Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Young People Must GROW!

There’s a common saying: “The youth of today are the church of tomorrow.” While there is some truth to this adage in terms of future leadership within the body of Christ, it’s also a bit of misnomer. The fact is, in God’s eyes, Christian young people are already the church of today!

In trying to determine young people’s proper role in their families and in the church, we should look to Jesus for our example. There’s an enlightening Scripture regarding Jesus as a 12-year-old. Luke 2:51-52 (ESV) says, “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them ... And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” Thus he grew mentally/intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. Jesus should be the pattern for young people to model their lives after.

So what is the Christian teenager’s role? It is basically to grow. Using the word GROW as an acrostic is helpful.

G = Godliness. God wants teenager to remember Him in the days of their youth (Eccl. 12:1). Why? They may not have the blessing of a long life. They also develop lifelong habits during their adolescent years. They need a solid foundation of faith to build upon, so that when hard times come in life, they’ll know how to pray and trust in God. Paul exhorted young Timothy (1 Tim. 4:12), “Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Young people need to seek God’s will and direction for their lives. They should set a good example for their siblings, relatives, and even their parents, just like Jesus did.

R = Respect / Responsibility. Young people should show proper respect to their parents. They also ought to display respect and thoughtfulness toward their brothers, sisters, and extended family, treating them how they would like to be treated (like “the golden rule” in Matt. 7:12).

Furthermore, teenagers ought to learn mature responsibility remembering that other people are counting on them. It’s important for them to follow through on their duties and fulfill their obligations to their family and others. They should honor those placed in authority over them, including parents, teachers, coaches, and church leaders. They need to pitch in to help out and serve their family, church, and community. Doing so will bring honor to their family’s name and reputation.

Under the Old Testament, young people were commanded to revere their father and mother (Lev. 19:3), and were subject to severe punishment if they rebelled (Exod. 21:15-17; Prov. 30:17). Jesus reiterated this stringent command in his own teachings (Matt. 15:4).

O = Obedience. It’s appalling sometimes to see how often children and adolescents fail to show proper respect toward adults. The Bible speaks of the obligation of all people to respect those in authority. In Exodus 20:12 (the Fifth Commandment), the need to obey and honor one’s parents is especially emphasized. Proverbs 13:1 says, “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.” Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” (Also see Eph. 6:1-3)

W = Work. During childhood and the teenage years is when individuals learn to develop a good work ethic. It’s critically important for our young people to learn how to work hard as well as develop practical skills. This way they will eventually become independent and self-sufficient.

Household chores need to be assigned by their parents. Also, their formal education at school is part of their job. II Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Everyone in the family, including teens, ought to contribute in some way to their family’s overall wellbeing through hard work.

In the Christian home, the adolescent years are a special time to GROW in godliness, respect/responsibility, obedience, and work. Let’s encourage and train up our children in the Lord!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The "I" Word: Guest Post by Dr. Laurel Shaler

I am delighted to have Dr. Laurel Shaler on HeartPoint this week as my honored guest. 

Laurel is a professor at Liberty University where she serves as Director of the Human Services Counseling program. She is passionate about intersecting faith, culture, and emotional well-being, which she does by writing and speaking, specifically to women. Laurel and her sailor husband live in Lynchburg, VA, but spend as much time as possible in her beloved hometown of Greenville, SC. She enjoys being active in church and community and spending time with family and friends. She is self-confessedly a "Southern Belle."

Laurel has been published in the well-known Lifeway's Journey, Extraordinary Women and P31 Woman Magazines. She also had two devotionals published in "Penned from the Heart, Volume 20."

I am especially grateful to have Dr. Laurel guest posting over Mother's Day weekend, because she eloquently addresses the deep struggle shared by many women with infertility--the dreaded "I" word. Laurel speaks from her own personal experience and provides a valuable perspective and much-needed insight. I appreciate her candid and honest self-disclosures as well as her practical ideas very much.

Here's Dr. Laurel!


People make a lot of assumptions about married women who don’t have children. Especially one who has been married for almost a dozen years like me. I get a lot of questions, such as:

Are you going to have children?

When are you going to have children?

Are you trying to have children?

Are you doing anything to prevent pregnancy?

Have you considered adoption?

What about IVF?

Yep, I have been asked ALL of those questions…and more. Talk about invasive! And while I don’t mind close friends checking in, it is never 100% comfortable to talk about. And it is 0% comfortable discussing with people who I don’t know well, or at all.

Let me just give you the run down on women who are struggling with the dreaded “I” word. We are all different. Our stories are all different. Our hearts and prayers are all different. But, I think we would all agree that what we really want is prayer, love and support. Not questions. Not pity. Not gossip. Just prayer, love and support.

My story started when I was 18 years old and had life saving surgery. (Read more HERE and HERE). As far as being able to have biological children…it doesn’t look like that will happen naturally.

And I’m okay with that.

And then I’m not okay with that.

And I don’t understand. And I don’t expect anyone else to understand. On one hand, I trust God and am at peace about His plan.

And, on the other hand, there are moments when I break down and sob. Usually when I’m home alone, or in the middle of the night, at the thought of not having a child or two who look like us. At not having the experience of pregnancy. At not being a biological mom.  At feeling like less than because I haven’t had biological children.

And then, I am right back to thinking I am okay with all of it. Especially when I think of all the needy children in the world who need a good home. Knowing that God has been working in our lives so that we can help provide for HIS children.

But, I don’t like the assumptions. I don’t like feeling like there is something wrong with me because I haven’t been able to have biological children. I don’t like people thinking that I care more about my career than having children. And I definitely don’t want to be pitied. Or asked too many invasive questions. Especially by those who don’t even know me. I just want to be prayed for. And loved and supported.

My encouragement to those who are struggling with infertility (or those who have chosen not to have children or chosen not to have any more children) is to try not to let the questions upset you. Not everyone is sensitive. Not everyone understands your situation. And many may harmlessly be asking. We don’t have to get upset when asked those questions. We can just give a polite response that sets boundaries.

And to those who care about someone who is walking down the path of infertility, there are so many ways you can be supportive. For example, be sensitive to that person. Some of us love attending baby showers and children’s birthday parties, while those special events are too painful for others. Please, just recognize that we are all different, be cautious with your questions, and don’t make assumptions. If you want to learn more, I invite you to read THIS.

We all need to respect that God’s plan for every couple is different, and every couple walks down a unique path. Even if we don’t all agree or understand, I think the only Christian response is to pray, and offer love and support.


Thanks, Dr. Laurel, for these relevant, touching and helpful thoughts!

Please connect with Dr. Laurel Shaler at her various social media sites including the following:

Facebook: Dr. Laurel Shaler
Twitter: @DrLaurelShaler
Pinterest: DrLaurelShaler

Monday, May 4, 2015

Raising Faithful Kids By Example

I was richly blessed to be raised in a good, Christian family. I was the second-born of four children — two boys and two girls. We are all spaced out 2 to 3 years apart. Both my parents, Allan and Aileen, and my three siblings — Stuart, Laureen, and Fiona — remain faithful believers.

My parents, now in their early seventies, recently visited Georgia for the weekend where Dad was invited to conduct a seminar for men on how to raise faithful sons and daughters. In preparation for the retreat, Mom asked if each of us kids (who are now all in our forties and have families of our own) would share some things that positively impacted our faith while growing up.

It was interesting to read my siblings’ responses and see the common threads that have woven a strong faith within us. With his permission, I would like to share my elder brother’s thoughts with you. Stuart is a successful businessman in Nashville, has been married to his lovely wife Melissa for 27 years, and together they share two wonderful children named Camille and Clark. What follow are my brother’s thought-provoking words:

“There was not any one event or thing that helped keep me on track to be faithful growing up. I would say it was a combination of parental example and traits that were passed down to me from as early as I can remember.

My parents did not only show their faithfulness to God through example but — as equally important — their faithfulness to each other. I truly believe that the health of a family’s relationship with each other (especially between the parents) has a direct influence on the children’s relationship between siblings and the children’s relationship to God.

Being able to see my parents’ joy and anticipation for every time we met with our church family also meant a lot to me growing up. I never felt like my parents were going to church or Bible class because they had to. It was because they wanted to. That made me want to feel the same way and have that same relationship with God and other church family members.

From a young age, I can remember having the feeling that everything I had actually belonged to God and not me. I was just responsible for taking care of what God was letting me use. I am not quite sure where this state of mind came from. But I would say it was a result of conversations I had with my parents about how blessed and fortunate we were as a family. I always knew God was going to take care of things.

Prayer was also a big deal for our family. Praying before meals, before going to bed at night and for events that we had no control over. I think this has helped me as an adult because I don’t feel like I have to be in control all the time. It is OK for me to hand it over to God and let him handle things. (Like He needs an invitation to do so!) He is always in control. I just see that more plainly now as an adult.

From a young age, my parents always encouraged us children to pass (our faith) on. Our love for God should never be something that we keep to ourselves, but something that is shared with everyone we come in contact with. I was taught this can be done in several ways — but the most important way was to live it out.

You can say anything you want with regard to your relationship with God, but if your day-to-day actions do not line up with your words, your words will have very little impact to the person you are talking with. It does not matter what the cover of your book looks like, it is the content of its pages that makes a difference. No one sees this faster than your kids!

These are just a few things that were handed down to me from my parents in my younger years. I have been so blessed to have them as mentors, friends and parents. I have tried to keep these examples and traits alive in my family, passing them on to my children.

Thanks Dad and Mom — Stuart”

I believe my brother’s words about say it all!