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Jonathon

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  1. How can teens stay true to Jesus in the middle of a sex-crazed world? 20 ways to avoid sexual temptation MIKE EVERETT 20 JANUARY 2021 God commands and demands that there shouldn't even be a hint of sexual immorality among us as His saved people (Ephesians 5:3). Of course, we all find this incredibly easy to do, right? WRONG! This feels completely impossible most (maybe all) of the time. If there is one area of life where it feels like Satan is winning the battle, it’s in the area of sex. And if there is one area where our bodies are screaming out to us to disobey God, it’s in the area of sex. So I want to give you my top 20 tips to help you avoid sexual immorality: Find out what pleases the Lord. This is a command straight out of Ephesians 5:10, and is part of what it means to live a life worthy of our calling as Christians, and part of what it means to live a life of love, just as Christ loved us. Find out what God’s will for your life is. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;” It doesn’t get much clearer than that! The battle begins in the mind. You need to know what God says about sex and trust what God says about sex. You need to be careful what you fill your minds with. Imagination is often the hot-bed where sin is hatched. Martin Luther once said about sexual desires, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making nests in your hair.” Pray (It is a spiritual battle too). Depend on God, on the power of His Holy Spirit to strengthen you in this battle. (Matthew 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 5:16) Don't put yourself in situations where you will be easily tempted. There is little point praying that God would not lead you into temptation, then walking straight into a tempting situation. Remember God is watching. You are never completely out of sight. Someone can always see you. Wield the axe. Jesus says in Matthew 5, if your eye or hand causes you to sin, gouge them out and throw them away, because eternal life is at stake. So if the internet, magazines, TV, or peer groups are causing you to sin; wield the axe. Chop away those things that tempt you. Talk about sex (accountability). You can't fight this alone. You need God's help and you need help from God's people too. You are not alone. It can be helpful to know you are not the only person who has ever been tempted this way. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man” (1 Corinthians 10:13a) You CAN resist. "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear" (1 Corinthians 10:13b). Know that God provides a way out. "But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13c). Count yourself dead to sin and alive to God. Christians are people who have died to sin (knowing that sin leads to death), and now live for God and righteousness, knowing that this leads to eternal life (Romans 6:11-14). Remember the cross. Jesus died for our sins, including our sexual sins. Remember Jesus is coming back. We will all have to give an account for our lives, even our sex life. Memorise Scripture. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he fired Scripture back at the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Having God’s Word in the forefront of your mind can help you too. Weariness and sadness often leads to sin. Learn to know yourself. Know when you are weak and susceptible to temptation. Struggling is a good sign. Keep fighting and don't give in. Be careful what you wear. Modesty is good for you and good for others too. Forgiveness is available. If you sin sexually you can still be forgiven, such is the power of the cross of Christ. So repent, turn back to God and live for Him. Read some good books. You might find a good book written by a bible-based Christian author a helpful way of answering some of your questions about sex without having to ask people directly. I hope and pray that these tips will help you in this fight. Remember, 'not even a hint of sexual immorality', is God's loving standard for you (Ephesians 5:3)
  2. Sometimes the greatest successes come through the hardest moments. Failure, my teacher LIZZY MILANI 13 DECEMBER 2020 “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” CH Spurgeon Ever failed at something? An exam or project? Failed to get home on time? Failed a friend? We all have. Failure is familiar to us all, with some of us feeling like we experience it more than others. That was definitely the case for me. During Grade 11, I was working on a Maths project with a friend. I have a creative type personality, and I'm somewhat distracted most of the time, so my strength was never in completing set tasks by the due date. And this particular project was no exception. I failed to hand in the project, and consequently I failed my friend. Double whammy! I owned my failures. I wore them around on my sleeve, my heart dripped with them. I lived on a roller-coarser of performance driven self-approval. When I did something great, I thought I was great. When I failed, I sunk deep and dark. After years of living this way, I’ve realised that failure doesn’t need to sit heavy on us at all! It’s not something that defines our character or worth. Not one bit. Is failure always negative? It’s easy to believe that failure is bad and something to be ashamed of. There’s an assumption that it signifies weakness. We’ve all been laughed at for failing, and we’ve held our breath and thanked God when the person next to us failed and we didn’t. Why do we run from it? Why is it so shameful? I get it, I do the same. If 'failure' were a profession, I’d be a billionaire. But what if our failures and failings, our hardships and challenges didn’t mark us as weak and inferior? What if they made us strong? What if they opened up new opportunities and levels of creativity for us? I’m not saying that failure is an awesome experience, to earn its name it clearly isn’t. It’s horrible. But pain has a way of unearthing our beauty, pearls buried deep within our hearts and souls that can only be found while digging deep. Those pearls look like resilience, hope, love, determination, the will to survive, the strength to stand, and the ability to dream. Learning. Growing. The positive side of failure Granted, embracing seasons of abundance and hope realised is much more fun and enjoyable than doing so in moments of humiliation and error. But often our greatest ’successes’ are born in our darkest moments. That's why the well-known Bible techer Charles Spurgeon says, “I have learned to kiss the wave (the hardship, circumstance, failure, challenge, heartache etc.) that throws me against the Rock of Ages (the God of endless and eternal love, faith and hope). JK Rowling said in her speech at Harvard in 2008, “you will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships, until you have been tested by adversity.” As painful and hard as it may be, embrace the waves - the turmoil, the failure - because they are, after all, not the end of everything, but our greatest and most patient teachers. And when the season is over, I hope you get to the point where you can look back with a thankful heart and kiss it fondly goodbye knowing that it has served you and your future well. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG): "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
  3. Part 1: Grow in confidence so you can bring Christ into everyday conversations. 6 ways to be bold for Christ at school BY EMILY SEMSARIAN 5 NOVEMBER 2020 School is what our lives revolve around as teens. Days are filled with classes, homework and constant chatter. Even though we are surrounded by people who do not know the amazing message of the gospel, we shrink into our bubbles and resist the need and urge to be bold for Christ. As Christians we are called to be disciples of God. In Colossians 1:28 it states; “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.” It is our job to be planting the seed of the gospel into the hearts and minds of non-believers so they can be fully-equipped for the return of Christ. As teens, we have lots of opportunities to be witnesses for Jesus through our words and actions. It is definitely easier said than done to be bold for Christ when we constantly fear the judgement of our peers. The urge to curl into a ball when the bible or God is mentioned will continue to happen unless we stride to make a change, to stand up and be bold for Christ. Here are 6 ways to be bold for Christ at school: 1. Be Different In today’s society we constantly fall into the trap of wanting to be like everyone else. However, as God’s people we should instead be striving to be like Jesus. In a sinful world, as Christians we should be living a life that honours God. This can be in the form of things like serving. In Mark 10:45 it states; “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Like Jesus we should remember to put others first and aim to look out for those arounds us before ourselves. If we want to honour God we also need to be careful of our choice of language, actions and activities we choose to partake in. The fact that we act differently to the people around us, and choose not to follow the stereotypical path of today’s teenagers, it places questions into the minds of others, like why are they different. It is these initial questions that plant the seed of the bible into their minds. 2. Be Confident One of the hardest ways to be bold for Christ is speaking openly about Jesus. This is daunting, but the easiest way to overcome this is by doing it. As cliché as it sounds, practice makes perfect. The more you bring it up, the more comfortable you and others will feel about it. Be confident to bring Christ into everyday conversations. This can be as simple as when asked what you did over the weekend, replying “I went to youth group where we learnt about…” or saying “I lead a kid’s group at my local church, do you go to church?” It is this casual conservation that will build your confidence and allow you to open deeper discussions about Christ. Do not fear the judgement of your peers, or worry about other people’s opinion of you, because the only opinion that should matter is God’s. 3. Invite people to your church or youth group As a regular member of my local youth group, one of our goals as a youth is to fill the hall we currently meet in. Currently filling about 2/3 of it, our minister gave as the challenge to invite someone every week. It is this challenge I put forward to all of you. Youth groups are not just for the established Christians but for everyone. Sometimes it can feel awkward to ask one of your friends who does not believe in Christ to your youth group or church, but we need to move past this so that they can hear the amazing news of Christ. Be bold in asking your friends, one way to make it easier is at the beginning of each term pick one of your friends who you want to focus on. Between classes or at lunch ask them if they have any plans for the weekend, if not, would they want to come to your youth/church. Being resilient and persistent even when they decline, also shows them that it is something that is important to you. If you live nearby offering them a lift can also be really helpful, as a lot of the time the only reason they say no is because they are worried to go somewhere foreign to them by themselves. So I challenge you to be bold and invite your friends! Come back tomorrow for 3 more ways you can be bold for Jesus at school. Be bold!
  4. It's not always easy getting to know new people ... but these 10 practical tips might help How do you make friends at school? CECILY PATERSON 3 NOVEMBER 2020 The number one question when adults talk to young people is, "do you like school?" The second question is, "do you have lots of friends?" Sometimes I wonder what the reaction would be like if we were more honest and said, "No. I really need to make some more." There are definitely times in life when we need more friends. But making them seem so daunting. How do you make friends? It helps to realise that friends first of all usually have something in common with each other. Perhaps you like the same things or have similar interests, you have been to the same places or you have the same values and beliefs. You might look similar or own similar things or you may have experienced the same things at the same time in life. What happens if your experiences are different from the people around you? Perhaps you need to have some new experiences or be even more interested in the lives of others. But it’s not as simple as that. A ‘spark’ of liking is also needed to build a friendship. Unfortunately that's almost impossible to describe or define. Often we know immediately that we like someone, but it can happen slowly too. I have a wonderful friend whom I love spending time with. However when I first met her I didn’t like her at all - for almost a full year. We had to spend more time together before I realized that we actually had a lot in common. Here is a challenging thought: people who simply ‘want friends’ can rarely find any. Friendship must be about something. So to have friends, we need to be friendly but we also need to be interesting, and interested in life. Getting involved in different groups, missions and projects can be a great way to make friends. Here's a few other ideas to get you started: Hang out with people, even if you feel shy or awkward Get involved in groups, projects, missions and stuff you’re interested in Go to youth group and church and join in with their social stuff regularly Invite a few people to see a movie or go to the beach with you Watch how others ‘chat’ to people and learn from them Have a respectful attitude towards others Find things you have in common with people Keep a gentle manner and tone Be polite, but also be open and honest and ‘yourself’ If you constantly feel like you’re failing, go talk to an older, wiser mentor person and get some tips. “Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travellers.” CS Lewis
  5. Remembering God when you wake, sleep, or stare at your phone. 10 everyday activities that remind me of God’s greatness MITCH MILLER 3 NOVEMBER 2020 Here are 10 things I do everyday that remind me of how great God is, and how much I need him! 1. Wake up God never sleeps, never needs refreshment and is always perfectly strong. He is available 24 hours a day. 2. Check my news feed God already knows what each and everyone of us have put on our Facebook walls (and everything we will ever post in the future). He knows each and every detail, of every aspect of our lives and, unlike some of our “friends”, he really cares about those details. 3. Work out (or think about working out) God will never decay. He has no need to get healthy or stay healthy. He is life itself and cannot die. 4. Drive God is everywhere at once. He has no need for transportation. He is always with us and never gets stuck in traffic. 5. Eat God is a big fan of food. He talks about it in his word, and even says that we WILL eat in heaven. The difference is I eat to stay alive. He is always full and in him, we are truly filled. 6. Look at my watch A day to the Lord is as a thousand years. He is eternal. He always has been and alway will be. What this means is that he exists outside of time. Though God invented the second, minute and hour, there is no clock on his wall. He is never late, never early, never rushed and never bored. 7. Put someone on hold I’m a phone guy. I talk on the phone all day. Sometimes, two calls come in at once and I have to switch over. God has millions of people praying to him all day and he can hear each one perfectly clearly. He invites all 7 billion of us to cast our cares on him for he cares for us. 8. Make evening plans God is sovereign over every plan. He has every moment mapped out for the rest of eternity. He never asks anyone, “What are you doing tomorrow?” because he already knows. His plans never fall through, no matter what evil they face. 9. Update Twitter God has spoken and given to us his perfect word. He never needs to change it or update it. Yet he constantly gets new followers and TONS of retweets haha. 10. Sin God doesn’t lie. God doesn’t steal. God doesn’t covet. God doesn’t gossip. He is holiness, righteousness and purity. He is a fierce warrior against sin, especially my sin, and will one day rid me of it entirely. What are some everyday moments in which you can worship God? What activities do you do on a daily basis that are actually opportunities for prayer? Leave your comments and thoughts below.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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?
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. Just because you're online doesn't mean the games have to stop! View the full article
  20. 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!
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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)
  24. 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.
  25. 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
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