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Terry Benge

Terry is currently serving the Lord as Executive Director of Salem4Youth Ranch Ministries. Terry and his wife Stacey have two children. Their son Nathan serves as a Deputy Sheriff and their daughter Jordan is currently pursuing her Master’s in Biblical Counseling. Terry currently preaches on the Ranch and has worked with teenagers for over 25 years as a coach, mentor and Youth group leader. Terry loves hunting and the outdoors.

 

Gabriel Jackson

Gabe is currently serving the Lord in the vocational training department of Salem4Youth Ranch as a wood working instructor. He has been involved in ministering to young people since he was a teenager – mentoring, teaching, church ministry, camps, retreats, and residential ministry. Gabe attended Lincoln Christian University and Columbia International University, graduating from CIU in 2002 with majors in both Bible and Youth Ministry. He and his wife, Nikki (also a graduate of LCU and ISU with degrees in Jr. High Education and Bible), are busy with 3 children in gradeschool, jr. high, and high school. Gabe is an avid fly fisherman and enjoys spending time outdoors with his family as often as possible.

 

Stan Risinger

Former Chairman of the Salem4Youth Board of Directors, Stan is currently the Area Director of Men’s Discipleship for the West Central Illinois Man In The Mirror Ministry. When Stan came to faith in Christ God livened his spirit for evangelism and discipleship both locally and internationally. Stan is married to Julie they have four children and are blessed with five grandchildren. Stan and Julie have a love for missions, hospitality and family.

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Welcome to another reading of the Parent’s Pasture Blog. A dear friend (as well as my spiritual accountability partner), recently wrote a letter to his entire family reflecting on Christmas. Now it may seem a bit odd that I have decided (with his permission) to post his letter of reflection since Christmas has now passed. But my hope is that you will find his writing just as relevant today and every day as it was this past December. 

I am going to share what he wrote here in this blog, except I will remove or change names to protect the privacy of his family. Then I will add a brief comment to the end. I really hope you find this to be refreshing and a charge! 

Christmas 2022 Gifts from the Wise Men

Dear Family,

This is a unique Christmas because it’s the first Christmas where both of our dads are no longer with us here on earth. (his dad and his wife’s dad) So thinking about that – this Christmas season of Christ coming to earth and our two dads leaving earth – I thought it appropriate to offer my Christmas Reflections. I call it “Gifts from the Wise Men” to avoid “No Room in the Inn.”

My first piece of advice comes from the inspiration of Jim (wife’s dad). Jim taught me the gift of hospitality. He taught me to value family and to make provisions for family gatherings. He prioritized holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, etc. He made family time accessible and memorable. Jim made certain that he had “room in the inn” for his family. That was his “generational gift” to us.

Next is Dave (his dad). Dave taught me the gift of compassion. Dave is one of those guys that everybody likes. He, like his dad, modeled a generous heart, which I hope to cultivate in me. I remember a saying that dad would use to help my thinking when I was angry over something: “Son, how can you be cruel to dumb animals?” Dad was kind and caring and made “room in the inn” for people. That was his “generational gift” to us.

Finally, the wisest Wiseman is Jesus. Jesus said in Acts 20:35 “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. Jesus is a giver! We are all aware of the Christmas story – how Christ came to earth to be born as a baby, to live as a human so that he might fulfill God’s plan to pay the penalty for our sins (Apostle’s Creed). And although you might think the greatest gift Christ gave was Himself, which is true, the gift I want to comment on is His gift of the Holy Spirit.

Mom (the writer’s wife) and I have been learning a lot about the Holy Spirit at Church recently. I want you to think about the reality for the believer, that Jesus sent His Spirit to live in your inner person. In other words, you were given the gift of an honored guest to live in a relationship with you. 

And the question is: have you given “room in the inn” for the Holy Spirit to continually walk and talk with you in your daily life?

Galatians 5:16 says “walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the sinful desires of the flesh.” I don’t know about you, but I never really figured out how to obey this verse until lately. I admit that I’ve been approaching it backwards. I’ve been more concerned about flesh management than I have been about walking with the Spirit. 

What I have learned is that God will not make us obey. We must be proactive in our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We walk in the Spirit by talking and making choices with the Spirit in everyday life. Ask, “Holy Spirit, what do YOU want to do and say?” This is simply maintaining an active dialogue in my head or under my breath with the indwelling Spirit. This is an act of faith that pleases God! Hebrews 11:6

Some realities I’ve learned along the way:

1) I have been dishonoring the Honored Guest Who’s present with me in all I do. 

1 Corinthians 6:14-15

2) When I do dialogue with Him, He more often gives guidance to stop and think (usually no instead of go), which keeps me from sinning and dishonoring the Lord and my witness! 

3) Instead of “Quiet Time” (me to Him), it is dialogue time! As I read scripture, I pray it back and discuss it with the Spirit. I ask a lot more questions and speak less and give time to quietly listen. 

4) The reality is as I walk and talk with the Spirit, my “want to” is changing. I want to walk and talk with Him because I want to be led by Him and I want to live for Him.

Lesson: Giving up control of my life to Him actually gives me greater control in my life because God’s power is flowing through me! 

Outcome: As you become more aware of Him and make room for Him in the inn of your life, you and others will see the difference!

Merry Christmas!

You are Loved and constantly in our prayers!

Love, Mom & Dad

To be quite honest there is really nothing I could add or say to this incredible letter. So let me just make a few observations.

First, wow! What a letter to write to your four adult children and grandchildren. I am so convicted by just that act alone. Second, I have been so guilty of trying to make the life of my Christian walk about rules and do’s and don’ts that I have not applied nearly as much time learning to walk in the Spirit! With this aim, it is much more refreshing and encouraging to persevere. 

And third, instead of finding all the things wrong with our children’s lives – both adult children and our children that are still at home – wouldn’t we be much better served by being willing to confess our flaws and lessons we’ve learned from our own sin than by constantly sticking our kids’ noses in all their wrongs?

Until next time,

Terry

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