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Raising Up Global Kids

  • 6 February 2018
  • Randy Wollf

kids playing in waterHow can parents and pastors help kids develop hearts that want to live and share the gospel across cultures? My wife Lore and I have tried to do this as we raise our four children. Many of the ideas I share below are responses from my children to this very question. I’ve also added other suggestions based on my experience as a children’s pastor, church leader, and cross-cultural traveler.

Model and Celebrate Values That Support Cross-Cultural Outreach

Values give rise to consistent actions. As parents and those who have influence in the lives of children, it’s important that we model appropriate values and facilitate experiences that help children embrace these values. Global kids need to have values like compassion, curiosity, adventure, humility, patience, and self-sacrifice. When children embrace and grow these kinds of values, they are much more likely to: 

  • Build bridges with people from other cultures anywhere
  • Lovingly share the gospel with them
  • Be willing to go wherever God leads them (whether it’s across the street or around the world) 

Immerse Them in Scripture

The entire Bible is a story of God’s redemptive heart for people. We cannot engage in Scripture without acquiring something of God’s heart for the nations. With our younger children, we have typically read Bible stories to them every day from Bible story books like the Beginner’s Bible. With our youngest, who is currently five, we are using Your Every Day Read and Pray Bible for Kids and The Jesus Storybook Bible (this one in particular carefully connects every story with the gospel message). 

Pray Scripture Over Them

4 Reasons to Practice Silence and Solitude

  • 31 January 2018
  • Randy Wollf

woman looking at oceanWe’ve all experienced the awkwardness of silence. Think about the silence we experience at a dinner party when the conversation falls flat or the confining silence of a long elevator ride in a half-full elevator.

The commands, “Be quiet” or “Shut up,” are often punitive attempts to stop words—to enforce silence in another person.

If silence has a bad rap, solitude hasn’t done much better. If you have too much solitude, you’re a loner, outsider, or maybe even an outcast. Being sent to one’s room or a lengthy period of solitary confinement are punishments meant to instill the wrongness of an action.

Silence and solitude are certainly associated with negative connotations. Yet, there must also be an upside since Jesus regularly practiced both disciplines.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus went to isolated places by himself to pray (Mark 1:35). At times, huge crowds followed Jesus. The ministry opportunities were endless. Yet, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16). Prayerful silence and solitude were a regular part of Jesus’ life. Busyness and a growing ministry did not distract Jesus from these important disciplines.

If the Son of God chose to practice silence and solitude as a necessary part of his life and ministry, it would seem wise for us to do the same. If the end goal of practicing silence and solitude is to glorify God by loving Him more deeply and serving Him more effectively, then a God-honoring silence and solitude will do at least four things:

1. Leads Us Deeper in Our Relationship with Christ

We need to slow down – to find spaces where we can hear God’s voice. “Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” (Psalm 46:10).

Judy Brown says, “What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space.” We, too, need breathing spaces – places where we can examine our lives and allow the Holy Spirit to counsel, comfort and even convict. We need spaces where we can pray without interruptions or distractions—a daunting challenge if you’re the parent of a toddler!

Without these seasons of silence and solitude, the fire of spiritual passion within our souls begins to diminish. However, when we practice these disciplines in God-honoring ways, we stoke the fires of spiritual passion—the passion and commitment we need to truly live as vibrant and fruitful followers of Jesus.

Trained by Life's Challenges

  • 25 January 2018
  • Randy Wollf

Mature spiritual leadership is forged in the crucible of difficult conversations, the pressure of conflicted relationships, the pain of setbacks, and dark nights of the soul. — Peter Scazzero

The school of hard knocks has a way of teaching us deep lessons. 

James encourages us to be joyful when we encounter difficulties. The reason: the testing of our faith produces endurance, which leads to spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4).

Peter shares the same view. He says that trials refine our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Paul reminds us that "our light and momentary troubles" are producing eternal benefits that far outweigh the discomfort of the moment (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Yet, how do we respond well to life's challenges? The writer of Hebrews encourages us to endure hardship as discipline (Hebrews 12:7). It's important to recognize that the writer is not saying that all hardship is discipline; he's simply asking us to view it in that way—to see difficulty as an opportunity to learn and grow.

I like to golf. I'm not the best golfer in the world—a fact that was clearly demonstrated during one of our annual Wollf Golf Tournaments. One of the tee boxes had foot-high hedges that stretched for about 20 feet along either side. I promptly drove my first ball into one of those hedges. It was embarrassing, but those ball-sucking hedges were not done with me yet. I drove five balls into their clutches. As I went to retrieve my fifth ball (now lying 10 shots and not even off the tee yet), my dad and brother overhead me muttering, "What is God trying to teach me?"  

Even though I can't remember how deeply I was pondering the question at the time, it's not a bad question to ask both on and off the golf course.

The writer of Hebrews goes on to talk about our loving Father who disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. It's a painful process. Yet, it can produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

We are trained by life when we humbly respond to both painful and pleasant circumstance and earnestly seek to learn God's lessons from both. This often requires prayerful processing guided by Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the wisdom of supportive confidants.

I am told that Caribbean pine trees routinely withstand fierce hurricanes, long periods of drought, and even fire. But one thing they cannot tolerate is cultivation. In a well-kept yard with plenty of water and fertilizer, they often die.

We need adversity to grow stronger in Christ.

As Helen Keller testified:

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