Life Lesson #14 The Titanic

Abandon ship!  We’re going down! titanic_custom-fc6a03aedd8e562d780ecf9b9a8a947d4dcbf163-s900-c85

Child screams could be heard from all around. People stopped in their tracks to stare at me. Their eyes could speak words that they dare not utter.

“Get your kid under control.”

 “Should I call C.P.S.?”

“What is going on here?”

“All that parent needs to do is spank their kid. That would solve everything.”

As I hurried to gather up my two-year old, I knew that her screams were disrupting the tour of the Titanic Museum located in Branson, MO. Once in my arms, Harmony continued to scream at the top of her lungs knowing that she was in trouble for running away from me for the “hundredth time” and for screaming in-doors.

I hurried down the beautiful replicated stairwell of the Titanic and into the gift shop. There, Harmony proceeded to scream – louder and louder. I was beside myself. All I knew was that I needed to remove my daughter from the situation so that others could enjoy their tour of the museum in peace. What I failed to realize was that my wife was still on the tour and she had the keys to our suburban as well as our jackets. And with it being 19 degrees outside, taking Harmony to the parking lot was not an option either.

With an out-of -control toddler and nowhere to go, we sat in the corner of the gift shop.

“Please don’t let anyone think I’m abusing my child.” I prayed in my head. I held my daughter down in my lap as I crossed my legs over her legs and held her arms down for a nice long “time in.”

“Time in” for us is a lot like time out. Only instead of placing her alone somewhere safe and secure, we hold our kids in our laps as we use our words and voice tone to help calm them down and talk about their feelings and the situation. When we can’t effectively use a time out, we use the time in method.

So we sat on that cold, hard floor in the corner of the Titanic gift shop for what felt like an eternity. Harmony was D-O-N-E. One week in Dallas for Christmas just to drive 3 hours back home for one night to then get back in the car for a 4 hour drive for a Branson trip is not easy on anyone, let alone a toddler. Plus, it didn’t help that this little girl refused her afternoon naps for a whole week and a half. The poor girl was worn smooth out and her little brain didn’t know how to process the information or emotions.

After 15 minutes of calming her down she finally passed out in my arms.

Sweating, red in the face, and purple eyelids, it was clear that Harmony was pure exhausted. On top of that I kept smelling something like spit-up, the whole time she was on the floor with me…. Come to find out she had pooped in her diaper, and with her kicking and flailing it made the poop run up her back and legs.

As I sat there holding her “lifeless” body I felt like the worst dad ever.

How did I let it get to this point anyway?

I didn’t dare wake her up to change her – she needed to sleep.

Lesson learned for a still “new parent”: we will NEVER again do two trips back to back with our little ones.

We sat on that floor for 30 minutes and let me tell you – that floor and those wooden shelves are not kind to one’s back and buttocks.

The whole time Harmony was “losing it”, I kept trying to explain to her that it’s all O.K. I explained to her that we can’t scream indoors, and we can’t keep running away from mommy and daddy, and on and on and on.

Then it hit me – God does the same for us.

When we’re “losing it” He’s right there, holding us in His loving arms. He gently whispers in our ears that He is right there with us and that it will be all right.

Sure we may kick and scream a little bit in life as we think that we have the solutions, but in the end all we need to do is rest in the arms of our Father.

Jesus even encourages us, “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

Rest. Sometimes it’s the most spiritual thing we can do for ourselves. Rest re-energizes us. It gives us new strength. It helps to clear the cobwebs out of our heads and helps us to focus.

Harmony woke up a little dazed and confused. If she could, she would have rolled over with a blanket and slept for hours. But the tour was over and my wife had returned to find us pitifully on the floor. It was time to go.

As the evening went on Harmony was still tired but she was in a better mood; all because she took the time to rest.

Now that we’re back from our trip I’m exhausted too. So much so that it’s starting to effect my mood. I think I need to take my own advice and get some rest.

Believe in the promises of God. They are steady. Emotions are not. Rest in His arms and believe that He loves you with a love that is beyond your understanding and a love that is without and end.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Talk It Out For Kids (Session 6)

Talk It Out Widescreen

Question 27: “How can I get to Heaven?” 

 Have you ever done something that you know inside is wrong?  Have you ever disobeyed your parents? Or told a lie, or taken something that belongs to someone else, or even been mad at someone without a reason.  We’ve all messed up and done stuff like that. This is what the Bible calls “Sin”.  Many people believe that if they’re good they will go to Heaven, but the Bible says that no one can ever be good enough to get to Heaven!  It says that every sinner deserves to die, and we are ALL sinners, this means that we All deserve to die.
The Bible tells us in Hebrews 9:22, “According to the law . . . without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”

This means that without punishment, or blood, we can’t be forgiven. That’s why Jesus came from Heaven.  He loves us so much that He wanted us to have a way to be forgiven from our sins;  He didn’t want us to die!

Jesus came from Heaven, was born as a baby and grew up on earth, just like all of us!  But, because Jesus is also God, He never sinned, not even once! He was perfect in every way so that He could die and take the punishment we were supposed to get. He became the Ultimate Sacrifice of sins.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

This is like when you were born, you were not born because you had done anything good, you weren’t even around yet!  Your parents had you because they love you and wanted you, and now that you’re getting older and can understand how much your parents love you, you want to obey them and do what they say so they will be proud of you and you’ll make them happy.
This is how it is with God, He loved us so much that He sent Jesus to save us, and now that we understand that He loves us so much and that He came from Heaven to died in our place, we should desire to please Him too, and really make Him proud of us.
This would be like if your big brother had seen you do something bad; like say you were throwing a ball in the house when you knew you shouldn’t be and you knocked over an expensive lamp!  When your dad found out about it and was going to punish you, your brother took the punishment for you so you wouldn’t have to.  In this same way, Jesus took our punishment when he died on the cross for us.  Now THAT’S Love!

But Jesus didn’t just die for us. Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the grave to show that sin and death no longer has any power over us!  And although we may die here on Earth, He will bring us back to life in Heaven and will bring us back to live with Him on the New Earth!

If you believe in Jesus, and trust that He took your punishment for your sin, you will go to Heaven.

That’s why Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way the truth and the Life. No One can go the Father except through Me.”

God’s not going to kick you out of Heaven because you did something bad, not if you have put your trust in Jesus to save you.  We all make mistakes, even after we become a Christian, but we have to try to do what is right, what we know inside our heart that God would want us to do.
It’s like your Mom or Dad. They wouldn’t kick you outside to sleep out in the dark and cold because you spilled red soda on the new carpet. They may be disappointed in you that you didn’t listen when they told you to stay at the table and don’t take your drink on the new carpet, but they love you, and will most likely discipline you and not let you have red soda for a while, but they will still let you live inside the nice warm house with them where you belong.  And you will still be their child, no matter what!

If you want to tell Jesus you trust Him and ask Him to save you from your sin and take you to Heaven someday, but you’re not sure what to say, you can talk to Him something like this:

Jesus, I love You. Thank You for taking my punishment for me so I can live. Please forgive me and come into my heart. I believe that you are the Son of God. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose form the dead and defeated my sin and death. Please help me live my life in such a way that pleases you. And take me to live with You in Heaven someday. Amen!

 

Question 28: “Do we sleep in Heaven?”

In 1 Corinthians 15:50-51 the Bible says, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Behold I tell you a mystery, that we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

 What does that mean?

Well, right now, as mortals (flesh and blood) we need sleep in order to survive a healthy lifestyle. And at what part of the day do we normally go to bed?

Revelation 22:5 “And there will be no night there (Heaven): They need no lamp or light from the sun, for the Lord God gives them light and they shall reign forever and ever.”

Another Scripture tells us that God’s face outshines the brightest star and that God Himself is the light in heaven because of all His glory and power.

 

Question 29: “Do people know when they got to Heaven or Hell?”

Do you remember when Jesus was on the cross and He was about to die, who were on his right and left side? (Criminals who were also being crucified.)

Read: Luke 23:39-43

“TODAY, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

The Apostle Paul said it also in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “… to be absent from the body (to die) is to present with the Lord.”

The Bible is very clear that as soon as we die we are INSTANTLY in the presence of God.

In Revelation 20 the Bible tells us what awaits us when we are INSTANTLY in the presence of God. It describes that there is an angel there with a BIG BOOK, called, the Book Of Life.

And if your name is written in that Book, you get to enter into heaven and be with Jesus forever and ever! That’s a lot better than being on Santa’s Nice list….

What happens if your name isn’t there?

Revelation 20:15, “And anyone who was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.”

The Bible also paints a vivid (clear) picture of Jesus, sitting on a white throne, judging all people for every deed and word that they have ever done.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus separates the Sheep from the Goats.

This is why it is SO IMPORTANT that we tell everyone we can about the love and salvation of Jesus – so that we may one day see them in Heaven and not see them being thrown into the Lake of Fire.

 

Question 30: Do pets really go to Heaven?

Have you had a Pet that has meant a lot to you?  A dog, cat, bird, hamster, rabbit, horse  . . .  I believe we will have animals with us in Heaven, or on the New Earth, here’s why.

Animals have always been an important part of God’s creation; from the time He first made Man.  He put animals in the garden with Adam and Eve to keep them company.  God made animals to be our friends, and He cares about them even more than we do.  God says that not a single bird can fall to the ground without Him knowing it, Matthew 10:29.
Can you imagine a world without animals?  No Birds in the sky, or building a nest in the trees?  No Dogs in the yard, or Horses in the pastures?  My home in Heaven just wouldn’t be complete without my dog sleeping at the foot of my bed!  Well, the Bible tells us that there will be Animals living with us on the New Earth!

Romans 8:20-21 Says, “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”

This tells me that ALL God’s creation, including animals, are looking forward to the day when God makes the Earth New again, and we can all live without death or hurt or anything rotting away!

The bible also says in Isaiah 11:6-9, “The wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. The cow and the bear shall eat straw like the ox. And the baby shall play by the cobra’s den and they shall hurt or destroy in My Holy Mountain.”

The Bible has many other places where it talks about animals in Heaven, but I think you can see from this that not only will they be there, but also we will be friends with them.

Maybe your family has never been able to have a pet, the building where you live won’t let you keep one, or someone in your family is allergic to them, well in Heaven you won’t have to worry about that, and you may have the pet you’ve always wanted!

Just think, have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride on the back of a lion?!  Or pet a polar bear?!  Or run through a field with a pack of zebras?!   Well someday, you may just do that!

Talk It Out For Kids (Session 5)

Talk It Out Widescreen

As we near the end of our Talk It Out Session For Kids, I wanted to take the last few sessions and end on the most frequently asked questions. And they all have to do with Heaven.

Question 22: Is Heaven real or just a fairy tale?

Yes Heaven is a real place!  The Bible talks about Heaven many times, and makes it very clear that people who believe in Jesus to save them from their sins will go there one day, either when we die, or when Jesus comes back to earth to get us.

When Jesus was on the earth He spoke of a place that He would go and prepare for us, in order for us to be with Him in Heaven forever.

John 14:2 “In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

So Jesus went up into Heaven to be with God the Father, AND to prepare a place for us as well! And when Jesus comes back to Earth He promises that He will bring us back to live with Him on the “New Earth”!  Earth He says!  A Real place with Water, Grass, flowers, and Trees that you can touch, feel, taste, smell, hear, see . . .
God says in Isaiah 65:17 “Look! I am creating New Heavens and a New Earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.”

The Bible tells us that Heaven is just as real as the Earth where we live now.  God even calls the place where we’ll live forever the “New Earth.” So how can we know what Heaven is like?  Well, the Bible tells us!

And that brings us to our next question:

 

Question 23: What is Heaven like?

Just think, if you were trying to describe someplace that you have been, but none of your friends have been there, you would probably tell them about it by comparing it with someplace you all knew and have been at before.  Say you rode an amazing ride at Disney World, you might compare it with some of the rides the Carnival had when it came to your town.

Well, this is what some of the writers of the Bible did to help us understand what Heaven is like. They describe Heaven as; a “City”, “Paradise,” a “Garden,” a “Resting Place,”  the “Kingdom of God,” a “Heavenly Country, ”“The Kingdom of Heaven,” and “The Future Dwelling Place of the Righteous.”

This place will be beautiful, far beyond anything we could ever dream about!  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try!  Just close your eyes think of the most beautiful and fun place you have ever seen. What made it beautiful to you?  Why is it so fun?  Thinking about what Heaven may look like will make you dream about it and get you even more excited to go there!
If you can imagine every beautiful place on Earth, the Grand Canyon, Rain Forests, the Smoky Mountains, the beaches in Hawaii, they’re all only a small taste of what the New Earth will look like!  The trees will be taller, more fun to climb!  The grass will be greener, the sky will be bluer!  And speaking of the sky, that’s where the most beautiful City on the New Earth is going to come from!

John, one of the writers of the Bible, had a vision or a dream and God showed him what this new City will look like!  This city is called the “New Jerusalem”, and that’s where God Himself will live!  The Bible says that after God makes the New Earth, the New Jerusalem will come down out of the sky and God the Father and Jesus will both live on Earth with us! This will make the New Earth the Capital Planet of the Universe!
John tells us in the book of Revelation Chapter 21, that the City is 1,500 miles long, 1,500 miles wide, and1,500 miles high.   A city that size that was sitting in the middle of the United States would go from Canada to Mexico and from Georgia to the California border!  Now that’s what I call a capital city!

John also tells us that the city has walls of Jasper and the city itself was pure gold as clear as glass!  The foundation, that’s the part the city is built on – like the concrete your house is sitting on, is made of different kinds and color of Jewels, and the gates to the city were made from one solid Pearl!

Well we learned what Haven may look like and what the writers of the Bible use to help us better understand what Heaven may look like, but someone asked:

 

Question 24: What are the streets in Heaven made of?

 In verse 21 of Revelation 21, the bible says that the very streets of Heaven are made of solid gold! Money doesn’t have the same value to God as it does to us, He walks on it when we would beg for it.

John also describes there being a river flowing down the middle of the main street, this is what is called the River of Life.  He said it flows from the Throne of God and the water is crystal clear. Can you imagine a flowing river that was so clear that you could look down and see the bottom?  The Bible tells us that everyone will be able to drink from the river.  I’m sure it will be better than any water we’ve ever tasted before!

On each side of the River grows the Tree of Life, this tree used to be in the Garden of Eden, but God moved it when Adam and Eve sinned, and He will bring it back to Earth one day and we will be able to eat it’s fruit again.  I can only imagine how wonderful that fruit will taste!  Now, there will be many other cities in the New Earth, but none quite like this Capital City.  I can’t wait to see it for myself!

 

 

Question 25: Do your possessions go with you to Heaven?

Did you know that you can actually save up treasure in Heaven?
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

So, what does that mean?  Well, do you have a piggy bank in your room? Maybe you’re putting money in it to save for something you want to buy like a new video game, doll, or lego set. You may not spend your money on other things, like a candy bar or a soda because you want to save all your money for that new toy!  Many people work only to buy more and more things, but when we die we won’t be able to take any of our things with us to Heaven.

Now, having “stuff” isn’t a bad thing, but God wants us to be more interested in things that will last FOREVER!  So you may wonder, “What will last forever?”

Our friendship with Jesus and friendships that we make here on Earth will be things that last forever.  Just think, if you have a friend here on Earth and you tell them about Jesus and how He wants to save them from their sin too, and you help them to know Jesus, then you and they will be friends forever in Heaven!
Maybe you can play hide and seek, or build sand castles together on a beach, or even go exploring with them on some other planet!  The more friends you take with you to Heaven, the more exciting it will be for all of you when you get there!
Besides the friends we will take with us, we can lay up treasure in heaven by doing other things like telling other about Jesus or giving money to your church to help send Bibles to missionaries to other countries so they can tell people about Jesus too.  We can help older people we know with chores that may be too hard for them to do any more (like taking out the trash, carrying in grocery bags, mowing the yard), or buy a Christmas gift for another kid whose parents can’t afford to get them anything this year . . .  you get the idea.

Jesus really just wants us to OBEY His Word, help others, and tell others how to get to Heaven, and by doing this He says He will reward us when we get to Heaven.   He doesn’t really say what He will give us exactly, but in 2 Timothy 4:8 the Bible does say: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

 

Question 26: Will there be any danger in Haven?

The answer to that is: No, there will be no danger in Heaven. Again, Heaven is described as place of paradise. And the definition of the word PAREADISE means The abode (dwelling place) of Adam and Eve before the Fall (before sin).

If sin didn’t exists, then everything that is evil and dangerous would not exist either! Can you imagine that!? A place where there were no robberies or murders, a place where there is no anger or tears!

In Revelation 21:4-5, the writer explains that there is NO danger in Heaven.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’

 

Next week I’ll continue to answer questions kids have asked regarding Heaven and life after death.

Talk It Out For Kids (Session 4)

Talk It Out Widescreen

Its hard to believe that this is marking our 4th week in the Talk It Out Session For Kids!

I hope and pray that the questions these elementary kids have been asking is used at talking and teaching moments for the parents at home! Who knows! Maybe they’ve been learning the answers to these questions for the first time too!

 

Question 17: Does God ever sleep?

At the start of the Bible, and the beginning of creation, God made everything in six full days. On the seventh day:

“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:3

When the Bible says God “rested,” it means he has stopped doing something. To us, that is like rest. But God doesn’t get tired or worn out, so he doesn’t need to rest the way we do. And when we go to sleep at night, God doesn’t close his eyes too – he continues to watch over us.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary.” Isaiah 40:28

“He will never let me stumble, slip, or fall. For he is always watching, never sleeping.” Psalm 121:3-4

I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for a God who is ALWAYS watching over me and ALWAYS has my back!

Remember from our previous Talk It Out questions; God is Spirit and does not have a physical body like you and I. Our physical bodies need sleep/rest in order to function. A spirit, does not need to sleep/rest the same way we do.

Question 18: Are other religions false?

So many people in this generation are seeking something other than God as their way to heaven. They use the name ‘God’ and cross-reference it to many other things. Its nothing new. People from even the Bible times didn’t like the fact that there was ONE WAY to heaven and ONE WAY to God. Why? Because the life of a Jesus Follower takes 100% dedication, commitment, relationship, and love.

Its not about following a list of do’s and dont’s – its about accepting the FREE gift of salvation by understanding the love of a Heavenly Father and entering into a relationship with Him.

Mormonism teaches that there are many gods in existence, and that you can become a god.  Christianity teaches that there is only one God, and you cannot become a god.  Islam teaches that Jesus is not God in flesh–where Christianity does.  Jesus cannot be both God and not God at the same time.  Some religions teach that we reincarnate (come back to life after death as something else such as a dog), while others do not.  Some teach there is a hell, and others do not.  They cannot all be true.  If they cannot all be true, it cannot be true that all religions lead to God.  Furthermore, it means that some religions are, at the very least, false in their claims to reveal the true God.  Remember, truth does not contradict itself. 

Though there are other religions that have prophecies in them, none are 100% accurate as is the Bible; and none of them point to someone like Jesus who made incredible claims and performed incredible deeds.  The Old Testament was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, yet the Old Testament prophesied many things about Jesus.  This is undoubtedly evidence of divine influence upon the Bible.

The Savior would be born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, would be placed in a manger, rejected by his own people, betrayed by a close friend, his side would be pierced as he was crucified on a  cross, and he would rise from the dead in three days. These are just a few of the prophecies spoken about Jesus that came to pass.

That builds up and encourages your faith!

Not only that, but Jesus Himself said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

In other words, there is NO OTHER WAY TO GOD but through Jesus. By believing that He is who he says He is.

Why should anyone trust in Christianity over Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, or any other religion?  It is because its the ONLY religion where there are absolute truths.  

All this adds to the legitimacy and credibility of Christianity above all other religions–all based on the person of Jesus.  It could not be that Jesus is the only Truth, and other religions also be the truth.

Either Jesus is true and all other religions are false, or other religions are true, and Jesus is false.  There are no other options.  I choose to follow the risen Lord Jesus.

 

Question 19: Does God love my parents?

I cant help but shake the feeling that this question was asked because something happened in the home to make a child question their parents.

(As a reminder to all the moms and dads, our kids see everything. They notice. They hold onto it. There is no such thing as a perfect parent, and I’ll be the first to admit to make mistakes in this department, but we need to ALWAYS keep in mind that our kids are looking up to us!)

I tell kids all the time that “Sin separates us FROM God – but sin can never separate us from the LOVE of God!”

Sin separates us FROM God – but sin can never separate us from the LOVE of God!

I love how the Bible sums this up in Romans 8:38-39 “I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can separate us. Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can separate us. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love. That’s because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.”

Chills!

There is nothing that you, or your parents, have done that will make God love them less than what He does now.

There is nothing that you, or your parents, can do that will make God love them any more than what He does right now.

No matter what your parents have said or done (and you too) God will ALWAYS love them.

“Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good. His faithful love continues forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

Its out of thanksgiving for this never ending love, that we choose to live a life dedicated to following Jesus and the Bible. Its shows honor to God when we do this.

 

Question 20: If God knows how the world will end, and He sees how messed up the world is today, why doesn’t He just end us now and take us to heaven?

Because God has a plan. And His plan involves you. And He’s not done with you yet.

Philippians 1:6 tells us: “God began a good work in you. And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed. That will be on the day Christ Jesus returns.”

In other words, when you became a Christian, a Jesus Follower, that moment you asked God to forgive you of all your sins and make you new again and you promised to make Him the Lord (boss) of your life, that when God started a GOOD WORK IN YOU!

That ‘good work” compels us to tell others about Jesus sot hat they too become followers of Christ.

And that day when JESUS RETURNS, thats talking about the day when Jesus will literally come back down from heaven and take us with him!

When is that? No one knows! The Bible tells us that not even Jesus knows when He’s coming back, only the Father knows. (Mark 13:32)

Thats another reason to live each day as if its our last day on earth. When we live a life with the constant mindset that “Jesus is coming back today” it will revolutionize our schools, or homes, and world!

we need to trust that God is control, even when the world seems to be spinning out of control.

 

Question 21: Who is the Holy Spirit?

 

The Holy Spirit is nothing to be afraid of. In fact He is a person. The Holy Spirit is the very presence of God. You can’t see Him, touch Him, or hear Him with your physical body (even though there have been times where God does allow us to feel, touch, and hear Him with our physical bodies), but He is there.

Just like the wind. You cant see it or feel but you can see and feel the effects of it!

So if you cant see, hear, or touch the Holy Spirit, why is He there? What does the Holy Spirit do?

Well, even Jesus said when He was on earth, and right before He went up into heaven;

“It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Friend will not come to help you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

The Holy Spirit is our friend! And even Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will help us! The Holy Spirit is many things to us! Check out the list of attributes He carries:

But the [a]Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you.” John 14:26 AMP

  • Friend
  • Teacher
  • Helper
  • Comforter
  • Counselor
  • Strengthener
  • Standby
  • Representer
  • and Reminder

These are all things (and more) that The Hold Spirit offers to us as God’s people.

Jesus even told us;

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18 

One great tool for church and family members alike is here at this link.

Next week we will be talking about “The Truth About Heaven.” Questions such as:

  • What does heaven look like?
  • How do I get to heaven?
  • Where will I live in heaven?
  • What will I do in heaven?

 

 

Talk It Out For Kids (Session 3)

Talk It Out WidescreenThe kids are having a blast in our Talk It Out Sessions. Its fun to see their faces light up when a question is asked and they all want to know the answer. And it never fails; each answer unveils a new question in each of their minds. Its hard for them not to talk or ask more questions during these sessions, which makes it difficult to finish them on time. I’m so glad to know that they are eager to learn more about what God’s Word has to say about their questions.

Parents, I want to encourage you to continue to use these questions as a platform for you to “Talk It Out” with your kid(s) at home too!

Question 12: Does Jesus have a pet?

I’m not 100% sure that Jesus has a pet. The Bible does not just flat out tell us the answer. However, I do know that Jesus owns a horse!

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True.” Revelation 19:11

A pet in definition is a companion animal kept primarily for a person’s company, protection, or entertainment. Popular pets are often noted for their attractive appearances, and their loyal or playful personalities.

But the horse described in the above verse isn’t a “My Little Pony” kind of horse. It’s a war horse. A horse that is ready for battle, trained for fights, built like a tank, and is fearless.

Personally – thats the kind of “pet” I would want to have anyway!

“Don’t mess with me I got a war horse.”

 Question 13: What does the devil look like?

Many people imagine the devil as a red demon-like creature with horns, a sharp tail and a pitchfork.

But what many people fail to remember is that the devil was created by God.

“The LORD has made everything for his own purposes, even the wicked for a day of disaster.” Proverbs 16:4

Its like God had this AMAZING story He wanted to not only tell, but bring to life so everyone could witness it for themselves. A story of a Father’s great love. Every good story has a hero and a villain right? Jesus and Satan.

Before the devil became evil – he was once the most beautiful and highest ranking angel in heaven. His name was Lucifer – which means Light-Bearer. His purpose was to reflect the light (glory) of God. But one day Lucifer became filled with pride and wanted to be God. God didn’t allow it and threw him out of heaven along with a third of the angelic host who followed Lucifer.

It’s safe to assume that Lucifer (now called Satan) no longer looks like an angel of heaven. Even the angels that fell from heaven with Lucifer have lost their heavenly appearances. Even to this day, Satan will try to disguise himself as an “angel of light.” Why would he need to disguise himself if he still looked like an angel?

Below is an answer to this same question by Billy Graham:

“The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what the devil looks like; the pictures you see of him (with horns and a red suit and so forth) simply come from the artist’s imagination. Similar pictures have been around for hundreds of years, however, and were meant to warn people about Satan. Satan is evil, and even these pictures should warn us not to have anything to do with him.

Satan, the Bible says, is totally evil–and yet he can disguise himself so people don’t even realize who he is. In fact, the Bible says that sometimes “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14, KJV). Satan’s goal is always to stop God’s work. He tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross for our sins, and he will try to keep you from God.

Satan is real–but don’t concentrate on him. Concentrate instead on Jesus, because He is stronger than Satan, and by His death and resurrection He defeated Satan. The Bible says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8).”

 Question 14: Can the devil die?

No. God created the devil as an angel of light who later rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Satan is not flesh like you and me. Our flesh, and things of earth pass away/die (1 John 2:17), but spiritual beings such as God, Satan, demons, and angels do not die.

However, there is something far worse than death – being separated from God for eternity. And the Bible tells us that the devil and his followers are forever separated from God and heaven.

 Question 15: Why is Jesus a dude and not a girl?

There is so much power and meaning behind Jesus being God’s Son. The Bible describes the son of a father as his strength. (Deut. 21:17) And it makes sense.

A male symbolizes strength and protection.

A female symbolizes beauty and affection.

So when God sent His Only Son to the earth, he was sending us His strength and protection.

 Question 16: Can God hurt me?

God takes NO pleasure in our suffering. None. Zero. Nada. It goes against who He is as a good Father.

Lamentations 3:31-33 says, “For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. “

Even though God does allow bad things to happen to us, He does not Himself look down at Billy and say “I’m going to bring pain and hurt to him today.”

God uses all things (even the hurtful things) for His glory (Romans 8:28). I believe God uses times of hurt for us to put our trust and faith in Him more and more. Just like when you get physically hurt who do you run to to help make it better? Your mom or dad. God is our Heavenly Father and He when we run to Him for help, He will comfort us.

 Question 17: Why did God create Adam and Eve if He already knew they would sin?

Revelation 13:8 tells us that the Lamb of God (Jesus – the Ultimate Sacrifice for all sin -once and for all) was “slain even before the foundations of the world.”

In other words: even before the earth was created, even before God said “Let there be light in Genesis 1, God had a plan. That plan was to send His Son, Jesus to a place He would one day call earth, and to be the Savior of beings called humans. Why? Becaseu He knew that they would sin and be separated from Him.

You can sum up the whole Gospel in one verse: “For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only Son. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Joh 3:16

Even though God knew Adam and Eve would disobey Him (resulting in sin – separation from Him), He wanted to still show His great love towards us. A love we can not understand. A love that offers a free gift of salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.

I believe with all my heart that God still created Adam and Eve (even though He knew how the story would go) is because He wants a relationship with you and me. The good news is, the story is not yet over. God is still involved. God knows how the story will end. And He wants you there with Him!

Talk It Out For Kids (Session 2)

Talk It Out Widescreen

After last week kids swarmed the table to write down more questions about God, the Bible, etc.. Some of these questions are pretty comical! But as we all stated in our first Talk It Out Session last week, “there are no stupid questions.” We don’t want everyone to laugh (or make fun of) at a questions that is being asked. Even though we keep the ones who wrote the questions anonymous, it can still be hurtful when you hear all of your peers laughing at your question.

So moms, dads – try not to laugh as you read through some of these questions.

Again, this was created as a platform for you to use and “Talk It Out” with your kids while at the dinner table, getting ready for bed, or when you’re driving in the car.

 

Question 6: “Who was the oldest man and woman to ever live (not counting God)?”

The Guinness Book Of World Records currently holds a place for a lady by the name of JEANNE LOUISE CALMENT from France. She lived to be 122 years and 164 days. Read more of her story here.

But the Bible (best kept records book of all time) holds the longest living people who ever lived on earth:

Genesis chapter 5 lists nine men who had very long lives. Adam lived 930 years (Genesis 5:5). Seth lived 912 years (Genesis 5:8). Enosh lived 905 years (Genesis 5:11). Kenan lived 910 years (Genesis 5:14). Mahalalel lived 895 years (Genesis 5:17). Jared lived 962 years (Genesis 5:20). Enoch lived 365 years before God took him (Genesis 5:22–24). Lamech lived 777 years (Genesis 5:21). Genesis 9:29 records that Noah lived 950 years.

The oldest man to have ever lived was a guy named Methuselah. He lived to be 969 years old! (Genesis 5:27) He was the grandfather of Noah and even lived long enough to see the ark finished. Adam and Eve were his great grandparents.

It is safe to assume that women lived to be this old as well at the start of the world. But the oldest lady recored in the Bible was Sarah (Abraham’s wife).

Genesis 23:1 Sarah lived to be a 127 years old.

Why and how did people live such long and healthy lives? I personally believe its due to the “Canopy Theory.”

 

Question 7: “Does God get sick?”

No. Good does not get sick. First off we need to remember that God is not like you and me. In other words, God does not have a physical body. Our physical bodies are on earth. But God is in heaven:

A) Genesis chapter 1 tells us the story of creation. God created the earth and all its fullness in six days and rested on the seventh. Out of all His creation on this earth, He said over and over again, “It is good.” I think we can all agree that staying up all night throwing up or getting the chicken pox or strep throat is anything but “good.” You see we live in a fallen world. (Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Therefore sin entered the world. The earth was cursed and no longer “good”).

B) John 4:24 tells us that “God is spirit…” A spirit can not get sick, only a physical body.The earth was cursed and no longer “good”).

C) Revelation 21:4 says, “God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, no more crying, nor more sickness, no more pain, for the old ways have passed away.” In heaven – pain and sickness and suffering do not exist.

 

Question 8: “What does God eat?”

Through the Bible there are many references made that God instructed His people to sacrifice offerings to Him. For all the meat lovers out there: cows, lambs, etc. would be offered to God as a sacrifice.

Mmmmmmmm! Burgers!

Different translations say different things as one example:

(KJV)  Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season. 

(NKJV) Num 28:2  “Command the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire as a sweet aroma to Me, you shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time.’ 

(NASB) Num 28:2  “Command the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be careful to present My offering, My food for My offerings by fire, of a soothing aroma to Me, at their appointed time.’

(NLT) Num 28:2 “Give these instructions to the people of Israel: The offerings you present as special gifts are a pleasing aroma to me; they are my food. See to it that they are brought at the appointed times and offered according to my instructions.”

In research of this particular passage I looked at another found in Genesis:

Genesis 8:20-21  And Noah built an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

The Hebrew meaning of the word savour: 7381.  רֵיחַ rêyachray´-akh; from 7306; odor (as if blown):—savour, scent, smell

The Bible tells us that out of all the offerings God instructed to His people to give to Him was received by the aroma or smell from the burnt offerings, and is described as sweet or pleasing to God.

One thing we also must keep in mind is that we cant apply human characteristics to God, who is a spirit.

However, that being said….

Jesus did leave our minds to imagine when He told something to His disciples right before heading off to heaven Himself:

“I will no longer drink with you, until I do so in God’s Kingdom.” Mark 14:25

Other scriptures talk of a “heavenly food.”

“He rained down manna for the people to eat. He gave them the grain of heaven. Mere human beings ate the bread of angels. He sent them all the food they could eat.” Psalm 78:24-25

Luke 16:22-26 tell us of a story where one man in heaven and one is in hell. The one in hell asks for the one in heaven to bring just a drop of water for his thirsty lips.

Revelation 21 and 22 tell of the New Jerusalem with Living Water and The Tree of Life that produces 12 kinds of fruit!

 

Question 9: “Can you loose at a game of musical chairs in heaven?”

I honestly don’t know the answer to that question.  But what I do know is that we may be too busy with heavenly activities that playing an earthly game as such would not be of much interest.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). In other words, the joy you get out of playing games or sports or anything else is insignificant compared with the joy God has in store for you in heaven.

 

Question 10: “What State or Country did God live in?”

God never lived in just ONE place at ONE time.

God is described as Omnipresent. Break that word down into two words:

Omni- comes from the Latin meaning “all.” And present means to be in a particular place. So when you but the meaning of the word “Omni” with the meaning of the word “present” it means to be “everywhere – all at once.”

God is so big and so great that He is everywhere – all the time!

Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Hell, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

Heaven, Hell and to the top of the earth to its lowest parts, God is there.

We can take refuge knowing that where we go and whatever we go through, God is there  too!

 

Question 11: “Can God create anything?”

Yes!

Colossians 1:16 says, “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Similar to describing God as Omnipresent, there is another word we use called “Omnipotent.”

We already know that Omni means “all.” The word Potent is translated to mean “power.” Put them together and it means that God is “all-powerful.”

If you have all the power in the universe, I’m pretty sure you could create anything you wanted!

In fact! God already has!

The story of God’s creation is found in the first chapter of Genesis. He created it all in just six days.

Today, God still shows His creativity in “life.” The life of a seed growing into a tree. The life of a baby animal or the life of a human being. He shows us His wonderful works by the sun, moon, and stars, and the beautiful parts of our world such as the water falls and canyons.

But God’s greatest creation —- is Y-O-U.

You are God’s favorite in all of creation. He loves you so much that He even sent His One and Only Son to die for you so that you can have a relationship with Him while on earth, walk in His fullness and blessings, and see His power move through you!

That alone deserves a huge “THANK YOU” to the God who created EVERYTHING!

 

Next week in session 3 I will be answering more in depth questions kids have asked such as:

  • Why did God create Adam and Eve if He knew they would sin?
  • Does God love my parents?
  • Can God hurt you?
  • Are other religions false?
  • Who is the Holy Spirit?

 

 

 

 

A Picture Perfect Moment

This morning as we arrived at church I pointed at a ladybug on the church exterior wall.

“Look Harmony! A ladybug!” I said to my 2-year old daughter.

She insisted on holding it. I was trying to get her through the door so I kept coming up with every excuse I could.

“It’s sleeping right now sissy. Lets go inside.”

She insisted still.

Finally, I gave in and held the ladybug in my hand. She held out hers and as I dropped it in her hand she began to giggle. It started crawling and opened its wings.

I thought I would try and take a picture so I grabbed my phone. As soon as I got close enough and snapped the image, the ladybug flew away. I missed it. Or so I thought….. I looked at the picture and noticed I caught the ladybug just before taking off from Harmony’s hand.

Ladybig

This picture is so special to me now. Not only does it hold a great moment forever frozen in time, but it also serves as a great reminder:

Don’t let the little things of life pass you by. If you do, you could miss out on a very memorable moment. 

Later that day, I recalled a chapter in the BELOVED book that my wife and I wrote together about Harmony back in 2015! It had to do with her and Ladybugs. I got chills!

Enjoy this FREE Chapter from our book, Beloved.

 

WEEK TWENTY

“My Beloved, My beautiful treasure. How are you today?”

The tiny human was awakened from a dream by her Father’s comforting voice.

“Harmony? What were you dreaming about?”

The little one yawned and stretched before answering.

“I had a dream about a little red bug.”

“Go on.” The Father encouraged.

“This little red bug had black dots on it’s back and it had two sets of wings tucked under it’s shell. In my dream it flew from flower to flower eating other bugs, but I wasn’t afraid. Then the little red bug would start to glow with a bright light as it flew to another flower. Once it landed on a new flower, a different little red bug would emerge out from the pollen. Together they ate the other bugs. Then they both shined with great light and flew to another flower where a new little red bug emerged. This cycle continued until the air was filled with millions of tiny red flying bugs.”

“Is that all?”

“Yes, Abba. What does my dream mean?”

“That tiny red bug in your dream is called a ladybug.”

“A ladybug?”

“Yes. And the reason you were not afraid when the ladybug ate the other bugs is because ladybugs are known for eating bad bugs.”

“Bad bugs?”

“The ladybug eats bad bugs called pests who destroy crops and vegetation.”

“Oh.” The little one whispered. “I see.”

She continued listening intently to the Father.

“After the ladybug in your dream ate the bad bugs, what happened next?”

“It shined brightly, and then flew to the next flower….”

The Father’s voice blended with Harmony’s voice as they described the dream once more together…

“…and from that flower another ladybug emerged.”

“Yes, Abba.  Did You give me that dream?”

“Yes. I did give you that dream, Beloved.”

Harmony gasped in excitement.

“You never cease to amaze me, Abba.”

Harmony laughed and tossed and turned with joy before settling down once more.

“But You must tell me the rest of the meaning of my dream.”

“In the supernatural, ladybugs symbolize being carriers of My anointing. That is why the ladybug lit up in your dream. They carry My light into the world. And just as ladybugs protect the harvest in the natural, they also represent protectors of My Harvest in the supernatural.”

“Wow!”

“Harmony, you are that Ladybug.”

“Me? Why me?’

Long before you were conceived, your father nicknamed your mother his ‘Ladybug.’ Now that they know to be expecting a little girl in their lives, they have carried over the nickname to you, and they call you their ‘little lady-bug.”

The Father chuckled.

“They have even decorated your nursery with pink ladybugs.”

Harmony crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“I don’t think being called a bug is the prettiest of things.”

“Oh but it is, Harmony. It is.”

“It is?”

“Indeed. You see everyone loves ladybugs because they protect the earth’s vegetation from the bad bugs. Because of them, farmers are able to collect bundles of food.”

“But what does that have to do with me and my dream, Abba?”

“As the first ladybug flew to the second flower, it was joined with yet another ladybug. They ate the bad bugs together, lit up in a brilliant light, and then flew to the next flower where the cycle started all over. Harmony, you have been called forth to be a carrier of My anointing. Wherever you go, I go, and signs and wonders will follow. You have also been called forth to be a protector of My Harvest, My people. When you see someone in need and you serve them, pray over them, or help them in any way, you are protecting them from the harm of My enemy.”

The little one stayed perfectly still as the Father called her into her destiny.

“Just as the first ladybug was joined by another, and they were joined by yet another, so you shall be one who brings more people into My Kingdom. And in return, they shall bring more into My Kingdom as well. By the time your life comes to an end on earth, you will look back only to see that your “sky” will be filled with ladybugs – the lives of people you have touched and the lives of the people who have turned to Me.”

The little one stayed still and silent.

“Beloved?”

“That is so beautiful, Abba. I am Your little Ladybug?”

“Yes, Beloved.”

“And I get to carry Your anointing and spread it to others on earth?”

“Yes, Beloved.”

“I just have one more question.”

“What is it?”

“Will I have to eat bad bugs on earth?”

The Father was silent for a brief moment before bursting out in laughter.

His laughter got so intense that Harmony couldn’t help but laugh with Him. In the mixture of laughter she knew that no bug eating would be required to step into the prophetic destiny that the Father had planned for her.

Our Thoughts:

20 full weeks! You are now halfway through your pregnancy journey! This is a huge milestone for you and your little one. Go out and celebrate! Have you been craving anything special to eat lately? Take advantage of this time to splurge a little! In just 20 more weeks (give or take) your little one will be in your arms.

We truly believe that God has an amazing destiny in store for your little one. Their path of life is the first of it’s kind. There will never be another (insert your baby’s full name).

Have you had any dreams or visions lately, possibly related to your baby? Journal them down and ask the Lord for their meaning. God used dreams and visions to speak to His people in the Bible, and He still uses dreams and visions today. You’re halfway through your pregnancy journey, so enjoy each moment that is left.

My Thoughts:

Date:_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Exodus 33:14, Psalm 51:11, Psalm 16:11,

Psalm 139:7-12, 17-18

————————–

“As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

1 John 2:27

BELOVED is now available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.

beloved-promo-1