Teens and Senior Adults

This week’s blog is an article by my daughter that will appear in Encounter Magazine. It’s her first time to be published, and I think she has some good thoughts on the importance of reaching across generations in the church.thumb_COLOURBOX6623351

I believe the teens and senior adults in churches should get to know each other. In fact, this would be good for both the seniors and the teens. There are several reasons they should get to know one another.

First, it is a lot of fun to be around people who are younger or older than you instead of hanging around only people your own age. Recently, my church had a youth event to watch the Ohio State versus Michigan game at one of our senior adults’ houses. There were more seniors who came to watch the game with us. We ate pizza, watched the game together, and all of us had a lot of fun.

Next, the two generations can learn from each other. The senior adults know first-hand about some of the things students are learning about in school, like WWII, the Great Depression , Vietnam , and other events from history . The seniors could tell the teens what it was like when they were young. And the teenagers could learn from the example of the seniors. On the other hand, seniors can learn what it is like to be a young person in our culture today.

Last, the two groups would have a chance to serve each other. The teens can help the seniors do jobs that the seniors can’t, things like climbing ladders to clean out gutters or shoveling driveways when it snows. Our youth group has done some jobs like those. Also, seniors can teach teens how to do things, like fixing cars or woodworking. One of the senior adult ladies in our church is teaching me how to sew. She enjoys passing on her skill, and I have fun learning.

Overall, it is good for both the teens and the seniors of churches to get to know each other. It helps both teens and seniors learn and grow in Jesus Christ. It builds solid relationships among God’s people across age lines, and it strengthens the church.

How to Suffer Well

bible105Stefanie knew God’s standards on sexual purity when she stayed at the office late with her co-worker and let things go too far. Can her marriage survive?
Dan had been a pastor for decades when he got brain cancer. After years of serving God, now he might not live another six months.
Trish’s deacon husband got caught embezzling money from work. Can she survive the humiliation?
Like these case study Christians, we sometimes suffer and can’t imagine how we’ll survive. Job gives us five steps to endure trials…with our faith intact:
1.      Self-examination. Job guards so constantly against sin he knows his pain isn’t a result of his own wrongdoing. In the above cases, Stefanie’s suffering is a clear result of her sin. Though the consequences won’t disappear with her confession, repentance is an essential step toward restoration. Dan’s cancer is likely a painful result of living in a fallen world, and Trish is suffering for her husband’s sin, but both must guard against bitterness. What about us? Maybe like Job we can say, “I have kept to his way without turning aside” (Job 23:11), but if God convicts us of wrongdoing, we must repent.
2.      Beware bad advice. Job’s friends falsely accuse him. His wife tells him to curse God and die. Job understands the pain of bad counsel. If Stefanie heeds advice to keep quiet about what she’s done, her marriage will only suffer more harm. If Dan’s friends tell him he’s sick because God doesn’t love him, the lies will sink him deeper into despair. If Trish’s friends tell her to leave her husband, she’ll suffer from her sin as well as his. We must heed counsel from mature Christians who will guide us to the One who loves us more than anyone else can.
3.      Seek God. Job knows God allows his suffering. He knows God alone can tell him why. So Job seeks God. In the above cases, Stefanie must run to God for cleansing. Only God can keep Dan through his cancer, whether it results in death or healing. Trish needs God’s grace to forgive her husband. We, too, must pursue God in our suffering, knowing only He can carry us through.
4.    Complain. God hates murmuring so much He let a generation of Hebrews die in the wilderness after the Exodus. Yet Job complains plenty. The difference is the Hebrews murmur among themselves against God’s gifts, while Job tells God how he feels about his pain. Job takes his grievances to God. Likewise, Stefanie should tell God of her guilt. Dan should tell God how betrayed he feels. Trish should tell God of her humiliation. We, too, should tell God of our rage, hurt, and abandonment. He can handle it.
5.    Hope. Job trusts God. He knows God will bring something good from his agony. He says, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). Job knows his suffering will lead to his sanctification, though he doesn’t like the process. In her pain, Stefanie can hope for stronger character and deeper love for her husband. Dan can think of the testimony he’ll share if God heals his body, and he can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven. Trish can thank God for increasing her faith. We, too, should view our pain as God’s means of making us more Christ-like. We must hope beyond our suffering for the good God promises to bring out of it.

Grandparenting Homeschoolers

o-GRANDPARENTS-RAISING-GRANDCHILDREN-facebookIf you are a grandparent of homeschoolers, you have many special opportunities to help train up your grandchildren. Following are twelve ways:

  1. Encourage. Even if you disapprove of your daughter and son-in-law’s decision to home educate your grandchildren, make only positive comments, especially in front of the grandchildren.
  2. Research. Educate yourself on homeschooling. Subscribe to a journal like Homeschooling Today. Check out the threats to your grandchildren’s educational freedom by searching for their state on www.HSLDA.org. The more you understand about the issues facing homeschoolers, the more you can help your family with their educational efforts.
  3. Protect. Would you telephone the public school kindergarten teacher during class for a brownie recipe? Don’t do it to the homeschoolers either. Ask your daughter for a schedule so you’ll know when not to call. Protect your grandkids’ education—even from yourself.
  4. Chaperone. Is your daughter planning a field trip to the zoo? She’d love it if you’d volunteer as a chaperone for the expedition.
  5. Chauffeur. Your grandson needs to get to youth choir practice, his sister volunteers at the vet clinic, the youngest has a play date at Jacob’s house, and your daughter needs to buy groceries. If you live nearby, you could relieve some of the stress by taking a grandchild where he or she needs to go.
  6. Teach. Offer your grandkids a once-a-week unit study or teach a course at their homeschool co-op. Pick a subject that interests you—birds, gardening, hunter safety, bread baking, knitting, the human skeleton, flowers, Niagara Falls, Egyptian mummies, etc. If you’re near enough to help daily, offer to teach your granddaughter’s Algebra course for a semester. If you live too far away to help daily, teach a week-long short course when you visit or video record lessons for your grandkids to use daily.
  7. Tutor. In a multi-student homeschool, a child having difficulty learning to read or do fractions causes extra strain on the family. If your grandson is having trouble with Latin, offer to tutor him. If you don’t live near enough to go to his house regularly, ask to take him home with you for a week of intensive study. Or use email, fax, video, and/or the telephone to help.
  8. Apprentice. You are skilled in areas that your daughter and son-in-law may not be. Set up an after-school or summer-long apprenticeship for your grandchildren in car repair, canning, farming, animal care, woodworking, piano tuning, etc.
  9. Babysit. Offer to keep preschool grandchildren occasionally so your daughter can teach the older kids without distractions. If you grandparent long-distance, volunteer to pick them up, keep them several days, and return them. Pick a week in August to keep all of the kids so your daughter can prepare for the new school year.
  10. Sub. Fill in when your daughter is sick or has just given birth or simply needs a day off.
  11. Give useful gifts. Useful gifts don’t have to be socks or pajamas. Piano lessons, a new desk, ballet tickets, a microscope, soccer cleats, tuition to science camp—all make great birthday or Christmas gifts.
  12. Grandparent. When your grandchildren have a piano recital in their living room or a closing program with their homeschool co-op, go and encourage them. Home educated or not, your grandchildren need you to grandparent them.


Testing Required

f-test1I graduated long ago, but I still sometimes wake up in a panic, thinking I have to take an exam for which I didn’t study. Ugh! I’d be content never having to take another test in my life.

Yet Scripture commands Christians to test the spirits to see if they’re from God. If we fail at this testing, the consequences are much more serious than flunking a class. The consequences are eternal.

False teachers are everywhere—television, radio, internet, books, movies. Even in Sunday School classes and pulpits. Everyone wants our ear, but not everyone should get it.

How can we discern who’s teaching truth and who’s spouting lies?Here are three questions to help us decide:

  1. What’s being said about Jesus? Lying spirits hate Jesus. If a speaker or writer professing to teach Biblical truth either ignores Christ or lies about Him, we must reject that teacher. I don’t mean we should nitpick every word that comes out of our pastor’s mouth. I mean we can’t listen to anyone who denies the basics of the Gospel—that Jesus is God who became man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose again, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back one day.
  2. Does the world love it? Popularity doesn’t equal truth. In fact, if the world loves something/someone, Christians should beware. By nature, the world loves what is worldly and hates what is from God. Remember, labels can be deceiving. Just because somebody labels a book or movie “faith-based” doesn’t make it Christ-exalting. I’m certainly not saying every “inspirational” book that makes The New York Times Best Seller list is teaching lies. I’m just saying we can’t embrace it without careful testing because not everything labeled “faith-based” is based on faith in the right Person.
  3. Is it Biblical? This question doesn’t allow laziness. We can’t simply point to a tacked-on Bible verse and call a teaching good. We have to ask if Scripture is being correctly interpreted. We have to watch for verses taken out of context. If the way a verse is used doesn’t fit with what the rest of the Bible teaches, it’s not being used correctly. In order to recognize whether a teaching is Biblical, we have to know what the Bible actually says. When we have trouble understanding passages, we can seek help from trusted Christians, read reputable commentaries, and check time-honored catechisms, creeds, or confessions. We should always pray for God’s help in discerning the truth.

How should we proceed when someone’s teaching fails the test? If the source is a book/movie/blog/radio program, etc., we can’t allow it in our homes, no matter how popular it is with our friends or family. If the false teaching comes from a teacher in our church, we should go to that person and respectfully present our concerns. Maybe we misunderstood what he/she said. Maybe the person will correct his/her false understanding. If the person refuses, we must bring the issue before other church leaders. If that doesn’t work, we must seek a different church–one where the truth is proclaimed.

Above all, we can’t give up. Even if we get it wrong sometimes, we’re commanded to test the spirits. We must use the tools God has provided…and get testing.