This book was designed to help parents transition their kids from a Bible Storybook to a whole text Bible.
If you have children ages 8 – 12 and you want them to be reading their Bible and praying this books for you.
Some devotionals supplement the Bible and can be read on their own. This book avoids that and instead directs children to and through the Bible and in prayer.
This little book has helped tens of thousands of children start the journey of their own personal Time With God.
How many times have you heard a sermon framed around Jesus’ comments about the harvest? The ones I’ve heard usually come around to making the point that we should be involved in the harvest, tell everybody around us, all the time, about Jesus.
I’d like to ask you to read on as I look at this section of scripture more closely because I believe that it not only generally applies to all times, but it specifically applies to today as our world goes through a difficult financial time.
Matthew, Luke and John all record Jesus’ words about the Lord of the Harvest, but they all put them in a slightly different context. It’s likely that Jesus talked to his disciples about this more than once. I’d like to start with Matthew’s account.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35 – 38)
Notice that before Jesus said that the harvest (of people) was plentiful, the scripture gives us a glimpse of what he was thinking and why he said what he did. He saw the crowds and their situation, that they were harassed and helpless, and he had compassion on them. Jesus said the harvest was plentiful because of the state that the people of his time were in.
Let’s take a look at what the people who Jesus was looking at were going through. I’m not a historian but it doesn’t take much research to come up with a general picture. Not only were the people of Palestine under the heel of the Roman Empire, they were also suffering financially for it. First of all, the reason why tax collectors were hated was because the Roman empire was taxing the people beyond their means to pay. Add on top of that the taxes that Herod was inflicting on the people and the burden was unbearable.
Next, let’s look at loans and interest. The Jewish law limited interest by outlining when it could and could not be charged and how much could be charged. However, the Romans had no such laws and many of the Jewish people had left God’s laws behind in favor of greater profits. Some accounts say that interest rates were as high as 50%.
Here’s what was happening. The Romans demanded that their taxes be paid with money. Many of those who lived in this agrarian society didn’t have money, so they had to borrow it. The only way they could borrow money was to take out a mortgage on their property. Between rising taxes and rising interest rates, the property owners would end up in foreclosure and lose their land. As the rich got more and more land through economies of scale and the use of slaves to work their vast farms, they prospered and sent more and more families off their lands. Because those foreclosed on had no trade and slave labor was so cheap, many became destitute.
The system made the rich, richer – and the poor, poorer. The poorer you got, the more you needed loans and the higher the rate of interest you were charged. So financial devastation started due to ill-advised loans at high interest rates resulting in foreclosures in a system that favored the rich. Sound familiar?
Jesus saw that many of the people who flocked to him were sick, oppressed, financially devastated and in bad need of God’s love and intervention. That’s when he concluded that the fields were ready for harvest. Remember, it’s God’s goodness that leads us to repentance. Jesus knew (as he outlined in the story of the prodigal son) that many people don’t look up until they come to the end of their rope. When they do, God is there ready to show them his love (Jesus had compassion on them) and meet them where they are.
I believe that we are now in a time where again, the fields are getting white and ready for harvest. Although financial difficulties aren’t pleasant, we as Christians know that if we trust God, he’ll meet our needs. So should we be spending our time complaining about the times, or should we be praying that the Lord of the harvest send workers into the harvest?
In John 4, we find Jesus also talking about the harvest. He’s just finished talking to the woman at the well and is waiting for her return. He probably knows that she’s about to lead the whole village out to see him. The disciples offer him something to eat and he refuses saying, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” Then he went on to talk about the harvest.
Was Jesus saying that when we’re doing God’s will, we don’t need to eat? No, I believe that he was contrasting a physical harvest to a spiritual one and telling us that the spiritual one is of far greater importance. If we have to tighten our belts and learn to rely on God a little more for the sake of a spiritual harvest, it’s well worth it.
I know I’ve blogged on for a bit, but stick with me a little further. If we are in, or going into a time of harvest as I believe, what do we need to do besides pray? Let me return to those sermons we hear so often on Jesus’ words about the harvest.
It’s pointed out to us that Jesus said ‘pray for more workers’, then he immediately sent the ones he was talking to out to work. The sermon’s conclusion, when you pray, be willing to be sent. However, let’s go a little deeper. Why would Jesus tell them to pray and then instruct them to go? Why not just send them? They probably didn’t even have time to pray before he sent them.
I think Jesus did this as a reminder to them and to us that we are not in charge of the harvest. He is the Lord of the harvest and he is in charge of the times. He is the one who prepares the harvest and directs the workers. We are to pray that THE LORD SENDS workers into HIS harvest. That’s the emphasis.
We of course can gear up to help the poor and reach out to the hurting. We’ve been given those basic tasks. But more importantly, we need to pray and ask the Lord to send the workers that he needs to send, to do what he knows needs to be done, to reach those he knows are ready, in this time. Then like the disciples, we need to wait on our instructions and see what he wants us to do. Don’t worry about how you’ll get by, he’ll meet your needs. Don’t worry about how you’ll get it done, he empowered his disciples and sent them out with nothing, and don’t worry about how he’ll direct you. If you’re open to his direction and praying about the harvest, he’ll find a way to show you what to do. You may even already know.
And remember, as you go, the Gospel isn’t about populating our churches. It’s about God reaching out in love, wanting to adopt the lost and care for those who are hurting. We bring them to church so that they’re close enough to receive God’s love and help through us.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out Teaching Your Child to Pray.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
As you know when God calls us to do a work, he trains us for that work and often takes us through things that prepare us for the task. Real life is a really great teacher. I do not believe that God authors all of our difficulties. For example James tells us that God does not tempt us with evil. (James 1:13)
However God will teach us and strengthen us while he guides us through whatever comes our way and he will work everything out when we are walking with him. (Romans 8:28)
Having said that, I believe that God has wonderfully (and by his grace) taken me through some big and small storms and through it all he has prepared me to help and encourage and equip other parents and families. Here is the brief story.
- I was raised in a religious home without knowing Jesus as my savior.
- My parents separated when I was six. My Mom (a single mother on social assistance) raised my three siblings and me.
- I stopped listening to anyone at the age of thirteen and became a rebellious worldly teenager.
- My mother married my stepfather when I was thirteen.
- My father had remarried earlier and I have two half brothers and a half sister.
- My mother committed her life to Christ when I was about 17 and started praying for her family.
- I gave my life to Christ and my life was changed forever just before my 19th birthday.
- Shortly after this I married my high school girlfriend when I was 20.
- We had three children.
- When the kids were still quite young, my wife left. (This was the most difficult time of my life.)
- Although the children’s mother saw them, they lived with me full time and I experience what it’s like to be a single parent.
- Even though I was free to remarry, I told God that I was willing to stay single and devote more time to my children and helping other parents.
- God had another plan.
- A friend of mine who also was friends with the owner of eHarmony was insistent that I should give eHarmony a try. Even though I ignored him, he kept it up.
- When others started telling me the same thing I started to wonder. Then when the owner of eHarmony emailed me personally (in response to a request from our mutual friend) and invited me to join, I felt that God was in it.
- Through a wonderful series of Godincidences I met Luba and five months after our first date we were married.
Although in the beginning I promised myself that my family would never break apart, I now have a second wife and my children have a stepmother.
These are the personal family details in a nutshell. I have shared this with you to show that I am just a normal guy walking through a bumpy life trusting God. All the while doing my best to parent God’s way, allowing him to strengthen, teach and guide me through all life’s ups and downs.
And through it all, I believe one of the reasons he has taught me (and that I have gone through some of what I have gone through) is so that I could with grace, turn and help, strengthen, encourage and equip others who are facing the same and similar bumps.
My oldest daughter is now married to my awesome son-in-law and my first grandchild is providing me with more life experience to pass on. My second daughter is attending college and my teenage son (my inspiration for my books for boys) is still at home.
How should a Christian vote? It seems to me that, with very few exceptions, there are Christians backing each and every political party and asking others to do so along side them. There are Christians who align themselves with an issue or issues instead of a party. They believe that these issues are important to their Faith and therefore more important then their allegiance to a certain politician or political group. The problem here is that Christians seem to differ greatly in their opinions about which issues should be seen as paramount and also on what the stand on these issues should be. To top it all off there are Christians who believe that we shouldn’t get involved in politics at all. In short, Christians are all over the place regarding politics and how we should vote and in many cases are even opposing one another.
Please allow me to humbly throw my hat into the proverbial ring. However, instead of siding with any party or issue I would like to take a look at what God’s Word says about our vote. There are no scriptures that deal directly with government as we know it, democracy, voting etc. but there are teachings about our response to and responsibilities towards governments that can be applied to our vote today.
Let’s take a look at one of the primary New Testament portions of scripture that deals with church and government, 1 Timothy 2:1 – 4.
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1 – 4)
I don’t know about you but for years every time I read these verses or heard them preached the words “that we might live peaceful and quiet lives” always bothered me. Didn’t Jesus tell us that we are not to put the things of this life first but to put God’s Kingdom first? Didn’t he tell us that one of the first things we are to pray about is for his Kingdom and also that his will would be done on Earth? Isn’t it true that pretty much all of the New Testament writers and Jesus himself have called us to be witnesses for the Gospel and to endure persecution for doing so? Didn’t Paul, who wrote the above words to Timothy (and us) teach that we are to FIGHT the good fight, run the race to win the heavenly prize, to boldly share our Faith and also to expect persecution?
Perhaps I was misunderstanding the intent of Paul’s words to Timothy because the Bible does not contradict itself. The problem was that I wasn’t trying to understand Paul’s words in their context.
Please allow me to take the liberty of adding some commentary to Paul’s word’s so that I can get right to my point. Here’s what I now believe Paul to be saying in these verses, my words in parenthesis:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone (all people everywhere)–(Also) for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (So that we can get on with growing in Christ, sharing the Gospel with everyone, and expanding God’s Kingdom everywhere, as unimpeded by Kings and governments as possible.) This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (And praying for authorities will help us accomplish this.)
When Paul penned these words the church was being persecuted everywhere. Nero was governing Rome and not too long after these words were written Nero put Paul to death. Paul was letting Timothy and the Church, then and now, know that we should pray for the gospel to be spread to everyone everywhere and that we should pray for the governments everywhere because doing so can help us get the job done. The Christians of that day easily understood Paul’s words because they were attempting to follow the Gospel’s mandates and they were being persecuted and stalled at every turn.
Our focus is to be on the spreading of the Gospel not a quiet and peaceful life. We need the governments to not oppose us and perhaps even cooperate with us so that we can use the resulting peace and quiet to get on with our calling.
So how does this relate to politics, democracies and our votes as Christians today? Well in my estimation understanding Paul’s intent in these verses makes it simple. We are to stick with our Kingdom first purpose and pray for governments to not hinder us and perhaps even help us. Since in a democracy we have a say or a vote, our vote should mirror our purpose and prayer. Simply put we should vote for the person, party government etc who (after prayer and consideration) we believe is most likely to not hinder but to promote our God given purpose, to grow as Christians, to spread the Gospel and to expand God’s Kingdom.
Any vote for any other purpose by a Christian, say for the economy, more tax breaks, more money in our pockets is a misguided vote for a peaceful and quiet life for the sake of personal comfort.
It’s recorded six times in the Gospels that Jesus said that those who deny their lives for the sake of the Gospel will find their lives, but that those who put their lives first will lose them. Let your vote count, vote for those who will be more likely to support God’s agenda for this planet.
I appreciate and welcome your comments.
For help with teaching your children about their Faith, check out The Singing Bible.
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad)
This Bible Storybook was specifically designed to help Christian Parents establish their young children in the habit of regular prayer and Bible reading.
In about 12 minutes you can read the captivating story, ask your child the question supplied to stimulate conversation and pray through your regular nightly prayers along with the one supplied.
This is not just another Bible Storybook. It teaches your child what the Bible is and how we should use it. It tells the whole story of God’s Word, focuses on Jesus and their salvation and helps them learn what the Bible says about how we are to live.
Recommended for children under eight years old, best for children ages 3 – 8. Buy Now
What other Christian Leaders have said about this Christian classic says it all.
Teaching Your Child How to Pray is must reading for all parents who are concerned and burdened about the spiritual development of their children (Dr. Tony Evans)
Rick writes and teaches what he lives. I heartily recommend Rick’s resources to every parent. Rick is one of God’s gifts to parents. (Josh D. McDowell)
In a step by step approach, Rick Osborne lays out a plan for working with children that meets their needs from the beginning of their lives, but the plan is just as effective for someone starting the learning process with older children. (Dr. D. James Kennedy)
I’m happy to recommend this book by Rick Osborne, who is able to communicate this message to parents and guide them in teaching their children to pray. (Larry Burkett)
This is not just another boring ‘how to’ book. In Teaching Your Child How to Pray, Rick Osborne makes this important venture challenging and exciting for both parents and their children. (Tim Wildmon)
Rick Osborne has done a masterful job of bringing together important principles and outstanding guidelines in Teaching Your Child How to Pray. Combined with the reader’s prayers, I believe the Lord will greatly use this book to revolutionize and strengthen the spiritual lives of their children, providing them a solid foundation from which, the Lord promises in His Word, they “will not depart”. (Vonette Bright)
This book is not just recommended. According to many it is essential reading for every Christian parent.
A parent’s practical guide to God, Bible stories, children and church, bedtime prayers, virtues, and other spiritual stuff.
This book answers over thirty how-to questions commonly asked by parents about everything Christian.
Questions like, “How can I show my children that the Bible is trustworthy?” and, “What can I tell my kids about Heaven?”
The text does not just stop with the answers but moves beyond and supplies easy tools for getting the job done.
This book is recommended for parents who want practical hands on help with the basics.
A great gift idea for new parents, for relatively new Christians with kids, or for those who are contemplating reconnecting with their Christian heritage now that they have kids.
The idea behind this resource was to provide mealtime conversation starters for those parents who feel that the conversation around the dinner table could be used more constructively and possibly as a family devotion time. (It is a nice alternative to those long prayers that let the food get cold.)
I would recommend it for families with children between the ages of five and early teen. It is ideal for those that would like to capture this time and spur on conversation about our Faith on a daily bases. But it is also beneficial for diving into from time to time and finding the topic that is your family’s current hot potato and use it to get the discussion rolling. Buy Now
I’m not a fan of the Simpsons but I had to chuckle when I heard an ad for the show. Homer said, “Why do things that happen to stupid people keep happening to me?”
Very few of us would ever seriously ask that same question but how about if we tweaked it slightly, “Why do things that take place in stupid families keep on happening in mine?”
Isn’t that kind of what we’re asking when we get frustrated and throw out questions like, “Why must everything be a fight?” “Can’t anyone clean up after themselves?” “Would it hurt anyone to help out a bit for a change?” “For once, could you please just get along?”
One day many years ago, a friend and fellow worker very politely pointed out that I had a bad habit of interrupting him pretty much whenever he spoke. I admitted I had the problem, apologized and told him that I was going to do something about it. In the days that followed, he politely reminded me time and time again. I responded the same way each time.
A week or two later my friend reached the end of his patience and said, “Every time I talk about this, you say that you’re going to do something about it. Stop putting it off! Make a decision to change and do something about it now.”
I stopped and prayed on the spot for God’s help and I made a decision. Once the decision was made, I began paying attention and I put some effort into learning the skills I needed like really listening and following up with a question.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I stopped interrupting however the biggest benefit of my friend’s rebuke was that I later learned how to apply the change principle in my family. Let me give you a brief example.
Once our family was suffering from chronic tornado kitchen syndrome. At first I whined, I complained and I asked the ‘Homer Simpson’ style questions.
My wonderful wife pointed out that perhaps we needed to do something different if we wanted change. (Where had I heard that before?) After some prayer and thought, I taped a note to the kitchen counter and had a family meeting and the fun began. If a single thing was out of place after someone left the kitchen they were on kitchen duty until the next time someone was caught. For awhile everyone was catching everyone else and kitchen duty revolved frequently. Within a few weeks everyone was getting the hang of ‘the game’ and those caught were spending longer periods of time on kitchen duty which made it even more important not to mess up.
What needs to change in your family? Is it the way you communicate with each other, are the kids not helping out, is the sibling rivalry fierce, are you constantly cleaning up after everyone? Here’s what you do, pick one thing that you want to change, pray about it and ask for wisdom. Now go looking for wisdom, search this site or other Christian parenting sites, Google the problem, read a parenting book, anything you need to do to find an idea or solution.
Proverbs 9 says that wisdom has prepared a huge banquet and she’s yelling, “Come and get it.” Finding the wisdom is very seldom difficult once you’ve decided on change. Now have a family meeting and get started.
What I found out was that small efforts at change can yield big results. A simple fun game in the kitchen led to everyone learning skills that began to spread to the rest of the house. My simple decision to stop interrupting people led me to better communication skills and therefore to better and stronger relationships.
The things that happen to stupid people happen to Homer Simpson and us not because we’re stupid but because we keep doing the same things over and over again and that’s stupid. And if we expect any change without changing, according to Einstein, that’s insane. Start today and fight stupidity and insanity with a little change.
For more quick and easy parenting tips for bringing change to your family, we recommend the e-Book “The Seven Mistakes Parents of Toddlers Make”
(RICK OSBORNE / Christian Author, Speaker & Dad – your source for Christian Parenting advice)
During the worship service in church we sang a song from Psalms 84. When I sang David’s words, “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere,” it struck me that David romanced God. He sang to him, he danced before him, he yearned to be in his presence, he wrote many psalms pouring out his heart and feelings towards him and he showed him his love with extravagant displays of adventurous obedience.
After having that thought, my mind jumped immediately to the same question that yours just did, “Can someone romance God? Isn’t romance reserved as a wonderful dance between a man and a woman?” So I looked up the word romance. While it is true that the word romance has, for the most part, come to refer to the expression of love between lovers, its origin and breath of meaning reveals other possibilities of use for this powerful word. Read more