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On a steamy July evening, we sat on the porch reflecting on her faith journey. She had spent the last ten weeks away from home for the first time. At twenty-one, she tasted independent living, although she entered it with anxiety and she’s now leaving with a newfound confidence.

“I’m thinking of looking for a new church home, is that ok?”

Certainly, that is ok.

The question to answer is why?

This was the church she grew up in, her family still attends there. She, however, no longer felt like part of that community.

You may relate with her concern but feel conflicted over this move. Especially if you experienced a healthy church life as a child, you may struggle with feeling disloyal. Your loyalty lies with Jesus first and your church family second. Pray and ask Him to show you whether you need to stay or go.

The church or Ekklesia, is the gathering of people who share in their belief of Jesus Christ. This group of people are meant to be family, sharing in worship, serving one another, and building the Kingdom of God. It is to be a place where the participants learn and grow to be more like Jesus.

Every church is flawed with imperfections of one kind or another. This is part of the human condition, so if you are leaving to find the perfect church, you aren’t going to find it. But leaving your childhood church, to see what else is out there, may help your faith move to the next level. As young adults, especially Gen Zers, you are looking for autonomy, for a place in which you will be treated as an adult.

Here are questions to ask yourself as you explore new congregations:

  • Can you authentically serve in your current church?
  • Does this church draw you closer to Jesus? Do you reflect Jesus to others because of attending there?
  • Are you building community or see the potential to build community – especially an intergenerational community?
  • Are you recognized as an adult, ready to commit to this community?

We are to avoid cherry picking, taking what we need, to meet our own needs. We need the love and support of other people to continue to pursue Jesus. True, as a young adult, you are going through a lot of changes, but you are also setting habits that will last a lifetime. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we are to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” We each need a place to learn to live vulnerably in community.

Published in Devotionals

 

Is it okay that I question things I’ve been taught about my faith?

The short answer is yes.

Does that surprise you? I think we get confused between theology and faith; a tension between the two brings moments of confusion causing us to seek clarity.

Theology is defined as the study of God and religion. Theo means God and ology means study of, it is a pretty straightforward understanding of the word. As believers we seek knowledge to better understand who God is and how to build a relationship with Him. That knowledge, appropriately applied, develops our wisdom as to how to properly live what we know.

Scripture is clear that we are to seek after wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 assures us that the knowledge and wisdom is in Jesus, we just have to look for it. “2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Some of theinformation presented to us can be misunderstood or misrepresented. This is why we test and search out the truth. 

Faith, although related, is based on belief in God, spiritual comprehension instead of proof. As it says in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Faith, pistis in the Greek, means a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is God.

Theology is knowledge based while faith is belief based. When we question theology, we are not to throw away faith. On the contrary, when we investigate, we are simply answering the why we believe to grow our faith.

As imperfect beings, we recognize we don’t know it all and we continue to seek wisdom and knowledge through our relationship with Jesus Christ. This builds a better understanding of who He is and who we are to become. Find a trusted friend and investigate these questions together. Accurately applying Scripture, while seeking Jesus, will help you sort out what He has for you.

Ask this Mom is a monthly post that investigates the questions that matter to you. 

Published in Devotionals
Wednesday, 01 June 2022 19:44

Five Steps to Build Family Bond

On a cool summer morning, hinting at the approaching fall, we gathered. Each of us recognized this was a special moment, identifying it as a time worth celebrating. No speeches or toasts were given, just plenty of stories and laughter shared. We celebrated the intimacy of our family bond nurtured over a lifetime of experiences.


It started as a getaway weekend to my sister’s summer home. A quiet place on a river, a perfect escape destination from the stress of life. Within a few days of our departure, we discovered two of my other sisters were camping nearby. Texts flew back and forth as we realized our fifth sister also planned to be in the area. Expectations turned to excitement as we saw an impromptu party become a reality. For the first time all five sisters, with their five husbands, gathered without our children.


An extraordinary moment to treasure, the day remains a cherished snapshot in my mind. A simple backyard barbeque full of love and laughter ensued. Admiring the circle of family and friends, I quietly thanked God not just for them but for the legacy of my mom and dad. Their purposeful pursuit of family identity and unity permeated our time together. Essence of each of them peppered our conversation.


My parents raised five independent women during a tumultuous time in our history. However, their gifts to us remain timeless, a beautiful testimony to those who followed. Although far from perfect, they invited us into an adulthood centered on Jesus and His church with the freedom to choose our own path. Here are four intentional steps you can take, to form a similar legacy.


1. Make encouragement part of your daily lives.
No matter the age, recognizing both the gifts and struggles of the individual emboldens them to move forward in the path God set out for them. Encourage the good choices and coach them through the failures, reminding them that both develop us into our God designed selves.


2. Declare your family identity. I’m not sure when my dad started calling us “the good guys”, but it was a continual title used throughout my life. This is how my parents saw us and this is how we behaved. He set an expectation, through this positive declaration, of our character. When others urged us to step outside our family beliefs, that identity curbed the temptation.
Find a simple phrase that fits your family to undergird your identity. Make it positive and empowering.


3. Make unconditional love the expectation of your household. We were not measured by our achievements but loved because we were theirs. So much of our society rates our worth on what we do. However, a grace filled home counters that pressure, making it a safe place for the whole family.
Unconditional love extended into our poor choices as well. Living out the consequences of those choices impacted each of us as we grew and learned to navigate this world. No matter our choices, home remained a safe place.


4. Ask for wisdom before you act.
Even with all this in place, not all our choices lined up with the beliefs of our parents. Measuring the moment to determine their response took not only grace but wisdom. My sister moving to New York City challenged my parent’s peace, but it proved to be the correct choice.
Taking a moment to examine our own motivations before we comment or correct, helps direct a positive outcome. Measure our words and remember sometimes it is best to say nothing at all.


5. Daily choose gratitude. Living on a salesman’s wages with five daughters held challenges beyond our understanding. Each night at supper, we declared God is good and God is great. Thanking God for what we had permeated our home. Comparisons to friend’s material possessions were quickly squelched.
Thankfulness, demonstrated daily, trickles down to our children. Make a point to invite your children into sharing their gratitude.


Intertwined within our celebration, and our lives now, dwells the promise of Jeremiah 31:13 “Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.” Building a lasting impact in your family through subtle daily choices will ensure joyful family gatherings even after you are gone.

 

Published in Devotionals
Tuesday, 17 May 2022 11:41

Connecting the Generations Day 1

Day 1: Connecting the Generations
Light from her computer monitor reflected off her face. She rubbed her eyes, after hours of starring at the screen. Now the source of her work, entertainment, and social life, this machine illuminated her weariness. Freshly graduated from college, her childhood bedroom once a source of comfort now felt like a trap.

“I need to find a social life.” With a sigh, she leaned back into her chair, “I don’t know where to begin when I don’t know anyone here anymore.” In fact, working from home, she spends most of her time in her bedroom – alone.
The Covid 19 pandemic brought chaos to Gen Z and younger millennials. Current events including illness, divisive political rhetoric, social unrest, financial stress accompanied by job loss, and war in Ukraine pummeled the hope of younger people. Loss, division, and pain amplified around them pounding at their spirits and mental health. Anxiety levels spiked; uncertainty reined in their day to day lives. Eighty percent of the young people I surveyed said their anxiety is greater now than it was pre-pandemic.

Two years of pandemic and now economic struggles intensely affected both millennials (now in their twenties and thirties) and Gen Z (teens and early twenties). Mentoring these individuals now carries additional challenges. Older millennials, now parents themselves, faced the challenge of balancing their children’s distance education and working from home. Many with young children face finding ways to socialize their preschool kids. Generation Z entered the workforce during a volatile job market. Finding career jobs with lower pay combined with increased housing costs have forced many to move back with their parents.

Job loss was common, filing for unemployment brought confusion, uncertainty and even embarrassment. Hard working individuals never thought they’d find themselves in this position. Still launching their careers, financial pressure added to their pain.

Transitioning into adulthood during a unique historical event created difficulties new to modern times. Although they interacted via video, most of their workday remains spent alone. This greatly stifled workplace relationships, an essential part of transitioning from college to career. In addition, loss of church community put further pressure on them. Watching from home brought spiritual food without a community to nurture its growth.

How do we become a source of help to this struggling generation? In this five-day series we will:

  1. Look at the problem and try to understand its impact on our younger generations. Gaining tools to validate the real circumstances our young people are facing.
  2. Define anxiety and learn what to do and what not to do when walking with someone who struggles with this.
  3. Examine the deconstruction movement as it relates to our mentoring relationships? We will examine both the positive and negative impacts. In turn we will develop listening skills important to younger people. Listening is the greatest relationship builder we have.
  4. Develop ways to build intergenerational relationships and combat loneliness not only in their lives but also ours.
  5. Recognize in the long run this will build a stronger and resilient generation. There is a great potential in our young people, growing in your understanding will benefit all of us. Bridging the divide propels us toward unity.

Psalm 68:6 “God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” (NLT)

Action step: Who came to mind when you read this piece? What young people do you know that my need your encouragement? Take a moment to write down their name(s) and commit to praying for them during the next five days.

Feel free to send this to others that may be interested in this information. Invite them to join our journey. They can sign up to get the rest of these emails here. 

Published in Devotionals