Helping Families by Tearing Down Walls

Faith Breakthroughs

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Walls and The Blessing

January 9, 2016

I spent yesterday in Colorado Springs in an extraordinary meeting.  20 leaders gathered in the conference room at Focus on the Family to discuss “The Blessing Challenge” – an exciting collaborative effort with the goal of giving 1,000,000 children the gift of a blessing.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of the blessing, it dates back to the very beginning of time.

In Genesis 1:28, right after God made man, the Scripture says, “He blessed them.”  To offer a verbal blessing, give affirmative touch, and to ascribe value to a life is something that can have a profound impact on the success or failure of a child’s ability to live a life of fulfillment and purpose.

More recently, Dr. John Trent wrote a bestselling book called The Blessing in 1993 along with Dr. Gary Smalley. The book lays out clear instructions for giving – and receiving – a biblical blessing.  In a revised edition to be released this spring by Thomas Nelson, the book will also serve as the centerpiece of this national movement for sharing the importance of giving The Blessing.

Read more…


The Journey Continues

January 9, 2016

It would be very naïve to think that you can move past a wall and never have to worry about it again. Remember, your old walls are as close as the old, unhealthy mindsets that built them. Keep in mind these helpful tips for being a lifelong Wallbreaker.

Are you applying the promises of God in your life?


Making the Most of Christmas – With Tim Smith

January 8, 2016

Ryan recently sat down for a Skype conversation with “Parenting Coach” and friend Tim Smith, the author of 52 Creative Family Time Experiences.  We talked about some simple ways to make Christmas more meaningful with your kids.  Enjoy!

 


The Year the Walls Came (started coming) Down

December 15, 2015

If you’re like me, life tends to go at such a pace that there is rarely time to pause and reflect on what took place yesterday (or even today, for that matter), because there’s always something pressing on the horizon. Yet, with 2011 drawing to a close, I think we need to pause and recognize the incredible, catalytic thing that happened in Central Texas this fall.  If you live somewhere else in the world, don’t tune this out; let it encourage you with the power of what can happen when God’s people begin to tear down walls in a community!

Beginning on September 11, over 35 congregations from across the region – representing over 50,000 people -kicked off the Walls Project: a six-week journey intent on unleaching God’s promises as we tore down the spiritual barriers that were separating the Church from one another, the Church from the community where we live, and most importantly, separating the people of God from the abundant lives they were created to enjoy.  Since we began to wrap up the Walls series, it became more and more apparent that the people weren’t done with the idea of tearing down walls.

“God stories” continue to pour in.  Of senior adult leaders who finally faced walls of bitterness and isolation that had been holding them back for decades.  Of pastors taking on walls of bitterness toward other fellow pastors.  Of husbands and wives tearing down the walls that were dividing and destroying their homes.  Of families – literally – taking sledge hammers to the physical walls that had been built to represent the invisible ones that were just as real.  Of ordinary people discovering the Breakthrough of Grace offered by Jesus, and removing the wall of guilt and shame through salvation.

And on the stories go, as they continue to gather and expand and lead to new breakthroughs.  I’m praying that the Walls didn’t stop coming down in November – or even linger into December.  I’m praying that’ve just scratched the surface of what God is going to do as He removes the barriers that hold us back.  Thank you God for 2011!  And thank you God for the promise of 2012!  Let the walls come down.

[4] For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. [5] We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, [6] being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

(2 Corinthians 10:4-6 ESV)


Talking to Kids About Tragedy

December 15, 2015

 


Newton, Connecticut. Boston, Massachusetts.  West, Texas.  Moore, Oklahoma. Recent tragedies have  broken our hearts as so many others before, but some of these have been different. They invaded the lives of young children – little ones that looked a lot like our little ones. And because there were children involved, our kids are going to be asking a lot of questions in the next few days.

As parents, one of our primary roles is to be constantly teaching. When it comes to “Life 101,” class is always in session. This doesn’t change in the midst of tragedy, as awkward as the role may be. Most kids are asking the same innocent question that we all ask – “Why?” – and our ability to respond correctly can help turn a terrible situation into an opportunity to talk about some tough-but-necessary topics.

As a father of three and a pastor and author who has dedicated two decades to helping parents, I am still left wanting for the right words to say in such an awful situation. Still, I’ve learned a few things along the way, and hopefully these ideas will help you navigate this difficult road with your children:

• Remind them that they can trust God – even in tough times. Consider saying, “Sometimes things happen that we can’t completely understand. We know that bad things happen in this world because there are bad people. But it doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about those little children. In fact, that’s why Jesus came – so He could rescue us from evil and be with Him some day in a perfect place!”

• Pray for everyone involved.  We do this, most importantly, because God hears our prayers and answers them. But prayer also does something else: it reminds us that God is with us, and that He can help in ways that no one else can.

• Don’t act like you have all the answers.  They won’t believe you anyway if you start making stuff up. It’s okay to say, “You know what? That’s a good question, but a hard one. I’ve wondered that too.” But follow it up by sharing something that you DO know. You don’t have to pretend to be certain about everything if you can demonstrate that they can be certain about many things: your love for them, God’s love for them, the fact that you will do everything you can to protect them, that their schools are safe – and will be even safer – after this, etc.

• Listen and don’t ignore questions or inquiries.  Pay attention to even the most passing comments. If your child knows anything about what happened, you can count on the fact that he’s thinking about it, and you want to be ready to talk when he is.

• Keep life normal and routine.  Young children always fare better when life is as stable as possible.

• Sharply limit media exposure in young children, and be there to explain what is seen.  The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that “overexposure to the media can be traumatizing. It’s unwise to let children or adolescents view footage of traumatic events over and over. Children and adolescents should not watch these events alone.” Kids may have a hard time discerning that only one gunman went into only one school, for example, when they see reports for hours on end on different channels as they’re looking over your shoulder.

After you take those initial steps, you have an opportunity to proactively use a tough situation as a teachable moment. Point out the good things that can happen:

• Place emphasis on the heroes of the events –  emergency personnel, teachers, and other students. Perhaps write a letter of encouragement to people who worked to help from the area police departments.

• Seek out stories about the people who are working to help the families who have been hurt by tragedy – churches, doctors, and even school personnel. Talk about how wonderful it is that people are willing to help others.

• Share the ways that your local schools have announced they are working to improve security.  Almost every school district made some sort of statement about the tragedy. You can find most of these statements online at your school’s or school district’s website.

• Help kids find ways to help –  let them come up with creative ways!

•  Finally, look for any signs that might indicate high levels of anxiety in your child.  Remember: what we see as replay footage or something horrific that happened in another town, our children may interpret as something that keeps happening very close to home. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology points to the following symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in kids:

o Refusal to return to school and “clinging” behavior
o Persistent fears related to the catastrophe
o Sleep disturbances such as nightmares, screaming during sleep and bedwetting.
o Abnormal behavior problems.
o Withdrawal from family and friends.

If you start to see any of these behaviors in the following week, it might be worth a call to your doctor, pastor, or school counselor to inquire about some additional help.

It is almost overwhelming to take in the magnitude of the tragedy that has taken place in multiple locations over the past few months. It’s even more challenging when children hear that it involved children just like them. It makes me angry that such conversations have to take place. As a Christian, I’m grateful for the promises of something better – because Christ has overcome the evil in the world and will one day eradicate evil, sin, sickness, war, and death from this earth. In the meantime, God has put moms, dads, grandparents, and mentors like you in their path to remind them everything will be okay.

 


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The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
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1 of 48
When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
2 of 48
I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
3 of 48
I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
4 of 48
I believe God wants what is best for me.
5 of 48
My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
6 of 48
I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
7 of 48
When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
8 of 48
I look forward to good things in my future.
9 of 48
I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
10 of 48
People would describe me as a giving person.
11 of 48
People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
12 of 48
I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
13 of 48
I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
14 of 48
I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
15 of 48
I worry about the problems that the future holds.
16 of 48
I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
17 of 48
I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
18 of 48
I am grateful for the things I have been given.
19 of 48
I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
20 of 48
I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
21 of 48
I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
22 of 48
I tend to expect the worst to happen.
23 of 48
I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
24 of 48
I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
25 of 48
I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
26 of 48
I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
27 of 48
I believe God is loving and kind.
28 of 48
When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
29 of 48
I have a hard time trusting people.
30 of 48
I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
31 of 48
I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
32 of 48
I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
33 of 48
I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
34 of 48
I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
35 of 48
I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
36 of 48
I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
37 of 48
I think that God will meet all my needs.
38 of 48
I feel I can turn to God for direction.
39 of 48
I believe truth is the same for everyone.
40 of 48
I worry that God is angry with me.
41 of 48
I am amazed at God's power.
42 of 48
When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
43 of 48
I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
44 of 48
I think God cares about the details of my life.
45 of 48
It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
46 of 48
The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
47 of 48
I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
48 of 48
It humbles me to think I can know God.
Great you have finished the evaluation.
Ready to see the results?