How to Get Your Kid Into Heaven

I read the following caption on the cover of WORTH Magazine: SPECIAL REPORT—HOW TO GET YOUR KID INTO HARVARD. In reading the article I found that regardless of how the screening process has changed, some policies remain the same. It seems that the best way to improve your chances of matriculating with the elite is to have a diploma from the right prep school.

Now, I never had any big plans to send my children to an Ivy League school, so obviously the allure of Harvard wasn’t what captured my attention. In fact, my first thought was, “Forget Harvard! We should be as concerned and determined to learn HOW TO GET YOUR KID INTO HEAVEN!” I’ve never seen that splashed across the newsstands with readers clamoring for how-tos in this area.

Thankfully, the Pearly Gates are much easier and more forgiving than the Ivy gates. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart.” The root word for train here is discipline, or to dedicate. After a child is born, we often go to the pastor to schedule a baby dedication. Many look at this as some sort of baptism for the child as it is dedicated back to the Lord. However, it is not the child who makes a vow…it is the parents.

From this we can assume as parents one of the first steps involved in GETTING OUR KID INTO HEAVEN is disciplining ourselves. It is important as the example for our child(ren) that we are in church at the appointed times and that we live a righteous (not perfect) life before them. We in essence are their prep school that will help determine if they gain entrance to “Heaven U.”

After our discipline, then we turn our attention to the child. There are some decisions as our children grow that cannot be left to their discretion. Church attendance is one of them. It is important that a child learn the “stories” of Jesus at a young age, as this will begin to shape his faith. As he continues to grow, he will form social bonds with others that are also believers. This will help to strengthen his stand when adversity comes. Then, soon we will find that we have raised a child who is strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Eph. 6:10). A child that may occasionally stray, but will not depart from the things that have been planted in his heart.

Then comes graduation day! We can stand proud and unafraid to send this new adult into the world. He is now equipped with everything he needs to succeed, because Professor Jesus is in the house!

Blessings to all Alumni,

What Makes a Good Mom?

This question was posed in an e-mail I received titled “FOR ALL THE MOTHERS.”

“What makes a good mother anyway?  Is it patience?

Compassion?  Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby,

cook dinner and sew a button on a shirt all at the same time?”

Of course, when I read this, I thought—broad hips?  All right, I’m in! But, seriously, what does make someone a good mother?  The answer has nothing to do with the ability to have a child. Thousands of women each year conceive and then put their children up for adoption because they lack what it takes to be a Mom…the determination to love unconditionally and unselfishly.  Good moms “corner the market” in the love department.

Does it take perfection?  On the contrary, it takes a woman who is willing to fail, but who learns from her mistakes and tries again.  A good mother knows that experience is the best teacher. She will learn all that she can from her successes and her failures so that she can pass her knowledge along to her children.

Do you need a college education to be a good mother?  Not really! It’s an amazing thing, but when God gives the gift of children, He equips us beyond what any university has to offer.  By the time our children are grown, we’ve acted as nurse, doctor, teacher, preacher, lawyer, counselor, banker, and nutritionist. So, instead of adding M.D. or P.H.D. after your name, just say I’m Kathy Word, G.O.M. (God Ordained Mom).  It is the highest degree one can hold, so walk with your head held high.

Do good moms work outside the home?  Some do…and some don’t. Do they sing beautiful lullabies?  Some do, and some should sing solo (so low no one can hear them).  Are they good cooks? Some are, but then again, some families thank God for fast food.  Are they stout, thin, pretty, plain, funny, solemn, friendly, reserved, dependable, scatterbrained, preoccupied or devoted?  That would probably depend on whom you ask.

Proverbs 31 tells us of a virtuous woman who is strong and kind.  She is a priceless treasure as she guards her husband’s heart and provides for and watches over her household.  The scriptures also tell us that a woman who fears the Lord will be praised. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalms 111:10) and the key ingredient to being “good” at whatever you do.  I guess the only way to know if someone is a good Mom is to go right to “the horse’s mouth”…ask her kids. Do they call her blessed?


The Whole Bunch of Us

There are many different varieties of grapes that can be harvested from the vineyards of Virginia to the Napa Valley. There are American hybrid blue-black grapes, known by such names as Fredonias, Aldens, and Bluebells. Then, there are white grapes known as Edelweiss or Kay Grays, and the beautiful red grapes in such varieties as Delawares, Reliance, and Swenson Reds. There are more grapes, suited to different climates, harvested during different seasons, and used in various ways than could ever be listed on these pages. These delectable clusters come in more varieties than one could imagine. Some are sweet, some sour, some tart, some have seeds and others don’t. But, even though there are many to choose from, it seems like everyone has his or her favorite…mine is green!

God has blessed this earth with welcoming landscapes and panoramic beauty, not the least of which is captivated in the vineyard. But there’s another bunch that He has created that is no less beautiful or diverse…the human race. Just like grapes, we come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We even tend to cluster. And, some of us are sweet, while others are down right sour. In a vineyard, each branch has its own individual character, growth habit and response to where it is planted. We too have our own ways of acting and reacting; people are different, but God loves us all. He doesn’t favor one over the other.
We live in a huge world, or cluster, that has been made smaller and smaller by technology and air travel. We can be around the world by computer in an instant, and by plane in a matter of hours. Yet, with all that we have gained in proximity, we still don’t have true community-that commonality that bonds us together.
Individuals have been rallied together by the cry to, “Save the Whales!,” by Neighborhood Crimewatch, and by tragedies such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorist attacks of 9-11. And, although we know by accounts in the Bible that singleness of purpose is a very powerful thing, we have yet to see what can be accomplished by true unity in this country.
John 15:5 says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit…” The operative word here is abide. It’s important that we stay connected to the Vine, in order to activate the power of God. We can make a world of difference in our community just by staying connected to Him and hearing and obeying His voice. He is calling us to “Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35) It’s time for us to go out and bring the harvest in.
With any training system in the vineyard, it is important that foliage be exposed to the sunlight for proper growth. With maximum exposure, the grapes grow to ripe, sweet perfection. I found this interesting, since it is essential that people be exposed to the “Son” light too. The Word says that when we lift Him up, all men will be drawn unto Him (John 12:32). That is where you and I come in. We become somewhat of a “training system” to those in our circle of influence, so they can become mature, sweet followers of the Lord.
In My Father’s Vineyard, Wayne Jacobsen encourages us to “cultivate relationships with unbelievers.” When we do this, they will witness the love of Jesus first hand through our kindness toward them. This time of one on one is when the real work is done. Your boss, co-worker, friend, dry cleaner, etc. may never give ear to your pastor, yet will not only give ear, but credence to you, because you’ve shown you care. You have an inroad…you have community with that person. You have listened, you have laughed, you have loved, and you have lived the Word right before their eyes. And, though you may never get to see them receive the gift of salvation, you have planted…or maybe watered, and God will give the increase (I Corinthians 3:6). Jacobsen expressed it beautifully when he wrote that, “Harvest time is ministry time. The fruit of our lives are then invested in others.” Some investments take longer than others to pay off, but God has promised that His Word will not go out and return void (Isaiah 55:11). You can trust Him to pay great dividends!
Let’s scatter some seed in our community and see what God can do. Imagine life in a community bonded together in the Vine. It’s harvest time…and there are no sour grapes here!

Kid’s Day Out

Many churches offer a program known as “Mother’s Day Out.”  The idea of the program is to offer safe, Christian child-care during a specified time so Mom can “take a break.”  What a great idea! With the pace we all seem to be running these days, it’s easy to understand why churches have moved to meet the need.  

Even the commercials on television sing to us, “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away…” But I’m not so sure it’s our children we need a break from.  Think about the last time that one of your children seemed to be “getting on your last nerve.” What was happening around you? Were you pushed by a deadline? Out of sorts with a coworker or friend?  Paying bills and wondering how to make ends meet? Unfortunately, we often take our stress out on our children. Why not turn it around? Take your children out of the stress! You’ll be doing them and yourself a big favor.

Don’t take a break from your children; take a break with them.  Plan a family picnic or let your child(ren) pick an activity you can all enjoy.  You don’t have to have finances to make memories with your child. Take a nature walk or get out those old game boards that have been gathering dust.  Set aside a time when your time is their time.  It will mean the world to them and add a whole new dimension to parenting.  Then to such titles as Mom, nurse, chauffeur, and disciplinarian, you can add friend.

There is a song titled, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” which was popular in the 70’s.  It recounts how a son goes to his dad with ideas of things they can do together.  He’s so excited about the prospect of spending time with his dad. In the chorus, he even professes, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”  The song progresses through the child’s life and it seems dad is never able to make time for his son. He promises throughout the song that when he’s able, “We’ll get together then, son.  You know we’ll have a good time then.” However, the song ends on a sad note—he has grown up to be “just like dad,” and the father is now in his golden years. He calls his son and expresses a longing for his company, but the son is so busy, he’s not sure he can make time for his dad.  But he declares if I can find the time, “We’ll get together then Dad, you know we’ll have a good time then.” Within this pop hit there is a very important lesson being taught. It is the principle of sowing and reaping. Invest in your children, sow richly into their lives, and you will reap bountifully.  (2Corinthians 9:6) God hasn’t called you to do anything more important, more meaningful, or more fulfilling than “raising up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6) Choose today to become a friend to your children. They are a gift from God. (Psalms 127:3) The Word tells us in Proverbs 17:17 that a friend loves at all times…that sure sounds like moms and dads to me!


Family Reunion

Aunt Erma’s red velvet cake…my cousin Doug playing his guitar singing “The Day the Music Died”…card tables playing host to all kinds of games and those around them exploding periodically with laughter.  Yes, it’s family reunion! I always looked forward to my Grandma Bailiff’s old photo albums and stories about my mom and her siblings were sure to bring on extra narrative from any aunts and uncles within earshot.  Every addition brought the hilarity to a new crescendo, as one story tumbled into another. Memories are like that. Memories are to be cherished and shared. Traditions can’t be traditions unless they are passed on.  

In pioneer days, extended families stuck together, worked and worshipped together.  They helped one another through sickness, failed crops, and lost loved ones. The thread that held them together through thick and thin was their love for the Lord and each other.  In fact, this love branched out and drew other folks passing through and communities began to spring up all over this nation. “By this shall all men know that yea are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).

Many extended families no longer get together for what we affectionately call family reunions, citing such excuses as not enough time, not enough funds, no transportation, or worse—no interest.  

My father was killed in an automobile accident when I was about twelve.  Since then, family reunions have been few and far between, and never the same on either side of the family.   When I was a child, I would run to embrace one of my cousins, Lisa, Twyla, or Darla as if they were long lost friends.  And they were; I loved them dearly. It is sad, but due to circumstances, we barely know one another today, and I feel a profound sense of loss.

Our families have been given to us as a gift from God, to make memories with—to love—to enjoy.  But, as with many gifts that have been given by God, we never open this package. We fail to benefit from our family ties as God intended.

We were at the home of a close friend recently, where I met one of his aunts from Virginia.  I was encouraged as she told us about a big family reunion she’d just been to in Corsicana, Texas.  She commented on how much fun it had been and then made this statement that is really at the heart of this chapter.  She said, “It was great seeing family we hadn’t seen in years and meeting family we’d never met before.” I thought immediately of the grandest family reunion ever planned, where the highlight won’t be Aunt Joyce’s potato salad.  Instead, all eyes will be on the One who gave His life for us. Like our earthly reunions, there will again be great food (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb), great company, laughter, and singing. But, unlike before, this reunion will be perfected by our Father who has made it possible for us to see family we haven’t seen in years and meet family we’ve never met before.  “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Hallelujah! Now that’s what I call a reunion!


Don’t Taint the Water

Proverbs 25:11
With so many highways for information and misinformation to enter our homes, it’s important that we pay close attention to what is going on around us.
We have become a society that no longer appreciates silence. Consequently we tend to leave televisions, radios and stereo systems running for no apparent reason. I have observed that in some instances, when the “noise” is turned off, it’s the quiet that seems disturbing and deafening. I’ve heard such comments as, “I turn it on out of habit;” “It’s the first thing I do when I get home;” “I like the noise;” or the one I’ll never understand, “ I can’t even sleep without the TV on!” This is a sad state of affairs when we constantly seek the clamor rather than the calm.
We must realize too, that every form of entertainment carries with it a spirit that affects our hearts and if we’re not conscientious will cause us to become desensitized to what we are hearing and viewing. As these mediums drown on and on unattended, so too are our spirits. We open ourselves up to be blindsided and sucked in by the enemy. Take note of what you allow into your home and remember that it doesn’t take much to taint the water.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” A wellspring is defined as a continual source and speaks of water that is fresh, never stagnant. Let the river of life flow through you and don’t taint the water.
Praise God from who all blessings flow, -Kat