Family

MOM-TESTED TIPS FOR CHILDREN IN WORSHIP

children-in-church

by Debbie Huber

As each of our children turned six years old, Kyle and I decided that it was time for them to sit in the worship services with me.

Well, to be honest with you, the excitement for this was mostly Kyle’s. I was a little hesitant since that was back in the days when the pastors sat on the platform and he almost never sat with me. I had visions of my very distractible six year old boy causing some type of disturbance in the middle of a sermon.

Fortunately that did not happen but I have memories of spilt communion juice, choruses of “I have to go to the bathroom!…Really bad!”, and both girls’ heads on each of my shoulders while hearing “My tummy hurts!”…”Mine does too!”

But I am so thankful that we persevered. Too often parents are afraid to have their children sit with them in a worship service because they are afraid they will be bored, be distracting to others, or not understand.  It is important to see that one of our responsibilities as Christian parents is to train our children in worship.

To help our children learn to pay attention we began to ask them to write three points from the sermon as they listened.  We would then discuss these points as a family on the ride home. Since their writing skills were only emerging at six years old, this started out as drawing pictures of things they heard in the sermon (there were many interesting pictures of their father and grandfather).

As they got older we asked them to write five points or more. What a joy it was to see them progress from writing just the first five things they heard to writing good details about the whole sermon.  But this took time, patience, and consistency.

Training your children for worship does not just happen on Sunday mornings.  Here are a few other suggestions that are important as well:

1.  Model excitement about going to church.   If mom and dad are reluctant about going to church the children will be too.  Be joyful and excited about the Sunday services.

 2.  Prioritize family worship at home. The more your children hear God’s word at home, the more natural it will be for them to listen to it and pay attention in corporate worship.

 3.  Be patient and consistent. Training for worship will take time.  Show grace to your children as they are growing in their ability to sit and listen in the services.  Each child is different – some may sit attentively after only a few weeks and others may take a few years!  Do not grow weary with such a wonderful and worthwhile part of Christian parenting. 

 

Additional Sunday tips from Kyle:

Sunday mornings can be a little crazy for families with small children. So we started the habit of getting a head start on Saturday night. We would lay clothes and do anything else to make Sunday morning less hectic. We also served toaster waffles for Sunday breakfast, because they could be eaten in the car if necessary.

 

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE TALK

 

We have all heard about, uncomfortably given, or even more uncomfortably listened to “The Birds and the Bees Talk”.

Our children need to have a healthy framework for information which they will eventually be confronted with and use.

However, pastor and blogger Tim Challies points out in this article, that there is now a new talk we need to have with our children long before the Birds and the Bees.

Parents need to have the “Tech Talk” with their children.

The lives of our children are permeated with technology which opens their tender lives to the entire world in all its rawness, brutality, carelessness and sin!

In the online world our children will be confronted with, pornography, predators and bullies.

As parents (and grandparents) we have God given responsibilities to equip and protect our children.

And they need us to provide this help.

I strongly encourage you to start developing a plan if you have not already done so by reading Tim’s article, “Before the Birds and the Bees”.

DO YOUR CHILDREN’S SPORTS RULE OVER YOUR HOME?

cheering-parents

Sports are a big part of life for many people.

And when it comes to our children – sports can easily take over life.

Do you find that the schedule of your children’s activities seems to be running your life?

Have weekends become exhausting blurs of activity rather than a helpful time of rest?

Does your family time exist only in the activities of your children?

Do you spend less time with your church family because of sports activities?

If your answer is a sheepish yes to any of these questions, you will find this article by Todd Hill to be helpful.

Todd brings balanced and encouraging reflections for Christian parents concerning our children in sports. He reminds us of what to watch out for and how to keep in perspective the even greater importance of our family’s commitment to Christ.

As Todd makes clear, sports are not bad; the problem is when these activities become the ruling activity of life.

I hope all parents will take 5 minutes and read “Do Christian Parents Flirt with the Idol of Sports”.

ADAM4D NAILS IT

 

baby1

There is endless discussion and declaration on this issue which tries to sound so logical and justifiable. But in one comic strip Adam4D strips it all away to what we should see – the truth!

Follow this link to get the whole sequence.

 

DISABILITY MINISTRY: REACHING ALL PEOPLE FOR CHRIST

disabilities

by Debbie Huber

What if you found out that a specific group of families in your community were unreached with the gospel? I am sure you would be interested in finding ways to reach out to these families.

These unreached families are those who have a family member with a disability.

The statistics speak for themselves:

Nearly one in six children has a developmental disability.

Approximately 1 in 45 children (1 in 28 boys) in NJ has an autism spectrum disorder. Our area is statistically higher than the rest of the country for autism diagnoses. 

An overwhelming majority of babies diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are aborted because our society perpetuates the falsehood that people with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities have less value.

When a couple has a child with autism or ADHD, some research indicates that the rate of divorce for their parents is nearly twice as high as the norm

Some disability ministry leaders have estimated that 85-90% of people with disabilities are unchurched. 

Jesus tells us to go into the world to reach ALL people because ALL people are created in God’s image, even those with disabilities.  The Bible is full of instances where Jesus sought out those with disabilities.  He had compassion on them; he healed them, not just physically but spiritually. 

In Luke 14 in the Parable of the Banquet, Jesus specifically says to go into the streets and the lanes of the city and bring in the poor, the crippled and the lame. Jesus tells us that for those with disabilities and the outcast, it is clear that the kingdom is made up of the “least of these brothers of mine.”

You may have neighbors or family who has a child with a disability. Often those families can feel isolated.  It is difficult for them to find babysitters for even short outings.  Going to church may seem like an overwhelming thought to them, and they are often turned away from churches because the church is not equipped to handle their child’s unique needs. 

God is opening up this area of ministry for our church.  Children with disabilities are a part of our children’s ministry at Greentree. They are receiving loving care and are hearing the gospel faithfully.  It is our desire at Greentree Church to be welcoming and accommodating to these children, but also to be able to minister to these families.

It is not always easy.  We can expect physical and behavioral issues that make ministering to those with disabilities messy at times.  But it is worth it. 

Here are some specific ways you can help

1.  Volunteer to be a one-on-one aide to a child with a disability in children’s ministry.

2.  Seek to establish relationships with families who have a family member with a disability. (Children or adult). Offer to help them in practical ways.   Pray that God will use your relationship to share the gospel with the whole family.

3.  Be welcoming to families and individuals with disabilities who visit our church. It is easy to shy away from talking to them because we do not know what to say.  Start by saying hi and smiling!

Please join with me to pray that God will give us hearts to reach out to these families and that our church will be a welcoming place for everyone to hear the Gospel, including those with disabilities.

WHY STOP THERE?

File Dec 15, 1 30 46 PM

 

The true Christian community (those who believe the Creator God gave us his Word, which is the final authority on everything) has been rightly disturbed by those in our culture who want to erase God’s lines and allow truth to become what they want it to be.

The biggest area in which lines are being confused is that of sexual identity and transgender fluidity.

But now, the transgender community is flustered because someone dares to go beyond even their tangled lines of identity.

Paul Wolscht is a 52 year old Canadian man with a wife and seven children. But now Paul says his true identity is Stefonkee. And (Paul) says that Stefonkee is not only a female, she is a 6 year old girl.

As a six year old girl, Stefonkee is not interested in a gay marriage, he (I’m sticking with what God made) says he needed a new “mommy and daddy” to take care of him as a little girl. His new adoptive mommy and daddy are supportive of his dressing as a little girl and playing with dolls.

Well, the transgender movement is outraged! Stefonkee is making a mockery of being a transgender person, by throwing in his age confusion issue (transageism). I guess they think his age confusion issues are silly.

In this excellent article on the story, Carl Trueman accuses the transgender movement of “whining like a bunch of, ahem, six year old girls” (pun fully intended).

The homosexual and transgender community have wanted to erase God’s lines. But now they are angry, because once the lines are gone – once truth is no longer concrete – anything, literally anything goes.

Perhaps God knows what He is doing after all.

 

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS WITH ETERNITY IN MIND

 

by Debbie Huber

You shall teach (the Scriptures) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deuteronomy 11:19).

Recently I asked my daughter, Elyse, what is the most memorable part of Christmas for her. She responded that it is the traditions that are the most memorable and meaningful. From decorating the tree together, the visits with family and friends, the Christmas Eve service at church, to the family reading of the Biblical account of Christmas on Christmas morning, the traditions stand out more than the presents.

In her book, “Treasuring God in our Traditions”, Noel Piper emphasizes that our traditions should reflect our hearts’ delight in God. These traditions don’t just happen; they happen because we live our lives everyday dependent on God and His Word. And then we plan to include our children in this lifestyle of dependency on God.

When we read and meditate on the Nativity, we cannot help but to be overcome with joy knowing that God Himself chose to be born as one of us…To live as one of us, yet without sin…and to die in our place for our sins. As this Gospel impacts us it overflows into the big and small moments of our lives.

There are many and varied traditions for our families at Christmas time. Some are more meaningful to us, drawing us to contemplate Jesus’ incarnation. Sometimes we have certain traditions because we have always done them that way or because everyone else seems to be doing it.

But in all of our traditions, do we reflect a gratitude to God for His amazing gift of His Son to us at Christmas? That because of Christ’s incarnation we have more than the fun of the moment, we have an incomparable hope! Jesus has rescued us from the punishment we deserve for our sins.

Do we delight in this, enthusiastically demonstrating it as we sit with our family in our houses, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up? This is teaching God’s word to our families through the impact that His word has on our lives. And this is what our children will remember about Christmas.

Noel Piper says it so well: “How will our home look if our celebration is a picture of anticipation and waiting for God’s plan to be completed, a picture of our joy, in the salvation he has begun for us? What visible things will fill our house as we celebrate what God has done through Jesus?”

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.14.15

“The Focus of our Homes”

1 John 2:15-17

by Paul Long

What is the greatest threat that our children face? The greatest threat that our children face is misplaced love.

In vs 15 John gives us a very clear command, “Do not love the world or the things in the world”

 

3 reasons for why we should not love the world:

Reason #1  Love for the world crowds out a love for God v 15

It is not possible to be fully devoted to God and have a love and desire for the things in this world.

John defines the world we are not to love as three things:

1. The Desires of the flesh

God created us to have good desires – but our sin distorts those desires so that instead of being fulfilled in a God glorifying way they are pursued in a “me satisfying” way.

2. The Desires of the eyes

Our sinful cravings are activated by what we see.
Your children will see a world that offers them anything. They see a world that lives by one rule, whatever makes you happy is good for you – go after it.

3. Pride in possessions

It is love for what we’ve got and who we are. Life is defined by power, stuff, standing and achievements. How big is your house, and how important is your job? How high have you climbed, what have you accomplished, what makes you such a big deal?

How do each of these aspects of worldly love influence our hearts, homes and the lives of our children?

When we give into sinful desires and pride of life we are not following or obeying God.

Reason #2  The world and its desires will not last v17

Sin will not last. God will judge and punish all sin. If you love the world and if you love sin you will pass away, along with your pursuits.

This world and its sinful desires will not last forever. Yet as Christians we know the end of the story. 1 John 5:4-5

On the cross Jesus conquered sin and death. He rose victoriously and he will return to judge the world. Those who have put their faith in him, by grace will live with him forever in heaven.

Reason #3  When we love God, we get God and his blessings forever v17

To love God is to obey what He says. And to obey what He says is to love Him. John 14:15, 1 John Ch 5:3

For the Christian this world is not our home. This world is passing away but we have an eternal home in heaven with our Savior and our God.

So our goal in parenting should to be help cultivate in our children a love for God

First: we do this be evangelizing our children.

Our children’s greatest need is to know the saving Love of God the Father provided through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They need to understand and believe the gospel.

Second: we help cultivate love for God in our children by our example.

We are to model a love for God before our children. As a parent where do your affections lie? What do you love? If you were to ask your children, what does mommy or daddy love the most, what would they say? The influence of your life speaks volumes to your children.

Third: we cultivate a love for God through corporate worship and family worship.

Corporate worship is the people of God gathered together to sing, pray and hear from God’s word. A great way you can help your children grow in their love for God is by bringing them to church.

Family worship is gathering your family together to read the Bible and pray.

Donald Whitney is his book on family worship offers these three reminders that help to shape the task of family worship. He says this: Be brief, be regular, be flexible

Fourth: we cultivate a love for God through correction

As we see our children going down a path of following the desires of the world, as parents we are called to correct them. Proverbs 22:6, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 22:15

The goal of correction is not to produce good behavior. The goal is to produce a love for God. Therefore our correction should target our children’s hearts.

Finally:  we cultivate a love for God through love for one another

We cannot change our children’s hearts but we can love them well.
Parents let’s do all that we can to raise children that – “Do not love the world or the desires of the world.” Let us raise children that love, serve and obey God.

 

PREPARE HIM ROOM

 

I know that I recommended this book and CD last year, but it is Christmas time and these are terrific Christmas resources!

The Prepare Him Room family devotional was written to accompany a wonderful Christmas music CD.

Or was the Prepare Him Room CD produced to go along with the book?

Either way, both are on my highly recommend list!

And there is also a curriculum package available for classroom use

Marty Machowski, who has written some terrific devotional books for families, has collaborated with Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Music for the PREPARE HIM ROOM project.

The Prepare Him Room Christmas CD (my new favorite) was produced in collaboration with the Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus Family Devotional.

Marty and Bob are well known for bringing sound theology and high quality writing to their books and music.

Get both of these family strengthening resources. They will enrich your home for many Christmases to come!

AND, if you are a big fan of the Prepare Him Room album, that music will be performed in concert at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA on December 17!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.07.15

‘Spiritual Parenting’

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Parents have a responsibility to raise their children – to “prepare” them for adulthood. This involves the responsibility to provide care and set boundaries. As believers, this “preparation” is gospel-centered, because parenting is discipleship.

Our highest purpose as a parent is for our children to become mature followers of Christ. And the ultimate relationship we desire to have with our children is as brothers and sisters in Christ

Four Principles of Spiritual Parenting Discipleship

1. Spiritual parenting is a whole life endeavor (vs 10-11)

Paul led Timothy by how he lived as well in what he taught

Parents start with positional leadership, but we also need character leadership

Like Paul, our life needs to be “aimed” at something: we seek to be Great Commandment people!

Our values, character and aim become clearest during hardship

Paul’s sufferings revealed the depth and full beauty of his character

We hate seasons of struggle and want to avoid them; yet these seasons are memorable to our children – they will remember how we handled them

If whole life discipleship intimidates you, be encouraged, because some of the lessons our children need to learn are how to get up from spiritual failure, and how to be weak

Notice that Paul’s life story is part of how he discipled Timothy. Throwing truths at people gets old, but sharing our story is impactful

2. Spiritual parenting prepares children to live in a rebellious world (vs12-13)

All who love godliness “will” be persecuted, bcause the world loves what opposes God

This goes further than people not sharing our love for godliness, they hate godliness

And they are growing louder, bolder and more confident. Yet, we are not discouraged, for we have Christ!

Our children must navigate a world that rejects the values and rule of God

They will be opposed, they will suffer loss, and they will not always fit it

Our children (and whoever we disciple) need to be rooted (1) in truth and (2) in a loving community

Our children will observe believers who compromise, and they will be tempted join them

We want our children to be serious about God! This means they must be serious about the gospel, the church and Great Commandment living

The prominent voice evil will use with our children is deception (v13)
Deception tries to look like truth – no one counterfeits $4 bills

Our children (and ourselves) need equipping in what is true versus what is empty

They need our help (and example) to distinguish what is eternally valuable, from what is momentary

3. Spiritual parenting equips children to be ‘disciple-makers’

The main point of chapter 3 is in v14, “continue in what you have learned”

The goal of parenting isn’t to get our children to 18, to 21, on their own, or into a career

The goal is for them to stand in their generation as Great Commandment people and fulfill the mission Christ has given every disciple, which is to be a disciple-maker

Tim Jones: “We are discipling our children with our grandchildren in mind”

As spiritual parents, must ask ourselves, “What are we preparing our children for?”

If our preparation is for the same successes the world grasps after – they will be left holding the same emptiness

The obvious follow up question; “How are we preparing them?”

In v15 Paul gives the answer, train them in God’s word

Families – read the Bible together!

Just as importantly, parents, form your values and practices by God’s word

“But I’m not a Bible expert.” Read it and apply what you understand

4. Spiritual parenting enthusiastically and completely trusts God’s word

Paul reminds Timothy, why the Bible is uniquely valuable (vs16-17)

All creation exists by God speaking it into being. His word is the source of everything

Nothing can be as “profitable” for your children as God’s word

Training our children through biblical truth is how we care for them

Training our children in biblical truth is what makes life “complete”

However, training our children in biblical truth is not tossing rules at them, it is sharing truths with them

We all want the best for our children

Without biblical truth, no one is “equipped” for life – now or for eternity (v17)

Without biblical truth, there are no “good works”. As Solomon said, it is all “chasing after the wind”

 

Thoughts On Becoming Spiritual Aunts and Uncles

1. We all can (and are) an influence on the children who are in your church

We serve families by the spirit we bring to church and by the example we set in life

This example begins early: middle school kids influence small children; teens influence middle schoolers; and college students influence teens etc

2. Perhaps you were not a believer when your children growing up. You can now be a spiritual aunt or uncle to the young people of your church