Building Connections

When my children were very young I had the opportunity to talk to my older cousin, Ingrid, whose three boys were teenagers and young adults.

I was impressed by how affectionate and close all of the family members were. So I asked her:

“How do you do it?”

She said, “Just talk. Them talking, me listening. Me talking, them listening.

Talk about your day,

talk about what bothered you,

what delighted you, what you learned,

what you’re currently reading, what you wonder about,

what you long for.

Ingrid also said, “Do stuff together: projects, games, sports, trips, etc.

She gave me this sage advice nearly thirty years ago. I’m sure she hadn’t envisioned a day when techy stuff would take over this culture.

Sometimes I long for the good old days when the only form of communication in the house was the phone on the wall, and a pen and stationery.

Not that cell phones and  ipads are bad. It’s wonderful to have so much info at one’s fingertips. And to have the safety and convenience of reaching our loved ones by phone where ever we are.

But these blessings sure insulate us from others.

Here are a ten suggestions for young families raising kids:

1. Have meals together, and talk. No Tech stuff or TV allowed.

2. Have your kids’ friends over and let them play in and outside the house.

3. Read to your kids. Talk about the story.

4. Play with your kids, and tell funny jokes. Talk.

5. Pick one after-school activity a week per child. One. Your child will be less stressed, and so will you. Talk about why you’re doing this.

6. Limit your children’s time on cell phones and TV. Talk about why you’re doing this.

7. Bring your kids along with you during your activities. Everything you do is a chance for them to learn about the world and about civilized community. Talk about why you’re doing this.

8. Do volunteer activities together. (This includes chores around the house.)Talk about why you’re doing this.

9. Get to know your child’s teacher(s) and stay informed about EVERYTHING he/she is learning. Talk about why you’re doing this.

10. Pray together. Talk about what the Lord means to you.

You’ll be glad you did these things early on, because once your child’s a teenager, the habit of communication is likely to continue.

It’s easy to let other influences take over your child’s life. But bear in mind that most of our culture’s problems can be boiled down to this:

1. No relationship with God

2.  bad or no relationships with others.

Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. God is all about relationships, and we should be, too.

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives.” (Col. 3:15, 16 The Message)




Reading today in Genesis 22 where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

It seems such a strange command. After all, God was about to judge the surrounding nations that performed child sacrifice.

But we know how it turned out. Abraham proved his obedience.

And God provided a substitute, a ram for the sacrifice.

The Lord said, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withhold from me your son, your only son.”

The next time the Lord spoke He said: “I swear by Myself that because you have not withheld your only son, that I will bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky…”

A powerful test.

Followed by a powerful blessing.

What would it look like in my life, or your life, if we passed a similar test?

How would the Lord bless us?

I believe He is waiting for us to show ourselves completely obedient.

My test of obedience might look different from yours.

But God’s blessing always follows our faith.

Am I stubbornly or fearfully holding on for dear life to something that I should relinquish to God?

A cherished habit? A long-held ambition? A way of life that is not holy? A fearful refusal to respond obediently to God’s call to step onto an untested path?

Remember, the Lord loves to prove Himself faithful.

Our obedience and faith identifies us as Christ’s brothers and sisters.

The test for each of us is death.

Not necessarily physical death. But dying to anything that is not God’s direction.

Jesus said that we must do this daily. (Luke 9:23)

Wow! A tall order.

But this is the daily act of a child of the Kingdom.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV Bible)


Wednesday’s Word

Wednesday’s Word is:

Ballyhoo, noun

Pronounced: bal-ee-hoo, with accent on first syllable.

Definition: 1. loud noise or fuss; confused state or commotion 2. extravagant or sensational publicity

Try using this word in a sentence.

Last week’s word was: abnegate.

“The priest’s religion required that he abnegate the pleasures of the world.”

Belief is the Work

In the past few years I’ve talked to many people who have a kind of belief in God, but not really any sort of relationship with Him.

Most of the time when I say that it is possible to have a close, personal relationship with God, I’ll get an answer something like this:

“Well, ultimately I’d like to get right with God, but first I have to work on myself so God will accept me.”

I know someone who’s been saying this for the past 35 years. And he’s no closer to being acceptable. He hasn’t changed a bit. I’d like to ask him, “Is it working for you?”

How sad that so many cling to this, “I’ll work on myself a bit,” way of thinking.

I guess it’s pride. We really want to believe that our own effort will make us better people, and that God will give us an “A” for effort.

It doesn’t work that way.

Now Abraham, way back in the book of Genesis was a pretty good man. He obeyed God, worshiped God. He was good to his family, listened to his wife, even supported his nephew for a long time.

But none of these good acts made Abraham righteous in God’s eyes.

Here’s the secret to righteousness:

Believe God. Hebrews 11:6 states: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

That’s it. So simple that we scoff at the very idea. Believe? That’s it?

That’s all I gotta do?

Can’t be.

But yes, Genesis states, “Abram (Abraham) believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.

And God has not changed His method in all these 35 hundred years since Abraham.

If He had changed, Jesus Christ would not have had to be born as the Savior.

What a wasted death His would have been if there were any other way to get right with God.

It is that simple.

But so difficult. Because we don’t want to accept that we can’t do it on our own.

Put that pride aside. Pray to Jesus Christ. Say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t make it to heaven based on anything I do. I believe you died in my place, purchased my pardon for all my sins. Please come live within me and be my God.”

That’s it. So simple. Do it today!

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

“The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked “Sirs, what I do to be saved.” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts. 16:20-31 NIV Bible)

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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