Tag Archives: parent

An Immovable Object Meets an Unstoppable Force

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Change is inevitable. If you look around you’ll see change everywhere. People change as their bodies grow and they age. Nature changes from day to day due to weather and usage. Minds change as they see a new way that makes more sense. Churches change as they encounter their culture in a new and relevant way. The Word of God doesn’t change, but people constantly change.

Except when they don’t.

Sometimes people look like they are changing, but on the inside they are just putting on a false show. They are doing what is necessary to manipulate the reactions of others around them. They say they want to change, but in reality change is too difficult or scary for them to actually do what is necessary to change. Perhaps they want to put on a show so that others won’t see the selfishness that looms just behind their facade. This is not change. This is putting on a mask in order to stay entrenched in that which makes you comfortable.

Maybe you’re there. Maybe you say you want to change – maybe you really do want to change – but the experience of doing so seems impossible. Maybe you only want to change because you want to see different results in someone else. Maybe you only want to change because you want to get something extra that you see others get. These motivations won’t grant you the success you secretly desire. They will be seen by those you seek to impress as manipulation and covetousness and hypocrisy.

So how do we actually change? We have to want with a different motivation.

I cannot create true change within myself as long as the desires within me are selfish. That word, selfish, defines a certain way of thinking that will only provide temporary strength needed to make change. To truly change, a person must look for strength beyond the superficiality of selfishness. To truly change a person must love.

Love is not self seeking (1 Corinthians 13:5).

When you begin to love then what you desire truly begins to melt away. When you love God, you strive for what He desires in you. You change not because of the benefit to you but out of love for Him.

When you love others you stop doing things to manipulate and coerce your own way. You begin to see and seek the way of others so that you can help them and serve them in whatever capacity needed. This is not for accolades. This is because you love them and have died to self.

When you love God and love others you will begin to do your best in all things. Laziness melts away for there is always something to be done for someone. You find yourself finally doing all the things you’ve been putting off for procrastination is selfishness. You become a model worker, spouse, parent, child.

When you learn the way of love you finally begin the journey of the life you were meant for. You begin to find satisfaction within yourself that cannot be taken away. Even when others chastise you, they are not able to tear you down for you are on a journey not guided by selfishness but by love…even for them.

This way of love mends all relationships: marriages, workplaces, families, churches.

When we find the way of love we will change. For some it will happen almost overnight. For others it may take a while. But in every case the people around will begin to notice that we’ve changed. We no longer look like our old self (that was supposed to be crucified when we came to Jesus). Now we begin to look more and more like Jesus to the world around us.

May you find change, and may the change be motivated by love as you grow into the image of Jesus.

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When is Kid’s Day?

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I remember as a child taking note of all the special days for the adults. There are the holidays that they get off work, but even more important to me as a kid were the holidays that allowed the parents to get gifts. There’s grandparents day and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

One day I remember asking, “When is Kid’s Day?”

My mom was quick to let me know that every day was Kid’s Day. I was constantly getting snacks and prizes and having everyone focused on me and what I was doing.

Every day IS Kid’s Day, right?

We focus on our children in all areas of life. We support them in their schooling. We attend their sports activities and ooh and aah over their accomplishments in other areas of life. We encourage their friendships and work to help them to choose wisely. How about their relationship with God?

Churches all over the place are spending more and more energy and resources on children’s programs. They understand that parents are looking to train their children well in the knowledge of the truth of God’s word. These things are good and signs of a healthy church. It is right for us to focus on not just our past or our present but especially on our future.

What people all over are finding, however, is that children – once they graduate high school – are leaving the faith at an alarming rate. These kids were taken to all the bible classes. They did all the activities, but yet they leave anyway.

There are a few things we can do to keep that from happening with our children.

First: Parents, you need to step up your game. Statistics are showing that your children won’t be as involved as you. Especially at the college level. While your children are young you need to be modeling a passion for the Word of God and His church. Otherwise your children will see through the classes you forced them to attend and notice that you didn’t emphasize it in your life and only attended to do your duty. This is not appealing to them. That may not be your motivation for attending, but they see what you do more than what you say. If you are a Sunday Morning Only attendee, then chances are your kids will be non-attendees. It’s time to get involved in a meaningful relationship with your church and the members therein in order to provide the community needed to grow spiritually healthy.

Second: Parents, you need to be teaching your children. Church attendance won’t teach your children. Bible classes, while they help, are often thin on the meatier parts that your kids are hungry for. They need to know that you study the scripture. They need to learn from you. They need to see that their understanding of the scripture is important to you. And they need to see the scripture without all the sunshine and rainbows that we sometimes put in it. The scriptures portray reality and how to live in that reality. Don’t sterilize it to protect your kids. Teach them the honest truth.

Third: As a family spend meaningful time with other Christians in your congregation. One of the reasons that teens leave when they get to the college age is that they have no connections with anyone other than the kids their age. This makes the transition awkward at best and helps to influence them to leave. Invite your older children to spend time with you and your adult church friends. Participate in classes where many ages are present so they can see how to interact among the generations.

Lastly: Don’t wait until they are in Jr. High or High School to expect them to participate and pay attention during worship services. If they can talk, then they can learn to sing. This is a process, and the timing is different for everyone, but I often see older elementary age children playing video games and coloring during worship services. They are old enough to listen, but you are showing them that it is not important for them to do so. Train them. They are ready.

Parents, we have a great responsibility to our children. You may be doing these things already. If so, great! If you aren’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just make a decision to change today. As we change so will our kids. Let’s stop the exodus. Let’s begin a spiritual renewal in our children.


No More Absent-Minded Parenting

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Since I was a teenager I’ve wanted to be a dad. I didn’t want to just produce offspring, I wanted to be a daddy who spends time with his children and loves them and teaches them.

In our world today the species of daddy is becoming more and more scarce. Our children are having increasingly difficult problems developing into healthy adults because of the lack of a father. It is an epidemic. I don’t want to be a part of that epidemic.

When each of my children was born I was overjoyed. When my oldest was born, I cried the moment I heard her sweet voice. Through the years those sweet innocent cries have turned into a beautiful singing voice. She is now 14 going on 25 and I can not be more proud of the young lady she is becoming.

This coming weekend the culmination of 14 years of teaching and caring will finally come to a time of celebration. My daughter is about to begin a new phase of life that will change her forever. She is making the biggest decision of her life, and I couldn’t be more proud. No, she’s not getting married, she’s getting baptized.

If I am a good dad and spend all my time with my children, if I love and dote on them and teach them all the morality I can, and if I show them how to be good people but don’t show them the way of salvation through Jesus of Galilee then I have been an utter failure as a dad.

My goal in life for my children is not to help them get the best job that pays lots of money or marry the right person to spend the rest of their life with. My goal is to help them find Jesus so that no matter the outcome of their life they will have peace and joy and eternal life through Him.

It’s as Jesus said, “what good is it if a man gains the whole world yet loses his soul?”

If you are a parent, then you have a responsibility to your children. Let’s stop this epidemic of absent-minded parenting. Let’s re-evaluate our goals for our kids.

If you haven’t given your life to Jesus, then that’s the place you need to begin. It’s ineffective to say “do as I say but not as I do”. You want your kids to have the best life ever? Then bring them to Christ who has promised to work all things out for the good of those who love Him.

If you want to know more about giving your life to Christ, then I’d love to visit with you. God bless you as you lead your Children in the Way of Life everlasting.


Living in a Cardboard Box

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Imagine for a moment, if you will, that you and your family were moved to a hostile place. It could be the remote jungles of South America, or maybe you are thinking of a hotspot like Iran or Iraq. It is a place where you are constantly fearful for your own life and the lives of your loved ones around you.

In the jungle there are predators you haven’t even heard of that lie in wait for your young or wounded to be vulnerable. In Iran or Iraq or places like it there is constant fighting, and you would probably stick out like a sore thumb in a place like that – I know I would.

Now imagine what kind of living conditions you might provide for your clan. Perhaps you would have no house at all. Maybe you would just live on the jungle floor or in the streets of Baghdad. That would definitely not be ideal conditions. I don’t know any person that loved themselves or their family that would not strive to improve on their conditions in such a case.

Maybe your ideal isn’t living out in the open. You want to find some kind of shelter. What do you find? Cardboard! You construct an elaborate cardboard house with multiple rooms and all the amenities. Surely your family will be well taken care of now. You paint the exterior, and no one can tell the difference between your house and one made of brick and mortar.

Will this house provide adequate protection? When the rains come they will soak through and disintegrate your home. When gunfire rips through your area bullets will penetrate your home, and lives will most likely be lost. No, this will not do.

You wouldn’t be satisfied until you were able to provide some kind of real shelter for your family. You want them to be protected from the elements as well as enemies all around. Your house would be as secure as you could make it so that no one would need to live in fear.

Our lives are much like this wherever we live. Some of us are living out in the open. Some of us are living in cardboard box houses, and some of us have actually constructed secure living conditions.

You see, we are all living in a dangerous place. The scripture says that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion waiting for whom he may devour.” He’s out to get your family and mine, yet many of us are still providing cardboard protection.

What do I mean by this? We have weak defenses against the evil one. Some of us have no defense – we have never given our lives to Christ, and we are already prisoners of war; we are already infected with sin. Some of us have made a dedication to Christ in name, but we use that name to construct a cardboard box of our lives. We think that once we confessed the name that was enough. Yes, that was a major step, yet we are still defenseless against Satan if we do not wield certain tools.

Jesus, the Son of God, had a not-so-cozy visit from the evil one after He had been in the desert and fasting for forty days. Jesus was hungry, tired, and weak. Satan attacked him at his weakest point. But what did Jesus do? He didn’t succumb to the fiery arrows of evil. No! Jesus shot back with the weapons He had in His arsenal – weapons of the scripture.

Many of us go through life without this ability. When temptations arise we have no foundation for being able to resist them. We are called to be like Jesus, and He knew His scriptures.

David was a man after God’s own heart, and in the psalms we see that he was continuously meditating on the word of God. In fact, the Psalmist says that he “has hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” The psalmist sees that the memorization of scripture is key to building a house around us that will provide continual protection.

Yes, Jesus provides grace to those of us who have dedicated our lives to Him – have been born of water and the spirit, but according to Romans 1 it is not a license for us to sin all the more. We are called to leave the life of sin far behind. If we do not know what God’s word says, however, we will easily be picked off like the seeds Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

My younger children are 4 and 6 years old, and we are working with them daily on memorizing scripture. We want them to have the arsenal necessary to withstand the devil’s attacks. I’m proud to say that so far they have Genesis 1:1 and the Ten Commandments memorized, and they are able to tell me what each of the commandments mean. We are starting young to hopefully instill in them a pattern of memorization and learning for their life.

Parents, teach your children the scriptures. Help them to memorize certain passages. Some of my favorites for remembering in hard times are Jeremiah 29:12 and Romans 8:28. When you teach them to your children you will find that you learn them too!

If you don’t have children or your children are already grown, it’s never too late to start hiding the Word of God in your heart. You will find that it quickly changes your life.

Its time for us to stop lying to ourselves thinking this religious mansion we’ve created is anything more than an elaborate cardboard box. It’s time for new construction that begins with a foundation of the word of God. May you know the scriptures, may they set you free, and may they protect you from all the advances of the evil one.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. If you haven’t given your life to Christ, I would especially like to visit with you. Becoming a follower of Christ isn’t a decision made out of ignorance. Educated and uneducated alike are all invited into the kingdom of God. God bless you all!


Songbirds Sing, Storms Rage, and We Are Silent

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First of all this week I’d like to say to everyone who is reading my articles either in the Matagorda Advocate or on my blog at http://www.mrdobbs.org, Thank You! I really appreciate your willingness to ponder these posts. Please shoot me a message from time to time letting me know what you think. I love feedback of all kinds. That being said, on to my article:

Let’s take a trip through a day. It could be any day, but you are in it.

As you open your eyes you see the glint of sunlight through the curtains. You squint because it seems entirely too early to be awake, but hey it’s time to get up. The morning is cool, and as you let your dog outside to do its business you feel the gentle breeze across your face. The air is cool and inviting.

Overhead you hear the sounds of several birds singing their melodies. What are they singing? Who knows, but it is beautiful.

After a quick bite and a much needed wake-me-up shower you dash off to work. Person after person connects with you as deadlines must be met and customers must be satisfied.

On your way home at the end of the day you are exhausted. The windows are down, and you have the music up in the car. Ah, your favorite song on the radio – just what you needed to unwind.

After dinner it’s time to relax on the back patio where you sip evening coffee under a blanket of stars. As you look up you can just make out the milky way, then a shooting star just catches your eye. You can hear the jet overhead but you can’t see it, and in the distance a storm is brewing. The flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder just barely make it to where you are sitting.

As you lay your head down for the night, you drift off to the sound of raindrops tapping out a rhythm on your window. Rainy evenings are your favorite times to sleep.

While this all seems very utopian, we get some parts of this in every day. Maybe you did feel the gentle breeze this morning. Maybe the sunlight is what woke you from your slumber. Maybe it rained. Maybe you got to enjoy the stars.

The question isn’t whether or not these things happen. What matters is whether or not you noticed them.

For most of us the days are not serene. We struggle through days of chaos with children and frustrating coworkers and school and work and deadlines and stress and more stress. We barely have time to taste our food. We are on the go busy, busy, busy.

No wonder God seems so distant. Maybe this is exactly what Satan wants for us.

As society becomes busier it becomes less spiritual.

When I’m busy and focused on the million things I have to worry about, then it’s easy to look over the song of the bird that was sent by God to sing His praises for me to enjoy. God did that for me, but I was too busy to notice.

When my kids and coworkers are all screaming at me then I can’t hear the sounds of the rain or enjoy the breeze on my face. I don’t even see the beauty and majesty of God’s handiwork in those other people when I’m consumed with what needs to get done or what others think about me.

For so many people the language of the presence of God is absent. We don’t talk about how the God of the Universe was trying to get our attention today. We don’t discuss things like possible lyrics to the songbird’s melody or the attributes of God declared by the storm’s intensity. We talk about the here and now that is tangible. We are distracted, and it is pretty obvious.

People, the presence of God is all around us. We cannot escape it, yet we live as if God doesn’t exist and we are the true gods of this world.

Everything in creation declares the praise of God. Even the individual atoms and molecules are bouncing around in their dance to the Creator’s praise. Our bodies at the molecular level declare the glory of the One True God, but how often do our bodies on the macro level do the same?

I recently watched a video where Louie Giglio had some fun with sounds from pulsars and whale songs. He created a mashup that allowed his congregants to sing along with parts of creation. His intent was to show that our chorus of praise is only a small part of a grander orchestra of worship being exhibited across the universe continually.

Yet we, the humble humans, are called God’s Masterpiece.

I have seen things that took my breath away. I have heard things that convulsed me to tears of joy and worship. Yet God says I am more awesome than those things.

In the commotion of the universe as it sings it’s praise to the Creator, He leans out over the edge of heaven and strains an ear for your worship. He longs to hear your melody. He put it in you; you just have to be willing to let it out.

Once you begin to live in the presence of God – where everything points you back to Him and His majesty, then you will understand better the purpose of your own worship. You have been called to join in the chorus of the universe, and you sing God’s favorite part.

May you sing with all your heart and every fiber of your being. May your worship inspire others to do the same, and may you see the presence of God in everything, for He is desperately trying to woo you to Him. Don’t believe me? Take one long look at the cross.

As always, if there is anything I can do for you please feel free to contact me at jddobbs@verizon.net or at the office at 245-1611. God bless your week!


Parents, Please Read Part Two

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It’s that time of year again, time for the yearly – as I heard one mom recently call it – “bikini battle”.

Last week, when we were on our camping trip, I took our group to Pedernales Falls State Park. We explored around the falls in the morning, then went over to the swimming area after lunch. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and the temperature was over 80°. For early march this was above normal for the hill country of Texas, but we were enjoying it.

On the way to park at the trailhead that leads down to the swimming area we had our own “bikini battle”.

I had already declared that anyone who had a bikini would have to wear a t-shirt over it while they swim for modesty’s sake. Then I was asked about tankinis. If you’re not familiar with that – it’s a more modest bikini. Then I was asked if the guys could go without shirts. Finally the decision was made – if one group has to wear a t-shirt, then the rest of the group can wear them to make it fair to everyone.

I got a mild groan out of that decision.

It wasn’t long before we were strolling down the trail to the water where everyone had a great time. We waded the rapids. We splashed and dunked each other. We even swam, and everyone had a grand time. I didn’t hear one complaint from anyone about having to wear a t-shirt. They were having too much fun to care.

Every year I question whether or not this battle is worth fighting. Sure, I can control their modesty when they are with me, but they are going to go to the beach with their friends, and who knows what they’ll be wearing then?!

Parents, this article is primarily for you. You still have these kids living in your home. You. Have been given the right by God Himself and the responsibility to guide your children in all areas of their life as they continue to develop the ability to make good choices.

Our culture has pushed sex and the sexualization of the human body to limits beyond what is healthy. When our teens are looking for swimsuits to wear at the beach and other places their mind goes to “what will make me look hottest”?

Parents, if you have a teenage boy, the statistics show that he has probably seen pornography, and now more than ever, the chances show he may even be addicted. If he has access to mobile Internet on an iPhone, iPad, or android phone then the chances of him accessing pornography on a regular basis go up.

There have been a couple of times over the last year or so when I went up to a teenager and simply said “when are you going to quit looking at the porn?” I didn’t know whether or not they were, but I knew that the chances said they were. In each case the teen didn’t deny it. In fact, their demeanor changed as if it was a weight that had been lifted that an adult finally knew.

I talk about guys and pornography (female viewing or porn is on the rise as well) because it changes the way they view our daughters. If your daughter is wearing something that shows more skin than it covers up, then what do you think is going on in the mind of these boys? Most bikinis cover less than the normal underwear that a girl would wear. They won’t go out in public in their underwear, but they’ll go out in a bikini.

When our girls are scantily clad they are sending a message about who they are. It sends the message that sexuality is prevalent in their thinking. It sends the message that they are interested in guys drooling over their bodies. To many guys it sends the message that they are an easy score. I’m not even going to talk about the fact that the teen guys aren’t the only ones that see them. What about the sexual predator that is on the same each or at the same lake. That reason sees your daughter as well.

My daughter knows our rules about modesty in swimwear, and she doesn’t fight it. She knows we are doing it so that her inner beauty is shown more brightly. We don’t even let her wear pants with words on the buttocks because we don’t want attention to be drawn to that area. She doesn’t wear tight fitting clothing.

One teen girl magazine tried to help its readers see this recently with an article that declared that boys think that. “modest is hottest”. I appreciate the effort of this magazine, but I don’t even want my daughter to be regarded as “hot” because it’s a sexual term. Sure, I’m a protective father, but I love my daughter and want her future husband to know that she was kept pure. I want him to know her for her inner beauty and not be focused on her outer beauty.

When the inner beauty is the focus, then the relationship lasts much longer.

This isn’t just a suggestion from me, a dad and youth minister. It is a directive from the apostle Paul to his young preacher, Timothy. I Timothy 2:9 says, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety…” Paul doesn’t want homes to dress like prostitutes. If you look at the trends, many women today go to church on Sunday wearing less than prostitutes did in the days of Jesus.

Let’s start a trend of modesty.

Mothers and fathers, may you set the standards for your children in the area of modesty. May they be raised to have a healthy self-image that sees that they really are beautiful, and they don’t need to dress a certain way to show that. May you help them overcome pornography and it’s influences – even the pornography that is on television and in movies. And may the generations coming up change the direction of the sexualization of America.

If you have any comments or questions about this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 245-1611 or email me at jddobbs@verizon.net. You can comment on this article directly at http://www.mrdobbs.org where I keep all my articles. God bless you, and have a great week!


Parents: Please Read This

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I just spent four days with 13 students fourth through tenth grades. The majority of these students were junior high. We camped in tents and hiked around Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Pedernales Falls State Park. We also did some rappelling down the backside of Enchanted Rock.

After spending this time with these teens and preteens I have some observations about us as parents. As you reed this I want you to know that I am with you in this. My oldest is 13.

There was an era in our nation’s history, in fact probably several eras, where the children were raised with certain responsibilities. They grew up respecting the adults they came in contact with, and the adults respected them in turn. The fathers worked to provide for their families, but they didn’t work so far away that they couldn’t teach their sons how to become men. The mothers worked in the home, and they trained their daughters how to be women. Society was much healthier then.

Nowadays we have a grand upheaval of the ideal way of life. Parents are now slaves to their jobs, and they are so physically exhausted and mentally drained that they give their parenting rights over to a black box with moving pictures on it and often wires coming out the front that their children are attached to.

Gone are the days where the fathers teach their sons to become men. Gone are the days where the mothers teach their daughters to become women. Gone are the days where the children show respect to anyone…even themselves.

I say these days are gone because the vast majority of students today do not have this way of rearing as they grow. Sure, there are pockets of this, but the majority of kids I see today come from families where their mom and dad aren’t married to each other – maybe they never were. Now they are growing up with step parents or often single parents. Many of these single parents are living with their “partner” who is not their spouse. The more I visit with teens, the more I see this, and the trend doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.

This weekend I saw preteens deliberately disobey their parent, and the parent did nothing to discipline them. I saw parents who did discipline their children, but they did so out of control, and their anger got the best of them. I heard from several parents, just in the last few days, that were asking what to do about how to raise their son or daughter.

Let me tell you what else I saw from the kids. I heard teens tell me that they were afraid. I heard teens tell me they were angry. This wasn’t just one or two teens, this was the majority. I heard them say they didn’t want to be angry or afraid, and they weren’t really sure why they were either. I saw kids disrespect each other then get upset when someone disrespected them. They didn’t even understand the concept of respect.

I was not on a trip with a bunch of kids from some detention center or other ostracizing facility. I was on a trip with normal kids. But the norm these days isn’t pretty.

I am used to seeing fear, and I see anger a lot. What struck me the most this weekend happened on the way back. Our group was mostly boys, so I had a great selection of boy-type movies for us to watch on the bus. I gave three options for the teens to watch: “Mission: Impossible”, “The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Gahoole”, and one of my teens brought a movie so I just threw it out there expecting no other hits – “Where the Red Fern Grows”.

I had seen the last movie when I was a boy, and it was old then. I think it came out when my parents were kids. Yet, when I asked for a vote on which movie they all wanted to watch, the “Red Fern” won decisively.

For two hours I watched my teens get engrossed in a wholesome movie where the main characters were above reproach. The father led his son into rites of passage. The boy was hard working and kept his integrity and his word. There wasn’t a foul word in the entire movie. Even the antagonists were clean-mouthed. The teens ate it up! When the movie was over there was this short silence as if to soak in what they had just seen.

This is what they desire. They are looking for men and women to show them how to be men and women. They aren’t looking for gangsta guys and bi-polar gals to show them how to be dysfunctional. They already have that. They deeply want to be taught respect. They want to be taught to be valuable members of the world around them. It’s such a strange concept to the world they live in, however, they can’t put that desire into words.

Dear parents, if your family is dysfunctional – you know deep down if it is or not – it’s time to bring some healing for your children’s sake. These kids are looking for and needing men and women who will take them in and show them by example how to be healthy adults. If you have friends who have healthy families, then draw close to them so that your children can be influenced by their presence. If you don’t, then get involved with a church where families are investing into the lives if children.

One of the greatest things I do as a youth minister is bring my children (3, and 5) along on trips like the one we went on last weekend. The teens get to see how I interact with my kids. They see when my five-year old is acting more mature or behaving better than they are. I don’t have to say it; they see it.

If you’ve read this, and your children are grown, then please get involved in helping the future generations of our society. If you are a parent whose kids are much like the ones I’ve described above, or your family is like the norm these days, then please get involved with others who can help you mentor your children into becoming mature, healthy adults. The biggest deficit in society today is dads who father their children. Get involved in a place where men are investing. Moms, you work hard and do the best you can. I thank God for you. It’s time you got some much deserved help.

If there’s anything I can do to help you get connected with others who would be willing to help, then please contact me at 245-1611 or at jddobbs@verizon.net. The Nichols St. church of Christ is dedicated to helping kids grow in all areas of life, and I am proud to be blessed to work there with the teens in our area. Let’s work together to help the future generations grow healthy and stop the decay of the family and society. God bless you all, and I am praying deeply for you.


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