children

PARENTS, LET THIS TASK BE EXCITING!

Last year we conducted a survey in our church on the area of Children’s Ministry. The results gave us cause to celebrate and to be concerned.

The celebration was in the clarity our congregation has in the values of God’s word ruling over our homes, and in the importance of parent’s discipling their children.

The concern was that many parents were struggling to regularly implement discipleship and family devotions. The survey also revealed that as pastors, we had not done a good job in equipping parents for this all-important task.

This year we have prayerfully worked to change these weaknesses, and we are thankful for God’s gracious help in leading us as a church to turn this area of weakness into an area of increasing strength.

However, it can still be intimidating for parents to lead their children in devotions. This responsibility which God means to be joyful, often seems intimidating and looms as a burden on our time.

Jon Neilson wrote this helpful and encouraging article describing “Three Surprising Ways Bible reading with My Kids Has Changed Me”. Parents and grandparents, I hope you will find renewed energy in your commitment to the wonderful privilege of leading the children you love toward our Savior!

In the article, Jon shares a 40 second video with 8 quick tips on reading the Bible with your kids. He links the article to his book on this subject which is published by Matthias Media. I have not read Jon’s book, but I highly regard everything made available by Matthias Media.

 

LOVE REQUIRES DISCIPLINE

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him” Proverbs 13:24

Wow, to us that may sound like a harsh exaggeration.

How is failure to discipline our children like “hating” them?

Discipline is a necessary part of protecting, shaping and maturing our children. When I was a boy my mother often said:

“We are disciplining you, so you will learn self-discipline”.

Without self-discipline our children will live their lives as a series of foolish, impulsive and self-centered actions. This is not good for our home, their future, or the rest of society which also suffers under their behavior.

There are different ways to discipline our children that are healthy and productive. But the key is to do something and to have a consistent plan with it.

As Christians, we should recognize that teaching our children to obey us, at the same time is training them to obey God.

In reality, we are always training our children – either to obey us or to ignore and disregard us. This training will directly shape how our children respond to God’s commands.

And we ignore His commands at our eternal peril!

Parents, for many reasons it is not easy to discipline our children, but a failure to work at it – is a failure to love our children just like it would be if we failed to feed and clothe them.

Common mistakes parents make in the area of discipline:

1. Making discipline about us rather than about God: this steals from our children the rich spiritual benefits of discipline

2. Poor follow through: telling our children there will be consequences, but not giving them, which teaches them to disregard us

3. Inconsistency in discipline: this removes stability from our children’s lives and makes the principles behind obedience unclear to them

4. Accepting incomplete obedience: this trains sloppy behavior and the practice of doing the least you can. When our children were young, Debbie and I taught them that full obedience involves:

Doing what we ask

When we ask

In the way we ask

And with a right attitude

5. Discipline by emotion: this is leads to inconsistency as well as verbal and physical abuse

6. To correct bad actions, but not bad attitudes: sin is a heart issue, so we need to deal with the heart issues of having a bad attitude

Some thoughts on spanking:

1.  Spanking is for rebellious behavior, not for their mistakes.

2.  Spanking should be controlled and never in anger. Know before you start, the reasonable number of swats you will give

3.  Never be abusive or seek to embarrass them. As children grow older, other forms of discipline become wiser options (taking phones etc. for designated periods, is an excellent way to get their attention)

4.  Spanking is smacks on their bottom, not on their face

5.  The goal of spanking is reconciliation. Explain why you are spanking them first and always immediately affirm your love for them afterward

Another of my mom’s wise sayings:

“Child abuse is not discipline, and discipline is not child abuse”

For more helpful thoughts, read this article by John Piper on the Desiring God website: “Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children”.

GUEST MOM: KIM EAVES

Kim and kids pic

by Kim Eaves

I would like to share with you a bit of my story through motherhood. I am the proud mother of twelve children! Five of them are still in my home today. It wasn’t what I had planned but God has a way of answering prayer exceedingly, abundantly, more than we ask.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, my parents divorced when I was young and before that they didn’t get along with each other at all. We had absolutely no Christian influence in our lives and our family history was a long list of worldliness and addiction.

I made up my mind at an early age because of what happened at home that I would never get married and that I never wanted to be a mother but then an amazing thing happened. God intervened and changed my life. As the song says “as I ran my hell bound race indifferent to the cost, He looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross.” He gave me saving faith, and for the first time in my life I began to read His word. I was amazed at how good the Father’s ways are, and how really off track I had been. I saw His version of motherhood and I began to have a longing to be married and to be a mother.

This new found desire led me to marry my high school sweetheart and we both started to pray about having a family. God changed my heart so much that I went from not wanting to be a mother at all, to asking God for the privilege to have many children! It would turn out not to be easy for me to conceive but after consistent and faithful prayer, eight years later, God gave us our first born son, Alec.

After that, as many of you know, because you are part of my story through your prayer for me, I found myself continuing to struggle with infertility. Years went by with what seemed like no answer but God was hearing and He was working an even greater plan. To me it just looked like unanswered prayer and it was a difficult time to remain faithful but it was definitely a time of growth for me because what I could never have known then, but I know now, was that God was making my heart ready for the good gifts He would bring later.

God was planting seeds that would grow into a love, not only for my own children, but to open my heart to mother other people’s children. Seeds take time to grow and after 9 long years God graciously gave us our second child by birth, April.

It was right around this time, through some experiences in our Community Fellowship that we felt like we should get involved with the foster system. Once we saw the need, we just knew we needed to be a part. I knew that although these kids needed mothering, what they needed most was the transforming power of the love of Christ.

Laid before me was the opportunity to be a part of His plan for them. Since that time, I have had the pleasure of mothering 10 foster children. Although it hasn’t been easy, it has been a great joy to be a part of God’s work in their lives through both hands on love and continued prayer.

In November of 2013 after several years of fostering we had the amazing honor of adopting our 8th and 9th foster children Aidan and Alli. Through God’s mercy and direction they became a part of our family permanently, just as if I had given birth to them myself!

Even though my story is not how I would have written it, it is what God has written for me. It is absolutely perfect and I wouldn’t change it.

IT’S HELPING ME TO UNDERSTAND

My wife, Debbie, has taught three-year-old Sunday school for over twenty years.

It is not uncommon for children to cry when their parents leave the room. In their minds, their parents are simply disappearing.

These little ones don’t grasp that their mom and dad remain close by and attentive. They certainly don’t think through the reasons why their parents are out of sight. None of the children appreciate the prayerful purpose their parents have for putting them in Debbie’s classroom.

In a similar way, we may think God is far and we have been forgotten. We don’t understand the purposes God has when we don’t feel His presence or see His hand working. And we are far from appreciating the depth of God’s love and the careful way He is unceasingly preparing us for our eternity with Him!

Another parent / child scenario I want to mention is when our children are gathered together in our house.

We have reached that stage in life when our children are grown and scattered. Our married daughter lives nearby – for now, while our other two children live a few states away.

Anytime we see or talk with one of our children, our hearts take a leap. And on those rare occasions when they are all with us together – it is sheer delight!

Our children like these occasions too, but they do not grasp how deeply it touches their parents. They will have to grow into that experience themselves.

Here is what amazes me – as a parent, the love and joy that I have for my children, cannot come close to matching the love and joy my Heavenly Father has for me.

He is a much better parent, with a much purer love and a boundless supply of it. God’s heart soars for me, more than my heart soars for my children. I can never out parent God, or out love and cherish him.

Our experience as parents is meant to be an eye-opener for us.

It helps us to increasingly understand our Heavenly Father’s heart for us.

Spend some time thinking through the many ways that your being a parent has taught you about Love – Care – Discipline – Heartache – Correction – and Communication. Then apply how what we have learned can give us insight into the heart of our Father in Heaven who is a perfect parent

IT’S THAT KIDS SUMMER CAMP WEEK FEELING

2014-06-16-vbs2We were thrilled to be able to work with your children this week during our Kids Summer Camp.

And we are just as proud of our many volunteers who are deeply committed to showing Christ to each child that attended.

Yet, as packed as this week has been, we have an exceptional Children’s Ministry staff and program that is in action all year long. Whenever you have an opportunity (at Greentree or at your church), please THANK them, PRAY for them – and just maybe, JOIN them!

The above comic from Adam4d.com honors all who served this week

WHERE WILL THEY RUN AFTER THEY GRADUATE?

By Debbie Huber

Can we help our children run to God and not away from Him after they graduate?

This is an exciting time for many families who have children graduating from high school. 

Whether they are going off to college or to work, the life changes will be significant.  All of a sudden, their level of independence and responsibility increases.  

But for many families, graduation can seem like an open door for young adults to “run away” from God and from all that we as parents have taught them.  As parents we often feel inadequate, that there is more we could be doing or could have done.

Can we keep them from “running away” from God?  No, not in our strength. But as inadequate as we often feel, God does use our authority in our children’s lives to lay a foundation for our children to know and love our Heavenly Father.

In an article from Erik Raymond, in the Ordinary Pastor blog, he gives some thoughts on parenting your children to run to God and not away from Him.

1. Regularly expose them to the Bible, the Sunday church service, fellowship in the church, family Bible reading, and discussions of spiritual things.

2. Be who you want them to be. Model the faithfulness that the Bible calls you to.

3. Elevate the Bible in the home. Do your children see that you cherish God’s word?  That is a powerful example.

4. Be consistent in discipline.   Don’t base it on your feelings because they change.

5. Confess your sins. Our children need to see that we are sinners in need of grace and forgiveness too!

6. Let them grow up. It is finding the balance between keeping them in a bubble and letting them do whatever they want. It is lovingly, prayerfully, and thoughtfully shepherding them through their growing up years.

7. Have real conversations and answer the hard questions.  They will hear the hard questions and they will form an opinion. Help them to see life through the lens of God’s word. Conversation is hard but it goes far in developing your relationship with your children.

8. Keep your promises.  This breeds trust.

9. Show affection. Your children should always know that they are loved and secure in your home.

10. Pray a lot!  Parenting is hard!  Even if we do all of the above, without God’s intervention our children may just be well-adjusted members of society but who are without hope for eternity.  Parenting is gospel work, a work of dependence on our Savior, knowing that He is the only hope for the children that God has entrusted to us.

Erik Raymond says that gospel parenting is not like a recipe for making a cake, that if you follow everything just right your children will be saved.  We must rely on the grace of God that He is at work in all of our lives.

And when the day comes and our children enter the new world after high school, we can let them go with confidence that they have been “loved and trained by us and God”.  And we can pray that God will give us wisdom as parents for this new phase in our children’s lives.

PREPARE FOR EASTER WITH YOUR CHILDREN

by Debbie Huber

Quick word association game:  name some symbols you think of when you hear the word Easter……

Many of you probably responded with words like cross, bunny, basket, eggs, resurrection, palms, candy, etc.

How do we portray why we celebrate Easter to our children?  We have fun traditions that include these symbols like candy, eggs, and Easter baskets, but does your family celebration of the true meaning of Easter go beyond a chocolate cross and wearing nice clothes to church on Easter Sunday?  Does it go beyond telling them “Jesus is alive”?  Or do we also focus on why He died for us?

Easter is the Gospel! 

The greatest impact of why we celebrate Easter happens when we focus on the gospel everyday of the year.  Our children need the hear the Gospel, they need to see Jesus.  They need to see that they are sinners in need of rescue. When our children sin we must show them that is why Jesus died!  He is our rescuer!  And He lives!  The celebration of the resurrection is exciting when we realize that Jesus loves us so much that he rescued us from the death sentence of our sins. If we trust in Christ, we will one day stand before God, not carrying the record of our sins, but clothed in the perfection and righteousness of Jesus!

Here are some suggestions to make Easter a perfect opportunity to preach the Gospel to our children:

Preach the Gospel to yourself regularly to help you demonstrate and speak it to your children.

Spend time as a family reading the biblical accounts of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus in the Bible.

During your Easter traditions be mindful to bring the focus back to the Gospel.

Pray with thankfulness with your children for Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners.

Ask probing questions so you see if your children understand the Gospel and why we celebrate Easter. (“Why did Jesus die and why do we need a rescuer from our sins?”) 

The Jesus Storybook Bible also is very understandable for children and helps children (and adults) to hear the true reason for our Easter celebration.  Here is an excerpt: 

“The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On His own Son. Instead of His people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, ‘It is finished!’ And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.”

WHO MAKES CHILDREN GROW?

Raising children is one of the easier tasks in life – until you actually have children and are faced with raising them!

The world is filled with dangers

Our children are filled with resistance

We are filled with uncertainty

Watching our children grow up is satisfying, frightening and exhausting. Yet it is a process God has given to parents for wonderful and gracious reasons. God wants our home to be a place of joyful growth in all that makes family life good.

Marty Machowski who is Pastor of Family Life at Covenant Life Church in Glen Mills, has richly blessed the church through his outstanding books for family devotions:

The Long Story Short (10 minute devotionals from the New Testament)

The Old Story (10 minute devotionals from the Old Testament)

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

In this blog article, Marty makes the helpful distinction between Sowing and Growing. When we understand which of these jobs belongs to us and which belongs to God, it encourages us and gives us a better focus for our important efforts on our children’s behalf.

BRINGING UP OUR CHILDREN

by Debbie Huber

I have the privilege of working as an occupational therapist in a public school. I love working with children of all ages and their many different personalities.  I work with many dedicated teachers and other staff who take the job of teaching our children seriously. This job also gives me the unique opportunity to see how the perspectives people have about raising our children is changing.

Due to many factors, parents seem to be abdicating many of the responsibilities of raising their children. They are looking to the school to fix their child’s problems. And as the parents depend on the school to take on a greater role in molding our children, the school naturally assumes more of this role and vice versa. Parents are also influenced by what the other parents of children in the schools are doing and feel pressured to do the same.

As a result of this many of the Christian parents seem to rely more on what society dictates is important for raising our children than being guided by God’s Word. For instance, we feel the pressure to involve our children in many outside activities, often compromising family time, family worship, and consistency in church attendance.  We can depend on the school to teach our children character and values rather than taking the time and responsibility to spend time with them reading the Bible to know godly character and values.

And the pressures on our children are immense! The pressure to be ashamed and hide that they are Christians, the pressure to accept as good and natural what God says as sin, and the pressure to give in and compromise in the name of “fitting in” are just a few examples. Our society is in a full court press to eliminate anything that would take glory from ourselves and our pursuits and give it to our Creator.

All three of our children went to public schools and the pressures on them and on us as parents were many. But that drove us more to ask questions about and discuss what was happening in school and to be steadfast in prayer for them. We sought to be diligent in family Bible reading before they left for school every day.

The pressures against God and knowing Him are great for children and their parents. That is why it is so important to do all that we can to equip ourselves to raise our children by God’s standards.  We cannot put it aside because things seem OK now and life is busy. They will not learn godliness in school and the teaching will often be adverse to what God’s word says, but God does not give our children to the school to teach them about Him. He gives them to us to raise those children to know, love and serve our great and faithful God.

LET’S INCLUDE ALL THE CHILDREN

 

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v Wade. That ruling ended many state and federal restrictions on abortion. It was truly a tragic day for our country. The “abortion debate” is aggressively argued by those who are in favor of and against the idea that a woman has the right to terminate the life of her unborn child.

Yet, however much people want to think it is a complex issue, it is really quite simple, abortion ends the life of a child that up to that point was safely preparing to enter life on its own. Our emotions may be complex and confused by various scenarios, but truth and right are straight forward principle in this matter.

In the days after the horrible massacre of children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, President Obama gave an impassioned and eloquent speech on the compelling need to keep our children “all of them, safe from harm”.  Saying “they had their entire lives ahead of them”. He then added the follow indictment,

“And if we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how as a society we will be judged.”

Mr. President, you are right – however you have ignored the most vulnerable children of all, those who rest in their mother’s womb.

May we never lose our voice to pointing out that abortion is a stain of shame upon any nation that defends it.