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This Weeks Though

Just a thought to help start your week.
One of my favorite childhood stories was the “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” In that little tale, of Norwegian roots, an old troll lives under a bridge, and three little goats want to cross “his” bridge so they can get to the hillside grass to eat.


The goats in my picture were pets of our former neighbor a few years ago. One thing most people know about goats is that they like to eat pretty much anything that gets in their way! (Or at least, they’ll chew on it and try.) Goats can be gentle fun little pets, but they can be stubborn and strong, and will certainly go after whatever they want.


In the fairy tale I mentioned, the goats are persistent, they are eventually able to do away with the old troll, and they go on to eat so much that they stuff themselves.


Now, I’m not going to call any of us and “old goat,” and I’m not even going to say that any of us tend to eat like goats! What I want us to see is that we can be just as stubborn and bull-headed as those goats. But, if we channel that energy, zeal, and determination, we can conquer the old trolls of this world, we can cross any rattling bridge that comes before us, and we can feed to our heart’s content on what the Lord has in store for us on yon hillside!
Sometimes we can relate to the old troll. Sometimes we can relate to the goats. Perhaps there’s a little of both in us. Moral? Well, if you’re a goat, keep strong, go after what lies ahead, and conquer the obstacles in your week. If you’re a troll, it’s simple. Quit fussing at old goats. It will get you nowhere!
Just a little humorous thought.

Video Games That Can Help Your Kids Learn Tough School Subjects

By Jenna Sherman –

Oftentimes, video games are considered a nuisance to parents. Many games are violent and some kids tend to get completely addicted to playing for hours on end. However, video games nowadays can be a great way for your child to develop cognitive skills and coordination, and even help with schoolwork. It’s important to pick out the right games for your kid, but it doesn’t end there. Read on for some tips from the American Christian Association.

Games for homeschooling

With many kids learning remotely due to COVID-19, most school work and lesson plans now happen online. As virtual classrooms become the norm, video games have also had a resurgence as learning tools for many different subjects. From math to history and science, there are games for a number of topics and for students of different ages.

Many students struggle with learning math, but video games can help make the subject easier and more fun for your child. One game that’s good for younger kids is called Tami’s Tower, created by the Smithsonian Science Education Center. It teaches children to use engineering skills and basic math to help Tami, a golden lion tamarin, reach food by building towers. Another great game is Prodigy, which challenges students to battle characters by solving math questions.

It’s quite common for video games to be set in historic time periods, which can help kids learn facts while solving puzzles. Games such as The Time Tribe follows a group of young children who go on an adventure through history to find missing members of a secret group. By solving puzzles and exploring various historical locations around the world, players learn factual historical content.

Games can also be great for helping kids learn science. A ninth-grade teacher in Idaho is using one such game—named Project Hastur and developed by researchers at the University of Idaho—to help introduce his students to the scientific method. In the game, players “defend a turret against onslaughts of alien Proteans, which evolve using biologically accurate models of evolution.” There are also games that allow kids to get in touch with nature like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Stardew Valley.

There are even Christ-centered video games that help teach your kids about Christianity. Christian-based games include Eternal War: Shadow of Light and Dance Praise.

Common video game concerns

While there are great games designed for helping students learn tough subjects, there are also plenty of non-educational games—some of which should be avoided. Games that are overly violent or that contain adult themes aren’t great for kids, so be sure to keep an eye on what your child is downloading and playing when they’re done with homework.

Another important issue is how much time your child spends playing games. Playing games after school isn’t a problem, but it’s a good idea to set some rules around how long they can play in one sitting. It’s recommended that kids play an hour or less of video games on weekdays, and two hours or less on the weekends. While some game time is great for learning coordination and cognitive skills, too much time playing games can take away from other skills, such as socializing.

If your child is playing games online, it’s wise to talk about privacy and safety guidelines. Remind your child that they must always keep their identity anonymous, and should never give out personal information while playing games online. Tell them to be on their guard against harassment or requests for personal information, and check their gaming consoles for parental controls to help keep their gaming safe.

Video games can go from fun to frustrating if your internet connection can’t handle the workload. Be sure to boost your internet speeds to make downloads faster and reduce buffering time. 5G connections are ideal for gaming households because they make games run more smoothly and with better performance.

When approached thoughtfully, video games can be a powerful learning tool alongside being great fun for kids. Pick out games that can help boost your child’s understanding of challenging school subjects, and remember to keep them safe by educating them about online safety guidelines. Consider getting a stronger internet connection as your child gets into gaming—it will make games more fun and responsive.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

What you see here is a group of sea gulls.  You might recognize the gulls simply because you know your birds.  Or you may be privileged enough to be near areas where the sea gulls are commonly seen.  For those who did not know, just trust me.  These are definitely sea gulls.

Sea gulls may be recognizable simply because of where they are found — near the water, sea, ocean, etc.  A woodpecker is normally seen near a tree.  A buzzard is probably near some other dead animal.  A fish is probably near the water.  A custodian is usually seen with cleaning materials.  A preacher is normally seen around the church.  A drunk is normally near the alcohol.  A professional dancer is normally found near the dance floor.  Acorns are found near the oak tree.

The point is, many animals, items, and even people are normally recognized simply because of where they are found.  

If you are titled, labeled, named, or recognized because of where you are this week, what will the label be?  As Christians, we are to guard our hearts and minds, and that includes guarding our whereabouts and our actions as well.

There are days I would love to simply be recognized as a beach bum.  But that likely won’t happen when I live about four hours from the nearest beach.  As a Christian, I hope and pray to be recognized as a useful, faithful, loving witness in the middle of a hurting world.  That’s how I would truly love to be seen this week.

How will your relationship with the Lord be recognized this week?

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I snapped this photo a few years ago at a local festival.  Part of the festivities included a car show, and these are two of the vehicles that were shared with the crowds.  These are two beautiful old antique cars.

One might argue that they aren’t antiques.  They are classics.  And sometimes these classic old cars are babied, polished, and shown off, but are never cranked up and ridden through the neighborhood.  The cars were built to run and be used, and yet too many times they sit idle in some parking lot with folks oogling over them.

I can’t help but wonder how many times we do the very same thing with our older generation, a generation that is growing in greater numbers each and every day.  How often do you visit (or call, in today’s socially destitute world) your elderly neighbors or even family members?  How often have you prayed for or even thought of the countless older folks who have spent nearly a year now completely isolated inside their retirement homes and facilities?

Proverbs 16:31 tells us that “the silver head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.”  Those elder saints who have the wisdom of many years of experience long for someone who will simply sit and listen.  The righteous have gone before, and they have stories to tell.

Are you listening?  Do you care?  Remember that, by the grace of God, you will one day (much sooner than you realize) be that older antique (ok, classic!), and you will be the one longing for someone, anyone, to come strolling by and glance your way, if only for a moment.

Just a thought.

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

Have you ever been so tired that you could have slept standing up?  This horse was doing just that, and was sleeping soundly enough that his bottom lip had actually dropped.  That’s good sleep.  On one most recent Sunday afternoon I sat in my recliner to watch tv and woke up an hour later with my chin on my chest.  We had experienced a good church worship service, had a good weekend visit by our grown children, and I was more tired than I realized.  I didn’t intend to take a nap, but a nap overtook me!

In today’s world, regardless of our daily activities, it is sometimes quite easy to get tired and also “tired of it.”

The good Lord reminds us that we can bring Him our burdens and find rest.  Even the most energetic Christian can sometimes find themselves wishing for a break.  This is not necessarily a break from the work of Christian life, but a break from the ruts in which we may find ourselves, the difficult days of mask-wearing and distancing ourselves from friends and loved ones, and the dreariness of the winter months.

What are your burdens today?  Some may be small and simple compared to others, but they are burdens anyway.  Some may be large enough for carrying on horseback.  And whatever burdens we carry can make us weary and tired.

Before you make the mistake of falling asleep standing up, gather this week’s burdens and difficulties, worries and anxieties, illnesses and hurts, and bring them to the Master.  But don’t just bring them to Him, just show them to Him, or just tell Him about them.  Instead, lay them all down at His feet.

And find rest.  It’s good for the soul.

Weekly Inspiration – Don’t Read the Comments!

By Ryan Kelly –

I know you’ve done it. At some point recently, you read a post on social media and viewed the comments, only to discover a multitude of angry posts and off-the-wall opinions. Don’t feel bad, we all do it and it affects almost all of us the same way. It makes us sad, mad, and creates a vengeance wanting to fight back. Am I right?

I am convinced that the comment section of social media is like a pool of honey for a swarm of bees…people who want to sting others just can’t resist. It is the one single place where we can see the true heart of many people and the worst of most. It’s a bad place.

So this begs the question – why? I think there are probably several reasons why this is such a bad place. First, it is often anonymous and it allows a semi-non direct way for people to release built up anger. Second, it’s easy. You don’t have to search for controversy or a way to share your opinion, rather you can take your time, see your text, and not have an immediate response to sway the blow that you are about to throw. Third, it’s a snowball. Most do not go into the comments section looking for a fight, but once people read the comments they begin thinking that the fight is upon them and feel compelled to fight back.

rust me, I have fallen into all three of these buckets, so I know!

So what do you do? I recommend that if you cannot resist the comments section, get off of social media. For the most part, this is what I have done. I have no social media on my phone, and I only check what few sources I have once per week for mostly work purposes. I cut it out because it was infecting me. I recommend that you do the same.

Above all, I urge you to speak words of encouragement only. If you can’t be positive, say nothing. If that means that you have nothing to say, then be grateful that you have more of your day given back to you!

There are so many verses that are appropriate for controlling our tongue (or in this case fingers) and controlling our anger. Here are a few good ones.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention”. Proverbs 15:18

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” Romans 12:19

“If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” Proverbs 29:9

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

A talking tree!  Well, not exactly.  This particular tree can be found in the wonderful little Orr Park in Montevallo, Alabama.  It stands there along with many other tree carvings.  Most are faces.  Some are animals.  But each is unique, carved by hand, according to the imagination of the artist.

Have you ever taken a walk through nature, a park, or even the woods and truly listened to all you hear?  There are usually animal sounds, either birds chirping or something scurrying along underneath the ground cover.  There may be a breeze blowing through the trees and leaves.  And there may only be the sound of pure peaceful calm.

God has ways of speaking to us through other individuals, of course.  We may hear His voice through that of a preacher in the pulpit, a friend with some advice we need to heed, or a neighbor shouting a friendly hello as he waves from his pickup truck window.  We may hear the Lord speak through the love of a pet that somehow knows to cuddle up and rub against us at just the moment we feel as if no one cares.  We can hear Him pretty much anywhere.

But in and through God’s creation of nature, especially, He speaks with the beauty of it all.  He can be found in the simplest of things and places like an old tree trunk in a small city park, or in the woods you may wander.  But He speaks.

This old tree obviously isn’t offering any audible words through the face carved into it.  But, because that face is there, because someone took the time to create it, this tree now speaks to everyone who will listen — “Hello, out there!  Smile!  God loves you!”  And that, He does.

As you go about your week ahead, I pray you will listen as He speaks, wherever and however it is you may find Him.

Just a thought.

Majoring on the Minor

By Ryan Kelly –

Have you ever been a part of a silly argument? One in which you know there is no actual value, but you feel so wrapped up in the problem that you dig in your heels and refuse to concede? This is often the case with defending sports teams, schools, car brands, and even food. Essentially, it’s the result of us developing artificial “teams” and defending your team even when it makes no sense. I have done it, so I get it!

Throughout the the world, but particularly in America, we love to pick a team and defend it to the end. The problem is that we pick frivolous battles that have no meaning, but then we are too tired or weary to then fight the battles that DO have meaning.

The meaningful battle is with our faith. If there was a battle to fight, it would be defending the Gospel and standing up for Jesus. But if we are so tired of fighting battles over race, class or other eternally meaningless things, we will lose sight of the only battles that need to be fought. And furthermore, if we divide ourselves into meaningless teams for meaningless battles, then we will not be on the same team for the spiritual battles that we need to fight.

The term “majoring on the minor” is related to a collegiate academic focus on the lesser degree over the primary degree. Let’s not major on the minor, but let’s focus on our battles against sin and for Christ, and focus less on everything else. This is how we unify. This is how we act as the body of Christ.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10

This Week’s Thought

By Brad Campbell –

Just a thought to help start your week.

I tend to get a little sentimental from time to time.  I was scanning through several old vacation photos and ran across this one of our girls from several years ago.  At the time, our eldest was our only teenager.  The girls were in one of their all-time favorite places — the beach.

The Gulf Coast, where our eldest actually now lives, has always been one of their choice places to visit, and this trip was no exception.  Later in the day, sun not so hot, wind blowing through their hair, and the waves coming up to meet them on the shore, the girls waded in water cool and soothing enough to make anyone forget the troubles of their day.

Waves come and waves go, but they are always there.  Each one is different, some more powerful than others, but all having the potential ability of washing away anything in their path.

As you face another week ahead, you probably cannot take off for a quick beach get-a-way, but you can “wade out a little bit deeper.  Step into the water of His love,” as the old song goes. It has the power to wash away all your sins and make you new once again.

One particularly neat thing about the waves is that they will always be there.  Our youngest is barely 8 in this photo.  This spring, she will graduate from college.  The waves keep rolling, always there.  The water is always cool.  Always soothing.  Always with the potential to wash away your every care.  Give your cares to the Master of the Sea today.

Just a thought.

Fearless

By Ryan Kelly –

Have you ever been afraid of something? Perhaps as a child you were afraid of a monster in your closet or afraid of a dark room. Maybe now you are afraid of losing a loved one, or afraid of losing a job or home. Fear is common in this world, but it shouldn’t be.

Fear is a key tool of Satan to place a wedge between believers and our Lord. Fear causes us to seek immediate relief, and often this does not involve the great faith that we are urged to have in God. Fear is evil, and we must reject it.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Our spirit is not designed to be afraid, but to be at peace as we have faith in the Lord.

In Isaiah 41:10, God tells us to “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

If the Lord of all creation tells us to place our faith in Him and not to fear or worry, then we need to listen. The fact is that life is hard and things go wrong. But these are not a surprise to God and He never lacks a plan fir us through these challenges. Although we may be anxious about the future, we should never fear anything. Because God is for us, so who can be against us?