Family

FAMILY DEVOTIONS, CAN WE LIVE WITHOUT THEM?

 

“Can our family live without having devotions together?”

This a prodigious question for parents with children still at home.

The short answer is, yes you can live.

But the fuller answer is, not anywhere near as well as a Christian family should!

Family devotions are not about parents being scholars, teachers, or having all the answers.

Family devotions are about inserting God and his Word into family life. It an essential process for making sure that the most important truths for life and eternity are given a prominent voice in our home.

If your answer is “My children get enough of God at church and their Christian school.”

My response is NO THEY DON”T!!

What your children don’t get – and this is enormous– is to see that the most influential people to them are committed to loving God and putting him first in their lives. They don’t see that your family is led by God’s Word – unless they experience your family reading and implementing God’s Word

In the end, God has placed the primary discipleship role on parents. God gave your children to you and God made you their parents. Your church has an essential role that supplements, not supplants the role of parents.

If your answer is “But I don’t know where to start and what to do?”

I understand. Keep it simple.

Gather the family

Open your Bible to the New Testament

Read a small portion (they key is consistency not amount)

If an application or comment comes to you, share it. If not, don’t worry about it

Close with prayer

Over time you will become more comfortable doing it. And if you sincerely pray for God to help, he will answer that prayer.

Be encouraged in knowing that God is always the main character in the process.

To help stir up some good ideas for family devotions, I urge you to read this article by Tim Challies. He gives 10 Ideas for family devotions and then adds 10 Tips to help make it work.

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 12.07.15

‘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

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.

MOTHER’S DAY BLOG by LINDA LONG

A Mother’s Day Tribute

Betty Hansen

by Linda Long

Motherhood is one of the greatest callings given to women.

Whether you have given birth to a child or are called to be a spiritual mentor, you have the high privilege to impact a life for Jesus Christ. Several women have influenced me, but the person that has had the greatest impact on my life was my mother, Betty Hansen.

My mom was one of the kindest people I have ever met. Her sweet and gentle personality, laced with a quick wit, endeared her to all who knew her. She was a very generous person and her patience in listening surpassed anyone I knew. Mom was born in 1917, raised in Pennsylvania, so life as I knew it, began in Fort Washington, Pa

So many wonderful memories centered around things mom did for our family. She was the sunshine of our home, content, happy, and always singing along to a record album as she did her chores.

She began her mornings early, making a list of what needed to be accomplished. Lunches packed, dinners prepared, marketing ($33 dollars a week for a family of five), making my dad’s favorite homemade pies, sewing, knitting, leading my brother’s cub scout troop, and ironing, which always went to the top of the next day’s list because she hated to iron.

Mom was a busy lady, steady and dependable and a wonderful help mate to our hardworking dad. She was a stay at home mom for 19 years but, almost overnight, her life changed dramatically when my dad got sick and she had to go to work full time. She faced this challenge with grace and without complaint.

Years went by, my brother, sister and I went to college and the three of us began our adult lives. About the same time, my parents moved to Ocean City.

In 1979, mom took on a new role as mother-in-law, when I married Doug (or Don as mom would sometimes call him). Next came a total of 5 grandchildren. She attended all their activities; Christmas Musicals, sporting events, dance recitals, graduations, and weddings. Eventually she became Great Grandma Betty to four beautiful great grand children.

She retired at the age of 81, looking forward to doing the things she enjoyed.

Again, a sudden, unexpected turn of events, changed her life forever. Macular Degeneration, a disease of the eyes, left her with very limited vision. She lived the reminder of her life not being able to read, cook, drive, or do many of the things the average person takes for granted. The next 15 years of her life were a great challenge to her, but how she lived these years spoke volumes to her family.

Although her physical eyes were dimmed, her spiritual eyes were opened. Just as my own mom saw to it that we attended church when we were young, her mother had done the same for her. This foundation of faith in God began to take root and blossom in her later years. She spent quiet time listening to the Bible on tape, and I would often hear her say, “I prayed to God and He helped me.” Her private faith became very public-she was baptized in her 80’s.

Worshiping with her was really special. Standing too long was difficult for mom, but she would hold tightly to the chair in front of her, try her best to stay balanced and then let go to clap along with the music. Her beautiful soprano voice hummed along with the tune. Her last time attending church was so very difficult for her but she insisted on going and said, “I have to go to church and thank God for how good He has been to me.”

On November 1st, 2014, at the age of 97, my dear mom died peacefully and entered heaven. I had the great privilege of being with her when she took her final breath.

Yes, there will be a very noticeable empty seat at our Mother’s Day celebration, but our hearts will be so full remembering our dear mother who lived life well with gratitude, simplicity, contentment, and loving God and her family.

WE LOVE YOU MOM!

PLEASE HAVE A PLAN

Personal electronics and access to the World Wide Web are here to stay.

This access is coming to children at increasingly younger ages.

This access is an open door to evil they can see and evil people seeking to prey on them.

So – what is your plan as a parent or grandparent for the children in your life?

What is the plan and what are the guidelines to protect your family from a raging corruption that stalks us?

The Challies Blog regularly features excellent articles and resources to help lead us in God-centered ways.

In this article entitled “The Porn-Free Family Plan”, Tim Challies helps us to consider how we will deal with these three types of devices:

Fixed devices – where parents have a lot of control

Mobile devices – where control is much harder

Other people’s devices – where parents have no direct control

Please avail yourself of helpful resources such as this article, and please have a plan

 

 

WHAT CONTROLS YOUR FAMILY’S SCHEDULE?

by Debbie Huber

Does Your Family’s Schedule Begin with God?

“If we see each day as comparable to a millennium in eternity, then each 24 hours is chock full of opportunities to invest in a thousand years’ worth of eternity. Each day God gives us the precious gift of hours to invest in the lives of others – investments which will have eternal repercussions for us and them.” ~Joni Eareckson Tada

As a family beginning a new school year we often have fresh starts with our schedule and our commitments. This is a great time to begin or renew your family’s commitments to grow in love for God and neighbor.

Unfortunately, it is easy for the variety of activities and the busy schedules of families to squeeze out family time with the Lord and with each other.

We are often looking at our schedule from the wrong perspective, carving out what is left of our time for God, rather than beginning with God.

When we are a good steward of all of our resources, including our time, we give to God first, not out of what is leftover.  Remember, it is all His anyway, even the time!

A few suggestions to help shape your family’s schedule:

Begin with deciding when is best for your family to read the Bible and pray together and then plan bedtimes, when to wake up, or when to have meals accordingly.  This may mean setting the alarm a little earlier or reworking the breakfast time.

Begin with worshiping together as a family in church and then plan other weekend activities that will not conflict. You make a strong example when you do not compromise.  There may be short term disappointment, but show to your family that it is not out of duty but out of a love for God and His church.

Begin with serving others over our own wants and desires.  As Joni Eareckson Tada said, “Each day God gives us the precious gift of hours to invest in the lives of others – investments which will have eternal repercussions for us and them.”

Begin with family time over use of technology.

Model to your family that you seek to begin with God in planning your finances, in the use of your home, in hospitality to others, in your job, and in all of life.  We will fail at times but your family will see the sincerity of your dependence on God and that you seek His forgiveness and help.

There will still be days of very busy hectic schedules, but let the other things get squeezed out over your time with The Lord.  As you begin you day, ask God that He will use the time He gives you for His good purposes.

Don’t carve out time for God, begin with it.

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.

IT’S WORTH BEING PREPARED

I recently read an excellent blog by Jordan Kauflin on the Desiring God website. His opening statement sets the stage for his thoughts:

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I went out to eat on a date. On a whim, we decided to go see a movie as well. Just like that. No preparation, we just decided and went. The lack of preparation had absolutely no bearing on how much we enjoyed the movie. After all, we just wanted to be entertained.

Unfortunately, we can often approach the Sunday meeting in a similar way.

Jordan’s readable post identifies two “common mistakes” we can make in preparing for church: (1) to arrive as spectators, or (2) to arrive as workers.

But Jordan doesn’t stop with identifying our challenge, he helpfully lays out how we can prepare ourselves and our family for Sunday mornings. This article, “How Do You Prepare for Sundays?” is well worth reading!

FAMILY MOMENTS

Family discipleship can often seem like an intimidating task. We are not sure what to do or how to start. In the back of our minds we may even wonder if we are qualified to do it.

In some ways none of us are qualified, because we are all sinners who are lacking in understanding and consistency. Yet, as a Christian parent you are very qualified, because you love your child and you love Christ. And for all your failures, your children love and look to you.

Family Discipleship does not need to be complicated or long – in fact it will be most effective if it is clear, short and simple! I think most of us can do that and there are many resources available to help us (Marty Machowski has written some outstanding family devotional books).

Family Discipleship should also have elements of fun and celebration, because God made us to experience and enjoy Him, our family and life in general.

So I appreciated this article on the Village Church blog entitled “Time, Moments and Milestones”. It encourages us to take an approach to family discipleship that not only teaches essential gospel truths, it also celebrates the big moments in our children’s lives and makes room for ice cream