Archives For Marriage & Family

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David Kinnaman’s recent book, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith, highlights a recent study by the Barna Group that focuses on young people who drop out of church and leave the faith. He discovered three distinct patterns of those who have “lost their faith”: prodigals, nomads, and exiles. According to the research, prodigals make up “one out of nine young people who grew up with a Christian background and lose their faith in Christianity.”

Many Christian parents are seeing their children leave their faith and are longing to understand why and what they can do about it. And that’s where this webinar with James and Cari Banks can help.

James is a pastor and author of the book Prayers for Prodigals: 90 Days of Prayer for Your Child. James and Cari know firsthand what it’s like to struggle with children who have wandered from the faith of their parents. Both their adult son and daughter have struggled with Christianity for themselves. The Banks know the plight of parents who deeply love their children and yet find themselves sometimes left to do what seems at times to be an anemic response—to pray.

But prayer is anything but powerlessness. James and Cari help parents focus on the One who loves their children even more than they do. It’s time to pray.

To listen to the audio recording from the live webinar event, click the link: Praying for Prodigals.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Praying for Prodigals PPT.

To get a free PDF download of an excerpt of the first 30 days of James’ book from Discovery House Publishers, click the title link: Prayers for Prodigals. You can also visit James’ website for more helpful information on his speaking and writing ministry at: www.prayersforprodigals.org.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you love your children well, click the link: Parenting Resources.

journeythroughbrokendreams_650x220“Perhaps a greater tragedy than a broken dream is a life forever defined by it.” Those are the words of Sheridan Voysey from his book Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings. While the details of our broken dreams may vary, there are common threads that we all share . . . like what does the new normal look like after your dream has died?

Sheridan and Merryn understand what it’s like to face a new normal. In this webinar, they candidly share their struggle with infertility and the decade of medical procedures they endured to try and start a family of their own. In spite of the heartbreaking reality that they were never able to conceive a child, they share insights that bring hope and encouragement to couples struggling with infertility issues.

To listen to the audio recording from the live webinar event, click the link: Infertility: Finding Hope with Empty Arms.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Infertility: Finding Hope with Empty Arms PPT.

To get a free PDF download of an excerpt of Sheridan’s book from Thomas Nelson Publishers, click the title link: Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings. You can also visit Sheridan’s website for more helpful information on his speaking and writing ministry at: Sheridanvoysey.com. Sheridan has a great blog on resources for couples struggling with infertility at the following link:

http://sheridanvoysey.com/resources-for-the-couple-facing-infertility/

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you weather the challenges of ministry, click the link: Infertility Resources.

Listen

Dennis Moles —  May 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

 

Porch Swing-Flickr: Creative Commons/Danie Becknell

Porch Swing-Flickr: Creative Commons/Danie Becknell

In my culture (I was born and raised in Appalachian coal country), storytelling is both an art and a way of life. I’m not sure of the degree to which illiteracy and economic depression nurtured this gift in my ancestors, but the ability to teach, entertain, and communicate via stories is highly prized where I come from.

I’ve been many places and met loads of intelligent and gifted people over the years, but some of the best storytellers I’ve ever known are from back home—not the lest of which is my dad.

The storytellers

The storytellers

Dad was and is quite the storyteller. He has a gift for the art of it. Dad uses words the way a painter might use oil or acrylic—the imagination of his listeners is his canvas. Dad has the flare, imagination, and creativity to spin a tale, but he’s still not the storyteller my grandfather was.

Why? Poppaw has better stories. Dementia has robbed my children of the joy of hearing their great-grandfather tell his stories, but it has not and cannot keep them from the wisdom he has passed on through them.

Poppaw wasn’t the artist dad is. His stories didn’t run on wit. They ran on wisdom—maybe that’s why they were so powerful. Some storytellers have to be the hero in their stories, but that wasn’t the case with Poppaw. Sometimes he was the one who needed saving. In his stories, he wasn’t a war hero but a terrified 21-year-old from Confidence, West Virginia, who jumped out of a C-47 on June 6, 1944. He wasn’t a “Screaming Eagle” bravely running through the French night but a farm boy who didn’t know whether he’d live to see another sunrise. In his stories, the German soldiers weren’t monsters. They were boys who stood on the far side of a river that was small enough for the Germans and the Americans to throw packets of cigarettes to each other from one side to the other.

His stories didn’t always cast him or our family in PoppawArmya favorable light, but they almost always taught me an important life-lesson. They were gifts that I could not fully appreciate at the time but have grown to treasure over the years.

The writer of the Proverbs says: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (1:8-9).

The older I get, the more I realize that wisdom permeated Poppaw’s stories. He wasn’t telling me stories just to entertain or inform me. He was telling me his story with the hope that I would find wisdom in the retelling.

So tell me, who in your life is (was) worthy of listening to?

 

 

 

Becoming

Dennis Moles —  April 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

becoming

This past week my kids traveled down to Ohio to spend time with their grandparents. During the trip they received a gift from my dad—a digital recording of me playing basketball as a high school senior. I have to be honest, it’s more than a bit embarrassing—and I’m not just talking about the too-short shorts.

A lot has changed since those days—mostly me. These days I wear longer shorts, have grayer hair, and sport a much huskier physique. But it’s not just my clothing and body that have changed—so has my mind. It’s been a long road between there and here.

As I watched that video of my teammates and me running up and down the basketball court, I started to daydream about what I’d like to say to seventeen-year-old Dennis if I had the chance. I came up with four things.

  • Life is not a competition—your worth is not tied to winning.
  • Don’t be so judgmental.
  • Go fishing with Poppaw and ask him to tell you every story he can remember.
  • Spend time with Paul.

Those of you who know me, especially those who knew the seventeen-year-old me, will likely understand this list. For the rest of you, here are some insights that might help.

Seventeen-year-old Dennis didn’t understand that trying and failing is often better than winning or succeeding. He didn’t know that mercy triumphs over judgment. He didn’t realize that when his grandfather was telling him stories, he was actually passing along wisdom that could make his life much easier. And he certainly didn’t think he’d be sitting at Paul’s funeral 4 short years after graduation.

Take time to be with those you love. Listen to wisdom that comes from age. Extend mercy rather than judgment – it’s the way of Christ. Excellence is not a prerequisite for love or acceptance.

These have been hard-learned lessons—mostly because I have to keep learning them over and over.

The video my dad sent back with the kids reminds me that as human beings we are always becoming—always moving. Sixty-year-old Dennis won’t be the same at forty-year-old Dennis. I just hope he continues to move in the right direction.

Why Forgive?

Alyson Kieda —  April 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

453458265_61cf90be28_z (1) Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when it seems you are continually forgiving the same person over and over again. If you’re like me, you may forgive, sometimes grudgingly, but you wonder, When will that person ever change? Shouldn’t there be a limit to my forgiveness?

And the act of forgiving can be even more difficult when you learn the extent to which someone you know harmed your loved one and masqueraded the harm done under supposed Christian loving care and concern.

Recently, a wound inflicted on my loved one resurfaced. As I learned of the additional harm that that person had caused, my blood boiled. I felt so angry and helpless and full of regrets for what I could have done, if only I had known. But mostly, I wanted to cause that person harm—maybe not physically (although, if I’m honest, the thought did cross my mind) but definitely emotionally. I wanted that person to suffer for what he/she had done. I spouted and cried and finally prayed about it.

I’m working on forgiving that person once again, but it would be so easy to hold on and nurse the anger and hurt—and to retaliate. But I know that God calls me to forgive. And saying “no” to revenge is the first step. (I’m so glad that God keeps me from acting on such thoughts!)

I think of Peter’s inquiry of Jesus: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21 ESV). How did Jesus respond? “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v.22). Jesus did not make that statement lightly or casually. He knew what was soon to come.

What lay before Jesus was betrayal and desertion by His closest friends, humiliation, a brutal beating, mock trials, excruciating pain, and a horrible death. He had much inflicted upon His person that He needed to forgive. Yet He did so willingly! And He not only forgave those sins, but He suffered and died to pay the price for all the sins in the past, present, and future of all who believed in Him, so that they “should not perish but have eternal life.” Why? “Because God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

God loves us that much! In turn, He calls us to forgive others the way He has forgiven us. No, it’s not easy. It’s impossible! But it’s the renovation of our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to begin growing a heart of forgiveness. When I think of the many sins that I’ve committed—and how much God has personally forgiven me—forgiving others gets a little easier.

Santa Arrives!—Flickr/Creative Commons/MIKECNY

I recently heard a woman’s compelling story of victory through Christ over a persistent sin in her life. One thing she stated stood out in light of the upcoming Christmas holiday. She shared that when she learned as a young girl that there was no such thing as Santa, she also began to wonder about Jesus. She reasoned that if her parents could lie about Santa, surely Jesus could be a cleverly devised lie as well.

You may not have experienced what this woman did when she learned the truth about Santa, but you probably felt some disappointment, disillusionment, or even anger. I know that both my husband and I were disappointed when we learned that Santa wasn’t real and for us Christmas lost some of its magic, and that’s why we didn’t insist to our children that Santa was real. What we told them was that once upon a time there was a real person named Saint Nicholas and that Santa was patterned after him. We also told them that we give gifts at Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth. They were totally fine with that.

I’m not saying we should never tell the children in our life stories about Santa or the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy, but I think we need to think twice about how we do. After all Santa is a myth, and when we perpetuate the myth of Santa we can inadvertently downplay the true meaning of Christmas. We relegate the story of Jesus in the manger to just another heartwarming but fictitious story.

The story of Santa is a sweet little story, but that’s all it is. Jolly old Saint Nick brings gifts, but Jesus was the gift—God’s gift to us. Let’s remember this holiday season to put the emphasis on the Christ child, the Son of God, who left heaven to come to Earth to live as an example for us to follow and to suffer and die so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come!”

Let’s be honest: The family is a flawed institution. We’re all broken. We’re all part of a family that’s broken. All of us. No exceptions. Brokenness is normal.

But we’re not left without hope. And that’s the message Elisa and Evan Morgan shared with us in our webinar: The Myth of the Perfect Family.

While they didn’t attempt to glaze over the messiness of family life, Evan and Elisa described how God has been and still is restoring beauty in the midst of their brokenness because of His great love for broken people. He’s restoring hope and love because of the “broken family values” that they’ve learned along the way.

To listen to the audio recording of the webinar, click the link: Myth of the Perfect Family Webinar audio

To download the PowerPoint for the webinar, click the link: Myth of the Perfect Family Webinar PowerPoint

To get a free download of the introduction and first chapter of Elisa’s book The Beauty of Broken from Thomas Nelson, click on this link:

The Beauty of Broken (Free Sample Chapter)

To purchase the book Click Here

The 2012 film People Like Us tells the story (inspired by true events) of a slick-talking, self-assured salesman named Sam whose estranged father dies from cancer. Sam, who has stayed clear from his parents for years, reluctantly returns home and learns of a secret that turns his world completely upside down. In the process of fulfilling one of his father’s last wishes, he discovers that he has a sister, Frankie, whom he never knew existed.

Sam, much like his father, is not good at relationships. He doesn’t know how to open up or show empathy to others. Nor does he put a lot of stock in being part of a family. But Sam finds himself slowly pushing through his relational hiccups and reaches out to connect with Frankie, who has never recovered from being abandoned by her father as a child.

At first, Sam doesn’t tell her who he is. When Frankie, who is a struggling single mom, finally learns the truth, she feels utterly betrayed and wants nothing to do with Sam.

Eventually, Sam contacts Frankie again and attempts to apologize for keeping the truth from her. Frankie understandably asks him how she’s supposed to be able to trust him again. With the conviction of one who has been genuinely questioning everything he always believed about family and relationships, Sam says to her, “Because we’re family, and family makes mistakes . . . Let me be your brother.”

“Family makes mistakes.” As one who grew up in a family of nine and has raised a family of my own, that sure has been true for me. By no means does this excuse the mistakes we make with each other, but mistakes, big and small, are a common part of our brokenness as human beings. The families who realize this are the families who are open to giving each other second chances that allow broken relationships to recover and grow.

We invite you to join us for an RBC Webinar on September 19 at 12 p.m. EST https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1023795211087515648. Evan and Elisa Morgan will be sharing their story of struggle, heartache, redemption, and hope.

P.S. Be warned. If you happen to watch this movie, you are going to have to take the good with the bad. After all, it’s a Hollywood film. But from this viewer’s perspective, I was pleasantly moved by the message about the importance of family and second chances and found it to overwhelmingly outshine the inappropriate qualities of the film.

Tell Them Your Story

Dennis Moles —  September 12, 2013 — 2 Comments

We all have a story – but very often we don’t tell it.

As a minister, my story includes helping families say goodbye to loved ones. That’s what I was doing in Big Stone Gap, VA on April 12 of this past year: helping four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren say goodbye to their mom, grandma, and great grandma.

The difference on this crisp spring afternoon is that my wife was one of the eleven, my children three of the twenty, and my mother-in-law one of the four. This time it wasn’t someone else’s grandmother; it was mine.

We all have a story – and sometimes they’re painful.

After the interment, we all went to lunch and then loaded into the van and headed toward the little coal camp where my mother-in-law grew up. As we drove the winding roads of western Virginia, my wife’s mom told stories. She told stories about her childhood, about learning to drive on those crooked roads, about her parents and grandparents. She pointed out the little church she went to as a child. We saw the house she grew up in. For several hours that day, this place was home. It was home because we were seeing it thought the eyes of my mother-in-law.

We all have a story – and sometimes we don’t even know it.

The hours passed and the stories flowed. Some of them were new even to my father-in-law. That day, my children were given a great gift. Their grandmother told them her story – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. And in so doing, she told them THEIR story.

Some of our stories are happy and light, but many of them are sad and troubling. Some we feel are fit for public display while others are just a little too raw and unflattering for the world to see. That leads most of us to keep our stories in two categories: the ones we tell and the ones we don’t. But I wonder if that’s what’s best?

I think these unflattering and painful stories need to be told as well, as they can serve a special redemptive purpose. They communicate hope in a way that other stories can’t.

We all have a story – and all of it is worth telling.

If you think your story is too painful for God to redeem and use I’d invite you to join us for an RBC Webinar on September 19 at 12pm EST https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1023795211087515648. Host Tim Jackson will be speaking with Evan and Elisa Morgan about their story of struggle, heartache, redemption, and hope.

Hope to see you there!

In her new book The Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan writes in the introduction:

“Formulaic promises about the family may have originated in well-meaning intentions, but such thinking isn’t realistic. It’s not helpful. It’s not even kind—this prodding one another to think we can create something we can’t: families immune from breakage” (p. xii).

Like the vast majority of Christian parents, Elisa had bought into the unspoken, unwritten, and unrealistic expectation that if she did all the right things—like Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, and teaching her kids about God—then her kids would turn out okay or, in her words, would be “paragons of Christian virtue.” When the desired outcome was radically shattered by the entrance of issues like alcoholism, learning disabilities, legal issues, abortion, homosexuality, addiction, teen pregnancy, infertility, adoption, divorce, and death, Elisa was forced to confront the myth she’d wholeheartedly embraced: the myth of the perfect family.

The journey that Elisa and her husband, Evan, took together radically transformed their view of family life and values. They came to understand that there are no perfect families. Every family is broken because everyone in every family is broken. Broken families are the norm, not the exception.

And that’s why I’m excited to sit down with Elisa and Evan in our next RBC webinar to discuss their journey and what God has taught them along the way that we can all learn from as well. Please consider joining us on September 19, 2013, at 12:00 p.m. EDT for our webinar “The Myth of the Perfect Family.” Space is limited, so please sign up at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1023795211087515648