Jump to content
Slate Blackcurrant Watermelon Strawberry Orange Banana Apple Emerald Chocolate Marble
Slate Blackcurrant Watermelon Strawberry Orange Banana Apple Emerald Chocolate Marble


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by Jonathon

  1. Living Boldly for Christ in School Living Boldly for Christ in School SEPTEMBER 2, 2020 Emma Mae Jenkins encourages young listeners to express their Christian faith boldly as she describes how she herself was inspired to become brave in sharing the Gospel with her schoolmates, even in the face of bullying and other opposition. Original Air Date: September 2, 2020
  2. 5 Biblical strategies for coping with loneliness TESSA EMILY HALL 22 JULY 2020 God never created us to endure life on our own. But since we live in an imperfect world – including unstoppable viruses, broken relationships, and heartbreak – there may come times when life leaves us feeling lonely, abandon, and forgotten. When this happens, how can we approach these lonely seasons and face this suffering from a biblical viewpoint? 1. Find strength in Jesus, remembering that He experienced loneliness as well Isaiah 53:3 (NLT) says, “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” Jesus can relate with our loneliness. His own friends rejected Him and even denied that they knew Him! I can’t imagine the deep abandonment Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane as He cried out to God, pleading with His Father to save Him from the persecution of the cross (see Luke 22:42). Still, Jesus chose to follow through with God’s plan out of obedience, despite the suffering. When we do the same and remain faithful to God, even if it costs us friends and popularity amongst peers, we can receive the same strength Jesus received as He endured the cross while being scorned and mocked. During times of loneliness, let’s do as Hebrews 4:14-16 says and “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” 2. Draw closer to God and remember that he will never forsake you As I look back at my teen years, I'm amazed at how God used lonely seasons to help me build a deeper friendship with Him. Human companionship can never come close to filling the ache of loneliness the way God’s love can. The truth is, humans are imperfect. People betray us. Friends come and go. But I thank God that He remains steady and secure, despite these changes! No amount of human love can satisfy us the way His love does. Let’s find comfort in the nearness of God’s presence, grow in our walk with Christ, and meditate on the following biblical truths in His Word: God is always with us (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 23:4, Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5). He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, 1 Samuel 12:22). Even if others abandon us, God remains (Psalm 27:10, John 14:8). God sees and cares about our suffering (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 38:9). God heals our broken hearts (Psalm 147:3). Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). He strengthens us and comforts us (Isaiah 40:28-31, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Hebrews 4:14-16). 3. Reach out to others and learn how to become a good friend I don’t know about you, but I’ve often found myself sitting around, waiting for a friend to reach out to me. How silly is that? Besides, they could be waiting for me to reach out to them! In other words, oftentimes when we’re lonely, we try so hard to satisfy desires for companionship that we forget that love is selfless rather than self-seeking (see 1 Corinthians 13:5). If we hope to model the same lifestyle Jesus lived, then we should always search for ways to reach out to others—both friends and strangers alike. In the act of showing love to others, guess what will happen? Others will naturally be drawn to the light of Jesus’ love within us. So by being a friend to others, we will, in return, find friends ourselves! How cool is that? Luke 6:31 (NLT) says, “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” 4. Seek wise counsel from pastors, spiritual advisors and others If your loneliness is a result of lack of community, perhaps consider reaching out to spiritual advisors and your pastors. God has placed those mentors in your life for a reason, and He often uses our spiritual advisors to speak into our lives. Ask them if they have advice for how you can combat loneliness and plug into a community. And if your loneliness has become more serious, leading to deep anxiety or depression, talk to your parents and/or your doctor to get medical help. Don't try and do this all on your own. 5. Remember that seasons don’t last forever It always helps me to remember the truth laid out in Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NLT), which says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” The COVID-19 quarantine isn’t going to last forever. Let’s try to keep this perspective in mind as we endure suffering, seeking God for the endurance we need to press on.
  3. Does God care what I wear? ELISABETH CARTER 5 JUNE 2020 The clothes that we wear can say a lot about ourselves. And for those of us who follow Jesus, it’s important that we consider what our clothes say about our faith! You might be thinking though, “God has so much to care about it! Does he really care what I wear?” Well, the short answer is yes. And… no. Let’s take a look at what God does care about when it comes to your clothes – and what he doesn’t care about. God cares if your clothes are outright offensive This probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise but God doesn’t like it when we wear clothes that contain offensive slogans or images. We also need to be careful that the clothes we wear aren’t inadvertently offensive – for example, containing a symbol or slogan that might offend certain groups, or something in another language that you don’t realise is rude. God cares if your clothes are designed to tempt others to sin The question of modesty is a complex one, and I don’t want to lay down any strict rules here about what teen girls or guys should wear specifically. But it is true that certain outfits may cause others to lust, and the Bible is pretty clear that we shouldn’t be putting our brothers and sisters in Christ in situations that might cause them to sin. Take a look at the situation in Romans 14 as an example. Although the responsibility to avoid lust always lies with the person looking, not the object of their gaze, I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some outfits that are specifically designed to arouse sexual feelings in the opposite sex. We need to be aware of what these clothes might be, and avoid wearing them in situations where we may cause others to sin – out of love for them. Guys, this applies to you too! God cares if your clothes are causing pain to others These days, we are more aware than ever of how unethical the making of clothing can be. And now that we know, we have to think very carefully before continuing to buy clothes produced by companies that exploit others. Do some research about where your clothes are made, and the human and environmental impact of them. In Australian, Baptist World Aid produces a great fashion guide that rates clothing brands according to the ethics of their manufacturing processes. As Christians, we need to be loving those less fortunate than us, and if that means missing out on the latest cheap trend piece because the brand producing it exploits children, we need to say no for their sake. God cares if you are using your money unwisely on clothes Clothing is an area in which many people overspend. The popularity of sites like Afterpay mean that teenagers are even spending money they don’t have on clothing. As Christians we need to use our money wisely – because ultimately, it belongs to God! The Bible calls us to be generous givers to our churches and those in need, and to use the money left afterwards responsibly to care for ourselves and our families. Yes, you do need to spend some money on clothes – and because of the ethical issues discussed above, sometimes more expensive brands are actually a better choice! But if you find yourself addicted to buying new clothes, take a step back and check where your heart is. But God also DOESN’T care about what you wear! Sure, God cares about all of the things mentioned above… but he doesn’t care in another sense. In 1 Samuel, God tells Samuel not to choose a king based on how he looks. He reminds Samuel, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Our friends might care about what we wear, but God really doesn’t care at all how you look. He doesn’t care if you’re on trend or if you’re dressed like you just stepped out of 2004. He doesn’t care if you never buy a brand name t-shirt or if your shoes are scuffed or whether the colour of your swimsuit makes you look tanned or not. No. More than anything else, God cares about who you are on the inside – your character. So yes, pay attention to what you wear and make sure you’re honouring God with your choices. But don’t pay too much attention, because ultimately God doesn’t care about you wear – He cares that you follow Him and trust in Jesus!
  4. Why does God want us to only date or marry another Christian? Dating for the Glory of God I am 29, female and single. Over the years, I have always stood by the Bible’s command that I should never marry a non-believer, or even entertain the idea - by dating them. As an early teen this was something I didn't struggle with too much – on a surface level the advice made sense. However the older I've gotten, the messier this issue has become. I have watched friends choose non-Christian partners and been tempted to do the same. I’ve had to grapple deeply with the question: ‘Why has God set specific and restricting guidelines on who we can date and marry?'. I hope to share with you some of my insights into this tricky but important issue. What the Bible says In the Bible, God's message on this issue is unmistakably clear. Let's start with the Old Testament. God knew that in the relationship of marriage it would be easier for the Israelites to be tempted away from faith in God towards false gods than the other way around. God designed marriage for oneness in all spheres of the human person, including the spiritual. He knew that given the intimacy of this relationship, it would be tempting for His people to turn to false gods if they were married to pagans or idol worshippers. In the New Testament, His people are called to be a 'royal priesthood and a holy nation' (1 Peter 2:9), and to be 'holy as the Lord is holy' (1 Peter 1:15). In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns the church not to be 'unequally yoked with unbelievers' (2 Corinthians 6:14). However, Paul and Peter both leave room for married non-Christians who become Christians, to stay married and work to convert their spouse by their godly living (1 Corinthians 7:12-13; 1 Peter 3:1). The Bible is clear in its command that professing Christians are not to marry unbelievers. But, what about dating? As 'dating' is a twentieth century term, we can't quote the Bible directly on it’s 'dating advice'. However, it does state we should not marry non-believers, so we should not date them either. While dating may not lead to marriage, it could. God's advice is not purposed to limit our chances of marriage, or to legalistically apply rules for the sake of it, but ultimately for the good of the Christian. For our good God is not a hard taskmaster who keeps a rulebook, checking off the list of things we do right and wrong. In fact, it is incredible that the Lord of the Universe cares deeply about who we date and marry. If you are a Christian, you are His son or daughter whom He loves, and as someone who knows you intimately, He wants to be involved in every aspect of your life. Like a loving parent, your Heavenly Father wants the best for us, and out of that love, He has made a way for us to know how He wants us to live – through His Word. God’s plan for our lives as Christians is to is to glorify Him in everything we do, say and think. God's plan for marriage, and therefore dating, is that we would be joined to someone who can help us in this mission to know Jesus and make Jesus known. God wants the best for us in a life partner, so why would we settle for anything less? Check your motivations Is your main motive in dating or marrying someone to be rid of your loneliness, or to satisfy your desire for relationship and intimacy? These are not bad desires in and of themselves - God has made us for relationship. But we must not allow our desire for 'good things' to define us and rule our decisions. God wants us to look to Him for our identity as His Children, as we make these important decisions for our lives. Our true identity and value does not come from our relationship status. Our value and worth comes from Jesus, knowing Him, trusting Him, and being made more and more into His image. Do you trust him? If we believe in a sovereign God, we can trust that He will bring the right person at the right time. Or He won't and we must accept that this is His sovereign will. The question that I have to continually ask myself is: do I trust Him, like really trust Him? As Christians, we know that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), and that we will continue to face trials and hardships (1 Peter 1:6) until He returns to restore our broken world. God never promised believers that this life would be easy (John 16:33). He promises us so much more: a relationship with Him through Jesus, which will lead us on the most radical, exciting and transforming journey we will ever experience.
  5. Jim Daly has a discussion with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who offers his expert insights on the coronavirus pandemic. Then Sarah Mackenzie, author of The Read-Aloud Family, explains how parents can strengthen their relationships with their children by reading books together as a family. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/connecting-with-your-kids-through-reading Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  6. As we're forced to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, we're spending more time online, and our work, school, and family life have blended together in an unprecedented way. Today, author Arlene Pellicane offers guidance for managing our digital habits in a healthy manner so that we go online with purpose and unplug regularly to build real, solid relationships with those around us. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/balancing-work-and-family-while-staying-home Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  7. Crying out to God in the face of coronavirus BY SAMUEL JAMES 27 APRIL 2020 The pace and stillness of our locked down society is conducive to deep thinking. Most of it has been productive but some of it has forced me to ask difficult questions of myself. Namely, how do I deal with my personal struggles when everyone else seems to have it worse than me? How do I deal with my lack of motivation, my melancholy moods, my frustration, and my sadness when I do not feel like I can tell anyone? I have wrestled with these thoughts because my problems seem tiny when measured against the magnitude of family tragedy my siblings have just crawled through. My issues are minuscule when measured against my grandparent’s health and the wealth of my Dad’s business or the safety and security of my sister and Mum’s job. As the youngest member of the family I am left thinking, desperately praying and documenting the events around me. I am a 19-year-old university student, I have a part time job, no clue what a bill looks like and I am the one that is finding it hard to sleep. I am the one worrying, I am the one praying, I am the one getting sadder and sadder. I am the one shedding every tear as the painful stories flow to my ears and retreating to my knees. Where am I supposed to turn? How do express my pain in a time when everyone around me is hurting much more? How do I tell them that I am praying for them? How do I support them and sympathise with them? How do I say that I feel their pain when I know nothing like it and when my struggles seem so small? Crying out to God Perhaps the writer of Psalm 46 would empathise with me. Psalm 46 is rousing, it is passionate, and it is pleading. I believe that it was written from a place of pain, of anguish, of self-reflection. It opens with: I do not know about you but through these verses I see the face of the writer streaming with tears, as he spills his fears on the page. He writes about the earth giving way, the mountains quaking and the waters roaring, he describes the entire world contracting, changing, and moving ferociously around him. But somehow, he does not fear. Somehow, in some way he keeps it together and he has hope. He does not just show his hope here either, it is all the way through the Psalm. In verse 4 he pins down where his hope comes from :“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” In verses 7 and 11 he reminds us of the protection of God: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” In verse 9 he reflects on the peace of God: “He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” Perhaps most importantly verse 10 echoes the anthem shout of God: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” Hope from God Amidst the raging noise of the world around him, the Psalmist reminds himself and us of our hope, he pinpoints where it comes from, he recounts God’s protection and recalls his thirst for peace. Most powerfully he reminds himself to be still in the presence of God, and he stirs hope within his heart. The Psalmist says that no matter how the world around him may act and react, he will stand strong, he will be courageous, because he trusts in God. The message of this Psalm can be summarised by Psalm121:1-2 which says: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” A challenge for us Psalm 46 presents a tangible challenge to me. It says to me that I should not feel inadequate, but instead I should be confident because my God is my protector, my comfort, my peace, my fortress, and my hope. Perhaps more than that it says that he is my grandparent’s peace, my siblings’ comfort, the fortress around my family and the peace in each of our hearts. Psalm 46 says to me that I should quit carrying everyone, that it is not my job; it is God’s. The ones around me love me, and even now they don’t think my feelings are silly, they probably feel the same. It says to me that we should be honest with one another as each of us bow our knees and look to our ultimate hope; God himself. It says that we will get through this turmoil, step by honest step together, as one family, as one body, with one heart and one faith in our God; who is with us now. How does Psalm 46 challenge you?
  8. Best-selling author Dr. Kathy Koch outlines a practical four-step process to help families stay sane and thrive during this season of sheltering-at-home during the coronavirus pandemic. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/four-things-your-family-can-do-during-coronavirus Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  9. Best-selling author Dr. Kathy Koch outlines a practical four-step process to help families stay sane and thrive during this season of sheltering-at-home during the coronavirus pandemic. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/four-things-your-family-can-do-during-coronavirus Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  10. Psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz offers hope and practical help for those struggling with negative thoughts and emotions because of the coronavirus pandemic. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/dealing-with-anxiety-and-depression-during-the-coronavirus Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  11. With schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic, children are required to spend more time staring at a digital screen as they do e-learning from home. Author Jonathan McKee offers parents practical guidance for navigating this stressful period and helping their kids strike a healthy balance between online and offline activities. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/navigating-screen-time-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  12. With schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic, children are required to spend more time staring at a digital screen as they do e-learning from home. Author Jonathan McKee offers parents practical guidance for navigating this stressful period and helping their kids strike a healthy balance between online and offline activities. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/navigating-screen-time-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  13. As a help to parents suddenly and unexpectedly having to teach their kids at home because of the coronavirus pandemic, author Tricia Goyer offers practical suggestions for creating a realistic school-at-home schedule, balancing digital learning, motivating kids to stay productive, and much more. Podcast users, find today's related broadcast resources here: https://dbx.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast/unexpected-homeschooling-tips-for-teaching-kids-at-home Your feedback would be really helpful to us. Please visit http://www.focusonthefamily.com/podcastsurvey to take a brief survey (less than 5 minutes). Thank you! View the full article
  14. Just because you're online doesn't mean the games have to stop! View the full article
  15. Six practical ways to honor your parents BY ERICA APPIAH 6 MARCH 2020 Our parents. They love us and we also love them but sometimes our actions and words (or no words) say the opposite! But actually, one of the ten commandments is to 'honour your father and mother'. Clearly God cares deeply about how we treat our parents. So, here are six ways to show some love to your parents this week. Obey them You can show your mum and dad you love them by doing as they say and what is expected of you. By obeying them, you are obeying God and this pleases him. I will also add in here that whatever you are told to do, you should do it in cheerfulness without moaning even if it means missing out on the movie you planned to watch. Talk Talk to your parents about your feelings - your worries, fears and excitement. Do not stonewall them because parents offer words of wisdom. Just because they are not the same age as us does not mean they can't understand us. Do you love your parents enough to open up to them? Tell the truth Our Father in heaven hates lying. Even if our parents do not know the truth that you hide from your mum and dad, God knows so tell the truth about your friends, school, where you are going and everything else. By doing this, trust will be built between you and your parents. Be cheerful Watch any family TV show and there's bound to be a moody teenager. Sad, I know. Why don't we change this stereotype and be happy. Laugh with your parents (their jokes are funny… sometimes). Treat them with respect Remember who your parents are – father and mother, and give them respect for all they’ve done for you and for their role in your life. This may seem silly but you can show your parents love by simply thanking them for being your mum and dad. They are not just everyone else, they are different. They are our loving, caring parents! And finally… Tell them you love them. It is comforting and loving to your parents to hear that you love them. Shout it out loud, text it, mime it. However you choose to do it, make sure they know you LOVE them!
  16. To Spank or Not to Spank? It’s one of the most common parenting questions, especially for young parents. The topic charges emotions and often sparks controversy. The problem is, there’s not an easy answer. Parents need to evaluate their own personality and parenting styles and decide for themselves. One thing is for sure. If your family chooses to discipline through spanking, it needs to be the most infrequently used tool in a comprehensive discipline toolkit. As a family counselor and Focus’ VP of Parenting and Youth, before entering the spanking debate, I advise parents to step back and reflect on their role and to work at building and maintaining the 7 traits of an effective parent. Parenting is about influence, not control. It’s not about being perfect but about growing together and bringing out the best in our kids, which requires us bringing out the best in ourselves. Ultimately, we want kids to learn how to discipline themselves. When we use our words and actions to guide, teach, encourage and correct, children learn to self-discipline and self correct. That’s a valuable lifelong tool. And, it helps kids tune in to who God designed them to be (Ephesians 2:10). With those things in mind, let’s begin by looking at some different views on spanking. What do Americans say about spanking? According to national statistics, about three quarters of the United States population uses spanking as a parenting method. In a recent study: 62% of Latino and Caucasian women believe it is sometimes necessary to give a child a “good hard spanking” 81% of African American women believe the same thing Latino (73%), Caucasian (76%) and African American (80%) men are closely matched in their belief that children sometimes need a “good hard spanking” What does the research say about spanking? Research on spanking is varied. Some research makes sweeping claims that frequent and/or severe spanking increases mental health and behavioral issues in kids, ranging from depression and anxiety to alcohol use. What is unclear from the research is whether behavioral issues precipitated the spanking, or vice versa. What the research doesn’t measure: Do the children being spanked already struggle with behavioral issues, perhaps triggering parents’ decision to spank? Are kids with behavioral issues more likely to be spanked? Do the non-spanked children simply have more cooperative and compliant personalities? Research supports the fact that diet, stress, environment, media and social influences all play a role in misbehavior and in temperament (personality), sleep habits, sleep quality and possible mental health issues in the child. Misbehavior can rarely be placed on one single factor, such as spanking. The exception is when there’s been abuse, which often manifests itself in misbehavior. Research also supports the fact that, when used correctly and infrequently and as one of many discipline forms, spanking has been a common factor in kids with well-developed self-motivation, empathy, morality and character. What does the Bible say about spanking? The word parenting comes from the root word pere, which means “to bring forth, give birth to, produce.” It means rearing kids using the necessary methods and techniques. Let’s see what the Bible says about our role as parents: We get to help shape our children and not exasperate or provoke them (Ephesians 6:4). We’re to discipline and provide the Lord’s instruction. To teach them about God’s word (Deut. 6:6-9 and Joel 1:3). We’re to guide them according to who God has created them to be (Proverbs 22:6). There’s an entire article on the biblical perspective on spanking here. Spanking can be appropriate, It can also be inappropriate Used correctly and infrequently as part of a comprehensive parenting toolkit, a spank can be that last resort discipline method you use when you need to create attention and a clear understanding why the behavior should never happen again. Used inappropriately, spanking can be dangerous. I’ve found some parents who use spanking as their main discipline tool and, many times, use it when they’re frustrated or angry. I’ve also noticed some parents spank and move on, skipping the important teaching element. That communicates nothing more than, “I’m in power and you need to listen to me.” I’ve seen spanking used effectively. I’ve also seen it backfire; both outcomes are dependent upon the parents’ approach and relationship with the child. Like many other things, effectiveness is dependent on the user of the tool. As you read through this series on discipline/spanking and consider this foundation for your thoughts: If you incorporate spanking, it should be: The most infrequently used tool in your parenting toolbox Done with love, followed by guidance/teaching and respect, which are some of the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. Part of a loving, nurturing relationship Used with purpose, caution and most importantly, love If you incorporate spanking, it should NEVER be: The only discipline Aggressive or done out of anger A power play Used during the height of emotion With a closed fist or a strike to the face Some parents should avoid using spanking There are some parents with certain temperaments who should never spank. If you’re a highly emotional, volatile and reactive person, you’re better off honing every other discipline method and leaving spanking out of your toolkit. If you fall into this category, you may want to consider working on how to manage your emotions so that you can teach well. Take some time to work on the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting. If you are a single parent, you don’t need anyone to tell you how much energy it requires. Since many single parents are running on empty, it’s better to develop the other discipline tools available to you. In either case, invest heavily on your relationship with your child and get some counseling help, if necessary. Children mirror their parent’s behaviors, especially the parent they identify with most closely. As you can see, the answer to the “to spank or not to spank” question is incredibly complex. It’s controversial. And it’s highly personal. However, not controversial is the idea that every parent does well to invest in developing an effective and comprehensive discipline toolkit, which requires intention and adaptability, two of the 7 Traits of Effective Parenting.
  17. Why you shouldn’t worry if you don’t fit in GRACE MAPLES 24 FEBRUARY 2020 Sometimes it's painfully obvious you'll never be one of the cool kids. You'll never have the right clothes, or be in the right crowd. But that's okay. I have a feeling that Christians will never really 'fit in'. And here's why... As believers, this world is not our home. We are not of this world. We're not created to fit in. (Philippians 3:20) The enemy has lied to us (especially as teenagers) by telling us that fitting in is so important and we will never be anything if we aren't accepted by anyone. Most teens and adults have bought into this lie. But that doesn't mean we have to. Instead, we need to turn to God's Word to see what He says about fitting in. In Christ, we're accepted Let's face it. We all face peer pressure and longing to be accepted by someone whether it's by parents, friends, the opposite gender, or teachers. But, we'll never find fulfillment there. The only one we should be seeking to find fulfillment in is God. And, as His children, we already have it because of what Christ did on the cross. We don't have to seek acceptance from anything or anyone else. Through Jesus, God has accepted us without us having to impress Him to gain his approval. He freely gave it to us through His grace. Isn't that amazing? In the world, we're outsiders As Christ followers, we are not of this world. Instead of imitating the world, we are called to imitate Christ. And the chances are, the world may not like us – it may even hate us at times. But remember what Jesus said... Jesus states it plain and simple. The world will hate you. But He went through that same thing as well. Every day is a constant battle. Constantly going against the flow. Following Christ, and resisting the flesh. Taking up your cross. But take comfort in these words. We have Christ and His Word to stand on when the going gets tough. Therefore, we must be a light God tells His people in Isaiah to be a "light to the nations"(Isaiah 49:6b). Which means we have to be different – in other words, to NOT fit in. We need to be Jesus to a dark and dying world. Let me ask you, how can you and I shine like a light if we are the same as everyone around us? If you answered 'We can't', then BINGO you're correct! It's simply not possible. One day, you will fit in perfectly Everything the world values – fitting in, being cool, money, clothes – it's all going to pass away. POOF, it's gone. But, shining our light and doing hard things matter. Even the small things, like mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, or even just a smile or text for a hurting friend, it can all make a difference for eternity. Which one will you pick? Fitting in and chasing after things that don't matter, or being different and doing things that last for eternity? I pick being different. I may not fit in right now, but one day I'll fit in perfectly in God's kingdom.
  18. What does your online presence say about you? How to use your social media accounts for God's glory. BY NICKY GANGEMI 5 DECEMBER 2019 In this modern age, one of the easiest ways to find out about someone is by checking out their social media accounts. You can tell a lot about someone’s life from their Facebook profile. You can tell what people are thinking about from their Twitter feed. You can tell what things people value from what they capture on their Instagram account. You can tell a lot about what people think is worth sharing from what they blog. In other words, you can tell a lot about someone from their social media. What does your social media presence say about you?What’s filling your Facebook wall and your newsfeed?Who are you following on Twitter?What photos do you post?What do you blog about?The things that fill these different feeds, walls or cyber places, are what we value. They are what we think about and what we spend our time writing about, finding, posting, reposting and sharing. They show where our heart is at. As a Christian, we are to be focused on Jesus. Jesus commands us in the gospels to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27). But does your social media account show that your heart, soul and mind are focused on Jesus? Sadly, my newsfeed doesn’t often reflect that my Christian friends have Jesus as their top priority. Instead, my feeds are filled with pictures of the latest fashions, articles about the latest New York trend, linked blogs about fancy, fast and very expensive cars, a photo of a beautiful cup of coffee they’ve just had, or even just those funny cat lolz memes. Don’t hear me wrong – none of the things I’ve just mentioned are bad, evil or even necessarily sinful. But it’s true to say that the things we post most can be a pretty good indication of where our hearts are at. So how are we as Christians to use social media for the glory of Jesus? Let us start first by looking at the ways how not to use social media. Three things to avoid on social mediaBe careful about getting into theological arguments or discussions on social media. There often isn’t enough space for these kinds of discussions, and it is very difficult to portray tone & emotion. Often these discussions descend into anarchy, name calling and sometimes nasty commenting. Don’t just consistently post some random verses out of context with no explanation of why it is there or how it applies to your life (maybe instead explain where the verse is from or why you find it encouraging). Don’t spam people’s walls with Christian article after article or Christian blog after blog. Most people will just get annoyed at you.Ultimately to use social media well, we want the things we post to be coming from our hearts, minds and souls that are focused on Jesus. In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says that what we treasure is where our heart lies. Does Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your blog show where your heart is? Four things to remember when using social media Here are a few principals to keep in mind as you go about using social media. Jesus is Lord – plain and simple, and as a result... We should aim to please Jesus is all we do We should aim to worship God with ALL our lives We are to act in a way that glorifies God in all we do We need to remember that everything is God’s – there is not one square millimetre of the world that is not His, this includes cyberspace!“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  19. Are you afraid of conflict? Why conflict isn't something you should avoid. BIOLA UNIVERSITY 3 DECEMBER 2019 Conflict is often seen as a virus that sucks the life out of you and the ones you love. We all have stories of conflict causing pain and separation—parents who don’t talk to each other, families who no longer get together, work environments that are almost intolerable, and close friends who have drifted apart. Most of us have only experienced conflict as negative, and thus do everything possible to avoid it. It gets such a bad rap that we want to minimize or ignore it, and will pay good money to learn ways to make it go away. But it does not have to be this way, and in fact avoiding conflict is one of the most successful ways of ruining a relationship. Are there are ways to flip the script on conflict? Since it is a reality we all live with, what can we do to strengthen a relationship while still dealing with the problems? First things first We begin by accepting the fact that conflict is as natural as it is inevitable. It plays a vital role in all relationships by providing an opportunity to address problem areas. In other words, conflict tells you, “Hey! This needs your attention!” Understanding the purpose Second, your conflict can help you work on your social intelligence, e.g., understanding how other people work from the inside. It involves our ability to know others, and ourselves, in relationship—and acting wisely in these relationships. One of the key ingredients is being able to listen well. For example, do you know what motivates your roommate or how their different background or perspectives came to be? Can you put yourself in their shoes, or at least be able to really listen and hear their concerns? It doesn’t mean you have to always agree, but that you listen to understand. It is a great skill to develop, and one that will be used in all of your relationships. In Psalm 139:23-24 the psalmist says “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” Why am I anxious? Third, ask yourself, “What are some of my heart issues that are underlying my anxiety over the conflict? Why might this conflict be causing me such angst and stress?” Figure out what hurtful emotions are being brought out in you, and what is it that most worries you. Perhaps the conflict is making you feel misunderstood, or not heard, or not cared for. These deeper heart issues are often the source of our anxiousness, and often hide under the surface—hence the psalmist asking for God to search him. It takes courage and commitment to flip the script on conflict. But, by using it to dig deeper to get to know yourself and someone else better, you just may find that you not only manage the conflict, but actually grow closer in the process. And that is always healthy.
  20. How to survive your final year of school (or any exam period) BY J.A DINNING 25 NOVEMBER 2019 Surprisingly, it's not all about studying hard! The final year of school is crazy for anyone. You’re on the cusp of adulthood, and yet, before you reach that glorious freedom, you must jump a little hurdle called ‘exams’. Having just completed school myself, I know first-hand how difficult it is to navigate the balance of study and normal life. Additionally, I’m also aware of all the repetitive, sometimes non-practical study tips that crammed down the throat of every student. So, instead of those, here are my five unusual, and practical, tips on how to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually during your last year of school (or any exam period). (Note: While this article is aimed at almost-school-leavers, its advice is relevant for anyone completing any type of exams.) 1. Relax While God created us to work, he also created the concept of rest. Choose one day a week where you take the whole day off from anything school related. Do things you enjoy so that your batteries are recharged for the next week of study. For me, it was helpful to have my rest day on Sunday. I would sleep in, have a morning coffee and spend the day reading, writing and going to the beach. This doesn’t mean that school consumes every other waking minute. Smaller times of relaxation are healthy too (before bed or at lunch breaks, for example). But, what a rest day does is allows your body to ignore, for a whole 24 hours, the pressure of school. 2. Stay Connected It is very important to not study yourself into a bubble that is only penetrated by classmates asking you the locus of point P where the gradient is tan of 67 degrees. Surround yourself with supportive friends who are willing to share the burden when things aren’t going great. Christian friends are even better - knowing that I had people my age praying for me was very encouraging. However, more importantly, you need to stay connected with God. It doesn’t matter how - church, youth group, bible study, quiet times - as long as you maintain that relationship. In my experience, I found that I felt significantly better about my study and my efforts in doing so when I stayed connected with God consistently throughout the week. 3. Know Your Limits Ensure that you pace yourself throughout the year so you don’t burn out halfway through. Create a schedule that enables you to achieve all that you have to during the week, but that also conserves energy for the remainder of the term. Personally, I would study hard during the day and then stop around 7, leaving the rest of my night free to do the things I enjoyed. 4. Reward Yourself Rewards are an incredible source of fuel for when your motivation tank is running low (for you can only receive the reward when you have worked hard, right?). Congratulate yourself when you arrive at the end of the week, at the end of the term and then at the end of the year! My end-of-the-week reward was the delicious combination of a family movie night with homemade pizza and fancy ice-cream. It was by far my favourite part of the week. 5. Find Study Methods That Work For You There are a crazy amount of study methods out there, but you must find the ones that work for you. Here are a few that worked for me, some of which you may not have heard of. Record your summary notes and listen to them while getting ready for school in the morningMake mind maps of important components of the course/unitDo LOTS of practice papers (if you only implement one study method ever, implement this one! It’s probably the most effective and the most vital!)Do extra research (eg. reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries)Make quizzes (with answers) and then do themIt’ll Be Over One Day No matter what you glean from this article, it doesn’t change the fact that exams, let alone the final year of school, are hard. But, I do hope that these strategies alleviate some of that difficulty. Remember, God has his hand over your study; it will be over soon. There is a definitive date in sight. So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:31-34
  21. Want better friendships? Here’s how. BIOLA UNIVERSITY 12 NOVEMBER 2019You can develop better, deeper, stronger friendships! Have you ever felt like you had absolutely nothing to talk about? That somehow, you’ve had every kind of conversation you could have with a person? If you’re like me, you love to skip past small talk and dive into rich conversations. However, it can be tough when it feels like the person on the other side of the conversation may not be up for a heart-to-heart. Not every conversation you have has to be deep and vulnerable. There are moments where it’s nice to just simply be. There’s something comforting about knowing you can sit in silence with a friend or loved one and know that all is well between you. But what if you’ve gone weeks—or even months—without engaging in a conversation that went beyond the weather, a well-known TV show, or the score from last night’s game? If you're not willing to go deep, you might realize that your conversations and relationships will not naturally go below the surface. Interestingly, it turns out that engaging in meaningful conversations is actually good for our health! In a study published in Psychology Today, psychologist Matthias Mehl followed the conversations of 79 college students, capturing 30-second snippets of their conversations every 12.5 minutes for four days. Mehl and his team categorized their conversations in two ways: substantive (the exchange of meaningful information - “Why did you fall in love with him/her?”) or small talk (the exchange of trivial information - “What are you eating there?"). At the end of the study, they found that the happiest participants engaged in twice as many substantive conversations compared to the unhappiest participants. While the happiest participants had about 46% substantive conversations and 10.2% small talk, the unhappiest participants had about 22% substantive conversations and 28.3% small talk. Mehl and his team later conducted the same study but with 486 people and a diverse pool of participants, including recent divorcees and cancer patients. They also found that the happiest participants were those who had high amounts of substantive conversations. So, what can you do when you feel like your interactions with others are becoming stale? Although the dynamic of meaningful conversations can be different between romantic relationships, friendships, and relationships with family and/or mentor figures, the basis remains the same. First, determine the atmosphere of the relationship. When you’re with your loved one, do you get the sense that something holding them back from engaging vulnerably in a relationship? Before moving forward with a vulnerable conversation, try to understand why they might be distant or unwilling to engage. It is possible they do not want to be transparent or exposed because they were hurt in a past situation. If this is the case, you should practice what Alisa Grace likes to call the “3 P’s": Pause. Take time to process by yourself before seeking this person out one-on-one.Pray. Go through Psalm 139 and ask the Lord to show you what’s in your heart. Proceed. When you feel like it’s best, move forward and initiate conversation. Second, be willing to engage with the other person’s interests.If there’s not an underlying issue of hurt from the past, then maybe your loved one has simply not had enough practice with going deeper than surface-level topics. If this is the case, start asking open-ended questions about their interests and experiences. Don’t ask “How was your day?” Instead, ask “What was something exciting that happened today?” If your friend likes basketball, ask them questions about the game. Be genuinely curious about why your friend likes basketball, and ask questions like “What does basketball do for you?” and “Why do you think it’s one of your favorite hobbies?” These questions will encourage people to dig deep and think about how they’re really feeling. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Why would I want to engage in meaningful conversations? What’s so bad about small talk?” Okay, I’ll be honest. Small talk is a true gift. How awkward would it be to ask the person in the elevator about their life story in two minutes? There is a time and a place for small talk— like the elevator. Or in line at the grocery store. But there’s something so beautiful about being honest and vulnerable with the people you love most. When we engage in deeper conversations, we allow ourselves to invite others to love us as we are, while loving them as they are.
  22. How to pick a college Five tips to help make the big decision about where to study at college or university. So, you are applying to college. YAY. This is a mixture of the most exciting, the most overwhelming, the most confusing, and the most nerve-racking feelings. Yay? But no need to fear, you will end up right where you need to be and right where God has intended you to be. I do not have all the answers, but I do have some tips on applying to college, just from the perspective of someone who has gone through the process before, and thoroughly enjoys the college that they are at! 1. Tour the campusInitially I had no interest in going to Biola at all. My parents went there and met in their first class on the first day of school, and because of that, it feels like people have been telling me that I was going to go there my entire life. And not one part of me wanted to go. When junior year of high school came along, my family and I decided to go on a college visitation trip. I threw Biola into the list just to appease to my parents, and honestly did not want to tour. However, everything changed the moment I stepped onto the Biola campus and actually saw it for what it was. During that week of high school, I toured five different colleges, and it really gives tangible thought to the decision. So, my advice is to TOUR THE CAMPUS. Some of the colleges that I thought I would love just based upon their websites or Instagrams felt completely different when I actually went to the campus and experienced it physically for myself. And some of the colleges that I thought I would never want to attend, I absolutely loved the campus when I was able to see it for myself and experience it. That is what happened to me with Biola! Touring the campus allows you to get a small glimpse of what life would be like at the school, as well as seeing the highlights of the school and what makes this college different than others. You get to see student life and visit places that you may have class, hang out, or study. As cheesy as this statement is, you will begin to picture yourself at a college and as an enrolled student once you tour a campus you truly love. What made Biola different for me was that it was the first place I could picture myself, and that only came from touring it. And so if you have the opportunity to tour colleges, DO IT. I guarantee it will help you solidify your options. 2. Talk to a counselor I highly suggest scheduling a meeting with your admissions counselor and talking with them in person! A great time to do this would be after you tour a campus, but if you are unable to do that, even just calling over the phone would be extremely beneficial to you! Immediately after my tour of Biola, I met with my admissions counselor, and that meeting changed everything for my family and me! The information you receive while talking to an admissions counselor is a lot more personal as we were able to talk specifically about my major and why I was interested in that, what academic scholarships I could qualify for, and what life would be like for me personally at that school. Talking with my admissions counselor alleviated a lot of stress, and it also allowed me to have a personal contact with someone throughout the application process who you feel comfortable talking to and who knows you. Speaking with a guidance counselor helps you receive more personalized information than you might have on a tour, as well as creates a contact point for you. I am so thankful that I set up a meeting with my Biola admissions counselor almost four years ago. We still get coffee and catch up till this day! He constantly encouraged me during the process of figuring out where I was going to go to college, and he was someone who really cared for me and was on my side. Your admissions counselors are on your side, they are on your team, go talk to them! 3. Talk to students Whether it’s someone who you know from home, your mom’s friend’s daughter from ages ago, a student on a tour, or a student over the phone, talking to a current or a former student of a college you are interested in really helps! Students can provide a personal example of what life is like at that college, especially showing what they are currently involved in and how that looks like for them. Talking with students can provide you a place to ask those honest questions you may not want to ask in front of a tour or with your admissions counselor. Talking with current students also allows you to speak to someone who can relate to you, as they just went through this application process not too long ago. When I was deciding on Biola, I talked to everybody I could have. I talked with students who I knew from back home who were currently at Biola, as well as former students; they answered so many of my questions, as well as told me stories about their life at Biola which made me want to be a part of it. People want to share about their experiences, so just ask! If you ever have any questions about Biola or just want someone to reach out to, I would love to be there for you! 4. Stay away day Many students, particularly in the US, move away from home for college. So you probably want a taste of the campus as if you were really living there, right? You want to know what it would feel like to live in a dorm, go to the cafeteria, have a communal bathroom (see if you would even like that), see other people in your halls, and attend some classes. Then go on a stay away weekend! A lot of colleges have stay away weekends where you can experience life as a student alongside current students. I know for Biola, there is University Day happening in November which is a stay-away night, as well as Biola Bounds throughout the year where you stay at Biola for a whole weekend, and they even take you to Disneyland! Stay away weekends allows you to receive the fullest experience a prospective student can have. I went on a Biola Bound my senior year of high school, and it was honestly one of my favorite weekends ever. I was able to stay in a dorm, join other Biolans on their late night food runs, and really see and be a part of the Biola lifestyle for myself! I was able to meet current Biola students who I still connect with to this day, and I was able to meet other students who I was able to relate to and talk through the application process. 5. Pray Above all, the college decision season can be stressful. You do not know where you will end up, but God knows. And He’s got it. Pray for guidance, pray for peace, and pray for assurance. He is truly the greatest comfort through all of this, and He’s got you. And know there are others who are praying for you, like me. I hope this gave you some hope during this time. Above all, YOU GOT THIS. You are worthy and capable. Written by Anna Gustafson from Biola University.
  23. A Christian Teen’s Guide to God and Mental Health Let's lift the stigma on mental health and take a look at what Christians can do when depression and anxiety arrive. Mental illness is one of the major concerns of young people these days. Studies show that in Australia, 1 in 7 young people aged 4 to 17 experience a mental health condition in any given year, and up to 1 in 3 people will be diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime. Mental illness, like physical illness, is a condition that we don’t have much control over. We can’t just ‘snap out of it’, and unlike just having a bad day or a worrying experience, depression and anxiety can linger for a long time, even when there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to feel that way. Some scientists now believe that mental illness is the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Christians haven’t always been very good at talking about mental health. So today, we’re going to try and take a better look at the relationship between God and mental health – turning to the pages of the Bible, and then looking at what we can do practically if we or our friends experience mental health issues. What does the Bible say about mental health? Our world is broken Throughout the Bible, we are reminded that due to our sin, the world is broken, and none of us are immune from this. All of us are going to experience pain and suffering while we live in this broken world, and mental illness is a part of that. The Bible acknowledges mental illness While the Bible doesn’t explicitly name depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder or anything like that, there is definitely evidence in the Bible of people struggling with their mental health. The Psalms, for example, are chock full of verses expressing severely negative emotions, as people like David cry out to God in their pain and grief. Psalm 38 is a good example of this, with verses like these: God invites his people to express their pain and suffering to him, and he listens. David concludes his Psalm in recognition of this: All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbours stay far away. We ought to care for our bodies (and brains) Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Saviour. While God wants us to ask for his help when we are in pain, we are also encouraged in Scripture to take care of our bodies – and by extension, our brains – when we need to. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan is praised for taking care of the physical needs of the injured man – he doesn’t just pray and walk by. We should be encouraged that when we face mental illness, seeking support from professionals is a good thing. Let’s get practicalNow that we’ve seen what the Bible says about mental health, let’s consider some practical ways we can manage mental health. What should I do if I am experiencing mental health issues? If you’re experiencing mental health issues like depression and anxiety, firstly know that you are not alone. So many Christians have experienced what you are going through. Your mental health struggles are not a reflection of the quality of your faith or of your status before God. Secondly, make sure that you seek professional help as soon as you can. In Australia, for immediate help in a crisis you can call Lifeline on 131 114. In the USA, call 1800 2738255. In the UK, call 08457909090. If you’re not in an immediate crisis, make an appointment to see your doctor or the counsellor at your school as soon as you can. In Australia, you can access up to 10 Medicare-subsidised appointments with a psychologist each year, which is a great blessing. Ask your doctor to prepare a mental health care plan with you if you’d like to go down this route. Your doctor may want to put you on medication. Make sure you are aware of the potential side effects, but know that going on medication is not a sign of failure or weakness – it can be just what you need to help your brain get healthy again. Next, you should tell some trusted Christian friends or family members about what you’re going through. Ask them to pray for you, that God would heal your mind and help you get back to a place where you feel mentally healthy. Ask them to check in on you. Though you might find it hard to reach out to God at this time, remember that he wants to hear from you. You could spend some time reading through the Psalms or praying with a friend to help you remember that God cares for you and listens to you. What should I do if a friend is experiencing mental health issues? If a friend confides in you that they are struggling with their mental health, you should take this seriously. Your friend obviously trusts you a lot, so respect and honour that trust and don’t gossip or share their confidential disclosures with others. However, if your friend is in immediate danger, or at risk of suicide, please tell someone who can help immediately, whether that’s a parent, teacher or leader at church. You can also call a helpline like Lifeline on 131 114. In the USA, call 1800 2738255. In the UK, call 08457909090. Next, use the information above to encourage your friend to seek professional help. You could offer to go to the doctor or counsellor with them, if you think that would help them to feel more comfortable. If your friend is a Christian, offer to pray for them. If they aren’t a Christian, you can still offer to pray, of course, but just make sure you aren’t perceived as pushing your faith on them at a time when they are vulnerable. Make sure you pray for your friend, whether you’ve told them you will or not! If your friend is a Christian, make sure you’re careful with your language. Saying things like “worry is the opposite of prayer” are not helpful for people experiencing mental health issues. Acknowledge their struggle and help them to remember that their illness is just that – an illness. Finally, try and make it as easy as you can for your friend to continue coming to church or youth group. Don’t make them feel guilty if they’re not up to it – you wouldn’t judge someone for being sick with the flu and not coming to youth group! But gently encourage them and remind them that they will be in a community that loves them, cares them and support them. Breaking down the stigma There is still a significant stigma around mental health in Christian communities, mostly due to an incorrect belief by some that Christians shouldn’t experience mental health issues if they trust God enough. That’s why it’s so important that we continue trying to break down that stigma. If you’ve experienced mental health issues, talk about that at your church and with your Christian friends. Encourage your friends and leaders to do research around mental health. And try and eliminate language that alienates people with mental health issues, like teasing someone who is really neat for being ‘OCD’. Churches should be places where everyone feels welcome and comfortable and loved, no matter how the brokenness of this world is affecting them. Questions to considerHave you ever experienced a mental health issue? How did it affect you? Read Psalm 38. What sort of emotions does David express? What should Christians who are struggling with mental health issues do? How can you help a friend with mental health issues? Have you ever heard people say things that demonstrate a stigma around mental health? How can you help fight against this?
  24. Am I ready to get married? Great advice on one of the biggest decisions you'll ever make. Many variables come into play when you’re trying to discern if you’re ready to get married. While we can’t give you an exhaustive check-off list, there are some definite questions that should be well thought through and thoroughly considered by you both before you take the big step to get engaged. After all, next to your decision to follow Jesus, this will be the most important decision you’ll make in life. Assuming you’re already crazy in love, you’ll know you’re ready to get married when… You’ve spent at least four seasons together: You've spent at least four seasons together (at the very least one year) getting to know each other and seeing each other in a variety of life situations so you can adequately assess whether your partner is a good match or not. You are compatible in personality:You have a shared sense of humor, similar likes/dislikes, similar drive and ambition, high levels of agreeableness, etc. You share core values:You have a shared faith in Christ, a similar level of spiritual maturity, and a compatible life-calling/mission/goals. Your character is mature:You are honest, trustworthy, dependable, teachable, kind, have integrity; you have a strong work ethic; you are able to delay gratification. You are emotionally mature:You are not prone to anger or outbursts, not jealous or insecure, not prone to defensiveness or withdrawing/stonewalling. You are able to put your partner’s dreams and preferences ahead of your own. You are able to ask for and extend forgiveness. You are able to handle disappointment well. You are able to adequately separate from your parents and not be overly reliant on them for emotional support. You are financially stable:You are able to support yourselves independent of your parents from the time you marry. You don’t have a large amount of debt, or that debt has been disclosed, and you have a plan in place to pay it off. You are ready to be financially responsible for the other person. You have chemistry:While physical and sexual attraction is not a foundation on which to build a lifelong marriage, without it there is little laughter, joy or delight. You would be more like roommates. So if you’ve been dating each other for a while and are thinking about marriage, but you don’t have a problem keeping physical boundaries, you might have a concern. You should be fighting with all your might to keep your physical intimacy in check; there should definitely be a strong sexual desire for each other. What does your gut tell you?While it’s normal to feel a small level of doubt and uncertainty about your decision, if you feel a real check in your spirit, don’t move forward. You may just need more time for your relationship to develop or you may need to call it off. Either way, if you have a large number of family and friends cautioning you, yet you still think you hear God telling you to move forward with engagement, you better check your hearing very carefully. Bottom line: Ask yourself the following question:If my partner/relationship stayed the same over the next 60 years – never getting better or worse than it is today – could I live with that and be happy? Is that the kind of atmosphere in which I want to raise my children? If after going through this list you both sense that you are indeed ready to move forward with engagement, your next step should be to arrange for premarital counseling.
  25. Can Christians get tattoos? Find out if it's ok to get a tattoo if you're a Christian. Tattoos are a popular way for people to express themselves. Many teens and young people want to get a tattoo as a way to stand out or share something important to them.But many of an older generation object to tattoos – and sometimes their objection is religious in nature. This can cause great rifts between people who disagree on the issue. So, who is right? Is there a problem with tattoos for Christians? Let’s find out! The source of the controversyThere’s a verse in Leviticus 19:28 that is often used as proof for that having a tattoo is sinful. This verse says, At first read, yep, that’s pretty clear! No tattoos for Christians. Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. But the context of this verse is very important to understand. This command comes in a long list of commands designed to discipline and set apart Israel – God’s chosen people in the Old Testament – from the rest of the world. In this time, many of those who followed other gods and religions used tattoos and other marks on their bodies as part of their pagan worship. For example, in Egypt, women tattooed the parts of their bodies associated with fertility as it was thought to bring them good luck when giving birth. In Canaan, people would slash their bodies as part of rituals to honour the dead. Neither action was appropriate for Israelites following God. Many of these commands are strange and specific, and we don’t follow them anymore. For example, the previous command is “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your heads or clip off the edges of your beard”! We can leave commands like these ones aside because of what Jesus did for us on the cross – we are no longer bound by the law for salvation, instead we receive salvation through His death and resurrection. So tattoos are OK now? Well, there is no biblical command against tattoos that applies to us, this side of the cross. So Christians can definitely consider getting a tattoo. But as with all big decisions you make, it’s important to ensure that you’re going to honour God. There are some crucial factors to consider before you get a tattoo: Is it legal? In most places, you have to be 18 to get a tattoo without your parents’ permission, and even with permission some places won’t tattoo you until you’re legally allowed to make the decision yourself. As Christians, we are called to respect the laws of the land, so that means no fake ID or forged letter from your parents. If you want a tattoo, you need to wait until it’s legal where you live. Are your parents OK with it? Even if you are legally old enough to get a tattoo, it’s worth considering what your parents think of the idea if you still live at home. If you’re still living with your parents, you still need to respect their leadership and guidance . What’s the tattoo? What the tattoo actually is is really important to think about! Many tattoos have a demonic theme, and even cool patterns and pictures may have a hidden meaning you might not be aware of. If you’re considering a tattoo, think hard about what it may mean. How will it affect others? As Christians, we don’t think only about ourselves. The needs and concerns of others should also matter to us. So if your tattoo is going to outrage your church, freak out your grandparents or anger your mum, that’s definitely worth considering. You also ought to consider how having a tattoo may affect how you relate to others in the future. Depending on its size, placement and content, a tattoo could rule you out of certain jobs, or even certain ministries. For example, a giant tattoo of a Bible verse on your arm might be a cool way to reach out to your friends now, but it could rule you out of mission work in a country that doesn’t like Christianity. Tattoos are permanentRemember: getting a tattoo is a permanent choice. Yes there are ways to remove them, but they are expensive and don’t always work very well. So before you get a tattoo, make sure you’re absolutely certain that you want it, and that you’ll still want it in 50 years!
  • Create New...