Parents: New Evidence That Your Faith Influence Matters Most

Parenting Begins at Home Devotional

Today’s guest post is by Rev. Mark Holmen, an international consultant and speaker for the “Faith at Home” movement that equips congregations to make the home the primary place where faith is nurtured. Holmen served as the senior pastor of Ventura Missionary Church until recently when he stepped down to pursue full-time ministry with Faith at Home.

Studies over the past 10 years have revealed that mom and dad, and what they do in the home, is two to three times more influential than any church program when it comes to passing on faith to children.

Unfortunately, studies also reveal that parents are becoming less engaged in faith behaviors at home, like prayer, Bible reading, and faith conversations, abdicating this opportunity and responsibility to church programs. Yet, as good as these programs are, they alone are not enough, as studies show that somewhere between 60%–90% of kids who are active in church programs are walking away from their Christian faith as young adults.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my child to walk away from her faith in Jesus Christ, especially when eternal life is at stake. And if what I do as a parent at home is the most influential thing in leading her to a lasting faith in Christ, then I would like some creative ideas and tools for how to do this, which is what the Faith Begins @ Home series is all about.

In each booklet, you’ll find inspirational stories and practical ideas that I’ve  gained from my experience working with thousands of families. I struggle connecting with authors or speakers who simply point out the problem but don’t provide practical things you can do to address it, so these booklets are filled with practical ideas that you can learn from and apply in your home.

Parents and grandparents: help is on the way!

From the first two booklets, which were written for moms and dads, to the booklets on prayer and devotions, our goal was to inspire, motivate, and equip parents to become the primary faith influencers in their children’s lives through practical activities at home. We also just released two new booklets that continue with this theme and expand on it to reach both parents of teenagers and grandparents: Faith Begins @ Home Family and Faith Begins @ Home Grandparents. I couldn’t be more excited about these new booklets, as they address many of the questions and concerns I’ve heard repeatedly at parenting seminars around the world.

Grandparents want help so that they can remain a spiritual influence in the lives of their adult children and grandchildren, yet they have numerous roadblocks that make this difficult. Faith Begins @ Home Grandparents provides roadblock-busting ideas to help grandparents stay in the game as spiritual influencers. Many parents of teenagers run into unexpected difficulties along the way, and Faith Begins @ Home Family introduces readers to those realities, helping them see how other parents handled these difficulties in a faith-at-home manner that provides practical ideas we can use if and when we face similar situations.

I hope and pray these books will be a blessing to you and your family.

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Get his ebook Church + Home: The Proven Formula for Building Lifelong Faith for just $4.99 through May 31!

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Clean, Untangled Grief

SwingsToday’s guest post is by Jennifer Grant, a columnist and author of four books, including Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter and MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a FamilyMOMumental takes readers into the amusing, creative, and taxing process of raising a family—get it for just $2.24.

My son and I sit side by side in the auditorium on “accepted students” day. The stage is empty, save for a podium emblazoned with the university’s seal. Behind it hangs about 40 banners, each lettered with one of the school’s majors: English, chemistry, Chinese, sociology, statistics, and so on. My son stares straight ahead, his eyes wide open, focused.

Triumphant music begins, and current students sprint onto the stage and start tossing T-shirts and stuffed animals at the audience. The university’s president jogs up the steps, stands behind the podium, and congratulates the high-school seniors in attendance for surviving the brutal and selective admissions process. His tone is welcoming, celebratory.

“It’s like you won the Hunger Games,” I whisper. My son laughs.

My mind flashes to another day 12 years before, when I sat beside my son in an elementary-school gym. The principal told us how excited he was to meet the incoming kindergartners and their parents. His tone was welcoming, celebratory. My serious little son stared straight ahead, eyes wide open, focused.

Afterward, the two of us walked out onto the playground and stood at the tetherball pole, chatting and hitting the ball back and forth before walking into town for lunch. He ordered grilled cheese, fries, and lemonade.

I didn’t take pictures of my son at the kindergarten orientation or in the restaurant. A dozen years ago, proud, nervous parents like me weren’t armed with smartphones. But I did take mental pictures that day. I knew it was a momentous one and remember thinking, “So it begins.”

I knew that when we crossed over to the other side of his school years in 12 years’ time, he would go off to college and then depart into adulthood. He’d still be very much himself and would always be my child, but he’d be his own person. Things would shift, and we’d have to recalibrate what it meant to be in relationship with each other.

Sometimes, lately, when my kids are engaged in a backyard soccer game or sitting at the kitchen counter eating breakfast before school or during any of a hundred other everyday moments, I take focused, mental pictures. I want to remember every detail of the four of them together. I know that a chapter is ending. Next year, much of the time, there will only be three of them.

And when I post a picture of my son and his younger siblings these days, I sometimes use the hashtag “#sunrise/sunset.” The lighthearted phrase masks more complicated feelings of loss.

In Fiddler on the Roof, at their daughter Tzeitel’s wedding, Tevya and Golde sing:

When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days

When children are very young, days can feel anything but “swift” or “flowing.” A mother who spends the day perched on the edge of the bathtub, trying to entreat her toddler to use the toilet or waiting up when a child is home much later than expected, feels quite the opposite. We slowly trudge through many days and nights.

But then, suddenly they’re grown, itching to be independent, almost ready to leave home. These people who used to count on us to tie their shoes and answer all of their questions and cross them over to the other side of the street suddenly face enormous decisions—including where they’ll spend their college years.

After the meeting in the university auditorium, my son and I stop for lunch in the student center. Standing beside me, taller than me now, he orders a grilled cheese sandwich and fries. He fills a glass with lemonade.

I take a deep breath, and I remind myself that this—this growth, this health, this imminent independence—was always the goal and eventuality. And although what I feel is a kind of grief, it’s a clean and untangled one.

Things are as they should be.

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Get more from Grant in her amusing and relatable book, MOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family—download it today for just $2.24!


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Finding a Faith Stronger than Your Fear

An Untroubled Heart

Today’s guest post is by Micca Campbell—an author, a national speaker, outreach director for Proverbs 31 Ministries, and ParentLife Magazine’s 2004 Mother of the Year. After a house fire claimed the life of her husband, Campbell found herself alone, a new mother, and a widow at 21. As one who has experienced grief, Campbell tenderly demonstrates—with wisdom and authenticity—how God is enough, even in the darkest of times. In her powerful book, An Untroubled Heart: Finding a Faith That Is Stronger Than All My Fears, Campbell shares remarkable insights to help you lay down your worries and trust in the Lord. Get An Untroubled Heart on Vyrso today.

“Porter has been in an accident,” he said with regret.

Quickly, I packed a diaper bag for our son, dropped him off at a friend’s house, and dad drove me to the hospital.

Earlier that morning, Porter had gone to my brother-in-law’s house to help him waterproof his basement. My brother-in-law had dug a seven-foot ditch around the foundation of the house with a backhoe so that Porter could apply the waterproofing substance to the outside wall. Realizing the substance was highly flammable, Porter felt confident that working outdoors would allow the fumes to escape preventing any danger. Unfortunately, as they worked, the fumes mounted in the ditch. With only five feet left, the outside heating and air-conditioning unit clicked on—igniting the fumes—and the ditch exploded. The blast of fire left Porter and our brother-in-law badly burned over the majority of their bodies.

When my dad and I arrived at the burn center, my mom and sister were already there. The nurse escorted all of us to a small room where the doctor tried to prepare us for what we were about to see. His explanation was quick and to the point. My brother-in-law had been burned over 40 percent of his body, yet they expected full recovery. On the other hand, my husband had been burned over 80 percent of his body both inside and out. They gave him a fifty-fifty chance to survive.

When my sister and I finally got to see them, we could hardly believe our eyes. Their heads were twice the normal size. Their skin was blackened, and Porter’s flesh was falling from his arms. They were unrecognizable.

To prevent blood poisoning, the doctor preformed a procedure called skin grafting. The wait was long. I began to worry if everything was going well or not.

Later, the doctor—still in his surgical clothes—walked slowly into the waiting room with his head hung low and his shoulders slouched. Slowly, he bent down in front of my chair and began confirming my worst fears. “In the middle of surgery, Porter went into cardiac arrest,” he explained as gently as he could. “His burned body was unable to withstand the trauma of surgery and we lost him.”

I could feel my chest tighten. It was hard to breathe, as if the doctor was choking me with his every word. Before he could speak again, I stood up and took off running. I ran until I found myself on the roof of one of the hospital buildings. I suppose I had to get as close to God as possible. Who else could help me now? There, on the roof, I begged God to save my husband.

As the clock ticked down, there was no response. The doctor tested for brain waves and found none. Soon his organs began to shut down too. As I sat beside him, I knew Porter had already left me. I just couldn’t let go of him. I just couldn’t. Then, a strength came over me, enabling me to do what I couldn’t have done alone. I walked into the waiting room and announced to family and friends, “He’s gone.” Sometime after that, the doctor turned off his life-giving machine and Porter passed from this world into Jesus’ arms.

Finding hope for the future

When the funeral was over and the people were gone, I found myself as a new mom of an infant son and a widow at the age of 21. Suddenly, my troubled heart was gripped by fear. I feared both the present and the unknown future of my son and me.

Yet in my darkest moment, God began to teach me his remedy for my deepest fears. As I learned to trust him again, I developed a faith that is stronger than all my fear. Today, I can boldly say, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Friend, your present-day fears are fueled by your past experiences. Nevertheless, God doesn’t want you to go through the rest of your life justifying your fears. Nor does he want you to live behind some protective wall that shields you from what might happen. God wants to teach you that it’s safe to trust him. Even if you don’t have all the answers, your past will never make sense until you invite God into your present. Only then will you develop an untroubled heart with a faith stronger than all your fear.

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Discover how to overcome your fears and find strength and peace in Christ: get Micca Campbell’s An Untroubled Heart: Finding a Faith That Is Stronger Than All My Fears today.

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Today’s Family-Ministry Mistakes: What We’re Doing Wrong and How to Fix It

Michelle AnthonyToday’s interview is with Dr. Michelle Anthony, vice president of curriculum and family-ministry architect at David C. Cook. She’s authored Spiritual Parenting and Dreaming of More for the Next Generation: Lifetime Faith Ignited by Family Ministry, and has over 25 years of church-ministry and leadership experience in children’s and family ministries. Download her parenting resources today!

1. What are some practical ways parents can help their kids discover and embrace their faith?

One thing I’ve always said is, “You can’t give away something that you don’t already have.” In short, one of the most practical ways parents can pass on faith to their children is to engage in a vibrant, healthy, and growing relationship with Jesus themselves. Too often we get caught up in the “passing on of faith” to our kids without the “daily growing in faith” for ourselves.

Another very practical way to make faith come alive is to call out how God is at work in daily situations. Parents can often communicate that faith is something that happens at weekend services and during meals and bedtime prayers, without even knowing it. Helping our kids understand that God paints a beautiful sunset every night, or that he’s the provider for something the family needed that came to pass, or he’s the giver of grace—these are all good ways to bring God into the common areas of life.

2. What are some of the biggest challenges you see in family ministry today?

Families are broken and hurting. They’re busy and distracted. Most know that God is important, but they don’t know how to “add” God to their daily lives. The problem is that they see God as an “add-on.” Family ministry can help parents see that there’s no division between the sacred and the secular, and that all necessary aspects in life can be “redeemed” for teaching faith and growing spiritually. Learning to seamlessly integrate faith into life is the commission of every family ministry in every church to every parent/family.

3. As the general family structure changes, how do you see family ministry changing in the church?

One of the biggest challenges is that family ministry has become a “program” in the modern church. We set up events and programs for kids and their families and we often “check the box” that we now have a family ministry. However, until the church begins to minister to families, we won’t truly have family ministry. To minister to families means we’re going to need to get dirty in the issues that plague the modern family. We’re going to need to do less and create space to listen more.

Once we listen, we’ll find that the challenges are far beyond our wildest concerns. The brokenness of today’s family—even  the Christian ones—is staggering. The hope is that God’s good news looks “gooder” when things get worse. The grace that the gospel offers families is sufficient, but families are afraid to expose their brokenness. We need to provide safe places for families to share their hurt, pain, and dysfunction, and then create programs that actually meet those needs. Until then, we simply have great family programs, but not necessarily family ministry.

4. How can the church help parents raise their kids?

The church will need to take Ephesians 4 quite literally as we seek to “equip the saints to do the work of the Lord.” The role of the church is not to provide great children’s programs as much as it is to provide great parenting resources that allow parents to grow spiritually, and to know how to create an environment in their home where God is put on display in all circumstances.

Parents need tools and support. As for tools, they need training on issues that are unique to our generation. Tools that their parents did not or could not have passed on to them. We’ll need to reach out to professionals in areas of substance abuse, learning disabilities, and on issues such as autism, eating disorders, and addiction. As for support, parents need to understand how God truly intended for us to parent. It’s not so much teaching our children how to act “Christianly,” but rather how to lean into a relationship with God through his Spirit. The former allows for action without heart, which ultimately leads to kids leaving the church and their faith later in life.

5. According to Scripture, what does the ideal parent look like? How can parents practically achieve this today?

The ideal parent is an oxymoron, isn’t it? Anyone who has been a parent knows that it sheds light on all our insecurities and imperfections. However, it’s in the very moment of inadequacy that God can begin to do what only he can. Only God can do the supernatural work of transformation. So that aside, the ideal parent is one who is leaning into a real-time relationship with God as “first in charge.” A life surrendered to playing out the script from our heavenly Father each day . . . as written.

6. How can parents and churches encourage kids to step out of their comfort zones spiritually, without making kids so uncomfortable that they leave the church?

The interesting thing about the spiritual idea of “out of the comfort zone” is not so much taking kids to places that are uncomfortable for uncomfortable’s sake—its main agenda is to take kids to places where they exhaust their human resources or gifts, so that they learn reliance on God’s Spirit. When we’re self-sufficient, we don’t really understand the power of God. When we strip down these safeguards, we learn what it means to “abide in” and “lean on” God.

7. How has your own family shaped your understanding of family ministry?

Having children literally changed everything for me. First, it changed my view of God. I now understood how he could love me and offer grace in the midst of my imperfections. I understood that he didn’t want me to perform—he wanted a relationship with me. Once I digested that, I began to understand that God was spiritually parenting me. And in the same manner, he wanted me to pass on to my children that which he was giving me. He wanted me to put him on display in my home.

When I “got it right,” I could say, “That’s how Jesus would behave,” and when I got it wrong, I could say, “That didn’t represent Jesus.” The beauty in this is that it took the pressure of perfection away and thus the hypocrisy that comes with it.

To me, family ministry is helping every parent of every child have this “Aha! moment”—when they do, our ministry will become vastly different than it is today.

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Learn more about effective parenting and healthy family ministry: get Dr. Anthony’s Spiritual Parenting and Dreaming of More for the Next Generation: Lifetime Faith Ignited by Family Ministry on Vyrso today!

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Don’t Pity the Working Mom

Chasing Superwoman

Today’s guest post is by Susan DiMickele, a lawyer and author whose work touches working moms struggling to live an authentic Christian faith in a fast-paced world. DiMickele’s first book, Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventures in Life and Faith, is a funny, intelligent, and relevant exploration of living out your faith while juggling responsibilities at home and at work. Get Chasing Superwoman today!

I was picking up my daughter from Sunday school when another mother started cross-examining me about my job. We’d met once or twice, and she didn’t realize I was a lawyer until my daughter (then age 6) announced my occupation to the class.

After explaining to her where I worked, she wanted to know why I work for a large law firm, why I don’t work part time, and why part time isn’t an option. And she genuinely felt sorry for me.

“You poor thing. You must work all the time.”

Mind you, I don’t believe this woman was judging me. She just appeared confused and genuinely concerned that I was missing out on a more fulfilling life.

In response, did I explain to her that I’m actually quite satisfied in my daily work, that I have new opportunities every day to serve God in my profession, and while my job isn’t perfect, I’m more than grateful for my work as a lawyer?

Not exactly. I found myself apologizing for my occupation and even being dishonest: “Oh, I don’t really work that much. And it’s really quite manageable.”

Who am I kidding?

I started to walk toward the exit when I ran into another mother. We used to serve in mid-week youth programs together and hadn’t seen each other in months. She greeted me with a hug and smile and said, “Hey, Susan, how’s your book doing? Are you still writing?”

In response, did I seize the moment and explain that writing is my passion? That I write for sheer joy and privilege and I’m even part of an online community of writers where we integrate both faith and work?

Not exactly. I found myself downplaying my writing and again being dishonest. “Well, my writing is more of a hobby than anything else. But thanks for asking.”

I can’t explain my response. While I champion the integration of faith and work on paper (and even encourage readers to do the same), I’m obviously struggling to be authentic. When given the dance floor, I’d rather pass and revert into a cycle of dualism, completely separating my spiritual life from my daily work. And if I can’t be honest about my passions with my own church family, how can I be honest with myself?

Maybe I don’t have the guts to admit that I love my work. Maybe I’m too prideful to call my work spiritual or even good. Yet even though I work too many hours, travel more than I’d like, and struggle to find time to write when I’m not tied to carpool duty or a billable hour, I actually believe that God is involved in each and every detail of my day. And that my work makes a difference.

In Ephesians 2:10, the apostle Paul explains that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” In other words, regardless of whether I’m in the courtroom or the kitchen, I’m supposed to be doing good works. In fact, God even prepared these good works in advance. My pastor once explained that the Greek word for workmanship is actually poiema. It’s where we get the English word poem, and it’s often used in Scripture to refer to God’s creative activity.

I have never thought of my work as a poem, have you? Not just a poem, but a poem that God himself is writing. A poem that God has even prepared in advance. The next time I make excuses for my work, the next time I doubt that God is really involved in my daily grind, I’m going to start speaking Greek. I’m not just a lawyer, a mother, a wife, a daughter, or an author. According to God, I’m a poet! And that’s reason enough to stop chasing superwoman and embrace my daily work.

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Discover how to juggle responsibilities at home and at work while confidently living out your faith: get DiMickele’s Chasing Superwoman: A Working Mom’s Adventures in Life and Faith today!

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Introducing 10 Days of Parenting Bundles: Get 70% Off!

Vyrso stock photo tall

Today we’re kicking off Vyrso’s 10 Days of Parenting! Through May 14, we’ll introduce a new 24-hour book bundle every weekday that’s perfect for moms and dads everywhere! We’ll also feature practical, biblically sound parenting advice in interviews and guest posts from some of your favorite Christian authors.

Stay tuned to Vyrso Voice for a new parenting bundle every week day!

Get 70% off the Wise Parenting Bundle

Today only, we’re offering the Wise Parenting Bundle for just $11.99! You’ll get these four books for 70% off:

1. God’s Wisdom for Your Life: Parents’ Edition by Tina Krause

Get over a 1,000 biblical insights on parenting in one concise and easily searchable book. Broken down into 70 key life topics, this book offers a short explanation along with relevant Bible verses on faith, attitude, commitment, doubt, and more. Just go to the table of contents, click on any of the topic links, and it takes you straight to the information and encouragement you need to grow as a parent.

2. 14 Secrets to Better Parenting: Powerful Principles from the Bible by Dave Earley

Need parenting advice? Go to one of the best resources on parenting ever created—the book of Proverbs. This book outlines prayer, humility, honoring God, wisdom, and more. Dave Earley skillfully guides parents through 14 parenting secrets found in Proverbs, and he offers his own personal experiences and advice to drive each point home. This is the perfect resource for biblically sound parenting advice!

3. Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate: Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries by Debora Coty

When you’re worried and stressed, it shows. And there are few parents out there who haven’t, at one time or another, taken out that stress and anger on their children. It’s time to stop the problem before it starts. This book is perfect for any woman wanting to tackle fear and anxiety with a healthy dose of humor. Learn from popular speaker, columnist, and award-winning author Debora Coty, and discover how to overcome your fears so you can become a better friend, wife, and mother.

4. 3-Minute Devotions for Women: Daily Devotional by Briggita Nortker

Running short on time? This is the perfect devotional for any woman wanting a daily dose of the Word on the go. Spend one minute meditating on Scripture, another minute on a short devotional reading, and the last minute on a prayer to jump-start your conversation with God. No matter how busy you may feel, there’s always time for God. Get this devotional to help draw you into the Word every day.

Today only: get the Wise Parenting Bundle for just $11.99! Then check back tomorrow for the next 10 Days of Parenting bundle.

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3 Ways to Pray More

Prayer

Today’s guest post is by Julia Roller, author of the new book, Mom Seeks God: Finding Grace in the Chaos. Roller received a master’s in journalism from UC Berkeley and a master’s in theological studies from the Pacific School of Religion. On top of editing books, writing for her blog, and being a wife and mother, Roller just published Mom Seeks God, which explains the 10 essential spiritual practices she discovered while trying to reconnect with God in the midst of being a busy new mom. Discover how you can overcome the chaos of life and be a solid spiritual role model for your children—download Mom Seeks God today!

At a church meeting, we were discussing our prayer requests—a list of concerns from our church family and community that we all receive, sometimes several times a day, by email. A woman raised her hand and asked, hesitantly, “How do all of you manage these emails? I mean, I want to pray for all of them, but there are just so many!”

Silence. A long silence.

I think she had put her finger on a huge problem. All of us in that room wanted to lift up each of those requests to God, but she was right. There were so many, and none of us felt we had enough time to address them all.

Most of us, I believe, want to pray more than we do, but we’re not sure how or when we can fit it in. Here are some easy ways to bring more prayer into your daily life:

1. Pray in the moment

If you’re on a prayer chain or email list, whenever possible, pray as soon as you get that email. I know that my instinct was often to put it aside, save it for a moment when I had peace and clarity and adequate time to really do those requests justice. It probably won’t surprise you that those times rarely, if ever, came.

I realized that if I was going to pray about the requests at all, I needed to do it immediately, or they would just get lost.

I find myself coming to the same realization in my interactions with other people. When I say or email or text someone that I’ll be praying, I take a moment to do so right then. Not only do I then know that I have lifted them up in prayer, but something about bringing it to God once helps me to remember to pray about the same matter again later.

One more tip: instead of worrying about finding the right words to say to bring that person before God, instead I just picture that person with God’s light and peace shining on them.

2. Claim certain moments in family life as prayer time

I view the time before the kids’ nap time and their bedtime as prayer time—for them and for me. I sing songs to them and to God, and I pray both for them and with them.

What’s so special about that? Like most moms, I’d always done these things with my boys before bed, but the difference for me is not in what I do, but in the way I think about it. I used to think of this time more as an example for them—it was for their spiritual benefit rather than my own.

Thinking of bedtime as my prayer time helps me feel less rushed and more calm. It helps me appreciate the time and be in the moment rather than just wishing for them to be asleep already. And the truth is, praying with them is often the most connected I feel to God all day.

3. Find a time when prayer works best for you

I struggled for years with guilt over the fact that I never managed to get up in the morning and have a quiet time of prayer and Bible study to start the day. I know a lot of people are successful with this, but it’s never worked well for me. (I was so relieved to hear John Ortberg admit once that even Jesus wouldn’t like him early in the morning.)

I’m a night owl. My kids get up crazy early, and I just have no desire to beat them out of bed. In fact, I kind of like it that they wake me up by jumping into bed and snuggling with me. So I’ve realized that nighttime is a great prayer time for me. And having an agenda helps me tremendously. So I pray the Examen at night before I go to bed. The Examen is a kind of examination of your day, so it works perfectly for nighttime prayer. I ask myself where I felt close to Christ that day, and where I felt furthest. Then I think about where I erred and ask forgiveness. It’s a powerful way to end the day.

Bottom line: Sometimes we all long for the perfect conditions for prayer—candles, lighting, calm, and quiet—but it’s the prayer itself that matters. The more we find ways to fit prayer into the fabric of our days, the more naturally it comes. The more we reach out to God, the better we’ll be able to hear his voice reminding us to reach out again.

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Discover 10 essential faith practices that help you grow in your spiritual walk, and practical tips for making them a habit in your busy life: download Mom Seeks God: Finding Grace in the Chaos today!

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5 Ways to Get Your Ideas Noticed in an Overstimulated World

Unique

Today’s guest post is by Phil Cooke, who’s a rare find in today’s culture. In addition to being an internationally known writer and speaker, he’s also a Hollywood producer and has a PhD in theology. While producing media in nearly 50 countries, he’s been shot at, survived two military coups, and fallen out of a helicopter. During that time, he’s used media to promote nonprofits and share their stories across the globe. Get his latest book, Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media for 35% off, then shop all of Cooke’s books on Vyrso!

Every generation lives out their faith and calling within the context of their particular culture. The apostle Paul lived out his ministry in the context of Roman domination; William Wilberforce campaigned in Parliament under the shadow of the British slave trade; Dietrich Bonhoeffer struggled under Nazi occupation. Today, we live in a media-dominated culture and must operate our churches, ministries, and nonprofits in that technological context. In a previous age, all a preacher needed to be successful was a good Bible, a calling from God, and strong lungs. But in today’s digital culture, where a typical American deals with as many as 5,000 media messages a day, how does the voice of your church, your ministry, your nonprofit organization, or your great idea rise above the racket?

Here are five ways you can get your ideas noticed amidst today’s many distractions:

1) Understand that your competition is fierce.

Your nonprofit or church may be fantastic, and your movie or book idea may be life changing—but that’s not enough. You need to cut through the clutter and get noticed. Even though you may not be a marketing expert, words like “marketing” and “branding” matter today, so take them seriously and get good advice on how to tell your story more effectively.

2) Be unique.

Marketing experts call it your “unique selling proposition.” In other words, what makes you different from the competition? Stop trying to be like everyone else, and start looking for ways to separate your idea or project from the pack. To be noticed, you need to be different.

3) Think about packaging.

In the old days, a great message or purpose was enough. But today, with so many other choices, how you deliver the message is just as important as the message itself. How your church looks, your book cover, the movie trailer, the quality of your product—all can be the gatekeepers that decide if a potential donor, customer, or audience member takes the next step.

4) Become the best in a smaller niche.

I tell young Hollywood directors, “Don’t try to be the best director in the industry—start by being the best director of a certain type of film, or a certain budget level, or a certain genre.” The smaller the niche, the less competition, and the easier to get noticed. Once you’ve become the king of your niche, then you can grow to greater levels of recognition. But start by becoming the best in a very narrow area of expertise.

5) Get your ideas out there.

I started writing for really small industry magazines for free, and speaking at tiny media conferences nobody even knew about. But after a while, I started getting noticed. That opened the door to my blog, which opened the door to self-publishing, which opened the door to traditional publishing, which opened the door to major magazines and platforms like Fast CompanyWiredThe Huffington Post, and more. That opened the door to bigger conferences. All of which is what brings potential clients into the door of our media production and consulting company, Cooke Pictures. But it all started with getting my ideas out there on a small level and building from there. Are you taking social media seriously? Are you writing a blog? Are you offering to speak at small, even insignificant workshops or conferences? When it comes to media and publicity, people don’t really care about you, they care about your ideas. Get them out there and watch them work for you.

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Learn more about getting your ideas noticed in a distracted world from highly respected media producer and consultant, Phil Cooke: download Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media on Vyrso today!

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Your Most Powerful Tool against Spiritual Warfare

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“. . . if you are a Christian, you are a child of the living God. You have power that the human mind cannot fully comprehend, and this power is unleashed through prayer.” —John Bornschein

For the last 23 years, America has set aside one special day dedicated to lifting the world up in prayer. The National Day of Prayer, organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, was initiated in 1991 under the leadership of Shirley Dobson. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have filled stadiums to pray together on this momentous day, and the power of prayer can’t be understated.

In fact, one study found that although 70 percent of Christian teens and young adults walk away from the church during college, kids that grow up in praying families are 30 percent more likely to stay grounded in their faith. Likewise, an article that appeared in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that couples who participate in the same religious activities—namely, prayer—have a higher level of marital satisfaction and are less likely to get divorced. The moral of the story? Prayer has power. And it’s making real, life-altering changes in the world around us.

Preparing for spiritual battle

According to John Bornschein, vice chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and author of The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior’s Guide to Spiritual Battle, the most powerful weapon a person can yield is prayer. He said, “To be a true prayer warrior is the highest, most effective level a combatant in the kingdom can attain. Everything done under the heavens is accomplished through prayer. Nothing will stand against the forces of evil without it.”

For Bornshcein, this is a critical hour for America. He explains that the only way to awaken the church and ignite spiritual revival is by using prayer to both draw us closer to Christ and gain the wisdom to change the world. The Front Line offers a field guide for exploring the depth and power of prayer:

“The front line is the threshold where the battle is won or lost. It is the turning point for victory or defeat, where the will of the mind prevails over flesh through faith and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Just as Gideon and his 300 warriors stood firm in the face of the enemy, we must be bold for truth in a society of moral relativism. Courage under fire requires a necessary balance of prayer and Scripture study within the church body—harmony between order and discipline. It is the fortitude of knowledge and unity to bring down barriers and move mountains in our culture.”

Get fired up to “pray without ceasing,” and discover the real, life-changing power of prayer. Download John Bornschein’s The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior’s Guide to Spiritual Battle on Vyrso for just $7.49.

Then get Bornschein’s latest book, For Life: Defending the Defenseless for just $2.99. In this new book, Bornschein makes a passionate plea for us to stop regarding abortion as an abstract political argument, and instead accept it as a matter of life and death for individuals—download For Life today!

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Get even more prayer resources by taking advantage of Logos’ three-day sale in honor of the National Day of Prayer. Check out all 50 prayer resources on sale now!

 

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Last Chance: Get 32 Books under $2 Each!

Shepherding a Child's Heart

All month long, we’ve offered big savings on Shepherd Press titles, and now we’re down to the wire: you only have three days left to choose from 32 books for just $1.99 each.

Shepherd Press titles offer powerful Christian-living resources by top authors. Are you preparing for marriage and need a book to guide you through establishing a healthy marriage? Get When Sinners Say “I Do”. Want to learn to better communicate with teenagers? Download Get Outta My Face! How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel. Want to have a clearer understanding of God’s plan for the church? Get Loving the Church: God’s People Flourishing in God’s Family.  We have titles for everyone, ranging from books on grace, family worship, parenting, and even commentaries for kids!

Parenting resources

Teenagers, young children, adopted kids—you name it, we have a book for it. Become a stronger parent and loving role model with these powerful books on parenting:

Books on grace and devotionals

What does a truly loving church look like? How can we recover from brokenness and sin, and be free in Christ? What are the hardest things God asks of women, and how can they respond with open hearts? These books answer all of these questions and more:

Children’s books (including commentaries for kids!)

The free Vyrso app is perfect for helping kids familiarize themselves with Scripture and grow closer to the Word. Any time a verse is referenced within a book, they can use the one-tap Bible-reference tool to instantly display the verse text. This is the perfect tool for Scripture memorization. Check out these $1.99 books, specifically designed for children:

Hurry! Prices increase in just three days. Shop all $1.99 Shepherd Press titles!

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