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Obamacare and Christians

Obamacare and christians

A new ruling to the National Health program has just recently been made making even the nuns who are serving the poor provide access to contraceptives and even abortion-causing drugs. This is currently causing tensions and issues between the government and Christians, including faith-based organizations like “Little Sisters of the Poor,” to name one of dozens that filed against the Obama administration.

THE ISSUE

The issue between the church and state has always existed not only now but also during the early times. The problem is that the new law makes Christian organizations comply in paying for abortion-causing drugs or face IRS penalties. The nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor feel that the government demands they choose between their care for the elderly poor and their faith, which they cannot do and should not have to.

Why Christian Organizations are Reacting

Christian organizations are reacting over recent rulings to the National Health Program for a several reasons:

  1. Life during conception.

Most Christians strongly believe that there’s life after fertilization. The Bible speaks clearly talks about life before a child is even born. The Bible says in Jeremiah 1:5 that “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This verse is one of the many verses in the Bible that talks about life even during conception. Most Christians are pro-life and will definitely not support any program that has something to do with aborting a life in progress.

  1. Abortion is killing.

Most Christians believe that when a life inside the womb is aborted it means killing. Killing is a sin, and sin is anything that we do that doesn’t please God. Abortion involves shedding of an innocent blood. Deuteronomy 27:25 says “Cursed is anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Furthermore, Exodus 20:13 says “You shall not murder.” This law is specifically given by God to us and is part of the 10 commandments and since we believe that there’s life during conception, aborting it means stopping the life inside a mother’s womb and is therefore considered killing. And supporting a law that allows abortion-causing drugs can mean support abortion itself.

  1. Abortion belittles human life.

Human life is very precious to God. In fact, during His 6-day creation in Genesis, he only called his work “very good” after he created man – who was created after His own image and likeness. Human life has a great value in the sight of God that in fact, He instituted the Death Penalty for anyone who takes the life of another (“Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death” – Exodus 21:12).

  1. Abortion brings heartache and regrets.

Many people later regretted at one point that they underwent abortion; some don’t even want to talk about it. In the book, The Christian and Social Issues, by Tom Wallace, a reference is made to a full page Washington Post ad, dated June 13, 1983. A lady who had undergone a saline abortion six months earlier describes the mental torments that she now suffers every day. She speaks of her “…everyday hell of never hearing a baby cry without crying within myself; counting days to see how old the baby would have been; wondering what contributions my baby would have made to our desperate society; and wondering if there will ever be another chance for motherhood.” Abortion can bring regrets for the rest of a mother’s life.

Supporting the recent rulings to Obamacare program is just wrong for all Christian-based organizations. Christians feel like they’re being forced to follow the new law and forget about their conscience and what they believe, otherwise, they will have to face the penalties for not following the new government law.

Even in the past, there has already been a tension between the Church and the state which was why the previous government leaders carefully place their federal laws, making sure they do not violate any Christian beliefs, otherwise, it will cause debates and endless opposing ideas. The new National Health program law though, seem to have currently violated Christian beliefs, which in turn made Christian organizations react and oppose this way.

Conclusion:

Romans chapter 13 verses 1-7 talks about submission to governing authorities. It says:

“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 rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

However, what would you do when the state laws start opposing what God’s command is? The answer can also be found in the bible. Apostle Peter in Acts 5:29 say, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” This is why it is very much understandable why many Christian organizations oppose the new Obamacare law. They don’t want to be forced to do what they know is clearly wrong for a very long time.

Other articles worth checking out:

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Stand firm in the faith

What does it mean to stand firm in the faith and how can we teach children to stand firm in the faith?  In Matthew Jesus says that now all seed that is sown will bare fruit.stand firm in the faith

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.  As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” – Matthew 13: 4-9 NLT

Why and what can we do to prevent that in our lives and in the lives of our children?

Later on in Matthew Jesus gives explains the parable and also gives us instructions about what we can do to stand firm in the faith.

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.  The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 18-23

Each of the seeds that did not take root could have a different outcome.  From a personal standpoint that is telling me that I need to study God’s Word until it sinks in, making it a priority even when I  don’t understand it.  From the church standpoint, who is charged with making disciples we need to encourage seekers and young Christians to get involved in a Bible study put God’s Word into their hearts.

Here are a few things I have found that help me stand firm in the faith:

  • Take walks and listen to the Bible.  I have the Bible app downloaded onto my iPhone.  It has tons of translations and many have the audio version that you can listen to.  Sometimes when I’m walking my mind will start to wonder.  I stop, pray and refocus on God’s Word.  That seems to work for me.
  • Memorize Scripture – I’m not nearly as good at it as I was when I was younger.  I notice it not only in memorizing Scripture but in listening to music also.  Songs that were  popular in the 60s and 70s I know word for word.  Current songs – well it is getting harder.
  • Pray and spend time with God.  The older I get the less I like to waste time, probably because I now have less of it.  Spending time with God improves my attitude and gives me peace and strength to deal with the challenges I’m facing.
  • Slow down and do what is important.  We’ve become a very busy and connected world but so much of the stuff is just that, stuff that will not make any difference if we stop.
  • Listen to sermons by pastors who are passionate about following Jesus.  Before the internet you heard one sermon a week unless you tuned into one of the TV evangelists.  Now millions of sermons are available on iTunes Podcasts or YouTube.  I’ve found a few of my favorite that I listen to on a regular basis, one that I have included below.
  • Keeping it fresh.  It is easy to turn your relationship with Jesus into something that is mechanical and loose the passion.  It is human nature.  It can happen with all relationships.  Remember when you first met your spouse.  You probably wanted to spend every minute with them.  Keeping that spark alive in your marriage, with your children and with God takes work and commitment.

Don’t give up.  Run the race.  Paul said at the end of his life:  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. – 2 Timothy 4:7.

Comments are always welcome.  Consider sharing it with your friends.

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Online advertising for non-profits

If you are a non-profit you may have noticed that your clients, members and potential donors are all moving online.  If this is making it more difficult to get your message out, we might just have some good news for you and it comes direct from Google.

Google Grants for Non-Profits

Online Advertising for non-profits

Google Grants for Non-Profits is a grant available to 501C corporations in the United States.  Non-profits that are not allowed to participate include:

  • Governmental entities and organizations;
  • Hospitals and health care organizations;
  • Schools, childcare centers, academic institutions, and universities (philanthropic arms of educational organizations are eligible).

If your church or non-profit qualifies they will receive $10,000 a month in free Google Advertising.  For many non-profits that could be a game changer.  Imagine your local paper giving you $10,000 a month in free advertising?  The advertising Google can give you is more targeted and direct which means you’ll reach more customers through Google than through your local paper.

The money needs to be spent on Google’s advertising program called Adwords and cannot be used with any Adwords partners but hey Google is the most visited website in the world and gets a ton of traffic.

To apply or find out more, click this link.  What have you got to loose except a few minutes of your time?  What you have to gain could be a game changer for your organization.

My mind is buzzing thinking about the non-profits I know who could benefit from this.  If you know an organization that would benefit from Google for Non-Profits, send this this link.

We’ve also written about how Facebook Ads can help you reach your community.  Our posts were aimed at reaching people who had just moved into your community and how churches can reach people for Trunk or Treat or Fall events but the principles and actions would be the same for a non-profit who wanted to reach a certain demographic. Online advertising for non-profits needs to be done in order to reach new people.  If your organization qualifies Google for non-profits will help you achieve those goals.

Related articles you might want to check out:

How churches can reach the community for Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat. (and how a non profit can use Facebook to reach their ideal donor)

How churches can use Facebook to reach people who have moved.

 

 

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Helping children become disciples of Christ

There is nothing parents can do that is more important than helping children become disciples of Christ and there are a lot of people who will have a hand in achieving this goal.  Parents are the most influential, especially in the early years along with Sunday School teachers and if your child goes to a Christian school, teachers.

Helping children become disciples of Christ

 

Other influences include:

  • Youth group counselors can play a major role in helping children become disciples of Christ during middle and early high school years
  • Friends.  It may be hard to control who they select as friends but parents can exert an influence which will pay off.  Your kids are more than likely to end up looking like their friends rather than their friends looking like them.
  • Music can have a profound influence on children as they grow up.  Encourage them to listen to music that is positive and uplifting.  Christian music is available in all types of styles now so encourage kids to find a style that they like.
  • God.  Look for opportunities for God to influence kid’s lives.  Only he has the power to make a permanent change in their lives.  God can work in a variety of ways so pray for your child daily and open up your eyes to opportunities.  Mission trips where kids get to see what life is like in other countries can have a profound influence on their life.  Reading their Bible, praying, serving the needy locally and attending a Christian concert can all influence their life.
  • Encourage your children to memorize Scripture.  This is easier to start when they are young but it is still possible even if kids are now teens.  At Memory Cross we have developed a fun way to help children put God’s Word into their heart.  Click this link for more information.

  • Parents.  I know I said it before but the way you live your life and the passion you have for following Jesus, kids will see and respond to that.  Read your Bible every day, pray all the time, and spend time with your kids.  If you are having a hard time reading your Bible install the Bible App on your phone and listen to God’s word on your commute to work or when you are working around the house or working out.  It make a difference, try it.
  • Sunday School teachers – If you teach Sunday School, don’t look at it as a job but a tremendous opportunity to help make disciples.  You have one hour a week to teach them what it means to become a disciple of Christ.  Don’t waste this opportunity.

If you don’t think you can make a difference in a child’s life watch the video.  If you are struggling with kids who have not turned their life over to God and who are living out of control our prayers are with you.  I’ve been there and I know that it is not easy.  Don’t stop praying and exposing them to God influences.  Find people who can support you and pray that God will work in your child’s life.  Ask others to pray for you and your children.

Helping children become disciples of Christ is by far the most important thing we can give to our children so don’t give up.

If you have resources or comments that you’d like to share, please post them in the comment section.

 

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How to promote Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat

If your church is having a fall festival or trunk or treat and want to invite the community we’ve put together some of the best ways to promote it in 2015.  Traditional methods have not changed much but the internet and Facebook in particular has changed a lot since 2014.  At the bottom I’ll provide links to articles we wrote in 2013 and 2014.  They are short and still have a lot of relevant information.

How to promote a Fall Festival or Trunk or Treat in 2015

Facebook is the most effective way for most churches to reach people for any event including Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats.   Around 70% of the entire U.S. population is on Facebook and the percentage is higher among young families, which is the group you are most likely trying to reach.  Facebook has changed in the past year and posting an announcement without promoting it will no longer be effective but by paying to promote the announcement you can reach the exact people who are most likely to attend.  We’re already created a post on how to create a Facebook ad which you can find here.  The post was written to help churches reach new movers but the information is the same.  You just need to change the demographics which I’ve listed below.

Under who do you want to reach, select the city or zip codes you want, age group and whether they have kids and the ages.  Facebook will show you how many people they have that match your demographics.  I made a screen shot as a visual reference.  Everything else in our post on advertising on Facebook will be the same.

How to promote a Fall Festival or trunk or treat

Plan to run your ad 10-15 days before the event and set it to expire the day of the event.  Set the amount you want to spend each day and you’ll see approximately how many people Facebook will show your ad to each day.  One of the nice things about online advertising is you get to set how much you want to pay each day.

I recommend that you create a Facebook post with a link to your website and promote the post.  Ask church members to like and share the post.  That will tell Facebook that this event is important and they will not only show it organically (for free!!) but will charge you less for clicks that you do receive.

Promote on your website and blog

This is a good free way to let people know about your event.  List the date, time and address of the event with city and state along with details and pictures from last year’s event.  Link to it from your Facebook page post, the one you created above.  Now go to Pingler and ping the two pages.  To do that click on the announcement on your webpage and copy the URL at the top of your browser.  That is what you’ll copy into Pingler.  Make the keyword “Fall Festival city state” or “Trunk or treat city state”.  In the category select “news”.   Pingler will then send out your pages to a number of search engines, and news feeds that will help rank the page and make it more visible on the web.

Promote Church Pingler

Craig’s List and other local event listing sites

Craig’s list allows you to post your event for free and you’ll be amazed at how many people visit this site looking for things to do.  Craig’s list is not one site but hundreds so Google Craig’s list or go to www.craigslist.org and you should arrive at your local Craig’s List.  Click posts to classified and then event/class (last one on the list) and then I’m advertising an event other than the above (last one).  You’ll then be taken to a listing page where you can put the information about the event.    I believe that you can list a link to your blog post or site that has more information (http://www.your-church.com).  There are also a number of other free listings available in your area but since each city has different ones Google “free places to list events, city state” or “places to list events, city, state” if you don’t mind paying a small fee.

Promoting Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats using videos

The internet is moving toward video and you can take advantage of this by creating a video about your Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat and posting it on YouTube, Facebook and GodTube.  For Facebook upload the video and write a description, in this case about your Fall Festival.  Encourage members to like and share the video.  You can also spend more to promote it.  The cost to promote it is low and you can put a link for more information at the end of the video.  The video will get more views if you keep it around 3 minutes.

For YouTube and GodTube follow these instructions when uploading.  They will vary some so I wrote the instructions for YouTube since it gets much more traffic.  You can use the same video.

  •  When you upload the video keep it unlisted until you are have the information that follows completed.
  • First your church should have a YouTube channel.  If you don’t check out this video.
  • Next you’ll want to put the following information in the description:  Title of video (in this case Trunk or Tread, name of church city and state).  Right underneath that put the link to the page on your website that has more information.  Now put a brief description of the event and include the city, state, and date of the event.  Encourage people to leave a comment by posting: leave your comment below.  Then you can post a link to another video or encourage them to subscribe to your channel and finally put the link to your church website.  Now put keywords in the tags section.  (fall festival, trunk or treat, Halloween, etc.)
  • You now want to click on the button that says “cards”.  That will allow you to create a link that goes to your website.
  • You are ready to make it public and here is where you need the help from your church because the video needs to have some views to rank, especially in the first 24 hours.  It is a great idea if you have a group of people who agree to help with church outreach by watching videos that are put up.  If you have an email program create a list and add everyone who agrees to that list.  Then email them the link once the video is up and live.  If you don’t yet have this list post the video on Your churches Facebook page and ask people to watch the video.
  • Hopefully it will start ranking now only in YouTube but also on Google.
  • You can also advertise the video on YouTube.  You’ll need a Adwords account but the link will walk you through that.  If you want to know more about how to get views on YouTube take a look at the video below.  I have taken several of James Wedmore’s courses and he gives practical information that has value.

 

 Advertise on Google

Finally you can advertise on Google.  It is the reverse of Facebook advertising.  Using Facebook you find people who match your demographic and then show ads to them.  With Google you put your ad in front of people who are searching for specific keywords.  I’m not going into a lot of details here because I think there are better ways to reach people for Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats but if you have the budget (you get to set it) and want to try advertising here is a quick guideline.

  • Find the keywords that people are looking for.  You’ll need an Adwords account and when you log in click Keyword planner tool on the top right hand side.  You can then search for keywords and see how many searches are done nationally.  Keywords that you’ll probably want to target will be: Alternative Halloween, Halloween events, Trick or Treat events, Trunk or Treat, What’s happening in city.  Make sure when you create an ad that you tell it to only show up in your area.  You don’t want to pay for ads that are showing up thousands of miles away.

Other articles you might want to check out

If you have ideas or suggestions, write a comment.  We’d like to know what other churches are doing to reach others with the Gospel during the Fall and check out some of the amazing tracts that are available from Memory Cross.

 

 

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New Gospel Tract for kids

We’re working on a new Gospel tract for kids and we would like your opinion.  This is the copy only for each panel.  We will have our artist create the images after the final copy is completed.  The tract will be in black and white so kids can color it.  The tract can be used for outreach events such as fall festivals, Trunk or Treats, mission trips and possibly in Sunday School or Children’s church.

You can download a copy of this tract by clicking here.  If you get pop-up message that asks you to sign up for DropBox you can close it and download the PDF.  Thank you for posting your suggestions and comments.

Review-God-has-a-plan-for-your-life-large

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Evangelism using Facebook: How to reach new movers

Online evangelism using Facebook

Facebook is the most powerful advertising platforms available.  You can use it to reach almost anyone in any location.  Today I’m going to talk about how a church can use Facebook to reach people who have recently moved into their community at a cost any church can afford.  While this article was created to show churches how to reach new movers if you stumbled across it and own a business this information will benefit you also.

First you need a Facebook Fan Page.  If you have not set one up yet, click this link to get started.  The process is simple and Facebook has created a tutorial to help walk you through it.  You don’t need any fans to run an ad and you don’t have to send them to your Facebook page.  If you would like more resources in setting up a Fan Page check out this HubSpot page.

Reaching new movers with Facebook

Ready to get started?  Go to Facebook for Business Advertising.  You’ll arrive at the page below.

Evangelism using facebook

Click on the link that says create ad. You’ll be taken to a page that asks you what your objective is.  If you hover over each you’ll get a little description that will help you decide.  My recommendation is take them to the page where you have posted the information you want to share.  That could be your Facebook Fan Page if you created a post that has all the information and maybe a link to your website.

Advertise on Facebook

It will ask you to select the Fan Page you want to promote.  It will next ask what audience do you want to reach.  Select the city or zip codes that are appropriate for your church.  You can select the age range, language and other information.  In behaviors select residential profile and then select new mover and recent home buyer.  There are a ton of other options that in most cases would not apply to a church but if you are a business these options could be really interesting.  For example if you owned a used car dealership you could select people who are shopping for a used car.  Other options include their financial status, interests, and much more.

New movers FacebookI’ve select the options that interest me which are people who live close to my church who have recently moved.  You can select the radius around the city or zip code that you want to reach.  The default is 25 miles but you can set it to 0, 5, 10, 25, 50 or custom. In this example I left it at 25 miles and have 7.700 people I can potentially reach.  Next it will ask me how much I want to spend per day in advertising and how long I want the ad to run.  Facebook will then give me the estimated number of people who will see my ad each day.  I selected $10 per day and Facebook says I should reach 1,100 to 2,800 people each day.

I recommend running your add for one week even if you have created a generic one that will be good for the entire year.  That way Facebook will send you a notification that your ad has expired and give you the results.  Otherwise Facebook will just continue to spend the money you have allocated each day and if you get busy and forget to check the ad you won’t know how well it is doing.

Facebook advertising costsIf you selected an option like send people to your website it will give you a section to create your ad.  First the picture cannot have more than 20% copy or they will reject the ad.  The image needs to be 1200 x 628 pixels.  Most people have found that a really compelling photo makes the ad pull better.  You can put up multiple images and Facebook will tell you which one is pulling better.

For example if you are creating a general invite to visit your church you might have a picture of a family with a couple cute kids standing outside your church and try switching up the headline.  Some potential examples are:  Experience peace, hope and love at (name of church) or (name of church) where families grow in love or together.  Facebook gives you two sections for copy and you really have a lot of space to tell people why they should come visit your church.  If you have someone who can test different ads every week you’ll see which ones pull better and by the end of 52 tests you’ll have developed a very effective tool to reach your community.

You don’t have to just reach new movers either.  You can select everyone who is within a city or zip code.  Since most people do not attend church anymore the opportunities to reach people is very powerful.  The reason I picked movers is because statistically people who have recently moved are more likely to be looking for connections for themselves and their family.

In addition to a general invitation consider some of the other possibilities.  Have a day care or after school care at your church?  You can target people in your area who have young kids.  Have a special event coming up?  Start advertising on Facebook a couple weeks before and you’ll find Facebook ads an effective way to promote the event.

Final tip.  Many churches create a post that they then use Facebook ads to promote.  If you have a email list of members or a Facebook Group page or even your Fan Page ask people to like and share the post before and during the time the ad is running.  Facebook looks at engagement with the post to determine how many times to show it and how much to charge.  The more organic the reach the lower your cost will be and the more people you will reach.

I’ve been involved in helping businesses and churches reach out to their community through print and online for 25 years and in my opinion Facebook Ads are the most flexible and effective way that has ever been developed.  If evangelism is important to your church then advertising on Facebook is something you need to start using.

Questions or comments?  Post them in the comment section.  We try hard to answer every comments.  Need to get in touch with us?  Click the chat button in the lower right.

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To the churches in America – Do you love me? – Jesus

Do you love me?  Jesus

I’ve asked people from other countries to tell what is going on with the Christian church in their country.  Now it is my turn to write about the church in America today.

First let me say this is only my perspective from being in the church (United Methodist only) and talking to friends who represent other denominations.  The words of Jesus in Revelation are what keep coming to my mind:  I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  so because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing,’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. – Revelation 3:15-17.

Have you heard the expression Love is spelled t-i-m-e?  We spend our time on things we think are important:

  • Sleeping – 61.6 hours a weekDo you love me
  • Work – 47 hours on average each week
  • Watching TV – 19.74 hours
  • Household activities – 12.39
  • Leisure – 10.36
  • A complete list can be found here.

A 2013 survey of Americans found the following:

  • 77% of Americans think the nation’s morality is headed downhill.
  • 88% of Americans said they owned a Bible
  • 80% think the Bible is sacred
  • 61% wished they read the Bible more
  • 33% said the decline in morals was the result of people not reading the Bible
  • 57% of people read their Bibles four times a year or less
  • 26% read their Bible 4 or more times a week.

Psalm 46:10 says:  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The church in America is lukewarm because God is not an significant influence in our lives.  Our busy pace has pushed God out.  We don’t spend time with Him so do we really love Him?  Our churches are declining because people do not see a difference between the life of a Christian and that of someone who does not claim to follow Jesus and most Christians don’t even share their faith.  (2012 study by LifeWay research)  I can’t remember a sermon I’ve heard that challenged us to read our Bible more or share our faith.  Maybe that is why the United Methodist Church is in decline.

Is there hope for the American church?  God can and does make changes in people’s lives every day.  I pray that church leaders will commit themselves to loving God and spending time with Him, not because they fulfill a duty but because spending time with God is life changing.  For everyone else who calls themselves a follower of Christ I pray that we’ll commit to taking time out of our schedule to spend time with God because a relationship with Him will change everything.

Do you love me?  – Jesus.  Love is spelled T-I-M-E and time with Jesus

In the video below Francis Chan talks about the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus.

 

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How to Stay Connected to the Church and its Ministry

The Church and its Ministry

This is a multi-post article on the condition of the church today.  Every church, community and country is different.  This article was written by Marie Angeli Laxa who wrote from her perspective from the Philippines.  From reading what Marie wrote I see many similarities between the church in America.  Modern society is a double sided knife.  It has both freed our time up like never before and bombarded us with so many options that it is very easy to be busier than people who live in less developed countries.  The busyness can easily cut out our time with God and take a close personal relationship with God into something we do on Sunday, thereby loosing our joy and making us resemble the culture.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

We’d love to hear from you.  What is Christianity like in your country or church?  What struggles do you face?

The Early Church

The early church, even if we go back to the church in Acts or the later church in the 64 to 313 AD, there are things these churches have in common when it comes to devotion, fellowship and worship. The early church was described in Acts 2:42-47 that:

{They} devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The early church members were passionate disciples who devoted themselves daily to the teachings of the apostles. They eagerly soaked up the word of God like a sponge. In fact, the bible says, they “devote themselves” to the spiritual activities and continue to do them regularly. The early church’s discipleship program was one of radical devotion to their God and one another.  Their Christianity was not just a Sunday morning gig. Their devotion was incomparable and their Christian living clearly reflects as that of Christ that when people see them, they see Jesus in them.

Compared to today, the early church faced so many persecutions. Declaring yourself a Christian in the past can mean death. Many would even die than deny their faith. If we study Christian history, we can see that some believers were burned alive, fed to the beasts or even starved to death. What’s more encouraging is that some even died singing worship songs and praise to God. They know very well what they believed and why they believe it. The early church’s love and devotion to their faith is something that we can really learn and follow.

The Modern Church Problem

The church nowadays is a lot different from the early church. It is more widely accepted, more free to conduct worships without worrying about being caught or killed. The church can now freely show and share their faith with others. What  wonderful news that is! We don’t need to worry about anything; we can just evangelize and conduct bible studies that can edify us.

However, it seems like we’ve lost the essence of becoming and being a Christian. Have we been “continually devoting” ourselves to the passionate worship of God, or has something else been hoarding our time and attention?

Nowadays, it seems like our persecutions are more spiritual rather than physical. Satan has been doing so many things to tempt us. He uses our interests, our work, our friends, and even our family in order to lure us from going to church. He makes us think we’re so busy to be going to the church. Some even lost the joy of their salvation and no longer devote continually to the godly activities.

Another problem a modern church has is that it doesn’t have that many activities anymore compared to the early church. The early church, as we can see have daily bible studies.  Some churches even have just one worship service and one mid-week meeting. Some church members can’t even attend a mid-week bible study anymore. We have so many different reasons for not being able to attend church activities – we say we don’t have time to do them as we’re too busy with our lives.

How to Stay Connected to the Church

We may be bombarded with so many things that keep us from going to the church and attending church activities. The Spirit does not want us to live with that excuse so He continues to illumine the hearts and minds of our church leaders to keep thinking of activities that we can do in spite of our busy schedules. Here are some activities that the church does to help a member stay connected to the church.

1. Online Group Devotion

Our church youth department recently created and online group devotion. It’s a secret online group that they made in order to follow up with other youth members to continue doing their daily devotion with God. It’s also a place where they can post any questions they may have or any topics they want to discuss. This is a good idea for our young people who seem to be having a hard time meeting together physically due to their conflicting schedules.

2. Cell Groups

Nowadays, there are churches that have small cell groups where they meet once or twice a week – excluding Sunday Worship services. This is very helpful because instead of trying to settle a time and date for a large group to fellowship, they can easily break a large group into three or four smaller cell groups, that way it’s a lot easier to schedule bible studies.

3. Home Groups

Home groups are more commonly known as home bible studies. This activity brings the church activity to your home and not the other way around. This is a great way to keep your fire in worship and fellowship burning. What’s great about home groups is that it depends upon the availability of the homeowner. You can talk to your church pastor and request to have home group bible at your home and let him know what time you and your family are most available.

4. Prayer Ministry

A prayer ministry is a wonderful way to make sure you are prayed over by someone else. Members of Prayer Ministry meet weekly to pray for the church and its leaders and our community. Knowing that somebody prayed for you is good in any way. Make sure to attend a prayer ministry when you have one in your church or, if not, suggest one to your pastors. A prayer ministry most often don’t need for you to meet very often, you can just meet once in a week and pray together as well as leave any prayer requests you may have to your prayer warriors.

How do you stay connected to the church and its ministry?

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6 Scriptural Prayers for Expecting Moms and Dads

By: Floranilla Rosquita-Aragones

You’re expecting! Your Pregnancy Test is positive! You’re Pregnant! And you’re all excited.  Every pregnancy creates excitement for every expecting mom and dad and even the rest of the expecting family. There is always joy packaged in every pregnancy announcements especially for those first time parents.6 scriptural prayers for expecting mom and dads

Everyone is busy with all the baby showers, doctors’ appointments, laboratories schedules, ultrasounds results and buying baby’s essentials that make the pregnancy journey more exciting. But all of these are just focused on the baby’s physical growth and development. Let us remember that the baby inside the womb is progressing more than that. Just as she or he is growing inside you, so their spirit is learning from the Lord.

When I got married and got pregnant with our first child, I remember what my own mom taught me and my younger siblings during our teenage years. She said that when we got married and got pregnant, it is our foremost responsibility to pray over our baby early as it is still growing within our womb.  I have a younger brother and he was also told by our Mom that as a proud father someday, he is not excused from this responsibility as well. He should also take an active part in praying for his child. Prayer, as she said, is part of preparing ourselves for a new little one in our lives. Mom added that, when our precious child makes his or her way into the world, we will do many important things for him or her, but none is so important as prayer.

Now that I am pregnant with our second child, I gathered verses from the bible that speak beautiful promises of God’s truth over my baby and that gives me more assurances for my unborn daughter. I am sharing this to give encouragements for pregnant moms and excited dads out there. You can pray these not only for your unborn baby but also over all your other children for as we know that Scripture prayed over our family has great power. So, whether you are a mother-to-be, a grandmother-to-be, an aunt-to-be, or a happy friend, your prayers make a difference in the tiny life growing inside a womb.

6 scriptural prayers for moms and dads

  1. After all, God is the one who gave life to each of us before we were born (Job 31:15).  Just as our life is a gift from God so is the life of our baby. Let us be thankful first and foremost because God has blessed us with a bundle of joy which means that we are a good steward enough in the eyes of God to be granted by another gift of life.
  2. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love (Ephesians 4:16 ).
  3. Our God sees and watch our baby inside our womb. He listens to his or her heartbeat. He shapes his or her delicate parts and forms them flawlessly.  Let us pray that our baby will continue to grow healthy, strong and full of love.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).
  4. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, declares the Lord” ( Jeremiah 29:11).
  5. Our baby’s life and future was intricately carved and planned by the Master. He or she is set apart to declare the Lord’s plan to the world. Let us pray that our baby will grow into the person that God prepares him or her to be, living with a purpose by the grace and plans of God.  When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
  6. Let us pray that in God’s perfect time, the Holy Spirit would convict our baby of his or her sin and will bring him or her awareness of God’s righteousness, thus receiving God as his or her personal Savior, creating a strong friendly relationship with his or her Creator.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 Let us pray that our child will learn to trust God wholeheartedly, leaning on God’s plans and understanding and be humble in all of God’s ways in his or her life leading him or her to wisdom and insights as he or she grows older.

Indeed, apart from being a gift, motherhood or parenthood is a sacred task. God entrusted in our care the nurturing of a child that’s why we need to equip ourselves with prayers to be able for us to fulfill this high calling. Prayers is highly needed for ourselves and also for our unborn child extending it to our little kids even when they grow bigger and even when they grow older.

If you want for more tips on how to raise Godly children or anything about parenting, do check our Pinterest board “Raising Godly Children”. It’s a collection of Tips, Blogs, Articles, Verses, and Quotes on how to raise Godly children inside the family.

Since we are talking about Prayers, we also encourage you to start teaching your kids how to pray. Memory Cross, Inc. has created a fun and creative ways to teach our children how to pray. You can start by introducing to your kids the “Lord’s Prayer”.

You can check our interesting origami cards in store.memorycross.com

Or you can check this video to see how Memory Cross cards works.

I am so sure that there are still so many verses that I have not included here, so if you have some that you currently use to pray over your unborn baby or your children, please feel free to mention them in the comment box below. Share it to us. Share it to the world. We would love to hear it from you.

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