Faithful in the Home

HomeThis past Sunday I was able to give the sermon for the adults on our church’s pursuit of being “Faithful in the Home.” I was able to share personal stories, philosophies on a healthy home, and lots of verses from God’s Word. I actually waited an extra week to post this blog to ensure I had given the topic enough time and consideration. After lots of thought, consulting, study, and prayer…I figured something out that I kind of knew all along. Read More

Spare the Rod?

discipline

He was three at the time. The little man cub was in his bathing suit and running around the front yard while I washed the car. We lived on a busy street at the time, so I had to keep an extra watchful eye on the boy because he was pretty oblivious to the danger of the cars that raced down our street. Every few minutes he would walk towards the street as if he needed to expand his play yard. Each time I would redirect him to the safety of the yard or give him the hose to play with – always with a verbal reminder that he was not to go into the street. He headed for the street one more time and I was right behind him. This time, instead of redirecting, I brought my hand down on his bottom with a firm smack. I totally forgot to factor in the lack of diaper and a wet suit, so it stung. The man cub started crying right away. I felt bad. But he never walked out into the street again. Read More

Not Wrong, Just Different

It was a Tuesday night at my house and there were dozens of Jr Highers running around crazy in the minutes before the Bible Study was to start. There were kids playing football, chatting in circles, shooting hoops, and sword-fighting with foam swords. All was well an going to plan when two boys started puffing up their chests and getting into a bit of a verbal spat. And you Read More

Setting Fence Lines

Boundaries

Years ago, scientists conducted a simple study with preschool children. They took a group of kids to a playground that did not have a fence and allowed them to play naturally. Later, they took the same group of kids to a similar playground that had a defined border. The study found that without the perimeter fence, the kids stayed close to the teachers for fear of the unknown. However, it was drastically different with the fenced playground. The children, feeling safe and confident with boundaries, felt free to explore their play area and spread out within the fenced area. Read More

Be the 8%

NYE-R2

I greeted a woman who had helped me today with, “Happy New Year!”  She looked confused for a minute until it dawned on her that we really were only six days into the new year! In this day and age of instantaneous news, the newness of the New Year was already forgotten less than a week later. Sadly, along with the cheese dip and the sparkling cider, many resolutions made with good intentions only a few short days ago are also in danger of becoming a memory.

January is a natural starting point for new projects, diets, financial health, and spiritual disciplines. Forbes reported that 40% of Americans declare a New Year’s Resolution. Sadly, only 8% of them actually achieve their goals. We come out of our food coma and activity packed season knowing that something needs to be different and we tell ourselves that different starts January 1st. But by February 1st, we have typically already shed our resolutions as another good idea gone wrong, berated ourselves for being failures and then we wait eleven months to make the same promises all over again. In my humble opinion, we overwhelm ourselves with big, lofty goals without doing much pre-planning. We also make changes for ourselves rather than for the purpose of glorifying God with our bodies and our lifestyles.

What if we try something a bit different this year?

Imagine, if you will, the end of 2015. Who do you want to be? In our baby dedication process we ask parents to consider who they want their kids to be when their child becomes an adult. Today, I want you to consider what kind of pastoring parent you want to be by the end of 2015.

What if…

… you were healthier so you could run and play (or keep up with) your kids? If you were healthier so you could live a long life of influence for generations to come?

What would being healthier really look like? Is it shedding 25lbs? Is it getting off of blood pressure medication? Is it changing a drug or alcohol problem?

What if…

… you were digging out of debt so that you could take more vacations or missions trips together? What if you were out of debt and able to bless others with your money rather than paying credit cards?

What would being closer to debt free look like? Credit cards paid off? Car payments and other loans reduced without adding more debt? Is it making and sticking to a budget?

What if…

… you and your kids were engaged in growing in your faith so that you could be a light and help to others who struggle and that your life would be a testament to God’s amazing grace?

What would being engaged and growing in your relationship with Jesus look like? Daily devotionals, choosing activities that honor God (or choosing to eliminate activities that do not honor God), participation in a grow group, consistent attendance to Sunday services, and/or tithing?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want those things? Is it hard work? Perhaps. But with a little bit of intentional planning, it’s doable.

Goals usually fail because they are unrealistic, they are not easily measurable, they are not planned, they typically are not encouraged by someone with your best interest at heart, and they are set without the right motivation.

Here are some suggestions to help you join the 8%!

SET REALISTIC AND MEASURABLE GOALS: Be realistic and write them down. It’s okay to set big goals, but make sure they are at least in the realms of possibility. No matter how often I resolve to be a rock diva, it’s just not going to happen. Getting into a small group is doable. Tithing is doable.  Going on a mission trip is doable. If your goal is to lose weight, make sure you put a number to it. You can’t reach a goal if you don’t measure it!

SET MILESTONES: Setting milestones will keep you focused and help break the big goal down into manageable chunks. If being engaged in a ministry is your goal, you may need to talk to some ministry leaders or take a spiritual gift test.  A key to these milestones is to put them on your calendar and set the alarm!  Most of us have smart phones or some type of calendar to remind us of important dates and events.  If you have a smart phone you can set an alarm to remind you of your next milestone. Put on your calendar that you need to send an email or have lunch with a ministry leader. This will keep you on track long past January and well on your way to making it to the 8% Club!

ACCOUNTABILITY: Regardless of how many areas you want to address this year, when changing any lifestyle it’s easier to do it together in community.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

Find someone who will hold you accountable. I cannot stress enough how important accountability is and how important it is to find someone you can honestly share your struggles with and who you know will point you back to Christ and keep you on track. Without accountability, we tend to revert to old habits fairly quickly.

KNOW WHAT MOTIVATES YOU:  This may sound obvious, but when we try to change our lives without seeking God’s will and doing it under our own power, we doom ourselves to failure. And how foolish are we to try to change with our own power when we have the Holy Spirit residing within our bodies?

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The proper care and feeding of our bodies demonstrates good stewardship for that which God has given us. Think about your lifestyle and whether it reflects how you would treat the King of Kings and Lord of Lords if He only came for a visit. Would you be motivated to feed Him Twinkies and ho ho’s or offer the scrumptious variety of fruits and veggies He made? Would you be motivated to invite Him to watch the newest series on Netflix with you or to explore the world He created? Would you be motivated to invite Him to play Words with Friends or engage Him in a conversation over His very popular book?

 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

And lastly, START SOMEWHERE! Any one of those steps listed above may be a resolution in and of itself. Maybe you need to find an accountability partner first to help you make goals and set milestones. It took a while to find someone to hold me accountable to being in God’s word everyday. There were many people who said they would, but their own schedules made it difficult to keep after me on a consistent basis. So don’t let any one of these steps deter you from striving to be all that God calls you to be! Keep at it! Becoming the parent that God has called you to be is worth the effort!

These steps will help you and your child in all areas of life and you don’t have to wait until the New Year to start. As pastoring parents we are called to steward the resources we’ve been given. We have a responsibility to make sure our lifestyle reveals the life of a fully devoted Christ-follower. How we treat our physical bodies, our finances, our emotional health and spiritual disciplines will speak much louder to our children and future generations than mere words. So start somewhere! Start now!

I’m going to be praying about some reasonable goals for myself. I plan to set milestones and involve an accountability partner. Mostly, I’m going to resolve that my actions only bring praise and glory to God who resides within me. Will you join me, Pastoring Parent, to be in the 8% come January 2016?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

Dawn

Heart Wars

heart-hands-by-fannyI remember walking across my college campus in England with one of my mentors from Campus Crusade for Christ called Martin Riddall. He and I talked a lot about ministry with a specific focus on making disciples. And I’ll never forget what he said to me as we walked passed one of the lakes on campus. “Andy, the most important disciple-making job you’ll ever have is when you are a parent.”

Parenting is one of the ways in which we are to fulfil the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples…” Parenting is disciple-making.

This thought was reiterated to me over this last summer as some men in the church got together to study a book called, “The Masculine Mandate,” which had two chapters devoted to this whole idea of viewing parenting as disciple-making.

downloadThe bible has many things to say about parenting, especially in the book of Proverbs, but one verse sums up the bible’s teaching on the cry of a disciple-making parent. “My son, give me your heart.” (Proverbs 23:26). According to the bible, the heart of a person is their inner person, including the thoughts, desires, attitudes and the will of that person.

Our primary call shouldn’t be, “My son, give me your obedience,” because we can just encourage a false outward obedience without the heart ever being connected to us. Neither should our call be, “My son, give me your attendance,” thinking that just because you force your children to church and kids or youth camp that Christianity will rub off on them.

Our children are going to give their hearts and passions to something. Whether that be academics, sports, relationships or whatever. But ultimately we want to have our children’s hearts so that we can pass it on to Jesus.

In The Masculine Mandate book, the author gives four habits to get into to help win your child’s heart.

Read, Pray, Work, Play

Read
The primary role of the pastoring parent is teaching their children the word of God. God’s word is living and active. It is the only thing that can transform hearts and minds and it draws us closer to God.

This doesn’t mean parents have to bible scholars. But they should be willing to open up the bible or some bible devotion book and read it to and with their kids. And if you’re worried that you might not know an answer to your kid’s question, then that’s ok. Finding out the answer with them will be a great example of how they too can grow in their faith in the future.

There are lots of great resources out there. We currently use the “One Year Bible Devotions for Preschoolers” with our 3-year old daughter. And there are great resources for all age levels both for family and personal devotional time.

Pray
Prayer is ultimately an act of dependence on God and this is exactly the attitude we want to pass onto our kids as disciple-making parents. We want them to rely on God 100%. This is a great way to connect with the hearts of our children. We can pray for the things that are worrying them and the struggles they are going through. This of course means we need to know these things –  but this is a great way to build that relationship with your children.

But this is a two-way street. You can also ask your kids to pray for you. They don’t need to know all the adult details of life, but you can ask them to pray for you if you have difficult decisions to make at work for example, or if you are feeling sick.

Work
Working alongside someone to accomplish a common goal is one of the best way to build experiences together and therefore to build relationships together. This means that we should get involved with whatever tasks are before them. From helping with schoolwork to practicing free throws or baton twirls, we should take a keen interest in whatever our child is working on in their lives.

But again, this is a two way street. We can also involve our kids in the work we are doing. This isn’t so much in our 9-5 employment but in our work around the home and our chores. From yard work, to cleaning, to fixing the shower – we can involve our kids in what we’re doing so as to build that relationship. And don’t just give them a chore and have them do it – do it with them. Yes it will take more time, but you will be winning the heart of your child.

There is a note stuck to the front of one of our kitchen cabinets which reads, “Fat souls are better than clean floors.” Our 3-year old enjoys cooking dinner with us – we obviously only let her do tasks that are appropriate for a 3-year old to do. But cooking with a 3-year old girl is quite a messy affair (as can be cooking with a 29 year old man). But the mess is well worth it because we are building that relationship with her and winning her heart.

Play
Parents should play with their children. This means stooping to their level and getting involved with whatever they are playing. From being a patient in a doctor’s surgery to being a horse on a ranch to being a fellow earth protector on some video game, you will grow a great relationship with your children by playing with them and being interested in what they are interested in.

This also means that you can invite them into your “playtime” too. If you are a sports fan, invite your kids into your passion. If you fix cars, teach your kids how to do it and do it with them. If you make quilts, do it with your kids. Whatever you do, you are going to work at winning your kid’s heart if you do it with them.

To Sum It All Up
We are to win the hearts of our children. And we can do that if we intentionally find ways to read, pray, work and play with them. This obviously takes time but this is the role our heavenly Father calls us to as parents. We should be willing to sacrifice our time and our own hobbies, past times and even of our careers for the sake of their hearts. But it’s also one of the greatest privileges we get as well.

Maybe you’ve read this and you’re encouraged because you can see that you are already doing these things. Then I encourage you to do them with greater intentionality.

But maybe you’re reading this and you have no idea where to start. If you have younger kids, then start doing something small in each of these areas. And grow the activities as your kids grow. But if your kids are older, then why not try them in reverse. Start by finding ways to “play” with your kids. Get involved in what they are involved in and invite them into your activities if they are at all interested. Then a bit later on, start being involved positively in their “work”. Don’t just set high academic expectations and leave them to it. Get stuck in with them and help them learn. And let them work alongside you as well. As your relationship deepens, begin to pray with them, asking them about their concerns and struggles. And as you pray, begin to open up the bible with them and show them how God wants to be involved in their lives and to use them for His purposes and glory.

Resources

The Masculine Mandate

One Year Bible Devotions for Preschoolers

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Good Book Company
This website has lots of great bible study resources for individuals of all ages and families too.

Avoiding the Christmas Hangover

Hello fellow Pastoring Parents!

I hope as you read this blog you are all enjoying this wonderful time of the year. I, personally, have always loved Christmas. But my reasons have changed over the years, as I’m sure is the case for many of you. It used to be all about the presents when I was a kid. Then it was actually pretty fun to begin buying my own presents for others. But I was always left with the same Christmas hangover feeling when it was all done. As Christmas morning passed into Christmas afternoon I was always left with the sinking feeling of “Is this IT?” My presents never really lasted and it’s not like my gifts for others were exactly life changing. Read More

In the Beginning… there were chores?

In the beginning, God created everything. He made the sun, the moon, the planetary system. He worked for six days making Earth a habitable place for the animals and humans He made to live here. And at the end of all his work He said, “It is good.” When He created Adam, He placed him in the garden to work and care for it. And it was good. It was all good. Work was good! What a blessing it was for Adam to work in the garden that God had made! And then sin entered the picture. God punished Adam when He cursed the ground and work became difficult. Work was still good, but now work would be a struggle, more challenging. Work would become a chore.

When Nick and I began this adventure, we asked a few folks what kind of parenting advice they would find helpful for the Pastoring Parent. How to delegate chores and responsibilities was on the list. “What,” you might ask yourself, “do chores have to do with the spiritual development of your child?” Read More