BY SANDY POE

I have a confession: I am a mother hen. I always have been and probably always will be. As a young mom, I liked having my kids in the safe haven of my “nest”—under my wings and close to my heart. Now that they are grown and have families of their own, my favorite times with them are still in my home for a family dinner.

When our children are young, we are speaking into their hearts every day. These are the years we are intentional about helping to shape their lives and encourage them. We pray daily with them and for them.

I know most parents think when their kids are grown, their parenting days are over. But the old saying “once a parent, always a parent” is so true. We never outgrow the need for our parents’ approval, prayers and words of blessing. I’m not saying I always get it right, but there are a few ways I pray for and encourage my adult children.

One of the love languages Gary Chapman talks about in his book “The Five Love Languages” is words of affirmation. I’m a “words of affirmation” person. I think all of us are. I mean, think about it. Who doesn’t love hearing compliments, words of love, praise and encouragement? Here are a few things I sometimes say to my kids:

  • “You are doing a great job raising your kids.”
  • “I am proud of the life you have built with your spouse.”
  • “You look great in your new shirt, pants, dress, etc.”
  • “I love your new haircut.”
  • “I am proud of the way you use your gifts for God.”

Mark Twain said “I can live two months on a good compliment.” Me too, Mr. Twain, me too!

photo by Belinda Wysner

photo by Belinda Wysner

There are many other simple ways to reach out to your adult children. For instance, offering to babysit or keep their kids overnight is a love language all its own!

When I give my kids a card, I don’t just sign it “Love, Mom.” Steve and I have always been in the habit of writing a special note in their birthday cards or for other occasions. We like to use that opportunity to tell them what we appreciate and admire about them.

I try to be a good listener. Sometimes my kids just need to vent about a parenting issue or tough life situation.

Some days I will send a text or email and ask, “How can I pray for you today?” It’s just a simple way to let them know they are in my thoughts and prayers.

I don’t just pray for my kids; I pray with them! I have emailed prayers and prayed over the phone with my kids. But nothing beats being in the same room, putting my arm around them and agreeing together. I learned this firsthand from my own parents. When it’s time for me to come home after visiting my mom in Texas, she and I will typically stand in the middle of her living room with our arms around each other and take turns praying for one another. These are sweet moments I will remember forever.

While they aren’t in our nests forever, we can stay connected to our adult children’s hearts with encouragement and prayer through every season. And know this: You don’t have to be a great prayer warrior when praying for your children. The simplest prayer spoken with the simplest faith can set the wheels of heaven in motion. Trust Him to do great things for your children!

BY DIANA GORIN

At Northview’s Greater Lafayette campus, students haven’t had space for themselves. They have been meeting in the church lobby or a small closet classroom to do ministry. It was tight and not a good place for students to bring guests.

Northview's Greater Lafayette campus (photo by Juan Angarita)

Northview’s Greater Lafayette campus (photo by Juan Angarita)

There’s nothing kids like more than their own space. Staying in their room and being able to relax and unwind from a long day is what most kids like doing. Having their own space for ministry is no exception.

Northview is known for having a great student ministry. With spaces like North Beach and Area 56 at Northview’s Carmel and Fishers campuses, students are in an environment where they are able to stay engaged with their friends and learn more about God.

Northview’s Greater Lafayette campus has decided to expand to allow both Northview 7.12 and Area 56 to better reach children and students. This expansion will help them grow both spiritually and in attendance numbers.

Hundreds of students enter the doors of North Beach at the Carmel campus every weekend. Now, the Greater Lafayette campus can grow to over a hundred students in their location.

At the Carmel campus, North Beach is used by kickboxing classes, Zumba, parent meetings and other events. Now, Greater Lafayette’s additional space can also be used for meetings and for Northview Kids to use for Family Experience (FX). FX is a monthly teaching and worship program for children and their parents which introduces the upcoming month’s curriculum.

Patrick Ringer, Family Pastor at Northview’s Greater Lafayette campus said, “We needed the space because it brought the ability to give a home to Northview Students and it will impact the ministry by getting a better reach to students and help them grow.”

More information on Northview ministries for children and students can be found at www.northviewchurch.us.

BY TERI KNAPP

As believers in Christ, we are called to be God’s hands and feet – to help teach and reach the lost in a variety of ways. Because of that, we are often placed in situations where we have to step out of our comfort zone. We allhave a purpose and God can do amazing things through us when we are willing to serve. Agree? I do. However, I recently had nothing but rest and relaxation on my agenda for Spring Break 2014. You know what I discovered? God doesn’t take breaks.

I went to a mall one afternoon that was within walking distance. As I walked up to one of the stores, I discovered that it wouldn’t open for about 30 minutes. I was in Arizona and the weather was very pleasant. Rather than go back to the hotel, I walked over to a small table and sat down in one of the 4 chairs that surrounded it. There was a good breeze and I truly could’ve stayed in that spot all morning.

Within 2 minutes, a lady walked up and sat down in the chair next to me. I was a little uncomfortable at first because there were many (I mean MANY!) empty chairs in the area to choose from, and she chose the one right next to me! She looked at me and smiled, and mentioned that she thought the stores opened earlier. I agreed and then struggled for something else to say. This was so out of my comfort zone. I finally asked her if she lived in Arizona. I guess it was the right thing to ask, because from that point on, we talked for over 30 minutes!

Tina is her name. This 67 year-old sweet lady was originally from Vietnam. I had a difficult time keeping up with what she was trying to say and had to keep asking her to repeat what she said. She was very patient, and for whatever reason – she pretty much shared her life story with me. She never looked away, nor at her watch or phone….and neither did I.

She told me that she began working when she was 12 (so that she could help support 7 siblings.) If I understood her correctly, she has continued to send money back home to help support her mother and a couple other family members. She said that’s what God wanted her to do – so she does it. She really misses her mother, but doesn’t go back home often because of her stepfather. She said he’s mean to her when she visits, and often worries that he may harm her mother.

She got married when she was 20, then soon divorced because he had an affair. She was devastated. She still doesn’t understand it. She remarried only because she wasn’t independent enough to stay here on her own. Sadly her second husband had a gambling problem and spent all of their money. They were separated for 2 years – but he finally changed his ways. She smiled as she told me they are still married today.

What got me was that she was able to open up to a total stranger – me! I won’t go into all the details, but I just kept asking myself – and asking God – why is she telling me all of this, and what do you want me to say?!

Although I’m not exactly sure what God was teaching me, I’ll share an account of what I do know. In 30 minutes, a total stranger taught me how meaningful it is when someone trusts you enough to share their story. God used Tina to make me realize that there are no ‘breaks’ when it comes to sharing God’s love – even when it’s spring break.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. – Proverbs 16:9

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

The Friday Spiritual Column is entirely the opinion of this week’s writer and does not necessarily reflect the view of Northview Church as a whole.

 

 

 

BY BETH NICHOLAS

A recent mission trip to Nicaragua left a team from Northview “blessed beyond measure”. They went to serve but received much more than they gave and came back with changed perspectives. 

In 1914, South Pole explorer Earnest Shakelton advertised for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with these words: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” Over 5000 responded; 22 were selected as crew of the Endurance.

One hundred years later, a team from Northview responded to a call that could have read something like this: “People wanted for mission trip. Language barrier, extreme heat, frogger-style street crossing, can paper, widow-maker cold showers. Nicaraguan hugs and neck kisses in case of acceptance.”

Nicaraguan mission team from Northview

Nicaraguan mission team from Northview

Men and women from Northview answered the call to go to Nicaragua on a mission trip and were blessed beyond measure.

Northview women held three conferences for three different groups of Nicaraguan women. First, pastor’s wives and female pastors were invited for a two-day conference. This included worship, prayer, singing, talking, crafting, playing games, snacking, listening to testimonies and hearing speakers who mirrored their lives to women in the Bible.

Attendees came feeling apprehensive and sad about leaving family behind, and left with reluctance and tears. They came tired and left refreshed. They came alone and left bonded together in friendship, knowing they have the support of the women in other churches throughout Nicaragua and the United States. Mission team members and conference attendees all learned that they are far more similar than different, understanding that they serve one God, the same God, the living God.

Ladies in Nicaragua are encouraged

Ladies in Nicaragua are encouraged

The second event served the women of one local church. Pastor’s wife Ariana—one of the attendees of the two-day conference—invited 80 women, yet over 100 showed up for an evening of worship, prayer, dance, singing, Bible story charades, food and testimonies. The third event honored the women who work at La Quinta: the cooks, cleaners, and laundresses. Again, fun and food were provided for these beautiful ladies, giving them a break from their typical daily routines.

Enjoying getting to know one another

Enjoying some fun!

The three men on the team spent time with different groups of male pastors. They shared Bible teaching and then gave the Nicaraguan men a chance to ask questions and deepen their own understanding of the Bible. They expected 15 minutes of questions but the pastors were so hungry for information, they asked questions for two hours or more.

It’s hard to explain how a week in Nicaragua changes a person’s perspective on just about everything back in Indiana. The team went to serve, but received as much or more than those served. When asked to share a trip highlight, teammates responded with answers such as: “Watching the women of Nicaragua worship”, “Feeling the difference between greeting hugs and leaving hugs”, “Praying one-on-one with the women” and “Meeting sponsored child for first time”.

Hugging a sponsored child

Hugging a sponsored child

Praying together

Praying together

Are you ready to explore the wonders God has in store for you? For information on Northview’s upcoming mission trips, go to http://northviewchurch.us/serve/global/.

BY LANA TRENT

I’m a gadget girl. I love technology. Apple’s classic slogan—“There’s an app for that”—is true. I’m grateful that my iPhone and other gadgets, which are almost always with me, have apps that help me connect to my God who is always with me.

Are you looking for a good Bible app? There are many Bible apps on the market, and they range in price. Many have built-in reading plans, study material and more. Depending on what you are seeking, I recommend four Bible apps—all of which have full or light versions available for free on several platforms. First and foremost, I recommend the YouVersion app (https://www.bible.com/app). Northview Church uses the live functionality of this app, which gives me the message notes and verses at my fingertips. If you prefer to hear the Word, the YouVersion app has audio versions available as well. My second recommendation is the Bible.is app (http://www.bible.is/apps), which has videos and audio. If you want a Bible app with commentary and other study materials, the Olive Tree app (http://www.olivetree.com/) is my favorite. If you want the ultimate in cool with automation, great journaling and an amazing assortment of media, I recommend the glo Bible app (http://globible.com/).

photo by Jonathan Manbeck

photo by Jonathan Manbeck

Do you want to stop prayer guilt and remember to pray for those you said you would? I recommend the Prayer Notebook app (http://prayernotebookapp.com/), which is available only on Apple devices for a small fee. The Prayer Notebook works with my existing contacts and makes it easy for me to remember to pray as well as very easy for me to encourage a friend by email, text, tweet or Facebook update. Additionally, it lets me keep track of answered prayers and take notes, and it has an interface that is sharp and syncs across my devices. I pray for most of my family and friends once a week, and the Prayer Notebook helps me stay true to my word when I say I will pray.

Do you have difficulty memorizing Scripture? Use Scripture Typer (http://scripturetyper.com/), which is available for a small fee across platforms (Android, Apple and web). This app makes it extremely easy to memorize and review my verses. Scripture Typer is so smart; it respects different learning styles, provides verse lists for reference and allows different Bible versions. After just a few minutes each day, this app is helping me hide God’s Word in my heart and renew my mind. I have memorized at least four times the number of verses since getting the app than I did the previous ten years.

Finally, are you looking for a good devotional/Bible study? I recommend The Gospel Project (http://www.gospelproject.com/), which is available on Apple and Android devices. Created by LifeWay, The Gospel Project includes a number of lessons that each have 12 weeks of interactive material. I’m on my fourth set, and it is keeping my interest and challenging me. The Gospel Project for Kids family app is also available.

Whatever your device or access, there are numerous fresh ways to grow spiritually. I feel blessed to have so many rich resources literally at my fingertips.

BY FLOYD CURVIN

I was basically raised in a Christian household since I was baptized as a newborn baby. I don’t have any memories of early childhood, prior to my father committing suicide when I was five years old. After that, my mother released guardianship to my grandfather. I lived with my aunt and had very little communication with my mother until later in life. During my childhood, I would walk to Sunday School and meet my grandfather afterwards to attend church.  That was the extent of my Christian life growing up.

When I went away to college, I did not incorporate any Christian activities into my life. I continued going through life doing whatever I wanted and religion was not part of it. I’ve always considered myself a Christian but I never thought about God. I know He was with me but I kept pushing him away.

After college, I immediately signed up to join the Navy. Prior to leaving for boot camp, I met the love of my life, Brenda. Upon completion of boot camp, we were married in the Catholic Church my wife was raised in.

86% of our first year of marriage was spent apart due to Navy deployments. We lived for the next 33 years without God in our lives. In 2008, Brenda’s mom decided to be  baptized in the church she had been attending. We traveled to Michigan for her baptism. She lived in a very small town and while there, we kept running into the pastor everywhere we went. I truly think that was God trying to get our attention. We were going through a very tough period of our life so we listened. We returned to Indianapolis, sought out and joined a small church.

After a year at this small church, I was asked to join the leadership team. For the first year, I was the missions chair responsible for outreach. It was during that time we went on a mission trip to Nicaragua and stayed in the same place as a Northview team.

During that first year, I went to my first men’s Christian retreat. I hardly knew the men of the church, but I felt God urging me to go. It was on that retreat I met Brad. Over the last few years, Brad has become one of the most important people in my journey. I truly believe God placed him in my path to be an earthly angel to help guide me. His entire family has become our family and we worship with them often. His encouragement has helped me grow and taken me to new levels in my faith.

After a couple years, I felt unfulfilled at that small church and attending Sunday service began to feel more like an obligation than a desire. Brenda and I decided it might be time to look for a new church home.

Brenda’s co-worker Lori kept urging my wife to attend Alpha. Even though we weren’t members at Northview we decided to sign up. Alpha was such a learning experience and the people we met were so caring.  During the Alpha overnight, I finally realized that although I grew up without an earthly father, I did have a Father who loved me very much.  It’s at that point we decided to attend Northview in hopes of making it our new church home.  I attended both churches for a month until I finished my obligation on the leadership team at our old church.

We started attending Northview in January 2013 with the intention of taking it slow and not getting too involved too quickly.  We attended Starting Point and joined a Life Group in January 2013. I went on the Discipleship Walk in March 2013 and we both got involved in the Outreach team. So much for taking it slow. In one year, our life has changed immensely and we love Northview.

My journey during the last five years has been a gradual and difficult one. In January 2010, God got my attention when Brenda had a medical emergency and her surgeon told me she should have died. I held her cross necklace in my hand during the entire surgery and prayed to God to spare her life.

Baptism Weekend at Northview (photo by Josh Polk)

Baptism Weekend at Northview (photo by Josh Polk)

My decision to be baptized is a declaration that I am making the choice to give up my old way of life and after 58 years I am choosing to be obedient to God. I am definitely a work in progress, but I am now listening to God and being obedient, keeping Him in the forefront of my daily life.

BY RACHAEL GALIFFA

If you have been in the state of Indiana for more than 10 minutes in the last couple of months, you have been a victim to some of the most severe weather changes and temperature fluctuations in the history of the Midwest. One day will bring cool winds at a rainy 40⁰, the next a heat wave of 63⁰, followed by an aftershock of the polar vortex. Unable to fully put away the winter wear but in need of pulling out the lighter spring clothes, our closets are in a state of disarray and so are our hearts; at least mine is anyways.

These past few weeks I have allowed the weather to dictate my emotions. I’ll be cold and irritated walking from class to class at Purdue, wondering why it is snowing in March. Days later, when a little warmth comes, I’ll emerge out of my negative attitude like a bear coming out of hibernation and begin frolicking with bliss along the streets of West Lafayette. Well,  that may have been a bit of an exaggeration and maybe I don’t express those mood swings by jumping around like a goon, but it’s not too far off from how I’ve been allowing these weather changes to make me feel. During a conversation with a good friend of mine the other day, I realized that’s my feelings are not too far off from how we sometimes experience God’s plan for our life.

This friend of mine, a wonderful woman of faith who I look up to, was confiding in me about her family. We discovered that we have very similar father situations where our hope is strained by seeing them not fully surrender their lives to the Lord and the pride that keeps them saying that they have. We bonded over the shared frustration and the urge to cry how do you not get it? She wants her dad to understand the purpose of her pursuing full-time ministry with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) in which she is currently interning and that sharing the Gospel is a command for all of us to obey (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15). I want my dad to realize that there is more to me giving my life to Christ than just not wanting to be Catholic anymore- that we have so much freedom in Christ and don’t have to try and earn our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). I want him to know that Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). I left the conversation happy that someone could relate, but the Lord quickly revealed something I had yet to consider about His plan for my life.

If my friend’s dad had been 100% supportive and completely onboard with her joining CRU, she would miss out on being completely in awe of God when his heart finally does change. If my dad had been living for Jesus his entire life and later grew in some area of his faith, I wouldn’t see God’s glory shine as brightly as if I were to see signs of growth from where he is now. Do you see what I am getting at, friend? I am not saying that God is not glorified when people strong in their faith take more steps towards Him because that is exactly what I hope for with all of us. I am, however, wondering if that contrast in our lives and the lives of our family members didn’t exist or wasn’t as bold, if we would really recognize God working?  I don’t think I would.

A sunny day of 34⁰ really doesn’t seem that warm to us unless we have had a week in the negatives, does it? When the winter temperatures stay consistent, our perspectives are stagnant and a sunny day of 34⁰ isn’t so enjoyable. But when there is that strong difference, it makes us want to run around and play outside and embrace the newfound warmth despite how warm it really might be.

In Jeremiah 5:41 (NLT), God tells us, “I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.” God knows exactly where my friend’s dad’s and my own dad’s hearts are right now and the situation is never going to get out of His control. Even though we will always encounter brokenness in our lives, some much differently than others, one thing that is true for all cases is that the Lord will be glorified. God loves you and He wants the best for you. He has a plan. When we feel as if every door is slamming in our face, we still need to praise Him in the hallway and trust there is a reason and a purpose. Instead of dreading the cold that awaites us outside lately,  let’s recognize that warm weather will soon follow as we learn to dance in the snow, friends.

 

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