Archives for posts with tag: family ministry

Whether or not to celebrate Mother’s Day, and if so to what extent, has been the subject of more than one “intense” discussion for our staff in the past. People can have VERY strong feelings on the subject. Here was my standpoint in those staff meetings:

Yes. I still believe the church should acknowledge Mother’s Day. Yes. From the pulpit.

Now before anyone starts sending hate mail, just hear me out. My husband and I DID struggle with infertility. As a children’s pastor, it was MISERY to be in church every single year on Mother’s Day, handing out flowers to Mothers, when I so desperately just wanted to BE a Mother. Oh, and let’s not forget all the baby dedications, and nursery renovations, and children’s productions when the desire for a child of my own was so overwhelming I thought it was going to crush me/kill me. I am ashamed to say that when one family announced that “oh oops, I guess we are expecting number 8!” I went home and bawled my eyes out. More than once at Walmart, I would pass a 14 year old pregnant girl headed outside to smoke and want to claw her eyes out and rip out all her hair. Not my finest hour. But even during those difficult times I knew that being a Mom was a special full time job, a calling that I wanted in on.

Skip ahead several years, and our church had grown. a lot. And in a very large church, you have to take a lot of things into consideration when planning your services ahead. For awhile we decided to cut our tradition of the kids singing on Mother’s Day in our Sunday morning service, because non-Mother’s might be hurt by it. And we debated mentioning Mother’s day AT ALL because non-Mother’s might not come to church. This line of thinking spread into cutting most of our Father’s Day activities because a lot of children do not have fathers. And then our Veterans Day cards giveaway was on the chopping block because some of our soldiers did not come home (they were killed in the line of duty). Next came came cutting our children singing/performing near Christmas time, because some families do not have children and may feel left out, or they come from divorced homes and cannot participate. During all of this debate and planning on our staff, I was asked whether or not we should have special services at all or if we should mention things like Mother’s Day. After some prayer and thought this is what I said:

Yes. We need to mention the importance of mothers and fathers and family because God does and Scripture does. Not just on one or two days but throughout the year. Furthermore, our American culture does not highly value the role of “mother”. In fact, in an era when young women are encouraged almost EVERYWHERE they turn to be thin, beautiful, sensual, sexually appealing, young, immature and irresponsible- raising a child does not fit into that mind set at ALL. Young women are taught from the get go to be selfish, to focus on what THEY want, when THEY want it. Choosing to raise a child and put the child’s needs ahead of your own is considered old fashioned and ignorant and even a waste of your life. The “secular” world does not usually see a “stay at home mom” as a full time job, though it most certainly is!

I do not believe that our young ladies (or young men) are getting the tools they need to be parents, because the role of a parent is not valued in our society.

So if the role of a parent is not valued or encouraged in our self focused, self driven life style- then where can a parent be valued, encouraged and equipped? That should be, and is supposed to be in the church. God created the family and places a very high value on parents- including Mothers. Mothers are important to God. What they do is valued and blessed by Him. It is a good thing for the church to go counter culture on Mother’s Day and affirm and thank moms for following a calling laid out in Scripture.

Then, what should our approach be as a church, as a congregation- when some of your congregation are parents and some are not? When some are mothers and some are desperately trying and some are mothers who are grieving? And what about divorced families and families with only one parent and foster families and blended families?

One of our major problems as a body of Christ is our tendency to swing to extremes. We tend to swing violently to one end of the pendulum or the other. Either we have every Mom stand up in the church service with their flower bouquet while the band and the children sing, and every other woman gets nothing OR we skip the whole day for fear of offending anyone. Part of our Christian walk is learning to live together in love and balance. We can learn to lovingly thank and affirm our mothers without singling people out. We can remember that people in our congregations are suffering, waiting for a child or grieving the loss of one and be sensitive to that. At the same time, we can make a stand as to the value of God’s design for the family- and weave that into our programming and the way we “do church” year round. Can we do special day well, with balance, effectiveness and grace? Oh definitely. I don’t want to cut so much that we are not offending anyone, because we are saying nothing at all.

Should we acknowledge Mother’s Day from the pulpit? Yes. We should affirm God’s design and approval for motherhood, but with grace, compassion and balance. So go love that crazy messed up outta wack beautiful thing we call the church this Sunday (the Body of Christ) and Happy Mother’s Day. Love Trisha

Ephesians 4:13-15American Standard Version (ASV)

13 till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14 that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;

15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

Here is a pic of me, my mother Bonnie Stevens and my daughter. I love you Mom! Thank you for always pointing us to Jesus. Your prayers have carried us countless times. Love you!!

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Yes, reaching out to children in Jesus’ Name is a high calling and a great adventure, but children’s and family ministry does have some unique challenges. Here are just a few:

 

  1. “Different orbit” Children’s ministry is one of the few church ministries that takes place at the same time as the main service, and in a different room. The danger here is that the children’s ministry can be cut off from the vision and life of the church as a whole. The children’s leader must work harder than some of the other staff to communicate to “earth” (the parents, adults, lead pastor and other staff) about what is going on on the “moon” (the children’s ministry) and vice versa. The children’s leader has to intentionally work to make sure their ministry reflects the values and mission of the church as a whole, and that the children are a part of the church and its activities.

 

  1. “High Volunteer Need” Arguably, no other area of the church has a higher need for volunteer leaders than the children’s ministry department, due to the need to keep to ratios (6 kids per 1 adult for example). Also, you cannot put just ANYONE in with children. Each potential volunteer must be thoroughly vetted and background checked before being considered. If they pass, they need to be trained, discipled and placed in an area that flows with their skill set. These precious leaders are not babysitters; they are co-laborers and fellow children’s ministers. A growing kid’s ministry doesn’t need one children’s pastor; it needs a team of children’s ministers, ready to reach all children regardless of background, learning style or situation. We should never apologize for asking others to partner with us in this amazing journey of ministry to kids!

 

  1. “Babysitting Syndrome” Too many churches are following an old European custom instead of Scripture. By this, I mean, they look at children as unimportant, and put them off in another room to be babysat while the important adults have church. This thinking also leads to placing the most “expendable” people in kid’s ministry to “babysit”. Most children’s ministry leaders will run into this cultural belief at one time or another. It is up to us to lovingly vision cast a more Biblical view of children’s and family ministry- one that places great importance on children. I often tell parents, “We will not babysit your children. We pray that they are changed by learning about and meeting with God. We invite you to be a part of this experience.” We also fight the babysitting paradigm by actively and publically seeking out the best, most talented and qualified people to work with our kids. Not just any warm body will do. Another problem that arises is when the church expects the children’s leader to  babysit, or find babysitters for every single church event. I think this is a terrible idea and a legal liability. Also, it tears down the credibility of the children’s ministry program.  This “babysitting” mentality does not disappear in a day, but with love and prayer we can change the way the whole church views ministry to children.

 

  1. “Universal Leader” Never before has the children’s leader had to be such a jack of all trades. A lot of churches are looking for a person who can speak up front to children, communicate with the parents, train and disciple the leaders, recruit effectively for multiple open spots at all times, manage the scheduling for leaders and services, head up several outreaches a year and more. Whew. That is a huge job!

  

  1. “Teeny Tiny Time Frame” We have so little time to make an impact. We only have these kids an average of 1 hour per week, only 32 days a year. These statistics should scare us and challenge us. We must be incredibly intentional about our programming to do everything we can, to equip these kids in every way possible. And part of that equipping process must include partnering with the parents to make sure that these kids are getting what they need spiritually at home first, where they spend the MOST time. Parents+church+dedicated Christian friends make a dynamic support structure for optimal change and growth.

 

 

  1. “Poverty” Even in a nation as wealthy as the United States, too many families are struggling with the reality of poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “About 15 millionchildren in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, a measurement that has been shown to underestimate the needs of families. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses.”[1] As children’s ministry leaders, we may be asking kids to come up with money for several events a year- camp, winter retreat, fundraiser etc. There are children in our ministries who honestly cannot afford to pay for these things. Does that mean that they cannot participate in camp, for example? What ways can we work to include more kids instead of excluding them with fees? I struggle with this with our AWANA program. The suggested fees would never work in our area, and even the $20 we did end up charging for books and uniform proved to be too much for several of our children. The gap between the rich and the poor is ever widening in our culture. But at church we are not supposed to give preferential treatment to the rich. How can churches better minister to families struggling with lingering poverty? A book I read recently, “What Helping Hurts,” was a great read, full of great ideas for building up instead of sustaining a spiraling situation.

 

  1. “Too Many Activities” One of the biggest challenges facing children’s leaders today is that we are competing with so many other activities. Soccer games were never on Sundays when I was a child. Today, parents are routinely taking their children to sports rehearsals 3 or 4 nights a week with games almost every weekend- even on Sundays. In addition they usually have music lessons, 4H, Boy Scouts, etc etc. I think those of us in ministry need to be much more careful about not scheduling a whole lot of extra events. Instead, we should be working to make our weekends (and midweeks if applicable)more effective. Many churches respond to the challenge of “family ministry” by putting on dozens more programs and activities. We need to understand the busyness of our families, do fewer programs, and do those fewer programs with more quality.

 

  1. “Native Technology Speakers”- I have learned in our classes that this generation of children are native speakers of everything technology related. Perhaps as a result of all this time in front of screens, children have a VERY short attention span (3-5 minutes average), are drawn to videos and can be more inclined to be visual learners. I learned a lot about the different learning styles. Children’s leaders must craft a diverse kids’ service that will minister to different learning styles and proficiencies. Most children’s leaders are also NOT “native technology” speakers, meaning we did not grow up with computers, laptops etc. But the modern ministry leader must commit to learning the language of children and the language of this culture if they plan to be in any way effective. On a side note: I also discovered in my own church, our kid’s ministry programs have been neglecting the “imaginative” learning style. This generation, especially the imaginative learners, need time to “verbally process” what they are hearing. They need an opportunity to share their thoughts and personal experiences. I realized that I needed to add this important time to the curriculum that we write.

 

  1. “Biblical Illiteracy”- We can no longer assume that the children we minister to, even within the church, all “know” the Bible stories. Biblical literacy is not what it used to be. We have to make an intentional plan to teach children the basic Bible stories both at home and at church.

 

  1. “Rise of Special Needs”- For unknown reasons, the incidences of autism and other special needs in children has skyrocketed[2]. It may be safe to say that all children’s leaders will have children with special needs in their ministry. And for every one that IS there at church, I imagine that there may be 10 special needs children who stay home, because they or their parents do not feel like they can go to church? Right along with physical special needs-autism, muscular dystrophy, down syndrome etc. is a whole host of mental and behavioral special needs- ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and more. I believe that children’s leaders must educate themselves and others about special needs in children. It is important to do trainings with our leaders and work to be more inclusive to children and families with special needs.

 

[1] “Child Poverty.” NCCP | Child Poverty. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 May 2017.

[2] “”1 in 68:What Do Autism’s Rising Numbers Mean For Our Families?”.” Autism Speaks. N.p., 24 July 2012. Web. 01 May 2017.

So what are the biggest challenges for you and YOUR ministry? Do you agree with this list? Why or why not?

Whatever challenges you may be facing in your ministry, I pray God helps you meet each and every one with courage, strength and humor. God bless- Trisha

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I am currently in a Master’s Degree program at Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, MN, in Children’s and Family Ministries.  This December’s graduation will be an exciting time, and its coming up so fast (we walk the line next May).  Our cohort has been privileged to read so many amazing books along this journey, some of which are now favorites of mine. As an author myself, what books do I most enjoy reading? To make this list, I have to want to reread these books and recommend this to others. Some are older and some are new- but I believe the really great book stand the test of time 🙂 So here are my top 10 favorites, NOT counting Scripture (which is always #1), in no certain order:

10. The Book of God, by Walter Wagerin Jr. This is definitely not a book for kids. But Wagarin’s version of the “Bible as novel” is painted with such vivid word pictures, it makes the story real in a whole new way. Also, you can see the common thread of God’s story woven throughout Scripture instead of random stories pulled out to stand alone. I was and am deeply touched by the telling of the salvation story in the Book of God. I usually reread it every year around Easter.

9. Well Intentioned Dragons, by Marshall Shelley. I read this book for my undergrad. I think all ministry leaders should read it. Church conflict is a main reason why pastors quit. This book does a good job and trying to prepare leaders for the pain, loss and infighting that sometimes (always) comes with working in a church.

8. The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School, by Aaron Reynolds,  I loved this book! Reinvention is packed with creative ideas and inspiration for kid’s church as well as a lot of encouragement for those of us every weekend in the trenches for Jesus and His kids. I especially love the layout of the book- it is so fun and creative! Many of us kid’s pastors are quite visually oriented and easily distracted (ADHD), so I loved the illustrations and just plain fun on each page.

7. An Hour on Sunday, Creating Moments of Transformation and Wonder, by Nancy Beach- This is one the best books I have ever read. It is not a “kid’s ministry book” per se. But it IS an amazing, creative book from Willow Creek’s own Nancy Beach, who spent many years as the creative director for their weekend services. What she tells us about excellence, teamwork and innovation are definitely applicable in kid’s and family ministry. She makes a great case for giving it our best in every one of those precious 60 minutes each Sunday. I also love the artistic layout of this book.

6. Me, Myself and Bob, by Phil Vischer- I cried all the way through the last 4 chapters of this book. If you can make it through the first few chapters (all the details of the launch of Big Idea and Veggietales), Phil Vischer gets VERY personal on his painful journey at the end of the Big Idea company.  What do you do when God does not “save you” from falling down.  What can God show you at the bottom of it all, about His love and His plan? Oh, now I’m gonna get all choked up again….

5. Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer- Great book about listening to God’s Spirit, life experiences and others in your life to discern “the voice of vocation.” What were you really created to do with your life? How has God spoken to you through your failures as to what you are NOT called to do? (Way closing). How do we hear the voice of God, guiding us to our calling? What about when Christians are depressed, trying to find themselves?

4.  He Walks Among Us, by Richard Stearns. I cried through quite a few of these stories too. These are powerful stories from all over the world about what God is doing in kids and family’s lives- from Africa to Palestine to Equador etc. How is God “showing up” walking alongside these kids and families, some of them in horrific situations/conditions? What can we do to be a part of what God is doing globally? This book is great for a family or church devotional, with daily chapters that are small enough for a short story time.

3. Too Small to Ignore, Why the Least of These Matters Most, by Wess Stafford.  Yup, this one was a tear fest as well. I LOVED this book. What a heart rending story of loss, redemption, forgiveness, restoration. Wess, the founder of Compassion International, is a great storyteller. You will be fired up for missions, for Jesus and for child protection after experiencing this book.

2. Dreaming of more for the Next Generation, Dr. Michelle Anthony. Wanting more ideas for family ministry? This is your book. This was an easy, quick read, full of humor and creative ideas. I found myself nodding my head a lot in agreement. Dr. Anthony elevates the importance of what we do as kid’s leaders, and what God is doing in young lives.

1. I Blew It and Talk Now and Later- Brian Dollar- I love both of these books, for these raw honesty and humor.  Children’s leaders can be encouraged that God can use them even when they make mistakes, even though they are human. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired to try and try again.

So did any of these books make YOUR list? What books would you pick if you could only pick 10 ministry books? And these books are, of course, in addition to your daily Bible reading/study. What books would you reread, recommend, can’t do without? Love and Happy Reading!

Trisha Peach, Author of “Your Children’s Ministry From Scratch” and “Your Children’s Ministry Beyond Basics”.

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We all have those special moments in life that stand out in our memory. This week I was delighted and honored to present 4 breakout at CMCONNECT Conference, a conference for children’s and family ministers and volunteers. I had a wonderful time connecting with dear friends in kid’s ministry as well as getting acquainted with new leaders as well. Here are a few of my favorite moments (things said by different leaders) at this year’s CMConnect Conference:

KidMin Charlie: “Everything I have was given to me by my Father. When I am done with my bus or a puppet, I give it away. My Father provided it, why should I charge for it? How many times does My Father need to pay for that puppet? My Father provided that resource and I will pass it along.”

Lori Bertram:

“Faithfully serve an audience of One. You are uniquely situated by God Himself to impact your corner of the globe. Lead from a genuine place.”

“I learned from David to have a heart similar to God, and to trust God’s timing. God gave David promises that were a long time coming. God has perfect timing and HE elevates us, not our own actions. Even during the times it doesn’t make sense, a leader like David waits on God. David went through 8 years of exile. God SCULPTS us in exile. David teaches us to honor people, honor friendships. He teaches us to have a repentant heart. We should repent of sin quickly and worship with abandon.”

“Moses taught me the importance of obedience. To lead, you must completely obey. God sculpted Moses in exile. You cannot lead in human strength; there must be humility. The more God elevates you and your ministry, the lonelier leadership gets. You do not get as many kudos and pats on the back as your leadership grows. Moses had a very tough last year of his life, last year of his ministry. During that year his sister died, there was no water for the people again, Moses lost his temper and angered God when Moses hit the rock and took credit, and then his brother Aaron died too. Obedience is really honoring God. Moses did not obey, he did not honor God in that instance. Did Moses desire human affirmation and feel the people deserved more of a reprimand? We need to know God’s voice. Sacrifice anything else in your life, but never sacrifice your devotional life. There is a specific mantle for YOUR life only. Your receive that mantle in prayer. Be patient with people. Moses teaches us to use a teach approach- EX 34:9-10. God wants to covenant with us, because He loves us so much.”

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I was honored and privileged to get a preview of Mark Harper’s brand new book  (just released on New Year’s Day, Jan 1, 2017) “The Red Book: the Life Blood of Children’s Ministry” all about the things that really matter the most in kid’s ministry- the “life blood” if you will. I so wish there had been a book like this when I was first getting into children’s ministry. Mark Harper of course, is the founder/author of the Super Church, known and used world wide.

I did not find any negatives as I read through it. It hooks you from Chapter One, and before you know it, you are half way through! But then you want to go back and reread several things. Mark Harper brings to bear his many decades of children’s ministry experience; and we get to benefit. The chapters are short enough to use as practical devotionals with your team. I love the fact that Mark pulls no punches and dives right into the tough topics we children’s leaders face, with several practical “how-to’s”. But the best part of the book, is that he brings it back around to “why we do, what we do.” He answers the question, “What is children’s ministry REALLY all about, underneath it ALL?” And his answer is “It’s about the gospel- It’s about the blood of Jesus.”

This is a must read for veterans and newcomers to children’s ministry alike. I think we all will find fresh inspiration to fuel our ministry to children, when we come back to the beauty and power of the Good News, and the Hope found only in the Jesus we know.

“The Red Book” by Mark Harper is available on Amazon, christianbook.com and more.

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On another note- I hope to see several of you at CPC Orlando this coming week. I am so excited for what God will do, re-energizing ministries, hearts and lives! I’ll be tweeting live when I can. Can’t wait!! Love Trisha

 

Each November, our family does something a little different for the whole month before Thanksgiving.

 I don’t know about you, but this year was a roller coaster at times of highs and bitter lows. Many people are expressing worry or trepidation about 2017. And it can become easy, to focus on the negative, or to take all the good in our lives for granted- to not realize the beauty in our lives until it’s gone.  Our American culture at times pushes us to be entitled, without even realizing it. We’ve all met children (and adults!) who are completely ungrateful and clueless as to what they already have.

So this November, I announced to our family, that we were going to cover a wall in our living room with butcher paper, and every single day before bed, we would write at least one thing we are thankful for. No repeats! So every day the four of us wrote at least one thing we were grateful for.  I got a box of brightly colored markers and we set up the large wall of paper.  At first I got a few lame excuses, “Oh mom, I don’t know what to write…..this is so different.”  But after the first night, everyone has been having fun with it. And the best part? We all have to walk past that wall so many times a day, and just seeing it, reminds us all how amazing God is. And I love seeing my kids stop to read everything on the wall before we thank God at the end of the night. That visible reminder of God’s goodness changes your view of everything else that day…..God tells us in His Word to be thankful, and grateful, no matter the circumstances. We are to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” in our homes, and we as parents lead the way. What has God done for you and your family this year? This is the perfect week to stop, remember and say, “Thank You Lord”.

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For many Americans the earth starting spinning in the other direction early this past Wednesday morning. Many woke up feeling that their whole world had changed over night. I have lived through 5 elections now, but I have NEVER seen or even heard of one quite like this past election. It is safe to say that our nation has not been this divided since the Civil War. For a year now, our TV screens, tablets, social media, radio etc etc have been bombarded by an avalanche of name calling, ugly ads, uncovered corruption, “secret emails” and “secret tapes.” The anger has boiled over in the ballot boxes and into the streets of our nation. I looked at five major newspaper headlines today, each asking the question, “What do we say to our kids about this election?” Many parents and children’s leaders are mulling that question over. Here are a few thoughts I have, as a parent of 2 children and a children’s pastor, teacher. After this election, Christian adults ARE:

1. Safe people for a child to ask questions, even tough ones. Unless your child is VERY VERY young, you will probably not be able to shield your child from hearing about the election. Both of my children came home from school talking about the lunch discussions with their friends. They saw several ads on youtube channels as well. I do not want my children to hear about it from everyone BUT me. I am deliberately initiating the tough conversations with my children, because I want them to know that I am a safe place to ask those questions. I do not want political questions to be off limits with my kids. With all that has gone on, and is still going on, they will have questions. In fact, we talked about the voting process, their rights and responsibilities as an American citizen. I even took them with me to the polling station so they could see how voting works.

2. Good citizens of whatever nation we live in (Mark 12). We are in the world, not of it, meaning we SHOULD be salt and light in American politics, without letting our culture of greed, anger, corruption taint us. This includes following laws, paying taxes, doing our due service and praying for those in authority.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:1-3

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” (1 Peter 2:13)

“We are also to pray for, and see the peace of the place God has us serving: “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

Jesus tells us to pay our taxes, and to help out if pressed into service (Mark 12). However, Jesus DID speak up with the governing authorities were mistreating others and abusing power (John 2:13-22, Luke 13:32, Luke 13:1. The Apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was about to be beaten/interrogated illegally (Acts 16:37)

3. Are accountable to GOD first. We are CHRISTIAN Americans, not American Christians. That means that if we must choose between what God has said and what our culture says, we will choose to do what God said. What is legal is not always right and vice versa. For example, slavery used to be legal, but it was still horribly wrong. It used to be legal to beat to your wife, trade your child for a horse etc. etc. The Bible teaches over and over again that we are accountable to God first. The early disciples said it best when they were threatening by the rulers and ordered to stop preaching Christ: “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts 5:29. The Apostle Peter states, “”Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among outsiders that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

4. Can be afraid, but choose to put their trust in God. I advise parents to be honest with their children when they are facing someone of great importance. It is a powerful thing for a child to hear their parent say, “Hey, I am scared in this situation too. But I know what the Bible says. And I chose to trust God.”A Good friend of mine put it this way: No matter who is President, God is on the throne. Nothing can change God’s plan as laid out in Revelation. He knows what He is doing. He is loving, and He cares about us so very much.

5. Leads by example. What do the children in my life see in my attitude and actions? Am I showing fear, rage? Am I showing trust, compassion? Our children often grow up to do as we do, not as we say. They may follow our actions right now. How will they react to this election? They are watching you for cues.

6. Prays for our government and for our leaders. EVEN IF THEY WEREN’T the ONES WE WANTED. This is especially hard for us as Americans. But the Bible is clear, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers,intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men 2for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.…” 1 Timothy 2:1. It is very hard to hate someone that you are praying for. I told my children, “I did not pray for our last President as much as I could have. But I am going to pray for whoever our new president is every single day.” And I am going to. And I want my kids to hear me pray. If I spent as much time praying as I have complaining, this nation would be a much better place for my kids.

7. Does not resort to ugly tactics when hurt, angry, confused. Remember, our kids are watching us, learning from us how to react to success and to hurt and to defeat. Are we taunting and teasing? Are we yelling? I believe our kids need to know that hurting others, threatening people, destroying things, demeaning others is never a way to handle emotions. We as parents and teachers have to show our kids a better way. We need to teach our kids to be change agents in this world, and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about effecting change.

That has been my strategy in these tough times- modeling prayer for our government, participation, a (hopefully) better attitude, and a heart willing to seek God’s will and do it.

I am not perfect, and I know I will stumble, but that can be a good lesson too. God using each of us, in our brokenness, to work His will here on earth.

So, have you had “the talk” with your kids about the election? How did it go? What strategies do you recommend?

Praying for God’s peace, compassion and healing in tough times, Trisha

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How you noticed that this is election has become all about personalities and not issues? I have heard it said that more than any other election in history, this vote is about who people are voting AGAINST, not what issues we are voting FOR.  I propose that every American should vote, not for or against a personality, but for the issues that matter the most for our faith, our families and our future.

Our future starts with educating ourselves on the issues at hand. And I do not mean just glancing at CNN once in awhile. Like it or not, one of these candidates will choose up to 5 Supreme Court justices, whose decisions on several pending cases WILL greatly affect churches, denominations, Christian schools and colleges. Yes, I believe God is Sovereign- but I also believe we need to stop jumping off of high places expecting angels to catch us before we hit the ground. We have to do our part, educate ourselves, and vote.

I have been researching the issues at stake for awhile now, and I do have to say, I am surprised at the conflicting information, or missing information out there in the media. It can be difficult to get a concise, side by side look at what each candidate really stands for. So, I am compiling one here for your convenience, and I will list my sources at the end for your own reading/research. Feel free to discuss, share as you wish. These are not in any order of importance.

1. School Choice. This one is very dear to my heart. School Choice means that the parent is allowed the right to choose the school that they consider to be best for their child. This includes public schools, private schools, charter schools, Christian schools, home schooling etc. Several states offer voucher programs in support of parent school choice.

Trump: He is very pro-school choice. He believes that no one school system works for every child, and that competition will help the schools improve (I do not know if I agree with that part. Anyone have any information on school competition and quality of schools?)

Clinton: She used to be pro school choice, but in order to get the endorsement of the teacher’s union this year, she had to agree to be anti school choice in all of its forms. Her current position is: “I want parents to be able to exercise choice within the public school system – not outside of it.” She goes on to say that other forms of education may support “values that are not America.” So support for, and legal rights for anything outside of the public schools may be soon to fade away.

2. Death penalty- Surprisingly, both candidates are pro-death penalty.

3. Abortion-

Trump- He is not for abortion rights, and has states he would like to see Roe v Wade repealed. He is also for an end to late term abortions and partial birth abortions. He does say he supports abortion in the case of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Clinton- She used to be against abortion. In the past few years, her stance has changed to be very pro abortion in any form, and for any reason- late term, partial birth abortion etc.  “I have been proud to stand with Planned parenthood for a long time and, as president, I will always have your back,” Hillary said. “We need to protect Planned Parenthood from partisan attacks (defunding).” She was also on video recently stating, “The unborn person does not have Constitutional rights.”

4. Gun Rights-

Trump-He is for unlimited gun rights and opposes any new restrictions.

Clinton-She strongly opposes gun ownership rights. She claims guns are responsible for the wave of violence in our nation right now. In a recent speech, Hillary claimed that the 2nd Amendment was one of a “few” amendments, that needed to be “looked at again” in the light of modern cultural changes. Which ones? What exactly are we “rethinking”?

5. Lawsuits pending against churches, denominations, and Christian schools

Under Obama’s controversial Title IX law, there are currently a tidal wave of law suits “on hold” against religious organizations over transgender bathroom issues, refusals to marry gay couples or offer gay couples married housing etc. The Christian groups are claiming religious freedom/religious right to object. Whomever is appointed to the Supreme Court will decide the outcome of all these cases and the many to come.

Trump- He plans to appoint conservative judges who will lean towards protecting religious rights.

Clinton- She plans to appoint Progressive liberal judges who will vote that non-discrimination rites override religious objection. She says the first judge she plans to appoint is Barack Obama. This will be a radical left turn for our nation. “Open season” on churches and Christian schools to say the least. I do not think that some of our Christian colleges will be able to stay open. In response to those objecting to paying for abortions, citing their religious convictions, Clinton responded, “Deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to change.”

6.  National security/terrorism-

Our nation is facing an unprecedented wave of terrorism and violence. Every single day there is more death and tragedy.

Trump- Prides himself on being the “law and order” candidate. He promises to support police, spend more on our military, be “tougher” on violent crime. He has been endorsed by our largest national police society ‘The Fraternal Order of Police.” Every presedential candidate except Clinton has actively sought this endorsement.

Clinton- She believes that our police are biased, whether intentially or unintentionally, perpetuating systemic racism in our country. Her plan involved “reeducation” for police officers nation wide to be more tolerant. She has stated that she believes that crime nationally is better than it has been and is improving. Clinton believes that the violence in our nation is due to racism and guns, and that by reducing the number of guns across our country, we can reduce the violence.

7. Immigration-

Trump- He is against allowing illegal aliens to remain in the country (amnesty). He is against providing monetary benefits to illegal aliens. He has been VERY vocal about enforcing stronger borders (even a wall). Trump does NOT believe our nation is vetting immigrants very well. He has proposed limiting or excluding Muslim immigrants, either refugee or migrant, from “terror” nation, at the very least until we can come up with a safer vetting system. He has said that he would support a faster path to legal immigration and would continue taking in the same number of immigrants as in years before, but not from “terror” areas.

Clinton- She has been instrumental in helping Obama bring in the first 11,000 Syrian Muslim refugees. She has promised to continue Obama’s policy (even though it has been vigorously criticized by Congress). But she claims that Obama has not gone anywhere near far enough in bringing in Muslim migrants. She has promised to assist her friend Angela Merkel, in bringing over “at least” another 160,000 in the first year of her presidency. Her overall goal is bring in ONE MILLION Muslim migrants in her first term alone. She believes our current vetting process is working well. The cost of Clinton’s plan will be 400 BILLION for U.S. taxpayers to pay. Clinton proposes allowing illegal immigrants to stay, be given amnesty and full benefits.

8. Voting rights-

Trump- He wants stricter regulations on voting. He has expressed concerns on voter fraud. He is against allowing illegal immigrants or felons to vote.

Clinton- She is against stronger regulations on voting. She is for voting rights for felons, inmates and illegal immigrants.

9. Taxes-

Both candidates are for higher taxes on the rich.

Trump is for lower taxes on businesses (in an attempt to bring jobs back to the U.S.) He wants higher taxes on foreign businesses for the same reason.

Clinton’s tax plan will impact the rich, certainly, but taxes for everyone will have to go up some in order to pay for 100 million migrants. Taxes on the middle class will “ONLY” increase by “0.6 percent” is the plan.

10. Defeating Isis-

Both candidates are for partnering with Russia to attack Isis. Neither candidate wishes to send in a ground invasion of troops into Syria to defeat Isis.

Trump- He has been secretive as to his strategies. He has been critical of our current generals. What we know of Trump’s plan, is that he wants to send in Navy Seal and Special Forces teams to wipe out Isis.

Clinton-She has stated that she will continue to do what we have been doing under Obama. She will partner with other Muslim nations in the area, gather intelligence and continue drone strikes of the area. (Drone strikes have been very controversial lately, because the U.S. has repeatedly accidently killed innocent women and children- literally hundred to thousands in the last 4 years).

 

So these are the 10 key reasons I MUST vote in this crucial election seasons. I am not voting for a personality. I am not voting for a perfect person. I am voting based on my conscience, a lot of prayer, and a lot of research. These 10 keys are far to crucial to ever let slide by. What keys are driving YOU this election? Did I miss any of yours? Please check out my sources below for more information. Keep educating yourself, register and get out to vote!

SOURCES

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-clintons-school-choice-1470000357

http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/07/14/clinton-resettle-one-million-muslim-migrants-first-term-alone/

Hillary’s Refugee Proposal Would Run Taxpayers $400 Billion

Hillary Clinton Tells Planned Parenthood: “As President I Will Always Have Your Back”

Hillary Says Americans Will Have to Change Their Personal and Religious Beliefs

https://www.myheritage.org/news/why-parents-should-be-able-to-choose-their-childrens-school/

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/10/03/supreme-court-cautious-on-new-cases-as-term-begins-under-cloud-vacancy-politics.html#

http://ijr.com/2016/09/697757-hillary-blames-systemic-racism-for-tulsa-police-shooting-it-appears-something-else-was-in-his-system/

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/the-obama-administrations-drone-strike-dissembling/473541/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/06/06/four-ways-president-hillary-clinton-will-work-to-end-gun-ownership.html

http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2016-03-16/clintons-position-on-schools-creates-barriers-not-opportunity

http://presidential-candidates.insidegov.com/compare/40-70/Hillary-Clinton-vs-Donald-Trum

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/04/03/hillary-clinton-unborn-person-doesnt-constitutional-rights/

Ashton1

Meet Ashton. He’s not even 13 yet, but he’s on a mission. Ashton loves Jesus with all his heart. His parents consistently show him the love of Jesus, and teach him to actively love others. Ashton’s family is active in their church and community, serving as a family in Convoy of Hope, Kid’s Against Hunger, Love Your City Outreaches and more.

But this young man is not content with helping and serving his community one in awhile. He has a passion to rally other young people to make a difference! He is bursting with creative ideas- and HE’S NOT about to wait until he’s 18 to get started!

I met Ashton several years ago when I was children’s pastor at his church in Dayton, Ohio. We started a special segment in kid’s church called, “Ask Ashton” that became quite a hit. “Ask Ashton” would feature young Ashton on video, as our “reporter on the street” answering questions that the kids sent in, using Bible verses- especially our verse of the day.

These days, Ashton has stepped out even further in his love for Jesus and for his community. Ashton had the idea to start his own outreach team- AC Projects- with its own website, to rally young people in his area to do service projects, helping those in need in his community. When I visited Dayton last June, he was already meeting with groups of children in his area brainstorming projects and needs they could meet. This is the mission statement they came up with:

AC Projects NEXT is about helping homeless and elderly people with their every day chores. Like Mowing, Planting , or anything like that. We have teams all over huber AC Projects the date that we are starting is on our home page. Life could be great if only our world was more colorfun please help out AC NEXT!

But his vision is far bigger even than that. Someday Ashton dreams about coordinating groups of kids in many locations, all reaching out to serve their communities with the love of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and forbid them not.” I believe this includes showing them how to reach out beyond our church walls. This means letting them use their God given creativity. This means teaching them, and letting them lead. There is a lot of debate right now as to how to retain more of our kids in our churches after 6th grade, 12 grade and beyond. As you probably know, too many churches experience a massive dropoff and dropout of kids as soon as they leave kid’s church. To me, one of the biggest reasons that kids choose to STAY in church in that they are INVOLVED. It isn’t just their families church anymore. It’s THEIR church. They are needed and engaged in teaching, serving others.

So Ashton, I’m so proud of you. God has such great things in store for you in the future. Keep using your gifts and passion for Jesus! Go Ashton!

Wanna check out what Ashton has been up to? Check out his website-http://djmanashton.wix.com/ac-projects today and please drop him a line of encouragement and prayer for the ministry he is doing at such a young age.

Love Pastor Trisha

ashton2http://djmanashton.wix.com/ac-projects