Do people see Jesus in your life?

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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The next three posts in this series are going to address the second in ‘E’ in Raising Gen-Next Christians: Exemplify: Demonstrating how a Christian ought to live. Before launching into the mechanics of how to be an example to our children, new Christians and other believers, we need to address who our example ought to be.

Several years ago, there was a commercial on TV in which a young boy was following his father everywhere and attempting to imitate him in every way. Continue reading

Expanding the Core: Building relationships with Christians in the Church

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

~ 1 Corinthians 13.1-3, ESV

The elderly man tottered slowly into the foyer of the church building. He looked over his shoulder and glimpsed the bumper of his son’s Honda as it pulled away from the curb. Small knots of people were scattered around the warmly-lit entrance.

A deep sigh escaped from the depth of his soul. Being old was the pits. Just a few weeks ago he was living in his own apartment. A young couple would come every Friday to visit and take him out to run errands. On Saturday’s he had bible class with a family. Tuesdays he’d go fishing with Clive. The church had been so supportive and loving. Then, one Thursday evening, his whole life was turned upside down. His shaky legs finally gave out on him and the next thing he knew, he was staring up at those cold glaring hospital lights. Charlie’s son had flown down from Washington to make sure he was ok. A week later, all his worldly goods were boxed up and moved to a little room in his son’s house, over 800 miles away from all his friends and brethren in the church. Continue reading

Forming Relationships with New Christians

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(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

The young man sat statue-like in the pew, observing the various chattering knots of people. There were hugs exchanged, hands waving, and smiling faces. Three weeks had elapsed since he was baptized. He was supposed to be “part” of this group now, and yet he still felt like an outsider.

The first week, there had been an outpouring of congratulations, exuberance and introductions. He definitely didn’t know more than a handful of names yet. As the weeks had trickled by, he was just… well… he was just there. The sermons were still excellent, but the preacher assumed that everyone in the audience knew all this stuff. He shook his head with a small chuckle. He still couldn’t find books like—what was it—Habakkuk? Well, it was something like that. The Bible classes were hard to keep up with too. A lot of the discussion was over his head. Maybe his friends at college were right. Maybe this was a joke. It was as if his conversion was the end-goal and now these Christians didn’t care if he was here or gone. Continue reading

Engage: Building Meaningful Relationships with our Children (Raising GenNext)

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Last week I kicked off a series on raising the next generation of Christians. (You can read it here). In this series, we will be covering the 6 E’s of raising Gen-Next Christians: Engage, Exemplify, Equip, Entrust, Edify, and Entreat. Each “E” will contain about 3 articles as we will address raising children, training new Christians, and helping each other grow. Today’s article will cover building relationships with children in our congregations.

A Barna Group study reported in 2013, states, “Seven out of 10 Millennials who dropped out of church did not have a close friendship with an adult and nearly nine out of ten never had a mentor at the church.” Furthermore, they report “Those who stay were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church (59% of those who stayed report such a friendship versus 31% among those who are no longer active). The same pattern is evident among more intentional relationships such as mentoring—28% of Millennials who stay had an adult mentor at the church other than their pastor, compared to 11% of dropouts who say the same.”

As that study indicates, relationships are not a guarantee that children raised by Christians will remain in the church, but it is apparent that meaningful relationships influence that choice. Continue reading

Happy Father’s Day!

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Strong fathers are the pillars of their families. They train and discipline, they show their children how a woman ought to be treated, they reflect God in a positive light, and they lay down their own desires to care for their families.

Strong Fathers are priceless.

Continue reading

GenNext: Raising up Christians who know the Lord

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STOP! Don’t skip this post—it isn’t just about raising kids!

For the next several weeks, we will be focusing on the importance of equipping children, new Christians, and current Christians to be pivotal members of the body of Christ.

The church is in crisis. The number of people identifying as Christians is dwindling. Pew-warmers seek entertainment, and feel-good messages rather than biblical literacy. Young people are leaving the faith in droves despite targeted “programs.” Church leaders are baffled.  Continue reading

Why “going through the motions” is necessary at times

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There is a popular song that plays occasionally on the Christian radio station called “The Motions.” I had to look up the lyrics because I could only remember the chorus (even after I looked them up, they made little sense to me). This is how the chorus goes:

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me

I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything
Instead of going through the motions?

(Full lyrics can be read here.)

Not to slaughter anyone’s sacred cow (or song), but this song has got it backwards. Continue reading

Three mechanics of monetary giving

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For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs…

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

1 Timothy 6.10, 17-19, ESV

Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money certainly is!

Money tends to bring out the worst side of people, and Christians are not immune. Currency is necessary to spread the gospel and is not, in and of itself, evil. Trouble arises when people selfishly withhold their money, give to be praised by others, or give in order to grow their prominence and influence within the church.

How much one gives to the church or to anyone in need is not a matter of quantity, but the quality of the heart with which it was given. We must all carefully examine our own hearts and minds, knowing that God sees what nobody else can.

When I was a young adult, I didn’t how much I should give or how to work it in to my life effectively. I gave rather sporadically as my limited funds allowed and was rather ashamed of my inconsistent giving. My intention was always to give more, but then some unexpected expense would arise and I’d have to hold back. This is what I have learned in the intervening years: effective giving happens through intentional planning rather than good intentions.

So, how do we do this without being Ebenezer Scrooge or living in a commune? Continue reading

Finish strong (Day 26 of the #encourage marathon)

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Welcome to the finish line! We made it to the end of our marathon! Continue reading

Help! I need somebody, not just anybody… (Day 25 of the #encourage marathon)

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I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121, ESV

Welcome to mile marker 25 of the #encourage marathon! (If you missed yesterday’s post, you can read it here.)

Someone out there is struggling alone. (At least, they feel alone…) It might even be you.

If you’ve ever heard the Beatles’ song “Help!” You’ll recognize their lyrics in the title. We do need help from “somebody,” and not just “anybody.” We need help from the Lord.

When life gets hard—it does, and it will, if it hasn’t already—we find ourselves in a state of loneliness. Our eyes and heart look down, our feeling of isolation grows, and we cast desperately about for support. The danger is in looking for help in all the wrong places—drugs, alcohol, friends, weapons, etcetera. Hills may offer high ground and hiding places, but they are incomparable to strongest helper of all—the Lord.

How is the Lord a strong helper?

He made heaven and earth.

There is a tendency to gloss over this point. Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the earth and the far more incomprehensible reaches of the universe. Yeah, the God that I serve made all that. Now, flip that around and consider the invisible atom or the microbes that can only be observed under high-powered microscopes. The God I serve is so observant, that he knows the number of all those trillions of microscopic entities. No problem of ours is so great he cannot tackle it, nor so minor that it escapes His notice.

He doesn’t sleep.

When the prophet Elijah stood on Mount Carmel and defied the prophets of Baal, he had a good laugh when they made futile supplications to a non-existent God. “Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18.27)

Our God never has to be roused to hear our prayer. He knows what we need before we ask Him; He just waits for us to bring our troubles. While we are asleep, God is still working. He never sits idle.

He is our keeper.

A keeper is, by definition, a guardian or caretaker. God is our guardian. The remainder of the Psalm emphasizes some of the ways in which God guards and cares for us. He watches our goings and comings and is concerned with every moment of our life, and the lives of the billions of people around us. Warren Wiersbe writes,

“In writing about the sun and the moon, the psalmist was saying several things. To begin with, in that part of the world, the burning sun is menacing (2 Kings 4:18-19Jonah 4:8), but at night, the sudden drop in temperature is both uncomfortable and unhealthy, if you lack warm covering. Day and night, our Father is with us to shelter us from that which could harm us. The Jewish people followed a lunar calendar (81:3), so the writer was also referring to days (the sun) and months (the moon). From day to day, from month to month, from season to season (Gen. 1:16-18), from year to year, our Father is with us in the many challenges and changes of life.(To read more, click this link to visit Bible Gateway.)

Are you seeking help from God first or do you come to Him only at the end of your tether?

Go to the One who is all-powerful, all-seeing, and far wiser than any human who has ever, or will ever, live upon this earth.

It could be today you feel alone and helpless. No mountain is too isolated, no storm too strong, no prison so impenetrable that God cannot reach you.


It’s almost over! Tomorrow we reach the finish line of our 26-day #encourage marathon! I hope you will join me on FacebookTwitter and here at Elihu’s Corner as we reach the end.

Feel free to download and share the graphics of these verses/passages on your Twitter feed or Facebook page with the hash tag (#encourage), or email them to a friend who needs encouragement.

Make some time to copy down these posts. Some of them are a bit long, but it only takes a few minutes. Ask your kids to do it with you. Don’t just be encouraged, encourage others!

If you missed the original post listing all 26 passages, click here to download the PDF list. All these posts will be available here under the #encourage tag. You can also type #encourage in the search window at the top of the page.

Continue reading