Guest blogger!  Holly! –I Apologize.

If you were raised like I was, you probably heard the phrase, ‘you’re my child and I expect more from you’, more than once while you were growing up. It is not only a way to correct our behavior, but a way to remind us that we are a part of their family. While this is an appropriate discipline method to use when it comes to our own kids, it becomes wrong when we attempt to use it as a way to alter the behavior of kids who don’t belong to us. Unfortunately, many of us within the church are guilty of doing that very thing to the people who haven’t made the decision to follow Christ.

Obviously, we don’t go around telling people they should change because they belong to us. We’re much more subtle than that. It occurs whenever someone boycotts a store because we don’t like a decision they’ve made. It happens every time we refuse to provide service to someone because we don’t like their sin. For some people, it is highlighted all over their Facebook wall. But regardless of how it appears, it is wrong. No Christian has the right to tell a non-Christian what to do. That job is reserved for God alone, and can only occur after they have surrendered their life to Him.

Here is what non-believers actually need from us. They need a sincere, humble apology. So, on behalf of the church, I would like to give you what you need. For the times we rejected you instead of showing grace, I apologize. For the times we showed our contempt for you instead of working to understand you, I apologize. For the times we placed expectations on you that you couldn’t live up to, I apologize. For all the times we have failed you, I apologize.

It is not in my power to change how other Christians see you. I can hope they will love you. I can pray they will let go of their need to control you. But only Christ can truly change anyone’s heart. Here’s what I can and will do for you. I will pledge not to judge you for your actions. I will pledge to remember that I’m a sinner just like you. I will pledge to give you the grace that Christ gave me. I will pledge to remember that what’s expected of me as a Christian isn’t expected of you. Most importantly, I will pledge to love you, to the best of my abilities, with no strings attached. On behalf of Christians everywhere, please accept my apology.

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Are you a PK who wishes they had a different family? Have you been wounded by the church? Do you feel that you don’t measure up to everyone else’s expectations? Do you wonder if God’s love for you is solely dependent on your performance or simply who your family is? If you said yes to any of those questions, this is the book for you. 

The life of a PK holds unique challenges and can actually drive young people away from the church. But the difficulties that pastors’ kids sometimes experience shouldn’t force them away from God. In Serving God in the Fish Bowl, Holly Tucker provides insights into the life of a PK, using her own experiences. Through prayer and lots of God-given wisdom, she provides daily Scriptures that are designed to give support to PKs who may be struggling in their faith. Holly spent her entire life as a PK. It is this fact that drives her desire to assist other PKs to become all that God wants them to be. 

Holly Tucker was raised in a pastor’s home and now serves in ministry herself.  She served in kids’ and youth ministries, spent time serving people in other countries, and has worked in an inner-city ministry.  Holly is currently pursuing her ultimate dream in life, to care for children who have been orphaned in other countries.  

I currently do most of my writing on…www.facebook.com/devotionalwriter.  www.wordpress.com/hollytucker5

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Preston- The Power of a Series

I will never forget that moment when a young boy came up to me and said, “Pastor
unnamedPreston remember when you taught us that penguins are like superheroes?” “Yeah I remember that! That’s awesome that you remember! Do you remember why learned that?” I asked? “We learned about superheroes and how Jesus is the best.” He replied with a smile, then we high-fived and kid’s church begun. That was about a year after we did a series about Superheroes. The penguin fact was just a fun little fact in the middle of the series, but it stayed with that young boy and helped him remember the series.

I have purchased series and I have written series. My children’s church has used a 4 week series to a 9 week (Fruit of the Spirit based) and all the way to 16 weeks. In the 16 week series the first lesson was on the Bible being 100% true and by the time
we made it to the 16
th lesson. Not everything was remembered but some things were and one of those things was that the Bible is true. All the children still remembered the first lesson on the truth of the Bible and could say it from memory. There is power and something to be said about a well-developed and delivered series.

When it comes to series however, one series that works for one children’s church might not work for another. Every church is different and children are different. This is why when deciding on a series, it must not be taken lightly. Here are some things to think about.

  1. Look into content, length, and what comes within the series.
  2. Give a sample lesson to your leaders and ask what they think about the series.
  3. Does it include graphics, skits, object lessons, videos, or games?
  4. A good series is more than just the children seeing or hearing something but adding activity to that and things to take home as reminders. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Do your children have a chance to get involved?
  5. Does the series fit your children and the goal you have for your children’s church?   

Series and curriculum can be bought but can alsounnamed-1 be fitted to your children.
If you really like a series but one thing stands out and you think it won’t work with your church. Add your own flare to it. Add your own object lessons, add your own games and styles of teaching. Buying a series is not the same as an ironclad contract. Buy the series you like and make it fit and work for your children. There is Power, with a capital P in using a series for your children church.


Preston Reedy


A little about our new friend Preston:
According to Preston…

I was called into children’s ministry when I was twelve, my last year as a camper at kids camp. For the last 12 years I have been involved in children’s ministry in some capacity. I have worked Kids camps doing everything from Rec Crew, staff, counselor, and speaking at kids camp. I have been a children’s Pastor for almost five years not including the time I spent working as an assistant children’s pastor.

Speaker and award winner, our very own Superhero, Preston Reedy is the Children and Family Pastor at Colleyvile Assembly of God in Colleyvile Tx. He is a Licensed Minister with the Assemblies of God and we couldn’t be more grateful he was willing to share his thoughts with us! Thank you so much!

It has been said… “If you live in Texas three key people you need to know are John Wayne, Chuck Norris, and Preston Reedy.” ~Alan and Alanna

Don’t forget to leave your feedback!

Guest Blog: Love You to Love Them

Love your neighbor as yourself”… it’s not new. Whether you grew up in the church or not, we’ve heard at one point or another this phrase. You can’t have the New Testament without having the Old Testament… that’s where “loving your neighbor as yourself” came from. Leviticus—the most difficult book, to me, to get through in reading the Bible through in year—19:18 after an explanation of how to treat your ‘neighbor’ says, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  unnamedSeveral verses later in verses 33-34 it’s mentioned again, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Now don’t ask me why it always ends with “I am the Lord”—several of the verses do and I haven’t studied why, so moving right along… Leviticus is the only book that gives the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Then Jesus came—Love Himself—in physical form in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all give the same answer to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?” and “How do I inherit eternal life?”: in simple terms, Love God with absolutely all that you are—heart, soul, strength, mind…EVERYTHING—and love your neighbor as yourself. If you follow those two, the other commands are bi-products.

I know, it sounds—or looks really—like I’m rambling… maybe… BUT

Just like you can’t have the New Testament without the Old Testament, how do you love your neighbor without loving yourself? How do you love yourself without knowing Love Himself and the love He has for you? In John before Jesus tells Peter that he’s going to deny him, he leaves the disciples with a new commandment, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus reiterates it again after introducing this new commandment a couple “chapters”—we know Jesus didn’t speak in chapters lol—later in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” This chapter is bursting with His love! He had to get the point across to his disciples! The disciples at this point has spent lots of time with Jesus, doing life with Him, so when Jesus said “just as I have loved you” they new what that meant and yet they still didn’t know that they were soon going to witness the biggest act of love history would ever see. But y’all, knowing how Jesus loved them was the precursor to being able to love one another… being able to love their neighbor. Jesus lived love before them, He displayed His love for them, for humanity SO THAT they could know what love looked like—love in action. Before we can love our neighbor as ourselves, before we can love others as He has and does love us, we have to love ourselves and, therefore, we have to know His love for us. We can’t put the cart before the horse, or we will continue to royally screw up loving our neighbor. We just blend in… and that’s not what we’re called to do. Love is what makes us stand out—“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This has been heavy on my heart over the last several weeks. However, the seed that took root came from a journey that started April 3rd of this year… a daily journey that was called “Learning to Love Me”. Every day, God had me write a Reason to Love myself. So many times we know in our minds that God loves us, but when we get to knowing in our hearts we sometimes question it. We live in a society of not good enough, not tall enough, not thin enough, not pretty enough, just not enough. And yet at the same time, we’ve been swindled into thinking that to love you is to be selfish or arrogant or haughty… but that’s not love at all. The love chapter… 1 Corinthians 13:4-(the 1st sentence of) 8 gives us the definition of love… “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with he truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” If that’s how God—since He IS Love—thinks and feels about and towards us, why do we feel we it’s haughty to look at ourselves in the same manner? Instead, we listen to the lies media shouts and allow them to sink in… and then some call it humility. If God says I’m His beautiful daughter, child of the King, why listen to the lies of media? Shoot! They don’t know me!

Father, help us to see ourselves through Your eyes of truth, of love, of Your grace. Heal the heart wounds that have put scales over our eyes and blinded our vision to see truth. God help us to hear and obey and believe and trust and hope in and walk in YOUR truth and not the lies of media, of well-meaning family members, of enemies, and of any one else that has spoken words like daggers that have wounded our hearts. Give us the strength to confront our wounds that have been suppressed to avoid pain and swept under the rug. Teach us, Lord, what it is, Your vast, unconditional, incomparable, irrevocable, relentless love. You love us deep, God. Help us heart-know that… not just head-know. Bring restoration, peace, and healing, Father.

I’m going to step out on a limb and say this: you cannot love your neighbor, truly love your neighbor as we have been called to do until you love yourself; and you cannot love yourself until you know His love for you, until the jaded glasses are removed and replaced with truth. I’m also going to say that words are always easier said than done. No, I don’t have 5 steps to learning to love yourself. I don’t have 5 steps to knowing He loves you. Countless reasons? Absolutely! Does His love and how completely and deeply He loves me makes sense? Absolutely NOT. I won’t call God crazy, but you get the point. The cool thing is though… I don’t have to understand why He loves me… I won’t understand how. But there is a difference between understanding why and how and having all the answers to the questions and just simply knowing that just as much as I will never see or know what truly lies beneath the ocean’s surface into the great abyss, I will never be able to fully wrap my mind around the love He has for me, His love that makes the great abyss look like the kiddie pool at Schlitterbahn.

To love yourself is to truly get to know who you really are, not through your own eyes, but through His. We focus enough on our flaws and shortcomings… start seeking out the positive attributes in yourself, look for the gifts that God has placed in you. When you stop looking only at the negative, you’re able to see some light. You’re able to see Him more clearly, drawing closer to Him. And the closer you get to Him, the more He transforms you and those negative things that may very well be present can’t help but be transformed too.

In as many directions as I feel this went, take this: He loves you deep. Deeper than you can ever imagine, fathom, calculate, comprehend, understand. He love you because He love you because He loves you. We may not deserve it, but we are worth it. Accept it. Let it transform your entire being… the way you think, the way you feel, express, communicate, react, the way you live and love. Accept|walk in|live in His love, love you—wonderful, purposed, wanted, God-created you—so you can love others like He loves you.

Over & out. ❤
Charis


It is such a pleasure to have Charis as a guest… she was so willing to share her thoughts and wisdom. Here is a little about our new friend.
Charis is currently gaining her MS in Counseling at a lovely university in Texas, originally form the great state of LA. She has been celebrating the married life since 2013. She brings joy and light everywhere she goes!
To quote her describing herself and her life…”Laughing is daily. Smiling is a must. Coffee is my caffeine of choice. Love is more than a feeling. And Jesus is my life. I’m Charis!”

To find more of her writing check out: http://allduetograce.blogspot.com/


Dream Big, Dream Fierce

“Dream big, and dream fierce.”

 This was the heading in an American Way article I read last year while flying from Colorado to Texas. The article was actually an interview with the actress Viola Davis, and I remember none of it – except one thing: “Dream big, and dream fierce.”Image

 As Christians, we serve a God who dreams. He dreamt our world, surroundings, the sun, moon, and stars, but most importantly, He dreamt of you and me. Then He gave us His dreaming nature. Dreaming inspires us. It causes us to look forward to the future and see promise, possibility, and hope. Dreaming ignites our creativity. The more you dream about something the more passionate you become to see your dream become a reality.

 You are a dreamer. Even if you don’t think you’re a dreamer because you’re practical or rational, you do dream. You “dream” of what you will have for dinner tomorrow, what you and your girlfriends will do when you get together, or what to name your new puppy. ImageDreaming is a gift from God and we all posses its capabilities. When we tap into our God-given dreaming nature, we find part of who we were meant to be.

 As people living in a fallen world, we often spend our dreams on frivolous and unnecessary things. However, once we realize that dreaming is a gift from God that can become a tool in our hand, perhaps we will dream a bigger dream. More than having money for a great wardrobe, house, or vacation maybe we can dream of something greater. Dreaming with God will always move past us. God’s dreams are for the entire world.

 If you are reading this and your dreams have died or been broken, I pray our Dreaming God breathes fresh life on them today. Let your broken and dead dreams live again. It’s part of our nature to dream, to look forward.  Look forward with hope and expectancy. We serve a great God. No matter our past or present, He is more than able to make your future a dream come true.

 Whatever your dream is, becoming a modern-day abolitionist, a wife and mother, a missionary, a business woman, the list goes on – let it live.  Let your dream ignite creativity in your heart to do what others say cannot be done.  Chase the impossible and watch what our dreaming God can do with a dreaming heart.

~ Hannah Sheets

 

ImageHannah Sheets will graduate in May with her degree in International Relations and Foreign Policy. She has a fierce love for the nations of this world—especially those in the Middle East. Hannah is passionate about seeing an awakening in her generation that sweeps the globe and brings millions to the Light of His Glory. Currently, Hannah lives in Dallas, Texas. 

The Incarnation

“And The Word Became Flesh…”

ImageJohn opens his gospel with these words: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God…” He goes on to tell us, “and the word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Every religion on the planet is trying to describe how the chasm that exists between God and man is closed. Yet, only in Christianity has God taken the initiative to bridge this unbridgeable gap himself.

The incarnation… The moment when God, without compromising an ounce of his divinity, became fully man. Here in the incarnation, God who was unknowable in all of his transcendence has become knowable in his immanence. Can we truly understand what it meant that he knew equality with God? Can we grasp from what height he descended? He was God of very God, dwelling in unapproachable light, enthroned with no worthy contender to speak of. There was none like him. And then, something utterly inscrutable happened. God, who existed from eternity past, put on limitation and stepped into time. The fullness of God was now dwelling in the fullness of man. The creator had become the creature; the transcendent infinite one, now an infant; the invisible made visible. He was found in the form of a man…

Without the incarnation there remains a chasm, a transcendent gulf between God and man that we could never cross with all of our weak efforts to do right. In my opinion, a theology void of the doctrine of the incarnation is a theology void of salvation that will ultimately prove inadequate. Yet here, in Christ, God has become Immanuel… God tabernacling among us.

At the time Jesus made his appearance onto the scene, Israel was waiting with eager expectation for a Messiah who would deliver her once again from the oppression of her enemies, vindicate her, and declare before the whole world that Israel was in fact, the chosen people of God. Israel lived with hope of the deliverance from her present enemies, namely Rome. The Old Testament anticipated an emancipating King, who would establish justice once and for all. Yet, these scriptures became like a red carpet rolled out through the prophets on which now Christ has made his glorious and unconventional entry into human history as the Messiah, and, in the greatest scandal of all time, has saved us to the glory of God. They never expected the way in which God would choose to deliver. He came in weakness, choosing to demonstrate perfect meekness. He was held captive to every kind of indignity. He was everything the Jews expected and more, but only those with eyes to see could understand it. He came not to deliver from Rome, but to deliver from the plague of this parasite called sin that infiltrated human nature and branded us guilty before a just and holy God. He came to demonstrate the vast love of God, and make room for us in the divine fellowship of the trinity.

In Christ, God has done something scandalous, something incomprehensible… That’s the catch. The incarnation is not for analyzing. I am an advocate of study, and scrutiny even. I do not, by any means, wish to disregard critical observation. But at the end of the day, the incarnation is for worship. It is to leave us in awestruck wonder of what God has done in Christ by the Spirit. That though he was rich, for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. The incarnation begs, not for analyzing and critique, but for worship. The right response to the incarnation is not to overlook it, or to pick it apart with our inadequate intellect… No, the only right response is utter and total gratitude. It takes humility to see God in such a humble state as an infant lying helpless in a manger. How low one would need to go to approach God wrapped in swaddling cloths in a shelter fit for animals. Could this be our God? Only in humility can we truly see God in the way that he has revealed himself to us. The incarnation begs that we stop, close our eyes, and in uninterrupted mediation think on what God has done in Christ… And say thank you.

~Missy Huff

Missy Huff is an international relations student. She love to travel the world, loves art, and good coffee. Missy has a heart to see God move in the nations until every tribe and tongue receives a witness of the worth of Christ… And Christ receives all that he is worthy of in the nations.

Expecting Results That Do Not Reflect Our Actions

Danielle, from the movie Ever After, said, “If you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded, sire, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?” This quote says a lot to me.  Not necessarily about thieves but anyone we choose to look down on that we are responsible for; especially our own children.  As our children grow up, we must make sure what we are putting in is what needs to come out.

We can’t wait on them hand and foot, giving them all of their desires at the drop of a hat, and expect to raise a strong, independent, responsible adult who knows how to work for what they have and wait for what they want. If we laugh because they hit, slap, get angry and show cute little fits of rage, as babies, we can’t expect them to know how to handle conflict properly as they begin to grow up. If they only see and hear us pray at church, we should never expect them to have a real personal relationship with God (even if we do have our own “private time with God”). They won’t know what that even means unless we show them. If we simply sleep with them, or have them sleep with us, when they are afraid of the dark or have bad dreams, we can’t expect their spirit to know how to rise up within them and cast out the fear that tries to control their life.  If we don’t know how to get rid of our own fear, we can never expect them to get rid of theirs.

If we show no respect to the people in our house, no grace, no gentleness, no patience, no laughter, no peace, no commitment or no self discipline, we can expect our children to be disrespectful, always blaming someone else, harsh when they speak, depressed, stressed, falling short of all their dreams, and hating the person they become.  If we say, “We can do this, watch this, say this but you can’t.”, we are teaching them that the standard is lower for us as parents; which will cause them to “desire” the day when the standard gets to be lowered for them.

It’s so hard to do things the right way. We all mess up, as parents, every single day. We must get up and try again.  We have to think about the things we say and do.  Is that what we want to hear and see from our children? When we do mess up, we should tell them:

1. I was wrong. Image
2. I’m sorry.
3. This is what I should have done instead.
4. This is how I will work to change that.
5. I love you and my mistakes have nothing to do the you. I am the only one responsible for what    I  say and do.

 Aren’t these the things we want them to be able to say? Someone has to show them how to say them. Even if we choose not to say them, receiving grace and mercy from our children is the easy part.  They are very forgiving. That’s great for us, BUT we are still is forming who they are and what they know to be true.  Here are some “truths” we are teaching them with our actions:

-Mommy tells Daddy it’s ok for us when he already said no. Child thinks, “Score!!!!” What’s now true for them? What Daddy says doesn’t matter when Mommy’s around.  

-If Mommy says, “No candy” and I keep asking, she’ll say yes.  Why do they think that?  Because we did that (me included)! The truth for them? Mommy doesn’t always mean what she says.

-Child doesn’t understand how to do their homework. Daddy is in the middle of watching a ballgame. Child asks for help. Daddy says, “I think you are smart enough. Go figure it out.” The truth for this child? I may be smart enough to figure it out but Daddy would rather watch the ballgame than help me.  

-If it’s ok for my 5 year old to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, I can’t expect that same child to not want one at 14 (when certain things start to matter much more). If they’ve already had 10 along the way, I can’t expect their heart or their mind to be strong enough to handle a relationship the right way because they will have already had so many unnecessary rejections. ImageIf these events have been a part of that child’s life since 5 years old, they now see themselves in a completely distorted way. The truth for that 5, 10, 14 year old child now? If someone breaks up with me, that means I’m not good enough. If someone doesn’t ask me out, that means I’m not good enough.  If my best friend has a boyfriend/girlfriend and I don’t, that means I’m not good enough. No matter how much a parent speaks words of affirmation into a child’s life, they weren’t made to deal with optional “conditional” relationships at the same time in their lives as they were made to play pretend.

If we want them to have a goal and reach it, we must have our own goals and be reaching them. If we feed them grapes and eat ice cream after they go to bed because we don’t want them to be unhealthy like us, we can count on them eventually being unhealthy. Our actions prove what we believe is true, not our words! Truth, for our children, is only true when they see that WE believe what we are saying. It’s not just what they see us do or not do. It really is “who we are” that matters! We don’t raise what we want, we raise who we are.

ImageHard? Absolutely. Impossible? Never. Find a way to be a better you, even if only for them, and you may find out you like yourself too. What better time to start than this Christmas season? Take all of your extra opportunities and see them as a brand new start. Ask your family to forgive you. Forgive yourself. Pray for strength and wisdom, daily! “The greatest gift you can give somebody is your own personal development.” -Jim Rohn
It’s never too late! 


Image

Merry Christmas!!!
~Suzanne Dorsey

Mother of three beautiful girls, a 9 yr. old dreamer, a 7 yr. old peacemaker, and a 5 yr. old realist. She is married to a Youth Alive director and missionary for the Assemblies of God. She is forever fascinating me with updates on the adventures with her 3 girls and their vastly different personalities.