Making the Most of Middle School
Homeschooling has been a breeze and you love it: reading aloud, field trips, doing projects together, and learning new things. You are close to your child and enjoy life together.
One day you wake up and there is a new person inside your son's or daughter's body. They look the same--well, a little bit more manly or womanly. But, whoa, he or she is a completely different person. And yet, sometimes, they seem just like they did before.
What is happening?
Welcome to the Middle School years. Bodies are changing, hormones are raging, intellect is sharpening, and emotions are all over the place.
To experience joy and success in Middle School, you must determine to redefine normal for your young man or woman. Middle schoolers are transforming into men and women. That transformation isn't always easy.
Lavish your middle schooler with love and respect, whether they deserve it or not. Make yourself available as a listening ear and be a safe person they can pour their hearts out to.
On the positive side, middle schoolers are entering new phases of thinking, reasoning, analyzing, and other ways of thinking and learning. You can have intellectual and deep conversations with a middle schooler. They have interesting and exciting perspectives--it's so much fun to hear them!
This is the transition time between childhood and adulthood, both emotionally and intellectually.
Have a Heroes for Jesus Party
Everybody loves a hero! As Christians, we are blessed with a long line of men and women who followed Jesus with all their hearts, making a difference in the world around them!
What a heritage we have!
Apostle Paul, Athanasius, St. Augustine, Pope Gregory, Caedmon, St. Frances, St. Patrick, John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Lady Jane Grey, John Knox, William Wilberforce, John Newton, Lottie Moon, Amy Carmichael, George Mueller, David Livingstone, Billy Graham, Edith Schaeffer, Jim Eliot, and Brother Andrew come to my mind. They were mighty men and women who changed the world!
From the early Christians who risked their lives to serve Christ to missionaries in the 21st Century who are reaching unreached people groups in the 10/40 Window, there are so many Christian heroes I want my children to learn about. I came up with a really fun idea to teach my children about church history in celebratory way!
We started having Heroes for Jesus Parties. My children loved them! As they got older, they started playing the Christian heroes themselves at the Heroes for Jesus Party.
Would you like to have your own Heroes for Jesus Party?
God Always Has a Hero
Adam and Seth had died. The earth was filling up. Wicked deeds and sinister plots abounded. The Lord was sad He had made mankind. He would need to start over. Only one man and his family on the entire planet was seeking to live for Him. He would destroy the earth, but save Noah and his family. God gave instructions to Noah and this righteous family built a huge ship. While the men worked on the ark, Noah preached to anyone who would listen. He begged people to turn away from their sin and follow God.
In the midst of an evil world, God had a hero.
Centuries later, in the evil city of Ur where men worshiped demons and lived for pleasure, God called a man out, to follow Him. He wanted to start a nation and through that nation bring a Messiah. Abraham walked with God. He left his family home with his wife and nephew to live in the land his descendants would inhabit.
In a wicked world, one man stood alone to serve his God.
Super-Heroes Of Yesterday & Today
Spider Man: Homecoming is in theaters as I write this. In the movie, young Peter Parker returns home to Aunt May in Queens. Peter must balance his "normal" life as a student with learning to use his "Spidy Powers" with Tony Stark, Iron Man, helping him adjust. Music and special effects are said to be top-notch. Everyone's excited to see this movie. (Not me, I confess. I'm not an adventure-movie gal.)
Yes, another Super-Hero movie based on Marvel Comics.
Spider Man was introduced to the world in 1962 through a comic book, the first teenager non-sidekick Super-Hero. Peter Parker, an orphaned teenager who lives with his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in NYC is bitten by a genetically-modified spider. Along with super strength, Peter receives the ability to cling to walls and ceilings. His response: to defend innocent citizens and catch bad guys. Spider Man of the 1960's upholds the law. He has a strong moral compass. The same could be said of Batman, Superman, and the other Super-Heroes that children read about in comics or watched on television.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and we see similarities. Super-Heroes still have amazing powers and they rescue people. Good always triumphed over evil.
There are some differences, though.
Review Of Eternity In Their Hearts
Wow! Eternity in their Hearts by Don Richardson will blow you away!
"This book reveals startling evidence of belief in the One True God in cultures around the world!" says the cover. And it does! It's amazing!
I get so excited when I read this book! I stand amazed at the Holy God who is so filled with love and compassion that He would prepare so many different cultures to recognize and receive the Gospel. God truly wants all men everywhere to hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn't Our Heavenly Father wonderful?!
Don Richardson, the author of Peace Child, another amazing book, shares true stories from different places around the the world. In each case, you see God preparing a people to respond to Jesus when the Gospel arrives.
This book is a history of pagan cultures who still have the seed of faith in the One True God. Why is this? Because at the beginning of time, Adam and Eve walked with God in an intimate relationship while they lived in the Garden of Eden. Though they sinned, rejecting life with God, there was still a knowledge that was passed down of the One True God who created the earth and everyone who lives in it. That true knowledge, though marred in time, still exists. And we serve a God who searches for the lost, longing to bring them home to love and know Jesus Christ.
Review Of From Prison To Praise
"This book will change your life!" my pastor promised me. I was far from home and struggling with sadness and disappointment. It was a hard season.
I read this little book and my pastor was right! It changed my life! That was not the only time I read Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers. This is one of those books that I try to reread every year or so. Yes, it's that good!
Prison to Praise shows how an angry young man was changed by the power of God through the Gospel. It is also the story of how one man of God learned to praise God in everything!
Bored with military training at Fort Benning, Georgia while waiting to be sent overseas in World War II, Merlin and some friends walked out of camp, stole a car, and went joy riding. After being captured by the F.B.I., Merlin found himself in military prison. Sentenced to five years in the federal penitentiary, his sentence was suspended so he could serve in World War II. After serving six months in the stockade at Fort Dix, Merlin, a paratrooper, headed to Europe to serve in the 82nd Airborne. Next, he found himself as one of General Eisenhower's guards living in Frankfurt, Germany. Because of his combat record, Merlin received a complete pardon for his earlier illegal escapades, but that didn't stop him from making massive amounts of money in the black market.
Attending church out of duty with his grandparents, Merlin heard God speak to him to make a decision to follow him or it would be too late. He surrendered his heart to Christ and was hungry for prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship. God called him to the ministry and while he worked his way through college and seminary, he preached in local jails.
I will let you learn the rest for yourself. You see, Merlin was on an adventure with the Lord! He was set to learn lessons that would allow him to live each day in unspeakable joy!
Have you ever been falsely accused? Or more specifically, have you ever been falsely accused of being a liar?
No one has ever so vehemently accused me of lying as one woman did last night.
I witnessed a car accident. It wasn’t a huge crash, just a fender bender. But still, I was a witness. The law obligated me to stay, so I turned around.
As I approached the scene, I saw the drivers of the two cars: a perplexed young lady and a furious older woman.
I made sure both ladies were OK and helped the older woman, who spoke in broken English, explain to the police dispatcher where we were. So far so good, right?
Then came the shock.
The older woman accused me of being a friend of the younger lady. She thought I was lying when I said I saw the collision and came back to give my statement to the police.
“No, you’re weren’t there!” the older lady yelled. “You’re lying! This is none of your business! You’re her friend! She called you and that’s why you’re here! Stop lying or the police will lock you up in jail! Just obey the law!”
All the yelling. All the anger. All the accusations—and none of them were true.
I stared at her blankly for a moment. I thought, Are you serious? Instead, I managed to say, “Ma’am, I’m sorry, but that’s not true. I was behind the car that stopped—”
“Yes it is! You’re a liar, and the police are going to find out when they check her phone! If you lie to the police, you’re going to jail!”
“OK, well, we don’t have to talk about this anymore.” I took a deep breath. “Let’s wait for the police and let them sort this out. It will be OK. I’ll be over there by my car.”
My mind raced. How could she accuse me of lying? I was right there when it happened! And why is she mad anyway? I’m not even going to tell the police that it’s her fault. I’m telling the police exactly what I saw, which would actually implicate the younger lady!
An important purpose of the local church is fellowship and ministry. We often think of church as a place to go to be fed, but church is a place to be equipped to fulfill the Great Commission in whatever way the Lord has called you to serve.
So many friendships have been built in the midst of ministry and spiritual battle. As we serve and impart life to those around us, relationships are built and cemented. It is a beautiful thing.
In addition, when we build friendships with one another, it is easier to work together to extend the Kingdom of God. We want to foster friendships in our local church because lives are changed in the context of relationships. As we spend time together, we see God's principles in action in each others’ lives. More is "caught" than "taught."
With this principle in mind, it is just as important what happens outside official church meetings as it is what happens during those meetings. Here are some ways to to spend time together outside of church services to build relationships.
Our Local Mission Trip
This summer our local church family had a brand new adventure. We went on a mission trip!
I had always dreamed of our church going on a mission trip to an exotic land where the inhabitants had never heard of Jesus. Or going to a nation that had just experienced a natural disaster where we could minister to practical needs as we shared the love of Jesus.
"Right here in Sanford/Lake Mary?" I asked the planning team, a little disappointed.
Then I thought about it. Our Jerusalem. Let's start by ministering to our Jerusalem. I was excited! And I sensed the Lord was in this--all the way!
To my surprise 40 adults and young people took time off from work to participate in the four-day mission trip July 2017. Let me share with you what we did!
God's Plan: The Local Church
God plants new believers in local churches to grow and to build one another up. God didn't call us to be "Lone Ranger Christians" off doing our own thing. His People are called to love one another in a committed way as they win the lost and make disciples.
Jesus gives us gifts to build us up
None of us have all the spiritual gifts and God planned it that way so that we would need one another. As we serve and encourage one another with God’s Word, everyone will grow.
God made the church like a family. When we love one another, the world will know that we are His disciples. Our love is so important for the Gospel to have credibility.
Is There a Perfect Church?
Middle School: The Squirrley Years
When I heard anyone say "Middle School," I think back to my own middle schools days. Not my finest hour. I was, well, I was squirrley. I did things, said things, and behaved in ways that were vastly different from the rest of my life, before and after those years. What a blessing to look back at those years.
As we homeschool, we don't think much in terms of grades until high school. We just read and learn as the years pass by. But, somewhere around the age of 10-13, my children entered the squirrley years.
"Where did my child go?"
"Who is this person?"
They did not become mean or turn away from the Lord. They did not become rebellious. They just became squirrley.
Why is this age so awkward?
Well, they are no longer children, but they are not yet adults.
And to top it all off, their hormones are kicking in! What does that look like?
Raise World Changers
We are called to change the world!
Jesus gave us the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. We are on a mission!
That mission begins at home!
We have a call to impact our children by introducing our little ones to Christ and teaching them His ways.
Once they know Christ, we teach them to change their world for the glory of Christ.
How do we that? How do we raise world changers?
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Stay focused on your goal of raising world changers.
Don’t be focused on lesser things or get into survival mode.
We want our children to get a good education, to be healthy, to have friends, to marry, to be happy. However, even more, we want our children to love Jesus and change the world for His glory.
When you feel like you focus is too small, ask God to keep your focus on the right thing.
Pray This Bold Prayer
Be A World Changer!
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He called us to change the world!
Yes, it's true! We are called to be world changers. Jesus commanded us to "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV (c)1979). Then Jesus added, "And I will be with you, even to the end of the Age" (Matthew 28:20 NIV (c)1979).
We have a call to impact the world by introducing people to Christ and teaching them His ways.
How do we that? How do we change the world?