Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How Should Christians Respond to Terrorism?

The picture to the right is the scene outside the Bataclan concert hall where Helene Muyal-Leiris was one of 129 people who were murdered by terrorists in Paris this past Friday.  Her husband Antoine Leiris posted an incredibly moving message on Facebook telling the terrorists, "I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."

Antoine's response to his agony over losing his wife of 12 years prompted me to ask the question, how would I respond?  How should I respond as a Christian to yet another attack by terrorists?

Our natural response is to take justice into our own hands.  Just remember, that's the government's job.  They don't "bear the sword" for nothing (Romans 13:1-4). The government's job is to defend its people and bring to justice those who hurt us.  Some have argued that going to war against terrorists in other countries isn't defense.  That may be true.  It depends on the motives of those who are making the decisions.  If they are choosing to go to war as a way of defending us, then that's their God-given right.  They are acting as the arm of justice of God when they punish wrongdoers.

However, how do we as Christians respond in the face of such evil?  Listen to what God tells us in the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans in Romans 12:9-21.  Take a moment to read those verses.  God's answer is simple to say, much harder to do.  Overcome evil with good.  How?

1) Love as God first loved you.  The key is to view everyone as a soul for whom Jesus died and treat them accordingly.  Love changes people.  Just ask any former Muslim now turned Christian how powerful a force Jesus' love really is.

2) Pray for them.  Follow Jesus' example when He said in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them..." even as they inflicted awful torture on His body.  Praying to forgive someone who has done awful things isn't easy.  Yet, the power to forgive comes from God.  Talk to Him about it.  He listens and then acts.  After all, He forgave you (and me.)  Forgiveness releases us from the pain.

3) Defend yourself, but don't take revenge.  If danger is imminent to you or those you love, take legal action to protect and defend yourself.  However, if harm has already been done leave room for God's wrath on the wrongdoer.  Remember, that's the government's job.  It's no accident that Romans 13 follows what God says in Romans 12.  As Antoine said, "I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."  He is leaving room for justice to be served.

4) Don't be afraid.  In case you forgot, God is still God.  He is always with us.  His words to Joshua so many centuries ago are still words for you and me today.  Read Joshua 1:7-9.

Terrorists may take our life, but they can't take our soul.  When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved His promise in John 14:1-3,  Jesus is coming back.  On that day, everything will be made right.  Terrorism will stop forever.  We will live forever.  In the mean time, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SEX -- 5% and 41%

Fast forward to 2015. 41%. That is now the percentage of unmarried mothers in our "more enlightened" culture today. Some ethnic groups have a number that is as high as 77%. That is due, in large part, to the belief that sex is just physical, it's just an activity for you to enjoy when ever you want! So is that philosophy really good for our culture and the next generation of children and families?  How is the philosophy "I can do whatever I want with my body" working?
Consider the results of a recent government study on the subject:
Children born to unmarried mothers are more likely to grow up in a single-parent household, experience instable living arrangements, live in poverty, and have socio-emotional problems.  As these children reach adolescence, they are more likely to have low educational attainment, engage in sex at a younger age, and have a birth outside of marriage.  As young adults, children born outside of marriage are more likely to be idle (neither in school nor employed), have lower occupational status and income, and have more troubled marriages and more divorces than those born to married parents.
Women who give birth outside of marriage tend to be more disadvantaged than their married counterparts, both before and after the birth. Unmarried mothers generally have lower incomes, lower education levels, and are more likely to be dependent on welfare assistance compared with married mothers. Women who have a nonmarital birth also tend to fare worse than childless single women; for example, they have reduced marriage prospects compared with single women without children.
A majority of unmarried births now occur to cohabiting parents. Between 2006 and 2010, 58 percent of unmarried births were to cohabiting parents: in 2002, the proportion was 40 percent. Children born to cohabiting parents are more likely to see their parents eventually marry than are those born to non-co-residential parents.  Nevertheless, children born to cohabiting parents experience higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage, and fare worse across a range of behavioral and emotional outcomes than those born to married parents.
What does a loving God have to say about this "three letter" subject? "What you believe about sex isn't working!" Come this weekend and you'll learn more about Jesus' love for you in this important area of your life.  Remember you matter and you are dearly loved!
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grow your Kids' Talents and Gifts

As children reach different developmental milestones, they also begin to show signs of emerging abilities. God blesses each of us with talents such as in music, sports, and art. The New Testament says God also gives us special abilities known as spiritual gifts, such as serving, encouraging, giving, leading, and showing mercy. 

Children don’t need to wait until they’re older to use their talents and gifts. But they may need help discovering and applying those things. And as their abilities develop, kids gain confidence by becoming more competent at the various activities they enjoy. 

Here are fill-in sentences to help your kids identify their talents and gifts. 

  1. I feel great when people notice how well I __________________. 
  2. My friends would say one of my best qualities is ______________. 
  3. I get annoyed when I have to ___________________________. 
  4. If I had a free afternoon, I’d enjoy ___________________________. 
  5. If I could volunteer, I’d really like to ___________________________. 
  6. The two happiest times in my life are ________________________. 
  7. One thing I do well without having to think about it is ____________. 
  8. People would be surprised to know that I __________________. 
  9. I feel like I help others when I ___________________________.
I found this and many other helpful parenting hints in St. Mark's Parenting Christian Kids Newsletter. Check it out by clicking here. Each month there is a new one available on the St. Mark Youth Page under Parenting Christian Kids -

In Jesus,

Pastor Hansen