Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Good Shepherd (The Key to Finding Green Pastures)


The Good Shepherd 
The Key to Finding Green Pastures
by S.E. Miller

As I study Psalm 23 and its context this week, I will share some of the amazing truths, I have found. A life changing truth was found in verse two, which says, "You make me to lie down in green pastures"........."In The Way of The Shepherd", author Don Baker notes how Shepherds contend with barren hills in Israel. Baker says, dry barren hills are common in Israel and are due to a lack of rain during the months between May and October. The vegetation is dry and scorched by the sun. The lush green pastures the shepherd leads the sheep to is prepared by the shepherd! The Shepherd has to, clear the rocks, plow the soil, plant the seeds, irrigate the land and carefully tend the grasses to be certain the sheep have enough to eat." "The Green Pastures Don’t Just Happen."

Imagine the difficult task of manually preparing such a soil to produce lush green pastures. Think about that for a moment! If Jesus is our shepherd, he is the one preparing the pasture for us. He's actively converting the rocky barren circumstances in our lives to lush green pastures. If we trust Him, we will eat from the good of the land for He has meticulously prepared the soil to produce green pastures for us. The author notes some sheep wander off to find their own pastures. Unfortunately, they are often destroyed by a prowler or predator. But the contented sheep are fully satisfied and protected by the shepherd as they remain close to Him.  

Is the Lord your Shepherd? If He's not your Shepherd do you want Him to be? Try reading the following out loud to see what happens.

The Lord Is My Shepherd
Psalm 23:1  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Psalm 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Monday, December 12, 2016




Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children:
 Five Ways God Wants You To Parent Your Adult Child 
By Karla Downing

Are you wondering about setting boundaries with your adult children? Parenting your adult child sounds like an oxymoron. The two really shouldn't go together, but they often do. There is an epidemic of children eighteen years and older (even much older) that still require involvement from their parents in their lives and want support in the form of a place to live, money, training, and emotional energy. This requires a plan and an understanding of the ways adult children should be parented. Here are five ways God wants you to parent your adult child:

1. Everything you do needs to be with the goal of increasing independence rather than fostering dependence. It isn't easy for most eighteen year olds to move out on their own and be self-supporting as well as pay for educational or vocational training. Parental support can be a good thing, as long as it is working toward independence rather than fostering dependence. If you give any help to your son or daughter that is making it easier for them to start a career, it is positive and good. This is God's plan for you to raise children who become independent and healthy adults who make wise choices (Proverbs 22:6).

2. Your son or daughter needs to be responsible for his or her own irresponsibility. This way your parenting shifts from punishment and deciding to impose consequences to letting your child experience the results of his/her own decisions. This means that you never bail your child out when bad decisions are made. You wouldn't pay overdue credit cards. You wouldn't pay for traffic tickets or accidents. You wouldn't pay late fees. You wouldn't pay for lost items. You wouldn't pay for dropped college classes. This supports God's law of reaping what you sow (Galatians 6:7-8).

3. The relationship needs to be mutually respectful. This means that your child listens to your concerns, speaks respectfully to you, interacts with you, and uses language you find acceptable. It means that you treat your child like an adult and listen to his/her concerns, speak respectfully, and don't get into business that should be private. God wants all of us to treat each other with respect and honor (1 Peter 2:17).

4. Your child needs to follow the house rules. Your life should not be disrupted by your child; your child needs to adapt to you. Don't be afraid to impose a curfew that allows you to go to bed rather than wait up for him/her to come home. Impose rules that keep you from worrying and from being annoyed. You don't have to allow TV watching or activity in the house that would prevent you from sleeping or enjoying your life as you want to. You can ask that your child be respectful of your rules when visiting and/or living there and not doing anything in your home that is unacceptable to you. Proverbs 25:17 says we should be careful what we do in someone else's house or they will grow to hate us.

5. Reward success and don't reward laziness. Your child needs to experience the positive benefits of succeeding. Good grades in college mean you pay for more college classes. A responsible child who is working toward a degree, a career, and an independent life by being involved in some sort of educational or vocational training and is working hard might deserve for you to give some extra cash to lighten the load. This child should get more support from you than the child that is doing almost nothing. Unfortunately, it typically works the opposite with parents giving more to the child who is lazy. God doesn't honor laziness and even goes as far as to say that someone who doesn't work shouldn't eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

If you set boundaries with your adult children these five ways that God wants you to parent, then you will be increasing the likelihood that you will soon be out of a job. Ultimately, that is God's plan for you and your adult son or daughter.
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Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com 

Friday, December 9, 2016

8 Warning Signs Your Teen is Troubled


Getting Help for Troubled Teens: 
When and Where to Go

By: Heather Peters


When your teenager starts to get out of hand you have to ask yourself some hard questions. The first step is to honestly evaluate how you think you're doing when communicating with your teen. Do you feel you are sharing valuable information and time? Or do you feel there is a communication gap and he's hiding something?

Look for these warning signs:
Low self-esteem
Out of touch with reality
Sudden personality changes and mood swings
Violent behavior
Drop in grades and school performance
Self destructive actions or language (suicide threats or extreme diet & exercise)
Reclusive tendencies
Debilitating fears

Any of those behaviors done on a frequent basis can indicate a problem. At this point you should seek outside assistance. Don't be too proud to ask for help.

If you feel your efforts aren't working (or aren't good enough) first enlist the assistance of your extended circle of friends and family. Get everyone involved to bolster the spirits of your teen. Show him that he has a support system in place that he can count in. Work on building back trust in your relationship. If your child opens up to another family member better than you, keep your resentment inside, the focus should be on helping your teen.

Sometimes you need to bring in professionals. Don't wait too long on this step if your child is getting out of control. A delay can be costly. But where should you turn next? Consider these options:

School guidance counselor

This person deals with teenagers (especially troubled ones) on a daily basis, they are an excellent resource for insight into what might be happening among the social scenes at school. They also have quick easy access to your child during the day.

Outside counselors and psychologists

These professionals have degrees in counseling and therapy. Some specialize in therapy while others focus on testing. Its best to find someone who deals with teenagers a lot, they usually relate better to the younger generation.

Social workers

These individuals are often called in to work with families as a group and are quite familiar with emotional problems in a social setting. They can help identify issues related to family dynamics. This can be helpful if there are frequent conflicts at home.

Psychiatrists

These are medical doctors (yes, they went to medical school) who are allowed to prescribe medication and can hospitalize patients. Generally you would reserve this professional for a later step as licensed counselors are often a less expensive and personal approach to teen troubles.
Therapy can become expensive so check with your insurance plan to see which services are covered. Some companies impose limits on the type of services available and/or the frequency of visits. If cost is an issue don't forget that school counselors are typically free. You could also contact a local university or college, free clinics, counseling training programs, and state run offices. Some offices offer sliding scale pricing for lower income families. It's important not to let money stop you from seeking help. The wellbeing of your child and your family depend on it.

Author Bio~troubled-teens.topicreviews.com seeks to provide assistance for teens and their families to help during stressful times. All information in this article is the opinion of the author and not meant to replace sound medical and professional advice. Always seek the assistance of a professional in dealing with a troubled teen.


Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com - Free Website Content

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Love Laughter & Cookies a Jerry Seinfeld Moment



My son, Jason, recently shared an old Jerry Seinfeld moment with me that made him laugh through the years, probably because he remembers when. According to Seinfeld, his mom never let him have a cookie at times when his heart yearned for just one.  He says he enjoys adulthood now, because if he wants a cookie he eats it, if he wants three, he eats three, if he wants eleven, no big deal! In a standup comedy routine, he shares that one day he called his mom just to tell her he had totally and intentionally, ruined his appetite.   He added, "So what if I ruin it, because as an adult, we understand even if you ruin an appetite with a cookie, there's another appetite coming right behind it.  There is no danger of running out of appetites!  I have millions of them.  I'll ruin them whenever I want!"  I laughed with Jason.  I was reminded of all the appetites I didn't let him ruin as a child.

Do we parents miss the boat sometimes, just because we have the authority to say what goes and what does not?  Do we make big deals out of things that we could make jokes about? Suppose your child wants a cookie and you sneak a couple out of the cookie jar and go sit down with him to eat it, right before dinner.  Worth the time? Yes. What do you have to give up to do this or some other fun thing?  Maybe a phone call, maybe the last few minutes of a TV show you were watching.
I saw a book not long ago, a collections of notes children had written their parents while away from home. One particular one was from a little boy who wrote, "Hey Mom. Bath time is fun at Grandma's house. I don't have to hurry.  She has lots of time to play."

Parents are busy making a living, tending to life, trying to make things work with minimal backlash. It's easy for kids to see home as a place of rules, regulations, quick baths with no bubbles, and no cookies to ruin appetites. In the process of making sure all our rules are in place, sometimes we miss the laughs and chances to bond.

You can give your mind a real workout by trying to figure out new fun things to do to make more laughter in your home.  I love April Fool's Day.  I always pull a whooper on each of our sons.  Each year they say they will be prepared for the next, but somehow, I catch them at just the right moment with a wild proclamation and they believe it. That is, until a couple of years ago. I told them a yarn that I stretched a little too far.  They are on to me now, at least for the time being.

Halloween is a perfect month to let your hair down and show your children a new you. If you are a stay-at-home parent, do some pretending.  Surprise them when they come home from school. If that is not an option, show up at some point before the day is over with overdone makeup, wild hair or whatever it takes for laughter. Who says life has to be so serious?

Perhaps you prefer to celebrate the autumn season.  A trip to the craft store or dollar store can produce enough items to make your own autumn friend.  Its total fun and laughter to put him together, name him, then tell funny stories about how he came to live with your family. It is also a practice for your kids to use their imagination, a very healthy thing. 

When the kids see Mom and Dad or their single parent having fun, it strengthens the family.  With major holidays just around the corner, put your mind to work. Create laughter.  We have heard of all the physical benefits of laughter. Did you know it is also one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting?  In addition, it is a powerful and effective way to heal resentments, disagreements and hurts. It takes a lot of extra effort, but families need it, even more than a forbidden cookie.  Simply put, it takes the edge off life.

If planning good times and carrying them through makes family members smile, can you imagine how our Heavenly Father smiles when He sees a family doing what He created them to do, enjoy life abundantly.   His favor is upon us. That's worth smiling about!

Antje and her husband, Richard, live in MS.  She is a columnist for Parents and Kids Magazine.  She loves sharing her parenting experiences and helping other see how the years fly and how important it is to make each moment count.


What's Wrong With You This Time?" Children, Teenagers and Depression By Cate Russell-Cole



For some of us, the haunting misery of depression is a familiar story. Up until two years ago, I spent the majority of my adolescence and adulthood clinically depressed and suicidal - but undiagnosed. When I look back, I see that my problems with depression started much earlier than adulthood or adolescence.For me, the stage was set early in childhood. I was a solitary child, (not by choice) and didn't have many friends or adults around, so no one noticed it was a problem, and nothing was done to help me. My parents abused me for being moody and difficult, and told me to "snap out of it, you've got nothing to be miserable about."

 As a child I had to deal with the loss of my birth mother, the challenges and differences of my disability, a over-protective and possessive mother, and dysfunction in my adoptive family. By the age of eight I was taken through a battery of tests to find out why I had stomach pains all the time. There was no physical cause, I was a lonely, depressed, hurting child. My family put it down to not fitting in at school, which they expected would happen to a disabled kid, and nothing else was done. Some of my depression was caused by an undetected chemical imbalance in my brain, as some cases of clinical depression have arisen from, but most of my problems with depression were directly related to my inner pain.

Clinical depression isn't a short term emotional state that lasts a few days or weeks. It goes on endlessly for months and years, dominating your life and sapping your energy. It can't be overcome because things are looking brighter, or concretely improving. You can't fix clinical depression by positive thinking. It is a disease, in the same way cancer is. You can't re-programme yourself out of it, or change your routine and hope it disappears. With the increased pressures our children have on them, plus the onslaught of hopelessness the media brings into our homes, plus our mounting social problems, (all of which our young people are only too aware), not just younger adolescents, but children are now frequently being diagnosed and treated with clinical depression. A study done by the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, found that depressed adolescents had a five fold increased risk of making a suicide attempt than an adolescent who hadn't experienced long term depression. Logically, if the depression starts in childhood rather than in the teenage years, that risk increases as the problems are exacerbated by the onset of puberty, and it's additional emotional and social challenges. Parents need to be aware of how their children are really feeling. Willing to look at avenues to getting them professional help, rather than trying to talk them out of their misery, or pretending it will all blow over in a few weeks. That is what my parents did, and it didn't work, it made me feel guilty, and even more miserable.

The National Institute For Mental Health (U.S.A.) lists the symptoms of depression as:
Persistent sad or "empty" mood
Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed        
Insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and weight gain
Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
Restlessness, irritability
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
Excessive crying
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches,digestive disorders, and chronic pain

In children and teenager's terms of reference, also consider:
Have they lost pleasure in interests they loved such as sport, video games, band,being with their friends?

Are there more problems at school or at home?
Do they want to be alone more than usual?
Have they started cutting classes, or dropped hobby and/or activity groups?
It's worth mentioning that this Institute also points out that "Though depression seems to occur generation after generation, in some families it can also occur in people who have no family history of depression."

If you can see signs of depression in your children or teenagers, or even if its you who is battling with these symptoms yourself, please, don't judge or try a quick fix. It isn't anyone's fault, it is a sickness that does have treatments (not necessarily all drug treatments either), and it needs to be properly identified and treated. Find someone who will understand and knows how to deal with depression in an effective way. Someone in whom you have confidence will stick with you, and be constructive. Don't stop looking until you find the support you need, and answers that are satisfactory.

My relationship with God and the support of my friends, finally helped me to overcome my depression, plus later I did identify some medication related causes. However, I never could have come out of it all by myself. There are answers, and for each individual, they may be different, but they are out there. I pray you will find the answers to meet your needs.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Room (Does God Keep Track of All Our Thoughts?)



In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for the one wall covered with small index-card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I Have Liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

 This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I Have Betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've Yelled at My Brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my 20 years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of music, but more by the vast amount of time I knew that file represented. When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: "No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In an insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried.

 I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

The Room was written by Joshua Harris. Originally published in New Attitude Magazine. Copyright New Attitude, 1995. You have permission to reprint this in any form. We only ask that you include the appropriate copyright byline and do not alter the content

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Do You Believe?


During a recent conversation, a co-worker said he doesn't believe the bible is true. The disturbing part about his comment is that he has never read or tried to read the bible. Why would an intelligent person say he does not believe the sayings of a book he has not read?

Another co-worker said he can't believe in a God he can't see but he believes in Alien's (although he's never seen one). This proves belief or unbelief in God reflects a condition of the heat and perhaps there is something more going on than not physically seeing God or reading the bible.

There are some who've read the bible but still don't believe it's God word or they used to believe and have stopped believing. Most of the time this comes from pride, or something happened in the person's life that the only way  he or she can accept the event or circumstance is to deny Gods existence or the validity of scripture. And sometimes people don't believe because the bible condemns a certain behavior, so it's easier to say the bible is a manmade book, so it doesn't matter what it says.

However, for some the bible is a source of comfort. They enjoy reading it and have come to know God's nature and have discarded atheistic view points. They have come to know without a  shadow of doubt that God is love. They know God loves  and cares for the world He created. They have come to understand that God is actively involved with His creation, that He is not some mean ogre sitting idly by while His creation suffers. They have come to know that they and God have  a common enemy named Satan. They know that Satan is behind all of the suffering and evil we see going on (John 8:44, Hebrews  2:14).

Above all, they believe God sent his only son Jesus Christ to die on a cross to redeem the world and its inhabitants from the power of Satan (Acts 26:18).They believe one day the world will be filled with love and peace. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things will pass away (Revelation 21:14).

Do you believe? Try reading the bible for yourself to determine if these things are so!

The Test of Friendship



Elbert Hubbard said, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”  

God knows all about you and still loves you! Jesus  knew Peter would deny him three times. Not only did Peter deny him but he used four letter words to do so. Although Jesus knew Peter would deny Him, He still  chose him to be one of the twelve disciples. He not only chose him to be a disciple but made Peter the rock, upon which He built His church.

He also gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, saying  whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:13-23).How’s that for friendship, remember a friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you. 

In John 15:13, Jesus said, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

God knows all about you, yet he still loves you and has committed himself to finish the good work he has started in you. He has declared His love and friendship for you so go ahead, be bold and rejoice in the God of your salvation. Your friend Jesus the Christ has declared He will never leave you nor forsake you! 


  

Is It Time for Christians to Shut Up