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    • As a follower of Jesus, you face an opponent that wants to destroy your faith. Christians need to be fighters  JOEL A MORONEY     Want to join the Swiss Army? It’s easy: 1) Be a citizen of Switzerland 2) Be a male (sorry ladies) 3) Be of fighting age   That’s it. If you fit the three categories above, not only are you eligible for the army, but you are already in it! Every Swiss bloke of the right age is in the army. You go to uni or to work as normal. A few weeks every year, you rock up for some army training. Not only do you get one of those cool little knives with a million different tools, but you have a gun and a jar full of bullets that you keep in your house. If another country decided to invade Switzerland, then all the men would instantly leap into action to defend their country. Every man is ready and able to defend.   If you’re a Christian, then you’re also part of an army. It doesn’t matter if you’re a guy or a girl or how old you are. If you are a member of the Kingdom of God then you are part of God’s spiritual fighting force. You are called to be ready and able to serve your king at a moment's notice. But the fight we are to fight doesn’t require you to fire a gun. No, the enemy we face requires a whole different sort of warfare. Who we fight against The enemy that God would have us fight is Satan. Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, but Satan’s influence can still be felt. Satan has lost the fight against God, but he won’t go down quietly: He is at work in this world to tear you away from God. He wants you to doubt God’s salvation. He wants you to trust in yourself rather than God. He wants you to reject God as King and abandon his Kingdom. Satan does not want you to be saved, to be in a relationship with God.  Get ready to win  As a soldier in God’s army, you are called to fight. You are to protect yourself and others from the enemy’s attacks. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armour of God. To know our Bibles. To understand the promises of God. To put our faith in the power of God to save. And we are to be on constant guard. Like the men of Switzerland, we are to be always prepared for an attack. We don’t know when Satan will attack. We don’t know where he will come from or what weapons that he will use. So we are to be ready for him.   If you are a Christian, then you are a soldier in God’s army. Be ready to fight. Not with your fists or with swords or with guns. But instead be ready with the certainty of God’s salvation. Stand firm, knowing that he loves you and has the power to save you. And when Satan comes knocking, you will be ready for him. That’s what it means to be a soldier in God’s army.
    • A Christian Teen’s Guide to Caring for the Planet  BETSY PAINTER   Did you know that Christians have engaged and cared for the planet for centuries?  Right now there is a particular urgency with the alarming levels of pollution, an erratic climate, and biodiversity on decline. But it’s important to sustain hope not out of ignorance but out of confidence that all creation is part of God’s redemptive purpose. This is God’s world, and our Creator loves the creation. We can join in God’s redemptive work that extends to the full community of creation! Things you may not know about water One of the most pressing global environmental issues today is lack of access to clean water. Water is breathtaking and awe-inspiring, yet this precious resource is surprisingly scarce. Approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Why is water shortage a problem? Most of the water on the planet is salt water, meaning it’s undrinkable. The oceans and seas all contain salt water, leaving only 3 percent of the earth’s water fresh. However, most of this is inaccessible and frozen at the poles, which means only a meager 1 percent is reasonably within reach. Failure to clean up our bodies of water and uphold solutions that protect our water systems can lead to rivers combusting, human illness and death, and food contamination. If we aren’t wise with our water consumption and conservation, especially in regions prone to drought, our water tables can shrink to concerning levels. Water justice in the US involves addressing water issues and protecting clean water sources with the same care and urgency for every community, regardless of race or economic status. Prioritizing clean drinking water for everyone is a godly way to care for people.  What does the Bible say about fresh water? When we see a community in need of fresh water, we have an opportunity to reflect God’s character. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said that when we offer a cup of water to someone in need, it’s as if we were giving the Messiah Himself a drink (10:42). Jesus is very serious about physical provision for His people, and we should be too. God invites you and me to participate in providing fresh water for one another, and when we do, we can be confident that we are becoming more like Christ. What does the Bible say about how water connects us? As we learn in Genesis 1:2, while creation was still empty and formless, God’s Spirit was “hovering over the face of the waters.” God had a plan for water to sustain all life on earth. Amazingly, every water molecule God created in the beginning is still a part of the water cycle today! Around the planet, water evaporates, condenses into clouds, then precipitates back to the earth as rain or snow. This natural circulation of water connects the seas and rivers with the forests, grasslands, wetlands, and deserts.  It also connects them to you and me. Water is the foundational force that binds each ecosystem to another. Without it, life would fail. When we pollute or contaminate our water, we interfere with the systems God set in place to give and support life. What does the Bible say about how water sustains us? Through Moses in the book of Exodus, God caused water to gush forth from a rock in the wilderness, without which His people would have surely died. God provided for Jacob to buy a portion of land and build a well to supply water to his community. In the Old Testament wells were foundational to the survival of a community, especially in a desert setting. These stories show how God knows and meets our needs, bodily as well as spiritually. What does the Bible say about how water renews us?  Throughout the Bible, God uses water metaphorically to demonstrate spiritual renewal. Just as God designed our physical bodies to rely on water, our spirits cannot thrive without the transformative presence of God. Perhaps the most notable example of this in a Christian’s life is the sacrament of baptism, which signifies the cleansing and spiritual rebirth of our souls. Jesus also used water to wash the disciples’ feet. Peter learned he had to let Jesus wash his spirit in order to share in the life of holiness with God the Father. In all these examples God chose water, with its cleansing abilities, to physically demonstrate spiritual change. If God chose to work through and with water, what does that say about this significant substance? God offers us peace in the presence of water. Psalm 23:2–3 says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” When we take time to sit by a stream and pray, the peace of God settles over us and stills our anxieties to match the tranquil waters. We’re restored by enjoying creation and resting in God’s presence. The beauty of glistening, rhythmic waters in nature is a gift from our Creator. Someday we’ll enjoy life in a perfectly renewed place, but until then, as Christians, we have a responsibility to respect and protect earth. When we consider what a gift water is—a life-giving, cleansing, satisfying, restorative gift—we see how important it is for us to be good stewards of our water sources and supplies; to do our part in meeting the physical water needs of everyone; and to work for clean, accessible water, especially to marginalized populations. How can you make a difference?   It’s easy to conserve water!   Turn off your faucet while it’s not in use. Running water while brushing your teeth? Mindfully turn it off! Run the washing machine with a full load, and use the cold setting to save energy. Limit your time in the shower to three to eight minutes, or as brief as possible. Pick a couple of songs and challenge yourself to finish showering before they’re over (singing along is encouraged). Get involved!  Water issues are global, but it’s helpful to think locally.  Organize a litter cleanup by foot, kayak, or canoe with your church or neighborhood. Bring trash bags and map out a route. If walking, prioritize trash thrown in street gutters, which ends up in our rivers and lakes. If boating, look for litter on the banks and floating in the water. Check online to see if any organized “Blueway Cleanups” are happening in your area. Questions to think about God designed us to need water. Do you ever think about your dependence on water and the natural world? (It’s pretty incredible to think God created our bodies with water, to continually need water, and to access water through His creation.)  The writer of Genesis mentioned the rivers flowing out of Eden by name—Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon, and Gihon. Do you know the names of the bodies of water in your area?  Contact your local utility company to ask where your water is sourced from. Visit and pray by these vital freshwater ecosystems. What does the Bible say about other resources, like mountains, minerals, air, and soil? How can you inspire your friends and family to care for Earth the way God does?  Why is this important?  Learn more about how to care for Earth the way God does in A Christian’s Guide to Planet Earth by Betsy Painter.  About the author Betsy Painter is a creative writer and conservation biologist who is passionate about environmental care and its human dimensions. She is a graduate student at Yale studying the connection between environmental conservation and Christian ministry. She wrote A Christian's Guide to Planet Earth out of a fervent belief that her family in the faith has the reason, the hope, and the resources to make a difference and to seize the opportunity to reflect the gospel message of loving things to life.   
    • So I did a children’s talk based on this last Sunday. Also used it as a way of introducing our new minister, who starts this coming week, but actually turned up for last week’s service somewhat unexpectedly. At least he approved of the silhouette I’d turned his picture into. 😊
    • re you changing your world – or is your world changing you? BY Ron Lucw   Changing a world is a big job. So big, you might say, “Why bother?”  Here’s why. There’s one thing (besides death) that is absolutely certain in life. You will either be a part of changing the world around you – or the world around you will change you. It will slowly but surely seep into the pores of your skin and before you know it, you’ll look like everyone else, you’ll talk like everyone else, you’ll think like everyone else. You will lose sight of the person that God created you to be. You will lose YOU! “Ok, so I don’t want to lose ME. I want to make a difference. Where do I start?” The Bible gives us 4 things we can do… 1. Give all of you to God Remember, God is the one who made you, so he is also the one who knows what he wants you to become. You can’t be all that he wants you to be if you only let him have a piece of you. 2. Say no to what the world tells you to be The world is telling you how to live 24/7 – in what you watch, in what you listen to, in what you read. If you never say NO to the world, it will make you into its image, not God’s. It may not always be easy, but it wasn’t easy for Jesus either. Remember, He gave His life for you. 3. Say yes to what God tells you to be God has given His Holy Spirit to live inside each of his children and he will take the lives of those who say yes to him and make them into the people that he always intended them. But we have to cooperate with Him. While God has all the power in the world, He never forces us to do anything (though he sometimes makes life really uncomfortable to help us change!) 4. Think like God, not the world We do that by learning what God thinks, and He has told us a whole lot about that in the Bible. So we have to read and study God’s Word and allow ourselves to be taught by those who know His Word better than we do. The Bible also tells us that hanging with the wrong crowd will ALWAYS get us into a whole lot of trouble It doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with those who don’t know God. It just means that everyone will be influenced by the company they keep. Hanging with those who think like God thinks will help you, while constantly surrounding yourself with those who think like the world can really make it difficult for you to be who God created you to be. Surround yourself with people who think like God thinks. And remember, changing a world is not a “one-person job”, and God never intended for you to tackle it all by yourself. He placed that load squarely on His son’s shoulders. Jesus is the master world-changer and calls all of his brothers and sisters to join him in bringing light into dark places and changing the world for His glory. It’s a team effort. You can make a difference. You, along with millions of other young people who are committed to THE world-changer, Jesus, can truly change the world. If not you, who will? You must choose. Every day of your life, all you have to do is say YES to Jesus and NO to the world. Thousands of young people just like you from all around the world will be gathering in person, online, and in their own communities for Jesus Global Youth Day, August 8-10, 2019 to be held in Manila, Philippines. It will be massive. To find out more, visit Jesus Global Youth Day.   
    • Six practical ways to honor your parents BY ERICA APPIAH   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 'honor 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!
    • I teach fourth grade CCD.  One of the things I am trying to teach the children is to show their love for Jesus and to do things to 'help' Jesus.  This article fits perfectly because I stress with the kids that they don't have to do big things to change the world, they can help Jesus by doing little things.  Be nice to each other.  Help someone else, and it can be as simple as picking up a pencil they dropped.  Be good and do good things.  etc. I plan on sharing this article if that is okay with you.
    • I like this. I can feel a children’s talk coming on based on this message. 
    • Five ways to make a difference for God at school  Kelly Carlson 19 NOVEMBER 2021   No matter whether your school year is just beginning - or you're right in the middle of it - it's always a great time to use your life, words and actions to show the love of Jesus to those around you. Here are five ways you can make your school years count: 1. Learn people’s names Our names are the word we long to hear most. It indicates intimacy, friendship, and being known. Learn people’s names and use them as often as possible. Seek out hidden people like maintenance workers. Welcome outcasts, new students, and quiet peers with personal greetings. Use their name in the hallways no less than you would your closest friends. This is a small step to take to show people you care about them, and will help you build relationships for Jesus' sake.  2. Thank your teachers and pray for them Occasionally ask your teachers how their lives are going, and keep track of when they share aspects of their struggles with you. If they are open to it, keep a list of their requests and tell them you're going to pray for them. Follow up in the future to ask about the topic or situation happening in their life. Let’s not forget teachers are real people. They go through struggles, sickness and hurt just like we do, and prayer is powerful! 3. Defend against cruelty with encouragement Fighting cruelty with cruelty is never a good idea. God just won’t have it. Seek out those who are bullied and intentionally build them up. Tell them you care about them – and so does God. Speak the truth loudly and regularly to help counter the negative voices in their lives. Pray for bullies and invite the hurting to join you at lunch, in social activities, or at youth group. 4. Invest fully in whatever you do How do basketball or art club matter? Alone, they don’t. But your participation, treatment of teammates or use of your gifts - these matter a lot! Jim Elliot, a famous missionary murdered by those he went to reach, writes “Wherever you are, be all there.” Don’t spread yourself so thin you cannot be fully present. Giving your all in whatever you do lets people know you are an authentic person who cares about others. 5. Enjoy school, but keep it in perspective Athletic team try-outs, grades, and goals can leave us clothed with competition instead of compassion. Dances, dates, and smiles in the hall can leave us seeking wordly acclaim rather than making our Saviour known in this world. Be a light in your school. Yes, enjoy the dances, work hard, and reach goals. But just make sure the things of this world don't become more important to you than the maker of the world.
    • What if I fail my exams? Kristin Young 14 NOVEMBER 2021   Do you get nervous waiting for your exam results? Maybe you can’t eat because your stomach is churning so much. You keep wondering about a whole bunch of questions: What will the results be? Will they be enough to get into my university course? What if... what if I don’t get to do what I really, really wanted to do? When your dream is shattered I remember the shock of 'bad' exam results. One minute I had my world all planned out, and the next ... well, the next moment everything crashed down around me. Here are some questions I had to deal with: How much am I thinking 'Good marks = good person?' How much of my self-esteem depends on my academic results? Am I trusting in God, or am I really trying to control him by planning out my own future? Have I been expecting God to automatically approve my ideas, rather than letting Him be in charge? What now?????? In Proverbs, we are reminded: If you’re dealing with the same grief I had to deal with, don’t panic. It can feel like you’re facing a really uncertain future, but you’re not alone, and you’re not lost. Here are some things that helped me: 1. God loves you You might not be feeling very loved right now, but God loves you more than you know. He loves you so much that Jesus came to give up his life for you. No matter what happens, God doesn’t love you any less. His love is not dependent on any exam mark. 2. God knows you better than you know yourself If God knows all this about you, then he also knows your gifts. He knows what you’re best at, even if you’re still struggling to work that out. 3. God knows the future, and he’s in control of everything When everything seems out of control, God’s still in control. In my case, I can look back now and thank God he didn’t let me head in the direction I wanted to - it would have been a disaster! But at the time, I just had to trust Him that he knew what he was doing. When life seemed most out of control, God was fully in charge. 4. God’s plans are different to our plans God isn’t us. He doesn’t just nod and approve of whatever we think we should do. Sometimes God purposely gives us a wake-up call like this to remind us that we’re not gods. It’s like he stops us in our tracks and says, “I love you, but are you going to let me be in charge now?” 5. God is more concerned with who we are than with what we do God works everything for our good, but “our good” is not necessarily our wealth or success or career glory. God’s ultimate purpose for your life is that you will be more like Jesus (“conformed to the image of his Son”). I couldn’t be like Jesus when I was resting on academics for my self esteem. So God thankfully took that away from me (I can say that now). It’s a life-long journey, and there are still times when God lovingly gives me that sort of tap on the shoulder. But I’m grateful, because Jesus is so much more awesome than anything else. 6. There is nothing too big for God to deal with, so pray, and pray, and... pray At the moment you might not be able to see your future, but God can. So ask him to look after it. Here’s the sort of prayer I ended up praying: Instead of asking God what he wanted me to do, I’d been shoving my proud ideas in his face, and expecting God to just give automatic approval to my plans. It took a massive reality check for me to realise I wasn’t in control of my world. I needed to repent of my pride, and depend on the God who is in control of everything. There was this old hymn that kept on turning around in my mind as I dealt with this issue:  
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