kids:

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus died for all the children of the world.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Red, brown, yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Many songs about Jesus and children from our childhood are songs worth remembering, but “Jesus Loves the Little Children” is a classic song that is very special, because many people love to teach this song to their children or teach it to kids at church.

Did you know that the song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” actually originated as a civil war ballad? It went like this:

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The boys are marching
Cheer up, comrades, they will come
All beneath the starry flag
We shall breathe the air again
Of the free land in our own beloved home

The song “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!” was written by George Frederick Root. It was written during the Civil War in the USA from 1861-1865. George Root’s goal in writing the song was to raise the morale of the prisoners during the war. At a later time, Clare Herbert Woolston, a lyricist, writer and preacher, wrote the lyrics of “Jesus Loves the Little Children” to the tune of “Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!”

The song “Jesus Loves the Little Children” was likely inspired by this Bible verse:

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14 English Standard Version (ESV)

The context for this verse tells us that when people brought children to Jesus, seeking prayer and blessing for them, they were rebuked by Jesus’ disciples. Unfortunately, the disciples thought that the children were not worth Jesus’ time. They thought the best thing to do would be to send the children away. But Jesus disagreed. He was upset with His disciples and brought the children to him. He even used them as an example to explain that it only takes a simple faith, like that of a child, to enter into the kingdom of God.

What can we learn from this story in Matthew 19:14 and from the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”?

  1. Children Matter: Jesus cares deeply about children. They matter to Him!
  2. A Simple Faith: Jesus made it clear that it only takes a simple faith in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. It doesn’t require you to work your way into heaven. Just a simple faith like that of a child allows you to believe in Jesus, repent of your sin, and begin following Him.
  3. Love Children: As Christians, we should love children. They are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). As we love them, we are also called to raise children in the ways of the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:4-9, Ephesians 6:4).
  4. Lead Children to Jesus: Children need to hear about Jesus, just like all of us do! The #1 time that people begin following Christ is during their childhood, especially before their teenage years.

If you’re interested in learning more or would like to learn how to use this song in your home or in your church, then take a look at the resource by Let the Little Children Come on Jesus Loves the Little Children. Included there are:

  • Videos of the song
  • Song lyrics and chords
  • Several medley recordings of this song, along with other songs, including: “Jesus Loves Me,” “Jesus Loves Even Me,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”
  • A split track of the song
  • A sign language video for this song
  • A history for the song
  • . . . and more helpful resources!

Visit Let The Little Children Come for resources on leading a child to Christ and other child evangelism resources.

______________________________________________________

Guest blogger: Alvin Gan

Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of 2 websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.

www.LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com  specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively.

www.BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.

The Real Cost of Money

by Guest Blogger Dr. Chonta T. A. Haynes

Chonta_2-15-20Money makes the world go around or does it make us drown in pride, selfishness and debt?

The subject of money seems taboo.  We don’t want to talk about it with our aging parents or our friends.  We hold onto it as if our life depends on it or we squander it anticipating that someone will ride in on a white horse and pay off all of our irresponsible behavior.

Let’s get real.  Money gives us our security, puts our minds at ease and affords a sense of dignity.  Why we don’t talk about it or get educated so that we can handle it responsibly?  Several factors play into our emotional state around this subject and we have to recognize it’s not just paper.

The Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing.  This should include our financial situation.  Since the Bible discusses money frequently, we as believers should be examples for others to follow.  Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily the case.

73% of Americans are dying in poverty.  80% of Americans are in debt.  If 50% of the population declares themselves to be Christian, then at least 23% are dying in poverty and 30% are in debt.  As Christ followers we need financial wisdom for financial freedom.

It all starts with mindset

The wisdom book tells us to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).  Many are falling prey to the sabotaging system of the world and thereby losing peace.

If our mindset shifts to following what God’s word proclaims and we also stand on His promises, then abundant living is our destiny.

The world’s thoughts look like this:

  • I’m afraid I won’t have money in the future so I hoard what I have. I’m stingy and won’t give.
  • I’m entitled to have this and since I want it, I’ll take it today. I’ve worked or my parents have so I’m owed.
  • The world revolves around me. If I’m not happy then no one should be.  I deserve to be happy.
  • I have to keep up with everyone on Instagram. My life should match or exceed that of others.
  • Whatever it takes for me to have, I’ll do. I’m struggling so integrity and character go out the window.
  • I can handle money. I don’t need instructions.  I don’t need anyone telling me what to do.
  • Well honestly, you only live once so I need to enjoy it.

The world’s system has many in modern day slavery trying to make bricks without straw.  Struggling single family households stretch the dollar to pay for necessities but sometimes don’t categorize luxuries accurately.  We use the convenience of credit cards and debit cards to buy now what we can’t afford with the false expectation that in the future we will have it covered.  Our government continues kicking the can to the future generations as debt continues to mount at a rate we can’t envision.  Credit card companies have found a way to invest their money and get 20% interest and that’s getting you to pay them. Most companies have their hand out to collect what seems a small amount monthly but the bill adds up. We are addicted to high priced coffee, beauty enhancements, technology upgrades, movies on demand and the like.

So how do we get off the world’s merry-go-round?  We look to the wisdom of God!  We take control of our money and change our mindset.  We become responsible stewards.  We make decisions today with our future in mind.  We stop competing with others and recognize our journey is designed for us by God and running our race in our lane is all that’s required.  We get a financial foundation of education so that we see clearly the systems set up so we can avoid the traps.  We get a clear understanding of our income and our debt and we balance our budget. We get a plan to reverse the irresponsibility and get out of debt.  We engineer our way to financial freedom.

The result – peace, security and dignity!

The question isn’t whether we need to be educated on what the Bible says about money.  The question is when…

  • When will enough be enough?
  • When will the sleepless nights over finances rob us enough of our peace?
  • When will our relationship struggles over money force us into education?
  • When will the feeling of being trapped and isolated be enough for us to get our heads out of the sand and seek help?
  • When will the cost of anxiety, shame and/or guilt rise above the cost of the price of assistance?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable… (2 Timothy 3:16)


Dr. Chonta T. A. Haynes
CEO/Founder
Heart 2 Heart Truth Ministries

#h2htruth #FinancialWisdom #NotJustPaper #BiblicalMoneyManagement

Telling the Story of Easter to Kids

alvin-gan_2-12-20

by Guest Blogger Alvin Gan

“For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14

Easter is certainly a joyous occasion. We celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. We celebrate the fact that through Jesus, we have this amazing hope of a wonderful eternity, where “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

As Easter draws near, let us consider Christ’s completed work on the cross. Let us also think about how we can pass on the truth of Jesus’s death and resurrection to our children.

One fantastic way to share the Easter story with younger ones is with Resurrection Eggs. Resurrection Eggs are plastic Easter eggs that each contain an item related to Easter.

Although these can be purchased ready-made, you can easily put a set of resurrection eggs together yourself. This can be a very meaningful project you do with your children.

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Here’s how you can make your own set of resurrection eggs using items that are readily available. Alternatively, you can use these printable Resurrection Eggs Cards from Bible Games Central which feature images of these items.

 

 

alvin-gan_2-12-20_3

Bible Games Central also provides a printable Resurrection Eggs script for telling the story of Easter.

How To Make Your Own Resurrection Eggs

Place the following items (or the egg-shaped Resurrection Eggs Card) in each plastic Easter egg. Write the corresponding number on the outside of each egg with a permanent marker.

Resurrection Egg #1

Any leaf to represent the palm branches that the people of Jerusalem spread on the road as they welcomed Jesus. You may like to cut the leaf to resemble a palm branch.

Resurrection Egg #2

Three coins to represent the 30 pieces of silver that Judas Iscariot received to betray Jesus.

Resurrection Egg #3

A small piece of terry cloth to represent the towel that Jesus used to dry his disciples’ feet after he had washed them.

Resurrection Egg #4

A small communion cup to represent the last supper.

Alternatively, use a communion wafer or a small piece of bread.

Resurrection Egg #5

A flower to represent the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went with his disciples to pray before he was arrested.

Resurrection Egg #6

A piece of string to represent the rope that was used to tie Jesus up when he was arrested.

Resurrection Egg #7

A small stem of any plant with thorns to represent the crown of thorns that the soldiers put on Jesus’ head as they mocked him.

Resurrection Egg #8

A small cross to represent the crucifixion of Jesus.

Alternatively, use 3 small nails.

Resurrection Egg #9

A toothpick with one tip dipped in red paint or nail polish to represent the spear used by the soldier to pierce Jesus’ side.

Resurrection Egg #10

A small strip of white cloth to represent the strips of linen used to wrap the body of Jesus before he was placed in a tomb.

Resurrection Egg #11

A small stone to represent the large stone placed in front of the entrance to Jesus’ tomb.

Resurrection Egg #12

Leave the 12th egg empty to represent the empty tomb.

Resurrection Eggs Script

alvin-gan_2-12-20_4
Use this Resurrection Eggs Script to tell the story of Easter.

 

 

Resurrection Egg #1 – Palm Branch

alvin-gan_egg-1

Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. He rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.

A large crowd spread their coats and palm branches on the road. The people shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew 21:7-9; Mark 11:7-10; Luke 19:35-38; John 12:12-13

Resurrection Egg #2 – 30 Pieces of Silver

alvin-gan_egg-2

Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They gave him 30 pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14-15; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-5

 

Resurrection Egg #3 – Towel

alvin-gan_egg-3During the Passover meal, Jesus got up, took off his outer clothes, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a large bowl and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

John 13:4-5

Resurrection Egg #4 – Bread and Wine

alvin-gan_egg-4Jesus was eating the Passover meal with his 12 disciples. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, Jesus took the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” They all ate the bread and drank from the cup.

Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20

Resurrection Egg #5 – Garden

alvin-gan_egg-5

After the Passover meal, Jesus went with his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.

Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46

 


Resurrection Egg #6 – Rope

alvin-gan_egg-6When Jesus had finished praying in the garden, Judas came to the garden with some soldiers and officials. The chief priests and the Pharisees had sent them. They carried torches, lanterns and weapons. They arrested Jesus and tied him up.

Matthew 26:47,50; Mark 14:43,46; Luke 22:47-48; John 18:3,12

Resurrection Egg #7 – Crown of Thorns

alvin-gan_egg-7The soldiers took off Jesus’ clothes and put a purple robe on him. They twisted thorns together to make a crown and placed it on his head. Then they spit on him, hit him repeatedly on his head, and pretended to worship him as the king of the Jews.

Matthew 27:27-31; Mark 15:16-20; John 19:1-3

Resurrection Egg #8 – Cross

alvin-gan_egg-8

After they had finished mocking Jesus, the soldiers took Jesus to the place called Golgotha and nailed him to a cross.

Matthew 27:31; Mark 15:22-24; Luke 23:33; John 19:17-18

 


Resurrection Egg #9 – Spear

alvin-gan_egg-9After Jesus’ crucifixion, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear before his body was taken down from the cross.

John 19:31-34

Resurrection Egg #10 – Strips of Linen

alvin-gan_egg-10A man named Joseph approached Pilate to ask for the body of Jesus. Joseph wrapped the body in spices and strips of linen, then placed it in a new tomb cut out of the rock.

Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42

Resurrection Egg #11 – Stone

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Joseph placed Jesus in a tomb, rolled a large stone in front of the entrance and went away. Later, the chief priests and the Pharisees put a seal on the stone and posted some guards there.

Matthew 27:59-66

Resurrection Egg #12 – Empty

On the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion, the women brought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. But they saw that the stone in front of Jesus’ tomb had been rolled away and the body of Jesus was not there. An angel told them, “Jesus is not here; he has risen from the dead!”

Matthew 28:1,5-7; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-6; John 20:1-2

Be sure to check out BibleGamesCentral.com for more Easter games and creative Easter egg hunt ideas.

Another resource to consider is the Lost Easter Egg Pop-up Tract from Let The Little Children Come. This Easter Tract features clever pop-ups and tells the story of 3 children in search of a lost Easter egg. The 3 friends really, really want to find the lost Easter egg, just as God really, really wants to be with each one of us.


About our guest blogger, Alvin Gan:

Alvin Gan is the father of three noisy (but lovely) teenagers and founder of two websites that provide creative evangelism and discipleship resources.

Child Evangelism
LetTheLittleChildrenCome.com
 specializes in unique child evangelism tools and resources to help convey the plan of salvation for kids effectively.

BibleGamesCentral.com develops Bible games for youths, kids and even adults to teach spiritual truths.

 

 

On Lent

by Guest Blogger Shirley Davis

One of the most impactful things I ever did one Lenten season (in preparation for Easter) was give up holding grudges against my husband.  For context:  Usually, for Lent, Protestant Christians don’t bother much with giving things up.  I had, for many years, not seen the point and chucked the idea altogether.  I did, that is, until a good friend challenged me to use the 40 days of Lent as a time to come closer to God less through a sense of obligation and more about willingness and desire for life-change.

A Lenten practice might look like adding something—like praying for someone more regularly or choosing a place to serve those less fortunate.  It might also look like relinquishing an attitude or behavior.  I had the sense that God wanted me to give up stewing, to give up feeding my frustrations or my resentments, specifically those that were related to my marriage and my husband’s inability to read my mind . Incidentally, he was not doing anything heinous—it was just garden-variety relationship friction that I chose to continue to hang onto and keep to myself.

I also knew that I would need to replace what I was relinquishing with something healthier—a healthier attitude, better choices, etc.  So, I chose to increase my focus on God as my provider…my guide…my strengthener…my help.  I decided that every time I was tempted to ruminate over a grudge, I would “take that thought captive” to Christ and stop and pray for my husband instead.

It supposedly takes 30 days to break a habit.  Lent gave me 40 days, not including Sundays.  This one intentional season, over 20 years ago, truly broke me of that bad habit, replaced it with a better one and helped strengthen my marriage. Not that I never consider stewing anymore, but God reminds me to turn that over to Him sooner and more thoroughly so that it’s no longer my default mode.

I have also noticed the helpfulness of this practice in my coaching and mentoring.  New Year’s Resolutions seem so heavy and burdensome—stretching 365 days into the horizon with the potential for failure or discouragement at every turn.  The 40 (or 46) days of Lent, however, seems doable in a different sort of way.  Shorter. In partnership with God in a very intentional sense. A heightened awareness in a winter season.

Lent and Sacrifices

If Lent is about coming closer to God through some sort of self-sacrifice, then it’s probably more about attitudes than about actions.

Some things to consider “giving up” for Lent:

  • harboring anger or resentment toward someone
  • self-pity
  • complaining about one’s boss
  • complaining about one’s roommates
  • gossip
  • talking with others about a problem instead of talking with the person with whom you have that problem
  • over-commitment
  • complaining about your family
  • sweets
  • chocolate
  • alcohol
  • computer games
  • credit cards
  • compulsive shopping
  • social media
  • certain magazines/catalogs
  • television/Netflix/HBO/Hulu—or certain shows/movies—or binge-watching
  • eating out
  • problem-solving when someone is sharing their heart with you

Replace the thing you are giving up with something healthier:

  • prayer
  • accountability
  • a new habit
  • take every thought captive
  • pray the Psalms
  • Lent readings
  • quiet times
  • discipline
  • Scripture—memorize and remember
  • journaling
  • uplifting reading
  • books; books on Audible
  • rest
  • reflection
  • exercise
  • time limits
  • Post-It Note reminders in key places
  • Lent small group
  • listening to Scripture
  • worship
  • music
  • listening
  • silence/solitude
  • time in nature

And, pick just ONE thing.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with a list of “resolutions.” Consider this a “fast” for your soul—a way to invite God in to do some much-needed renovation and restoration.  It helps to find a Scripture to meditate on during your Lenten practice.  Several suggestions follow:

Verses for Reflection:

2 Cor. 10:3-5  Indeed, we live as human beings, but we do not wage war according to human standards; for the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Phil 4:8  Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2 Tim. 3:14-17  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 4:2-4  He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

1 Thess. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

Prayerfully begin now to reflect on what God would have you do . . . and who He would have you “be” . . . for your Lenten sacrifice to Him this season.

[Lent this year begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 and ends with Easter Sunday on April 12, 2020.]


shirleyShirley Giles Davis is a coach, consultant, and facilitator specializing in resilience, communication, conflict, transitions/change, leadership, strategic planning, personal style, resource-management, purpose, performance management, sabbath, caregiving, gifts/passion, and Enneagram debriefing.

Shirley is also author of the God. Gifts. You.: Your Unique Calling and Design six-week workbook and the Your Unique Design Class Guide.  She has been Director of Equip-Connect-Serve Ministries at a church of 1,200 in Boulder, Colorado since 1999, connecting people with opportunities to serve and places of learning and fellowship.  Shirley and her husband, a university professor, have been married since 1982. Contact Shirley.

 

God’s Plan for a Better Tomorrow

by Guest Blogger Bob Santos

I confess. There are days when I just want to power down all my electronics and
escape from the world. I know (as I sit at a computer and type) that technology has
its benefits. But there are drawbacks as well. It seems as though we are constantly
exposed to a world of dysfunction.

Today, we struggle with unjust business practices, an over-sexualized culture, and
toxic politics. Middle-class opportunities are slipping away. Gone are the days
when young children could maintain their carefree innocence at least into junior
high school. And as much as we look to our political parties to build roads to a
better future, our political system has proven its inability to even fix itself.
What would you think if I told you that the Lord has a plan to improve our lot, and
it isn’t all that complicated? Would you believe me? Would you want to get
involved?

The principles are quite simple. God’s plan for a better tomorrow involves His
people coming together with one heart and in one Spirit to pray.

The Body of Christ

If we consider the reasons that the church has lost so much influence in our culture,
there is one that quickly rises to the top of the list: we are divided. Jesus once said,
“Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself fails” (Matthew 12:25 NASB).

If we understand the nature of Christ’s body, we recognize that all genuine
followers of Jesus are members of the church. There aren’t many churches in a
community, but rather one church with various expressions.

We might say that we separate ourselves for biblical reasons, but if our theology is
truly accurate, shouldn’t we be coming together rather than breaking apart?
I am not suggesting that we ignore sin or avoid difficult conversations, but that we
honor our Lord’s directives to preserve the unity of the Spirit and to build up the
body of Christ.

Neither am I saying that our beliefs are inconsequential. Rather, our unity is found
not through uniformity but through Christ and Christ alone. We truly are brothers
and sisters in Christ, members of His body, and members of one another. And as
we come to pray, the Lord imparts an anointed blessing of life to transform our
communities.

Community Prayer Initiative

It is with this mind-set that Search for Me Ministries, Inc. has created the
Community Prayer Initiative. The initiative itself is not complicated. Church
bob-santosleaders in a community use the Community Prayer Devotional to facilitate thirty
days of united prayer within their communities. And as momentum grows, other
steps to bless the community can be prayerfully taken.

The Community Prayer Devotional accomplishes three primary purposes:
1. It draws the people of God in a community together.
2. It actually gets them praying.
3. They pray with one voice about the same issues.

Search for Me Ministries has endeavored to make the Community Prayer Devotional accessible to all. Free PDF copies can be downloaded from
Smashwords.com. The Amazon Kindle version is only .99. And paperback copies
“personalized” for a community can be purchased at a significant discount. (Please
click here  for more information.)
No doubt, we live in a challenging and tumultuous era. But our good God has by
no means abandoned us. Exciting times are ahead for those who set their hearts to
pray with one heart and through one Spirit!


Bob Santos is the founder and president of Search for Me Ministries, Inc.—a ministry devoted to helping to form and equip a generation of world changers for Christ. Bob has written eight books which all touch on topics relevant to spiritual growth. He and his wife Debi live in Indiana, PA and have two adult children.

Finding Family Friendly TV & Movies

canstockphoto10378131More and more people are streaming their at-home entertainment these days. I decided I needed to update the “buy or rent movie” page on my Find Christian Links website to “streaming TV and movies.”

I recently signed up for frndlytv and am enjoying it thoroughly. So I decided to search for other Christian and family-friendly apps for streaming. I was amazed at how many I found! I hope you will check them out here. And please let me know of any I have missed!

Next, I set out to update my TV and Movie Review page. As Christians, we may ask ourselves, “Should I see that movie? How about this new game my teenager is wanting? Is that TV program OK for my 6-year-old?” We try to assess if it has too much bad language, too many offensive sex scenes, too much violence, or too many bad life examples for our kids.

Where do we draw the line? How much is too much?

Figur denkt ber die Daumen Bewertung nachIf we compare movies or television programming or even music today with that of a decade or two decades ago, most of us are horrified to realize how far we’ve come. With  gradually increased exposure to explicit sex, mockery of Christianity, sexuality issues,  occultic phenomena, and violence beyond imagination, our threshold of tolerance has increased. Things that at one time we would never have considered watching or listening to have somehow become acceptable. Our scorecard of “how much is too much” has changed dramatically. We have allowed ourselves to be conditioned.

Perhaps instead of “how much is too much,” we should ask ourselves, “Is this a positive thing for our lives or our children’s lives? Does it teach us something? Does it leave us with worthwhile thoughts or ideas? Is it healthy, harmless entertainment? Would we invite Jesus to watch it or listen to it with us?”

In Philippians 4:8  we are admonished to “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (NLT). Let this, instead of “how much bad is too much,” be our guide.

One way we can know which movies or TV programs or music are positive and worthwhile is through reviews from a Christian perspective. In checking the Internet, I found many excellent sites offering such services, but some stood out to me as being especially worthy. I am listing a few of the sites here that seem to approach their reviews and comments from a heartfelt biblical perspective. I hope you find them helpful.