November 2015 Posts

Kid Talk Tuesday: Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

Join us as Acquisitions Editor, Linda MacKillop, discusses ways to teach your kids how to be thankful.

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“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Let’s consider all the hardships in our lives and in the lives of our kids. Financial issues. Relationship struggles. Shattered dreams. Injuries. Attending a new school. Struggling with grades. Failing to make a sports team. Broken-down cars, bodies, houses, bikes, etc.

And then there’s the concept of giving thanks. How do we maintain an attitude of gratitude when times are hard, and most especially, how do we pass that attitude down to our kids? When our prayers are being answered left and right, no problem! We don’t hesitate to count off a list of blessings and attribute them to God. But what about the times when the heavens seem silent?

The longer you live on earth, the more likely you are to learn that we never get to a place where life is all smooth sailing, with all challenges vanquished. We might experience a moment or a season where the challenges subside, but remember it’s only a moment. Yet we’re not told to only be thankful in those moments. We are to be thankful in everything.

Certainly at the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims had much to be grateful for as they gathered on the shores of Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a feast. God had brought them over tumultuous seas to live in a beautiful and plentiful land. He had given them friendships with the natives. He had provided food and shelter and fruitful bounty. He had given them a new life, a new world, and a new beginning.

So they paused and gave thanks.

But I bet that in the midst of all that gratitude, some folks had achy backs, scary physical issues, bad coughs, concerns about the approaching hard winter, and longings for the home and family members they left behind. Yet they intentionally gathered with their new friends and, as a community, bowed their heads and gave thanks to God, the provider of all good gifts. We follow their model yearly as we pause to remember our blessings in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life’s good and bad.

We love to tell our children about the Pilgrims and all they had to eat that day. But we should also let kids know that life was hard for that small community.

In our own lives, teaching our kids to maintain a grateful attitude begins when they are young, steering them toward thoughts of God even when sickness or hurts invade our families. Practicing thankfulness in the midst of life’s challenges will storm proof our children’s faith by showing them God is not only in charge when they are singing and dancing through their days; he is in charge all the time. Looking for him in the hard days will train our children to look for his blessings, pausing to see how he has worked in the challenging moments, and keeping their hearts and minds in tune with his Spirit.

Point out people you know who manage challenges with thankful attitudes. Do you know someone who is going through cancer or a financial setback like unemployment, yet remains prayerful, grateful, and focused on God? Gently remind your children that our goal is to behave like those folks with grateful attitudes.

Talk to your kids about how they feel being around relatives or friends going through hard times with strength and faith. Can they see Christ in those people’s walks? Are those people enjoyable to be around even though they are hurting? Granted, some people have sunnier personalities and naturally lean toward thankfulness rather than cynicism, but we live in a cynical and sarcastic culture. Cultivating a different spirit takes focus and intentionality. And we begin by first becoming aware of our need to cultivate a different spirit—to choose the attitude we want to reflect.

Lastly, do you think God asks us to be thankful because it’s good for us, or because he delights in our gratitude? Maybe you can consider that question as you gather around your Thanksgiving table, enjoying a day of riches with family and friends.

Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name.” 2 Samuel 22:50

Thanks for Nothing – A Thanksgiving Testimony

Join John Seward, a Tyndale employee and faithful follower of Jesus, in celebrating Christ’s faithfulness this Thanksgiving. We hope that John’s testimony and the scripture he shares will encourage you.

I am thankful that 25 years ago, God rescued me from a life of darkness and deceit.

Thankful that on that night God gave me a New Life.
I had not been pursing Him. Quite the opposite.
But, His mercy prevailed.

He did it all. I did nothing.
Nothing I’d done warranted His favor.
Nothing of me was redeemable.
Nothing.

As the hymn-writer says, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

There are many precious truths from the bible that highlight this word “nothing.”

Consider some with me.

When I’m aware someone has gotten away with cheating, I’m thankful that…

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable. HEBREWS 4:13

When a relationship with a loved one seems beyond all hope, I am thankful I can believe just like Abraham who…

…believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ROMANS 4:17

When I’ve been chastised and attacked because of my faith in Christ, I’m thankful to know that…

…what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. ROMANS 8:18

When I feel ill-equipped and unable to be effective in ministering to others, I’m thankful that Jesus said…

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. JOHN 5:15

This year, and every year since I’ve been saved, I am thankful that God’s Word for every believer is true when it says…

…nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38-39

Perhaps the next time you hear someone say, “Thanks for nothing,” you’ll be reminded of these precious truths.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Paris, Terror, and Christ

It has been a little over a week since the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and the city is still working to heal from this tragedy. Pastor Dimas Salaberrios was in Europe at the time of the attacks with his family and when he heard what happened, flew to Paris to minister to the hurting there. Today’s post is his personal account of what he saw and did during his time in Paris 

Pop, pop, pop! People shouted hysterically—mostly in French—and I heard the word gun. I snatched up my four-year-old daughter and made a run for it. I was in the middle of a human stampede in Paris with five hundred terrified people. Several people fell to the ground, causing others to fall, and my daughter and I kissed the cement in rapid succession. One thought filled my mind. Did we come to Paris to die?

Just hours before, I had been in Milan, Italy, on my Street God book tour. We turned on the television to see footage of the deadliest European terrorist attack since the Madrid commuter train bombings. My wife, Tiffany, and I looked at each other and agreed, “The best place for Christians to be now is in Paris.” We jumped on the overnight train with our two girls, ages four and eight, and woke up in Paris. The atmosphere was jumpy, and everyone was on high alert. You could sense that more attacks were probably planned.

The people on Paris’s streets looked broken but also different from the mourners I’d seen after 9/11 or this summer’s church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. I sensed a lot of hopelessness and confusion from people who mourned without turning to God. The church seemed visibly absent. I remembered the words of the eighteenth-century French philosopher Denis Diderot, who proudly stated, “Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

Bill Devlin, my co-pastor at Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx, had caught a flight out of JFK to meet me on the ground the morning of our arrival. As soon as we met up, we decided to go to the locations of the terrorist strikes. While on the train, God provided two guides for us—young adult brothers, one dressed like an athlete and the other dressed in business casual attire. They had candles and invited us to follow them to the Bataclan, the concert hall where over eighty people were killed and many people were critically injured.

Once there, we witnessed one of the saddest scenes in my memory. I looked at Pastor Bill Devlin, and we decided to minister to the brokenhearted at our own risk. We announced that we were pastors from America who had flown in to show support and to pray for the people of France. I then kicked off the prayer. A man violently objected, saying, “Prayer must be private in France,” but I kept praying and the crowd silenced him, telling him, “Today it must be public.” The presence of God showed up, and people started to weep. A number of people hugged us and clapped their hands in appreciation for that time of prayer. Several people told us how the prayer helped them release some of their sorrow.

God sent two more guides—a sweet girl named Fanny, who had tears in her eyes, and Victoria, who had a gentleness about her. Both were in their twenties and told us that they had danced at Bataclan. They were broken and asked if we would accompany them to the next site, where two nearby cafés had been attacked. Over five hundred people were mourning there. We had no idea that things were about to get crazy.

My daughters, Dallas and Skylar, knelt down to light candles. A small commotion brewed when someone pointed out that the edge of my four-year-old’s dress was being charred by the lit candles. I quickly picked Skylar up, extinguishing the bit that was smoking. Suddenly, the sound of pops could be heard, which is when I heard someone shout about a gun. I looked up and saw a throng of people running toward us when Tiffany shouted, “Run, Dimas, run!”

I swooped Skylar up in my arms and turned and ran as fast as I could. I quickly realized we were in the middle of a stampede as hundreds of people reacted in sheer panic. Some people slipped and fell across the memorials that had been erected. Skylar and I were shoved, and I placed my arm out to shield her as we hit the ground hard. My hand was stomped on, and my knee was badly bruised. As blood poured out of both, we bounced up quickly, knowing we could get trampled at any moment. A kind elderly woman yelled to us in French, motioning for us to come into her house right away! Tiffany was right behind us. We hurried into the refuge of her home. Only then did we realize that our precious eight-year-old had become separated from us in the melee.

Tiffany and I ran back onto the streets, frightfully calling out Dallas’s name. Other kind Parisians motioned for us to come into their homes as police in riot gear and assault rifles had quickly arrived on the scene. Guns were pointing everywhere, including on us. My hands were open as I tried to communicate that we had lost our daughter. Police and soldiers yelled for everyone to go inside.  It pained Tiffany and me to take cover inside the elderly woman’s home without knowing the whereabouts of our daughter. Tiffany’s eyes filled with tears. With a surreal peace that could only come from God at such a devastating moment, I reassured my wife that Dallas must be with Pastor Bill. Minutes later, my cell phone rang. Pastor Bill relieved all our fears when he told us that he had Dallas! As it turned out, our eight-year-old had been the quickest of us all, jetting out of danger by crouching and hiding between two parked cars. Then a young woman rushed to her aid, placing her body over Dallas’s to protect her.

Pastor Bill hadn’t been as fortunate. He had been shoved before stumbling into the candles of the memorial. Candle wax covered his shoes and pants. As he ran for cover, he caught a glimpse of Dallas and the young woman shielding her behind the SUV. Tiffany and I praised God and hugged each other. We had experienced just a taste of the horror that had gripped these very streets just two nights ago. Thankfully the pops we heard turned out to be firecrackers.

We went out the next afternoon to the Place de la Republique, where we again prayed for and comforted the people of Paris. My hope was encouraged as I witnessed firsthand how faith can spread there, particularly among young people. Every time our team stopped to pray, people flocked around us in awe as they wondered what we were doing. They commented on our courage in singling ourselves out by praying publicly, which annihilated the gripping fear that threatened to overtake them. Christianity is so silent, so invisible in most people’s daily routine that, quite honestly, the younger generation doesn’t even know what it looks like. When we told them that we were forming a huddle of prayer so we could ask Jesus Christ to help us, they joined in eagerly. They told us that they sensed a power and peace during the prayers. God showed up with an unusual sweet presence in those prayer huddles. One time, I felt God’s presence so strongly that when I looked up into the sky, I thought the sun was going to conquer the Paris clouds.

I pray that, just like after 9/11, the churches in Paris would step out on a branch like Zaccheus did, taking a chance and seeing Jesus show up.

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Dimas Salaberrios is a former drug boss from New York City who turned his life around and is now pastor of Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx. He is the president of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York and has been credited with eliminating homicides in one of the toughest housing projects in the South Bronx. Dimas shares his story and more strategies for transforming the drug and gang culture in his book, Street God. Learn more at streetgodbook.com.

Dimas also did an interview on FOX & Friends live from Paris. Watch that interview here.

10 Ways to Start A Thanksgiving Conversation

Conversation Starter

The best place to tell a story is at a table. When you tell a story, you are transferring your experiences directly to the brains of those listening; they feel what you feel, think what you think, smell what you smell. – Len Sweet, From Tablet to Table (Click here to get the book on Navpress.com)

The dinner table is the perfect place to build community and strengthen relationships. During this year’s Thanksgiving meal, be intentional about allowing your conversation to encourage loved ones and honor God. Download this helpful (and fun) conversation starter to help guide your time together.

Thanksgiving Printable

Quick-N-Easy Thanksgiving Placecard Holders

Preparing the table for Thanksgiving can be a family affair, even for the smallest children. These quick and easy Thanksgiving table decorations will help instill the value of hospitality and make people feel welcome!

Here is what you need:
• Small clear jars (Baby food jars work well. I used spice jars.)
• Thanksgiving stickers (Faith That Sticks Give Thanks to the Lord and Fall Fun)
• Craft sticks
• Colored pencils, markers, or crayons
• Ribbon
• Candy corn or multi colored popcorn kernels

Step 1:
Decorate the craft sticks with markers, crayons or colored pencils. Be sure to do both sides! Write the name of one guest on the end of each stick.

Step 2:
Apply stickers to the jars. There is no wrong way to do this. Be creative!

Step 3:
Tie a ribbon around the jar. It doesn’t have to be fancy—a simple knot will work.

Step 4:
Fill each jar with candy corn or popcorn. If you’re creating the placeholders with children, make this a learning activity. Practice fine motor skills or math skills by counting the number of candies or kernels for each jar.

Step 5:
Insert the craft stick into the jar and put on your table.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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