Raising Passionate Jesus Followers: The Power of Intentional Parenting (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018)

Raising Passionate Jesus Followers; The Power of Intentional ParentingI have enjoyed Phil and Diane Comer’s book, Raising Passionate Jesus Followers: The Power of Intentional Parenting. The authors who have been married for nearly 40 years, have raised four children and are grandparents to what they describe as a “cadre” of grandkids. Their life experience has equipped them to offer their seasoned advice for other parents.

…we invite you into our imperfect, messy, broken story so that you can catch glimpses of our Redeemer and the amazing grace He delights in bringing into your own less-than-ideal family.

They give real-life examples from their own experience about what did and didn’t work for them. They’re quick to admit their shortcomings as parents and the reality that there are no perfect parents. But being intentional in your parenting can make all the difference, they say. Raising Passionate Jesus Followers is a guide for creating in your child a heart that beats for God.

Strategies are given for parenting during different stages of child development. The Comers liken parenting to a building project: formulating the plan, laying the foundation (birth through age 5), doing the framing (ages 6-12), installing the functional systems (ages13-17), and opening the front door. 

I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that my husband and I didn’t have these skills when our children were growing up. Yet at the same time, there is confirmation that we did a lot of things right! The authors insights are helpful even now that we’re grandparents.

Phil and Diane Comer provide biblically-based parenting guidelines filled with encouragement–no matter where you are on your parenting journey.  Their principles can be summed up in this way:

What matters most is loving God with passion and loving others on purpose.

It’s this combination that gives children the opportunity to grow up to be passionate Jesus followers and to pass on this legacy to their own children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories… (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017)

The Rescue: Seven people, seven amazing storiesIf you’ve ever wondered if God is at work in individual lives, then you must read The Rescue. This book tells the stories of seven people impacted by the abuse or poor decisions of others– or by their own destructive choices. God’s intervention in their lives is nothing short of miraculous. An invitation to church, the “chance” hearing of a radio or TV sermon, or a flight attendant’s conversation with a passenger reading his Bible all changed the trajectory of their lives.

Once I started reading each story, I couldn’t put the book down. The author has done an excellent job of drawing you in to seven uniquely different and challenging life experiences. Each person faced extreme circumstances. Yet these powerful testimonies of Jesus’ redemption and healing offer hope and encouragement. More than likely, we may know someone who suffers from similar problems: drug addiction, sexual abuse, homelessness, and the negative impact for children growing up in dysfunctional, broken families.

When much of what we hear each day is bad news, The Rescue provides a ray of sunshine and hope. This book is a good choice for anyone who feels hopeless. Anyone who needs a boost of encouragement and the hope of having their life transformed will find good news here.

Thank you, Billy Graham: I’m One of the Lives You Touched

Billy Graham's life and ministry touched countelss lives“We all have a Billy Graham story,” one of his daughters said at his funeral last Friday. It’s true. The Reverend Billy Graham touched countless lives during his decades of ministry, including mine.

In 1979, I attended the Billy Graham Crusade on Okinawa, Japan. My husband Randy was stationed at Kadena Air Base, and we had just completed our first of three years living overseas. For months, the Christian community buzzed with excitement preparing for the crusade.

As a new Christian, I was curious about what the big deal was…but I soon found out. A crowd packed the stadium that night. Since Randy was away on temporary duty, our two young sons and I tagged along with some friends. We had seats up high in the stadium and no big screens to see close-up shots of the stage. But Rev. Graham’s message rang out loud and clear.

He presented the gospel simply and directly with his easy drawl. “Ya’ll come,” he said at the conclusion of his sermon. “Come just as you are.” Suddenly throngs of people streamed toward the field. Billy Graham encouraged people to keep coming. The hymn, “Just As I Am” accompanied the long lines of people going forward to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Let the Little Children Come

“Mommy, I have to go forward,” 5-year old Jeremy tugged at my hand.

“Oh, honey, ” I said to my young son, ” it’s wonderful that you want to go forward, but we can pray right here.” Making our way through the crowds and down onto the field seemed daunting.

Yet Jeremy insisted. “No, I need to go forward!”

I looked at my friends. How could we discourage this little guy? We all agreed. We inched our way down the stairs and onto the field. It was a moment I won’t ever forget. Hundreds of counselors waited for each person who came.  Now I understood why this event required months of preparation. It wasn’t just about hearing an inspiring message. Making a decision to follow Jesus meant taking action and having a follow-up plan. Both of our sons became Christians that night. They each received a small red New Testament Bible, as Jeremy recently reminded me. That night on Okinawa, our faith grew wings. Two little boys, now grown men, have memories of the night when they gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

At his father’s service, Ned Graham, described his father as being F.A.T. –Faithful, Available, and Teachable. I’m thankful he was all three. Because Billy Graham came to a remote island many years ago, our lives were changed.