Planting Seeds with Anne Wilson
Trusting God to Bring About the Harvest
Anne Wilson, a contemporary Christian music artist, said, “Everything I’ve been taught as a little girl is really true.”
In a recent interview with Family Life Radio, Anne shared how her parents planted seeds of faith in her life from a young age. They raised her in a Christian home and instilled Christian values in her. But, it wasn’t until seventh grade that Anne had a personal encounter with Jesus that changed her life forever. Looking back, she realized “God had used all of those church services and Sunday Sermons to kind of build me this deep foundation of knowledge and His Word and who He is.”
Planting seeds of faith in the lives of others is an important part of your faith journey. You are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and to help others grow in their knowledge of Him. But what happens when those seeds don’t seem to take root? When it feels like your efforts are in vain and you’re not seeing the results you hoped for?
Let Anne’s story encourage you that even if you don’t see the results of your efforts immediately, God can still use them in ways that you may not even realize. In Matthew 13:3-9, Jesus tells the parable of the sower, where a farmer goes out to sow seed. Some of the seeds fall on rocky ground or among thorns and are unable to grow, but some fall on good soil and produce a crop. Jesus shared this story to emphasize not everyone may initially receive the message of the Gospel, but it’s important to keep planting seeds of faith, trusting that God will bring about the harvest in His own time.
Maybe you’re a parent who’s struggling to instill Christian values in your children. You take them to church, you pray with them and you try to live out your faith in front of them, but it feels like they’re just not getting it. Don’t give up hope! In Galatians 6:9, we are reminded, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (ESV). Keep sowing those seeds of faith and trust that God will bring about a harvest in His own time.
Anne’s song ” Sunday Sermons” encourages people to keep planting seeds of faith in the lives of others, even if they don’t seem to be listening or accepting. The song is a reminder that sometimes it takes time for the seeds you plant to grow and that you may not see the results of your efforts for many years.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, the Apostle Paul writes, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (ESV). Your job is to plant and water the seeds of faith, but it’s ultimately up to God to bring about the growth. Anne said, “You’re actually planting seeds in their walk. And I believe that they’re going to come back to that some day and find Jesus in their own way.”
But what about our own faith journey? Have you ever felt like you’re not growing spiritually? Maybe you’ve been going to church for years, but you don’t feel like you’re learning anything new. It’s important to remember that spiritual growth is a process and that it takes time. In 2 Peter 3:18, we are encouraged to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (ESV). This growth comes through reading and studying God’s Word, prayer and fellowship with other believers.
Anne said, “It’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus.” Going to church and listening to sermons can help build our knowledge of God, but it’s not enough. We need to take the time to get to know Him on a personal level. In John 14:6, Jesus tells us, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (ESV). He is the only way to have a personal relationship with God. You must believe in Him and accept Him as your Savior.
Anne had gone to church her whole life, but it wasn’t until seventh grade that she had a personal encounter with Jesus. She realized that all those years of going to church had helped build a foundation of knowledge in her, but it wasn’t until she had a personal relationship with Jesus that everything came together. We can’t rely solely on our knowledge of God to have a true relationship with Him. We must also spend time with Him, praying and listening to His voice.
So, what can we do to continue planting seeds of faith in our own lives and in the lives of others? We can stay committed to attending church, reading and studying God’s word and spending time in prayer. We can also look for opportunities to share the Gospel with others and to serve those in need. In doing so, we not only plant seeds of faith in the lives of others, but we also deepen our own faith and grow closer to God.
As you choose to plant seeds of faith in your life and into the lives of others, you become a light to others and help them grow in their faith as well. As it says in Matthew 5:16, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (ESV).
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Encouragement for Fellow Moms
by Sarah Nichols
As a little girl, I loved to play with dolls and pretend I was a mom. I would change their diapers, take them to the pool with me swimming, feed them and put them down for naps. I couldn’t wait to become a mom one day. It was truly all I wanted to be when I grew up.
Thirty-something years later, my dreams have come true … well … kind of. Motherhood and marriage aren’t nearly what I romanticized them to be. In many ways, it is much more rewarding than I could have expected, but other times, if I’m being honest, it’s far from it. When spending time at the pool, I realize I would much rather be in the sun with a good book than in the water swimming and spending time in the pool with the kids.
We grow up dreaming about what our lives will look like, yet sometimes it can feel as if the walls are closing in on us. The enchantment we envisioned begins to feel more like enchainment.
I’ve experienced this struggle firsthand, though it has looked different depending on the season of motherhood and life I am in.
These days not only do we carry the weight of raising respectful kids who hopefully follow the Lord, but as we scroll through our phones, we are also constantly reminded of all the areas we lack.
We let ourselves believe the lie that most other moms have it more together.
Their kids are constantly colored-coordinated, matching, their freezers stocked, their pantries organized and their houses beautifully balanced in a decorated, minimalistic way. Oh, and the laundry … they have oversized laundry rooms and systems to keep up with this never-ending chore. However, no matter how hard I try, my kids are frantically looking for clean socks every morning as I try to get them out the door for school.
It’s easy to take these failures personally as if we have failed. The reality is we all struggle sometimes, even if it doesn’t show on our Instagram feeds and reels.
When I first became a mom, I didn’t experience the flustered new mom cliche, so many women face. My firstborn came ten weeks early, after a week alone on bedrest while my husband was away in the Air Force. Instead waking n the middle of the night by a newborn cry, I had to set an alarm clock just to wake up and pump, hoping my milk would come in, as I called the NICU night shift nurses for updates on my baby.
Many moms struggle in the beginning years. For me, the first five years of motherhood felt like a blur. Instead, I struggled as our kids began to get older and our calendar overflowed with sports and school commitments.
We all struggle differently, and these days with more connections and community happening online than in our actual lives, it’s easier to hide.
Satan would love nothing more than to make us feel like we are failing as moms, and we need to look to encourage fellow mom friends who need this reminder too.
What to look for in a mom who may be struggling:
1. She withdraws.
She begins to distance herself from those she used to spend time with. As moms, our days don’t always go as planned. Maybe the kids woke up throughout the night, or someone peed their bed, creating more laundry than was already there.
There are many reasons a mom friend may have to cancel plans or a playdate. However, if this becomes frequent, or she is no longer showing up at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), Bible study or your usual get-togethers, she may be hurting.
When we find ourselves hurting, sometimes our knee-jerk reaction is to push those who are closest away. We need someone to pull us in. You can be that person for a mom who is struggling.
2. She is experiencing significant changes in her life.
Almost any time a mom walks through a significant change, she is a candidate for some kind of struggle – whether that be moving her family, a career change, a new baby or some other kind of loss.
My husband spent 11 years in the Air Force, and we moved often. I would have considered myself a pro. However, one of our moves wrecked me. I felt so overwhelmed, more so than in any other move. I was experiencing so much change at once because our daughter started kindergarten a week after we moved. After a decade of being a stay-at-home mom, I no longer knew what my days would look like.
Change can be challenging, even if it’s good. If you have a friend walking through a significant change right now, chances are she’s struggling, whether she shows it or not.
3. She is physically showing it.
Maybe you can see it in her eyes. Perhaps it’s in her facial expressions and her body language. We can only hide our hardships and struggles for so long. If someone feels like they have been treading water for too long, they can begin to feel like they are drowning.
I’ll never forget when a dear friend came over to visit a couple of months after the move I mentioned above. When she asked me how things were going, I threw up a jumbled tumbleweed of words describing every emotion I felt, while trying to fight back the tears. She could see the struggle surfacing in my eyes.
When you know your friend well and take the time to stop and ask her how she is doing, you may see it in her response physically.
So how do you help?
If you have a mom friend you believe is struggling, here are some things you can do:
- Drop by her house, and check in on her.
- Offer to babysit and give her a break.
- Bring a meal.
- Ask her how she is doing.
- Listen well.
- Pray, for her heart and her hurt.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV).
Motherhood is beautiful and challenging. It is a gift and a tool that God uses to grow and bless us.
May we stop striving for perfection in this title we have been given and instead, let the reminders of areas we fall short in lead us to lean on Him more, inviting our mom friends to do the same.
Sarah Nichols is a writer who loves encouraging women by sharing hope-filled stories that point others to Jesus. She lives in Tucson, AZ, with her husband and four kids. You can find more from Sarah at http://sarahnicholswrites.com.
Balancing Boundaries in Parenting
A transparent conversation with Meredith Andrews about children and screen time
Singer, song writer and worship leader, Meredith Andrews has three children. She and her husband have two sons, Maverick and Remington, and a daughter named Francis – a common family name on both sides.
Although they are all her children, Meredith thinks it’s crazy how they all have such different personalities. She teased that they should have named Maverick “Compliance” since he’s such a nonconformist. She explained that Maverick is the boy version of herself. He looks like her and acts like her. But “Rem,” her second son, is more reserved like her husband, and he’s also the comedian. If she wants to know how he’s doing though, she has to get him alone and question him to pull it out of him.
Her daughter, who they call Frankie, is the free-spirited youngest. Her name means “free one,” which is fitting.
Meredith’s kids are into video games, and although she has never done it, there are times when she’d like to throw the Xbox out the window.
She and her husband had to set boundaries in order to balance things out and “not be ruled by screens and devices” as Meredith put it. Most of the time, they reserve Saturdays for Xbox time. Every now and then, if her children have done something extra, like tennis or piano practice, they will allow additional Xbox time as an incentive.
Meredith remembered playing Nintendo and Mario with her friends, but it wasn’t the thing she lived for, but for today’s kids it’s different. She has regular conversations with her children about how they spend their time. She has noticed that her children are “not their best selves when they’ve had lots of screen time.” Without it, they become bored since they’re so used to being entertained.
In order to encourage her children to think of something else to do, she’ll suggest, “Even if it’s just to lie in the grass and stare at the sky. You might invent something while you’re there.”
Trusting God for guidance through the real parenting challenges common to many families today, Meredith finds joy along the way in her “hilarious and amazing children.”
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Because of you, Family Life Radio stands in the gap!
Dr. Randy Carlson
- Resiliency in action refuses to be shaped by what’s going on in the world, but instead allows what’s in you to shape how you respond to your circumstances.
We want resiliency in our lives. It’s also something we want for our kids and grandkids. We want them to grow up in this difficult time and have spiritual resiliency at the core of their being. We want them to having confidence that God will hold them together when things get tough. When things get difficult, they can come back to the core values and God-given beliefs in their life.
Resiliency is the combination of:
- supportive relationships,
- positive experiences, and
- adaptive skill building*
We believe that your Family Life Radio stations and Intentional Living have been put on the earth for this time and season of your life to stand in the gap between the good times and the challenges in your life. We want to be there to encourage, equip and inspire others to grow in Christ.
So many of you have called over the years, to share in support of the ministry, and we share so many stories of you telling us how God used Family Life Radio and Intentional Living when you were going through a difficult season. “You were there with me during the …”
- “loss of my son ….”
- “death of my husband ….”
- “loss of that job ….”
- “difficult diagnosis.”
That’s why we exist.
Our mission and statement of faith corresponds with those three things. At the core of our mission, we are to affirm faith, offer hope and help to equip people to live an intentional life in Christ.
- Supportive relationships are necessary to affirm faith.
Every day, through our messages and content, we strive to affirm that your relationship with God matters. God says I will never leave you. I will never forsake you (Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5). Perhaps you have been abandoned in life or rejected by people. People may have let you down for lots of reasons. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people.
Your relationship with God is eternal. Truly knowing that He would never leave you, matters. It will make a difference in your life. Even if you find it difficult because maybe you didn’t experience that kind of love growing up, choose to recognize that God loves you; He cares for you.
When we affirm each other’s faith, it’s a powerful thing.
- Build resilience in the life of your family by reminding them God loves them.
- Affirm their faith by sharing scriptures that demonstrate God’s intentional love for them.
2. Find ways to offer hope by sharing positive experiences.
We offer hope as we share stories in all we do. You hear positive experiences of people in their relationship with Christ. And we learn and grow together as other people share about something they’ve gone through, and it encourages someone traveling a similar road.
- If you get a diagnosis of cancer, you want to hear from people who’ve been through that because they bring you hope.
- If you’ve gone through a divorce, you want to talk to people who’ve been there and have seen God’s provision.
We have a great cloud of witnesses around us (Hebrews 12:1).
I imagine saints of old that we read about in Scripture, peering over the edge of heaven witnessing our lives, cheering, encouraging and offering us hope to keep going. I encourage you not only to continue to hear the stories of Christians and experience the stories from Scripture of changed lives, but you can share your story to build resiliency in the lives of others.
The stories from your own life of how God has provided for you, strengthened you and been with you are important positive experiences that give the gift of hope.
3. Adaptive skill building equips people to live an intentional life in Christ.
According to the Harvard research study on how to build resiliency in our kids supports the benefit of helping them to learn adaptive skills. It’s vitally important to know how to adapt to life. That’s really what our mission is at Intentional Living – to figure out what pleases Christ and do it.
Jesus asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. Allowing Him to be at work every day in your life is vital to building spiritual resiliency. As you continue to grow and change, that relationship is foundational to victory. It is what allows you to stay steady and firm in what matters most.
Together, we are helping people develop spiritual resiliency for their life by affirming faith, offering hope and equipping people to live an intentional life in Christ. It’s a passion of my heart, and the heart of our mission to see people come to Christ and then live a victorious life in Him by living intentionally every day.
*National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13. http://www.developingchild.harvard.edu).
A Must Read for all Dads!
Pastor Zane Anderson
5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering
Perspective! It’s the ability to see things for what they really are, to discern or distinguish clearly, to grasp or to understand what is truly important or significant!
Over the years I’ve come to discover perspective is pivotal in every area of life. Life is full of crossroads, those various intersections where a particular choice needs to be made and having the right perspective can make all the difference in making the correct decision or taking the right road.
Yet, it’s so easy to lose our perspectives, get sidetracked and miss out on what is truly important because we lose sight of what is essential. In this blog, let’s look at perspective and specifically how it relates to some very significant people – fathers.
We’re approaching that wonderful day in which we pause to “honor” our fathers! And it’s so right that we do that to express our love, our appreciation and our gratitude for the role they have had in our lives.
Over the years, I have met a number of fathers who would feel they didn’t have a good father. In fact, I am one of them. I have wrestled with the question – “How could I honor my father with all the pain and hurt he caused in our lives.
I feel the answer I received from the Lord was, I don’t honor him in relationship to what he did or what he didn’t do for our family, but I could honor that he was the one the Lord used to bring me into this world. It’s almost like I honor the position of fathering without having to say my father was a good father.
Being a father today is no easy assignment! Fathers face unprecedented challenges and extreme pressures through the various ages and stages fatherhood requires us to navigate. It’s a never-ending battle against a godless culture that seeks to shape us as fathers.
Add to all that, the reality of the enemy, Satan targets fathers because he knows the power we wield to impact and influence our children.
All through God’s Word we’re told the family is the cornerstone of God’s divine order and purpose. The father’s place, his role in the home, is so significant and so very pivotal!
My prayer is that we might gain a fresh perspective as it bears on our roles as fathers, and grandfathers (including me).
Grandfathers, what an incredible opportunity we have to impact our grandchildren. You don’t want to miss it.
Grandchildren need –
And your love.
No matter what they call you – Papa (that’s me), Pops, Grandpa, Grandad or another endearing name – you have something significant to impart into their lives!
Grandfathers, you’re not done!
I found myself recently reading from a small New Testament Epistle titled I Thessalonians. It’s the Apostle Paul’s first letter addressed to a church he pioneered or fathered. It’s a letter rich with feeling and emotion. Dripping from the pen of the apostle is the heart of a father.
Even though it’s written to a church, it contains some powerful principles that can apply to fathers.
Woven into the fabric of 1 Thessalonians 2 you’ll find five characteristics which cause us as fathers to be effective in our role, our God given assignment.
“So that you might walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own Kingdom” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-9 NASB1995).”
5 Characteristics for Effective Fathering
Follow me as we make our way through these powerful passages and allow the Lord to give you some fresh perspective on your role, your calling as a father!
- Fond Affection
“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.
“Having thus a fond affection for you, we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 NASB1995).
Paul could have used half of a dozen words to describe his feelings in verse 8, but he chose a word used nowhere else in the New Testament to express his fond affection – agape/philo. A term of endearment, it speaks of a warm attachment for the expression of emotions. It’s a word for touching or holding.”
I remember our first child; he was just a newborn when my wife Jan handed him to me. He was so tiny. I thought I was going to break him. She said, “Just hold him close!” That’s fond affection!
Dads, why do we stop doing that? Where does it say our children outgrow the need for fond affection?
There is something powerfully bonding about our touch. Yet we often become distant dads. Like two ships quietly passing in the night, we’ve bought into the lie that men don’t show emotion. Yes, we have emotions but so often hide them.
Your family, specifically your children, long for fond affection from you.
Let’s look back to the Scripture. Paul said, “… we were pleased to impart to you not only the gospel but our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).
Our children hear our words, but they are impacted by our lives. So often today, we substitute things for relationships. Your children long for your time and attention.
They are watching! Your children are watching a lot of things, but especially how you handle life – how you face challenges and navigate those crossroads you encounter!
I have a penetrating question: What are you imparting?
You’re imparting something. Hopefully they are the right things, like the ability to make decisions and stick with them or to establish clear and consistent boundaries for life.
A legacy isn’t something you leave when you die, but what you impart to others while you are alive, good or bad!
I’ve been a pastor for a whole lot of years. I discovered I didn’t really impact my children from the pulpit. Away from the pulpit, during the everyday course of life I impacted them the greatest!
Paul told his spiritual children, “… you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8 NASB1995).
He is letting them know they were valued; they’re significant to him.
Dads, how we need to let our children know their significance, their worth. Don’t assume they know it. It’s our job to build a healthy self-esteem into them. It’s so needed today! There is so much “out there” that is seeking to confuse and destroy their sense of value and worth. Speak it; show it; write it!!
3. Hard work
“For you recall our labor and hardship, how working night and day as so as not to become a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB1995).
Paul is an apostle, but he didn’t use his position to excuse himself from his responsibilities. Rather, he modeled the importance of work.
Your children will form their attitudes about work from you!
4. Spiritual Leadership
“You are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10 NASB1995).
In the home, so often this is left up to the mom. Yet the Bible is clear about our responsibility to ‘take the lead’ spiritually. We are to create the spiritual atmosphere and appetite in the home, setting the spiritual pace of the family. Our children, indeed, our wives need to see us worship, hear us pray, listen as we read his Word! The incredible impact it will have!
5. Your Words
“Just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each of you as a father would his own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:11 NASB1995).
The words you say are so powerful. In Dan Benson’s book, The Total Man, one section asks, “Is dad really needed?” and he shared a survey with shocking results: for every one positive comment, ten negative comments accompanied it.
As fathers, we can camp on one or two irritating things about our child and never point out the positives. It’s so easy to tear them down rather than build them up!
“Life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).
Dads, let’s speak life!
Here are three ways you can speak life into the hearts of your children and grandchildren:
- Exhort them.
When you exhort someone, you stretch the potential, you call that potential out of them and challenge them to come up higher.
- Encourage them.
When you encourage someone, you lift their spirit; you motivate, inspire and applaud them in such a way that you cause them to believe in themselves.
- Implore them.
As you implore another person, you help them to stay at something, inspiring them not to quit but to keep going and discover who they are.
I want to say it again: it’s no easy assignment being a father today. There are forces at work relentlessly against us. In so many ways we are subtly being seduced away from family priorities.
And dads, childhood goes by so quickly. Before you know it, they are off to college, getting married and we’ve missed the opportunities to truly impact their lives!
Big returns never happen in the future without sizeable investments now, so make the deposits.
To all the dads reading this, I’m one of you! I’ve wrestled with those feelings of inadequacy. I have had to cope with the baggage of my past. I’m acquainted with those fears that often haunt us, as fathers … the guilt of mistakes I’ve made and the things I wish I could do over.
But I’m so grateful we have a great High Priest, who understands our weaknesses and invites us to His Throne of grace to receive His mercy and help us in this incredible role of being a father!
I want to exhort you – Don’t quit; don’t give up! Keep fighting those forces that are relentlessly coming against you! With the help of the Holy Spirit, you can break those cycles of your past and be the kind of father you are destined to be!
Your family needs you.
The church needs you.
Indeed, our nation so desperately needs you!
Zane Anderson served as a senior pastor for over 40 years, and currently leads as an Apostolic Overseer for several churches across the nation. He travels internationally to minister and is a sought after speaker at local churches, Bible colleges and conferences around the world. He has zeal for the local church body and desires to train and develop strong leaders. His gifting as a prophetic voice has helped people around the world move into the ministry that the Lord has purposed for them.