The Land of Boys

Learning to live in a house full of testosterone

Archive for the category “ministry”

What Can We Do???? Little Things to Make a Difference.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. Psalm 68:5-6

The Bible is very clear in giving us orders to protect certain groups- the poor, the widows, and orphans. In honor of National Adoption Awareness I am going to give some practical ideas for ways you-yes YOU- can help orphans across our world.

Obviously, the biggest impact you can have on the life of a child is to adopt. Adoption is a beautiful picture of what God does for us when He welcomes us into His family. It gives hope and love to someone who did not have an abundance of either previously.

Sometimes, even if our heart is in adoption, it is not the right time. This is where I am right now. I would be willing to open my home to more children, but it just can’t happen here and now. So what are some things I can do? Is there anything? Yes! There are many things I can do to help out children. First and foremost I can pray. I can teach my children to pray for all the children of the world who need parents. James 5:16b: The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. I truly believe that verse. When we pray, it is not just empty, meaningless words.

Find an orphan ministry near you and get connected. Perhaps there is a group home in your area where you can volunteer. Maybe you can’t find anything in your area. Maybe you have a reason that keeps you from having the time to volunteer as much as you would like. Maybe you can find another way to help. Reach Orphans With Hope is an ministry that could use your help. They have several options for you to help out. You could help right now by sending a Ukrainian orphan to camp. Or, you could send a child a Christmas present. Or, you could choose to help with medical assistance, humanitarian projects, or the orphan graduate project. Here in America, we tend to think of being a graduate as being a good thing. However, when speaking of orphan graduates, it means a child who did not get adopted and is too old (usually around 16) to stay in the orphanage any longer. Many of these kids end up going to technical schools. These technical schools are not ideal conditions. I read once about one that had four shower stalls in the whole place. There were 400 people living there at the time. Most of the kids end up in a life of crime. About 10% commit suicide by their 18th birthday. 70% of the girls will end up in prostitution. 60% of the males will end up in prison. Most will be on drugs. It is hard to type these stats. I don’t see empty numbers. I see faces of the kids I have spent time over a few summers. It breaks my heart to think of them in this type of life. They are not “bad kids”. They are hopeless kids who don’t know where else to turn.

Another way to help if you are not able to adopt, is to help out people who are adopting. Adoption is a long, hard, expensive process. There are sooo many ways to help that more smoothly. If the couple adopting already has children, offer to help out with their kids. There is a lot of paperwork involved that must be filled out. Helping take care of their children while they are working on that is not hard, but it makes life less stressful for them. You could also offer to host/organize some type of fundraiser. I have seen and heard about bake sales, yard sales, and 5K runs. The possibilities are endless. Maybe the couple is doing something themselves to raise the money. Contribute to that. If you don’t know of anyone adopting that could use your help, consider visiting the Fleur de Lee’s website. They are creating glass tile pendants and selling them to fund their adoption. They have a wide variety to choose form AND they take special orders. Their son is in Africa. They have created pendants that are maps of Africa with a heart inside. I did a special request order of a Ukrainian map with a heart. It only took two weeks to get it and I LOVE it!!

Now, on to some things you can do for a child once they have been adopted. Organize a shower for them! Everyone thinks of throwing showers for people who have babies, even adopted babies. A lady I used to go to church with told me when they adopted their son they had nothing. He is their only child, so they did not have child sized clothing, child appropriate books and movies, no toys, nothing for him. Keep in mind, even if a couple has other children it does not mean they have no needs. A person coming to live in your house is a big deal.  That person is going to have needs.

Equally important is the offer of meals. If you aren’t a good cook, perhaps a gift certificate to a restaurant would be appreciated. Here is a quote from a mother who adopted three boys from Russia when asked about ways to help newly adopted families:

Meals!  We had 3 meals brought to us and that was it.  I could have used much more.  Usually when people have a baby, our church will provide meals for at least a week.  I know that we came home just before Christmas and that had some to do with it.  But frankly, I don’t think that people realize the impact it has on a family to bring in 3 older children at once.  I have felt like we gave birth to triplets!  But our triplets couldn’t be put into a crib and everything was safe and sound.  Ours could get out of bed, get into anything that they could find, and disable or destroy things in a matter of seconds.  It was so exhausting for ever so long.  So meals would have been a great help.

Also, offer some free babysitting services. It may be a while before a couple is ready to go out without their child. Maybe they need a good bit of time for bonding. But eventually, they may want/need a little adult time. Free child care that they can trust is one less thing to worry about.



Wow. Just Wow.

I just finished Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley.  It is a tremendously good book. I have learned so much from it. Something I just read in the epilogue was eye-opening, toe stomping, and disheartening all at the same time. Here it goes:

Surely one of the more remarkable aspects of Christianity today is how few of these professed believers have ever seriously studied the history of their religion. In an earlier age adherents of one faith seldom encountered adherents of another. Few were required to defend their religion against the criticisms of  a rival faith. In our day, however, when mass media make the world our neighborhood, the ignorance of Christians is hard to justify.

The movement toward separation of church and state  has all but removed religion from public education. That is true. But even “Christian education” in many denominations has done little to give members any sort of adult understanding of the faith they profess to believe. Should we really be surprised, then, when today’s Christian so frequently blends gross errors with orthodox confession or defends some pagan practice as “Christian” conduct?

Wow. All I can say is wow. It is so disheartening to see how far we (professing Christians) are from what is taught in Scriptures. We have no one to blame but ourselves if we are the ones who are blending pagan practices, Eastern religions, entertainment, and choosing to practice things that are unBiblical and calling it “church”.  We have the entire Bible at our disposal and yet, often choose to allow things in our lives that are in direct contrast to what it says. Now more than ever our churches need to focus on the Bible, what we believe, and why we believe it. We need to set aside the feel-good, the “relevant”, and the entertaining and get back to caring about the fact that people are attending our churches, enjoying every moment of it, yet spending eternity in hell when they die.

Who Me, Patient? You Really Don’t Me Very Well.

I met a new hairdresser this week. She was really fabulous! We chatted a bit about families. She got married at the same age as me and has two boys. The subject of schooling came up. Ugh. I braced myself for the usual onslaught of, “Why on Earth would you want to do that?” when I told her I homeschool. I didn’t get that. She said, “Wow. That is really great. You must be so patient!”

(I can hear people who know me in real life laughing all the way through their computers.) Ah, no. That is something I really have to work on.  Every. single. day.  Schooling, not schooling-it doesn’t matter. I have to really try not to lose it on people, electronics, inanimate objects- you name it.  I realized the depths of my impatience one day as I was loading some books into Library Thing.  It took a whole 1.3 seconds to find a book on there. I was in the process of telling Mark how I was getting frustrated with this thing taking “forever” and I looked at the result time. Ouch. (maybe that is why I never actually finished cataloging our books.)

While it may sometimes add some comedy to our day when I am getting impatient with stuff-the boys remind sometimes that yelling at the computer will not make it load any faster- it is not so good with people. I sometimes run out of patience by telling a certain son a million gazillion kabillion times that putting his clean clothes in the closet floor is NOT putting them away.  I get impatient when I say bring me the sheets off your bed and am asked, “Does that mean the pillowcase, too?” (((slaps forehead and replies YES)))

Do you know how many times patience is referred to in the Bible? I don’t know an exact amount, but let me just say its a lot. Some of the most toe-stomping ones to me are:

Ecclesiastes 7:8
Better is the end of a thing than its beginning,and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Hmm…. makes me feel self conscience about not finishing cataloging books…. and not finishing so many books I start)

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (really toe-stomping because I tend to be more of the “why me wahhh” type than patient in tough stuff)

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (Wow, Christians are told that we will be known by our love.  {see John 13:34-35}Love is patient. That is a hard pill to swallow)

2 Timothy 2:24
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, (Yes, I know that this directed to pastors, but aren’t all Christians called servants of the Lord?)

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (This is probably where I have personally dropped the ball the most. I have high standards and somehow expect others to follow my rules. I would never make a good therapist. I tend to want to tell people to stop their sniveling and get a life.)

The verse about patience that stands out to me the most is this one:

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God is patient with us. Even me and my rudeness. It is through His power that I am often able not to stick my foot in my mouth. It is His Spirit that keeps me from saying things that I know I am going to regret later. When I am talking to someone who has bad theology He reminds me that I have sometimes believed things that are not doctrinally sound. (My husband would tell you that I still cling a bit too close to Rome on something, but that is a whole ‘nother can of worms) When teaching my children God reminds that there once was a time where I did not know my multiplication tables or the differences in declarative and imperative sentences.

I often hear people saying not to pray for patience because it will result in God sending things, people, and situations into your life that make you exercise patience.  I think  that is ridiculous reasoning. If we want to improve something, we HAVE to exercise it more.  If you want to improve your strength on bench-pressing what do you do? You do bench presses. You add more weight on your bar so that you get more strength in your arms. So, shouldn’t we pray for patience if we truly want to be a patient person striving to be more like God? There are going to be things in life that stink, whether you pray for patience or not. I feel that by praying for patience, God is faithful to answer that prayer so that when difficult or whiny people (other than myself 🙂 ) are in my life I have the grace to be patient with them, rather than telling them off.

Do You Know Who’s With Your Kids?

Most people like to think there are certain “safe” places they can leave their kids and not worry about their children’s safety and well-being. One would like to think that the vast majority of the time they are right.  But, unfortunately, other times they are proved wrong. It is heart-wrenching to hear stories on the news of children who have been abused (whether physically, sexually, or emotionally) by a trusted adult, like a teacher. It is even worse when that person turns to be a minister. I got asked to print something off for someone tonight.  It was an article about a man who is charged with sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl. That in and of itself is sickening enough. Turns out that the man is “informally involved with youth ministries of various churches in Blount County”.

Anytime I hear of misconduct happening in a church I first feel so much pain for the victim. Then I get mad. I get really mad.  If people in churches would take youth and children’s ministries seriously, most-if not all- of these cases could be prevented. Here’s the way most churches I know of do youth and children ministry: The preacher says from the pulpit that there are openings in certain classes. He then asks for volunteers to teach. As soon as a person volunteers for a class, they are accepted on the spot.   Because, you know, no one else wants to waste their time on the younger people. Maybe they feel they have served long enough and they are just going to sit on a pew and do nothing until they die. So that only leaves a few people to do all the work. Which can, especially in a small church, leave only one person per class. That one person is in total control. I feel that is a disaster waiting to happen.

Abuse is not the only problem that results from having too few in the church willing to work with the younger crowd. Lack of solid teaching is widespread in our churches. Teachers do not spend enough time praying for their classes. They do not study and prepare to fill young minds and hearts with knowledge. Often, a person can read a really cool book on “how to do ministry for dummies in five minutes or less per week” and think that book and its five point plan of action for ministry are the way to go. If they just follow the teachings of this guy who says he has all the answers (and he has a church with eight gazillion members who all say he has all the answers) they can be great leaders, too. After all, this guy has a PhD and eight gazillion church members; they can’t go wrong following what he says.

So, our youth “ministries” turn into sports/drama/music with a Bible verse here and there. Our children’s “ministries” become puppet shows or sing-along. Am I saying that these things are bad and if you use them you are bad? NO! I am simply saying that if we focus on the entertainment, rather than the Bible, our children become shallow and faithless. 70% of them will stop attending church by age 30.  The ones who do stay are often spiritually stupid. Did you know that in Puritan times it was considered lazy parenting if your child did not know the catechism by age five? These days kids are unusual if they know anything beyond “God made me” and “God loves me” by age five.

Let me be clear: not all people in youth and children ministries are shallow, have weak theology or are perverts. My husband is a youth minister. I work with with both the youth and the children in our church. We both take our responsibilities very seriously. We love the kids in our classes. We hurt when they hurt. We rejoice when something good happens for them. We care about them. However, I would be very confident to say that not one adult in our church could tell you anything about what we are teaching.  We could be teaching some New Age philosophy and people would not know it. The attitude with most people is this: You take them so I don’t have to. They have come to see children and youth ministry as a form of glorified babysitting. You watch them so I can go to my class. People, if that is your attitude, you are responsible if someone in your church harms a child. Yes, I said YOU. It is the duty of mature Christians to teach the younger Christians. Even if you are not a “teacher”, have you ever thought about sitting in on a class as a helper? Have you volunteered to help out and observe what is being taught in your child’s class? Have you thought about that you are attending church to learn? What are you supposed to do with all that learning? TEACH!

Matthew 28:19-20; 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (emphasis mine there)

Unfortunately, too many Christians are like the ones in Hebrews

Hebrews 5:12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

As a parent, I am very concerned with what goes on with my kids.  Our family homeschools. No chance of them being harmed by their teacher. (unless of course, you count getting stepped on from getting behind mom when she does not know it 🙂 ) Mark and I teach at our church. We know what is going on in the classroom. Parents – I urge you to get involved. It could be that your children’s well-being depends on it.

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