“Live” Christmas Morning Devotion with Santa

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Christmas, Faith Conversations, Family Devotions, Video Challenges

Parents, gather the family and join us Christmas morning for this “live streaming” family devotion. Even a guest appearance from Santa before he goes to Hawaii for a long over due vacation.  It’s a prerecorded video you can watch before or after opening gifts.  You can even watch in the car.

You may be traveling or visiting with family and not attending a church service, so we encourage you to take time on Christmas, Christ’s birthday, to focus on Him.  It’s so important, especially those of you with children, so they grow up keeping Christ in Christmas.

You may want to open with prayer and sing a few worshipful songs.  (Below are a few links to Youtube songs with lyrics.)  After watching the 13 minute video, there are a few questions for discussion to apply and connect the message with those you are with .  After, close in prayer, giving thanks to God for giving us the greatest gift!  (You just had a worship service at home!)

Chris Tomlin – It’s Christmas

Silent Night – Casting Crowns

Chris Tomlin – What Child Is This?

This video was made for and in conjunction with Trinity Wellsprings Church who has a vision for families to worship together at home!  Click here to go to their webpage link.

Questions:

  1. What did you get for Christmas last year?  If you remember, do you still remember how excited you were about it?
  2. Where is it now?  Do you still use it?
  3. What traditions do have that are going to be passed down to your kids and grandkids?
  4. Most important: What is one thing our family can do in 2017 that will last?
  5. How can we serve our neighbors (without anything in return)?
  6. How can we share the message of Christ’s love with our friends?

In Between Sundays Matters Most

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Ideas, leaving a legacy, Praying Together

Ever have someone tell you they were going to start working out?  They’re all hyped up. They say they are committed with a plan to achieve their goal. They bought the equipment and the new shoes and say they will meet you at your workout spot.  They come once and then you don’t see them until the next week. After a month, they average an hour a week.

Can you imagine if a teenager told their coach they only had one hour a week to come to practice? What would the coach tell them?  The coach would tell them to come back when they were serious about the game.

If someone says they are in love but can only squeeze that person into their schedule an hour a week, you don’t have to be Dr. Phil to determine it’s not “true love.”

One hour a week is just not enough commitment to certain things.

Especially when it comes to our faith journey.

The reality is that most kids in churches today only spend an hour a week in discipleship at church.  Less than 10% of church-going families pray or read the Bible at home outside of mealtime prayer.

Is this communicating to our children that God is number one in our lives? That we are fully committed to Him as our glorious King? Are we really taking our relationship with God seriously?

With over half of our kids walking away from their home churches as they grow into adults, the answer is clear: they aren’t experiencing a faith that is life-altering.

There is a huge disconnect between what they experience on Sunday mornings and what our children see the rest of the week in our homes.

When we send our kids to Sunday school and they hear all these great stories about how people from the Bible trusted in God and how God came through for them revealing His power and they go home and don’t experience the living Word read and practiced at home, they don’t see how God is making a difference through answered prayers.  It’s no wonder they grow up and grow out of faith.

If the only exposure to faith happens sitting in a pew, our kids are not going to take our faith seriously. They may view your faith as something that is real to you, but they don’t see it as something real, true and worth living for in their own lives.

Many of us spend time in personal prayer and devotion before they wake up, but if we want to really connect their hearts to God’s, we have to involve them, lead them, teach them, explain to them the things of God, etc.

It’s the time, living out our faith, in between Sundays that matters most.

What can we do in between Sundays?
1. Connect our kid’s hearts to God’s.  Pray together and keep a record of God’s answered prayers.  Pray in the car if you have to!  Depending on your kids’ ages, find an appropriate story Bible if they are young.  If they are older, you can read the Bible and discuss it by asking questions.  You could even develop the routine of reading the Bible at dinner while their mouths are full! Help them realize His great love for us. Pray with them/read a devotion with them while they are snuggled down in bed.  They become a captive audience in the car and when they are in bed.  {Resources: The Bible app by You Version has “plans” that you can read.  If your church subscribes to RightNow Media, use it!}

2. Serve.  Put your faith into action.  How does your faith affect your family’s life?  Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” How can you serve and give?  How do you sacrifice for God?  Sacrifice is the assessment of genuine faith.  Kids actually want to serve.  They want their faith to make an impact.  They ultimately think, “If this isn’t going to impact me or the people around me, why bother, why waste my time?”  (This doesn’t mean they will always be eager to serve.)  Kids that grow up putting their faith into action, grow up seeing how God works through them.  Not to mention, this develops them into men and women who will be accustomed to and enthusiastic for serving God as adults.  They will grow into more of what they are experiencing as kids and teens.  Are they experiencing how to love, serve, give of themselves or are they constantly being inundated with pleasurables this world offers (video games, movies, sports, fun, etc.)

Teenage Girl Ditches Her Smartphone

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Faith Conversations, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Tech Stuff, Teen Boys, Teen Girls, Teen Guys, Texting

hand-top-white-oldSomeone passed this on to me and it’s worth passing on to all (us) parents who are struggling though the maze of the smart phone battle. I had breakfast with a dad last Saturday that took away his son’s smartphone after finding some inappropriate things aboard that small, but powerful rectangular electronic wonder.

His son’s reaction? He became almost violent. His dad had to pull him off his mother as he was squeezing her, shaking and crying. Dad was shocked and described his son like an “addict.” The good news is that after a few weeks, his son detoxed and was glad not to have his dealer of all information and connections.

I’ve read that teens would rather have their car taken away than their cell phone. This black box is a portal into the universe of many “friends.” To go without is to commit social suicide.

May this incident above and the link to this video and article be another tool in your arsenal to help you communicate with your kids the importance of being in the here and now and developing real friendships. (How addicted are your kids?)

Teen ditches cell phone for a flip phone: Video
Article she wrote in 17 Magazine. (Caution: other articles probably not appropriate.)

Hold them close mom and dad. They grow up fast. As they become teens, you will be defending other influences, but don’t give up the fight. “Impress these on your children.” (Deut. 6:5-8) Keep your relationship prominent and you will be their coach for life, when all others have faded into the dark abyss of empty and shallow relationships.

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Some questions:

  • How much time do you think is too much to spend on your phone “connecting” with others?
  • How much time to you spend with your “head down?” (i.e. on your phone?)
  • What do you spend most of your time doing on your phone?  Research? Posting photos? Reading friend updates?
  • How many friends do you think you connect with during the week?
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13.20
  • What characteristics do you look for in friend?
    Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
  •  What characteristics do people see in you that makes you a good friend?
    A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17.17
  • What do you think would happen to your social life if you didn’t have a phone?
  • How many of your “friends” would you stay in touch with if your phone broke?
  • Would you consider going to a flip phone? Why or why not?
  • What might you be missing from spending time on the phone?

The Ultimate Goal

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Encouragement, Family Devotions, Grandparents, Heart Connections With Your Kids

If the target of Satan is the family, then your heart is the bulls-eye.

I should stop writing to let that sink in.  Reread that.  I encourage you to stop, think, pray about what this means for you and your family.

Pursue the Ultimate Goal this summer.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6.9

The Ultimate goal of parenting/grandparenting is to connect our children’s hearts to HIS; to connect them with the heart of their heavenly Father.  David Platt said, “The Ultimate Goal is NOT for our kids to behave and be moral upright citizens….Our goal is not for our kids to make great friends, to develop a great self-esteem, to get into a great college, be a great leader, find a great spouse, have a great career with a great income, and then a great retirement.  The ultimate goal of parenting/grand parenting is for them to love a GREAT God.  So much so they will abandon everything this world has to offer in order to follow after Him: no matter what he says, no matter what it costs them and no matter what it costs you.”

Most parents have a vision for their children: get good grades, get into a great college, eagle scout, black belt, 4.0 gpa, etc.  Those are all good things, but the problem is our vision often doesn’t extend to eternity.  We get distracted by earthy things that keep us from being able to focus on God. We want to make sure we give our children every opportunity to succeed in school/sports/music, get into a great college, be socially well adjusted and yet, are not so much concerned about their souls.  (Read Psalm 78:1-8.)

WE HAVE TO ASK OURSELVES: Are we parenting for earthly rewards or for KINGDOM, heavenly, rewards?   God, our Father, wants our children to know Him personally, intimately.  Even more than we do.  He loves them even more than we do.

Wrap your family in His love, convey the heart of our Father to your children as you enjoy your summer.

The Ultimate Goal…

Jonathan

[This is an excerpt of our workshop, sharing the vision of the importance of faith at home. If you would like to schedule this or other workshops, you can email Jonathan at jc@homesdevoted.com.]

Questions:

  • Are we connecting their hearts with God’s?  In what ways?  When can we have family devotions?
  • How are we pursuing a Kingdom vision with our children?
  • What is our vision for your family? For our children?
  • How might we be conforming to the world vs. seeking God’s plan for our family? Are we just doing what everyone else is doing or do we have a vision from God for each of our children and we are parenting in light of that? (Romans 12.1)
  • If you are a grandparent: How can I be accomplishing the Ultimate Goal with my grandchildren?

 

Discussing Internet Use/Social Media With The Kids

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Heart Connections With Your Kids, Tech Stuff, Texting

Talking with our kids about the dangers of the internet and social media use can be tough, but needs to happen.

Discussing the Internet and Social Media

(excerpt taken from our Parenting Techies workshop)

What are the chances that our children will grow up to become adults without seeing an explicit image?  It’s just a matter of time.  If you don’t talk with them openly and regularly and prepare them, they won’t be equipped to handle it correctly.  IT WILL HAPPEN!  Most probably on accident, but if you think you can wait until they are 15, you’ve waited too long.

The most important thing is their heart.  If you don’t have their heart, you have little influence.
Love.
Relationship.
Connecting.
Being engaged.
Spending time with them.

What’s the best way to show them your love and care?  Be engaged.  Give them your time.  Nothing speaks louder to them than when you spend time with them.  In the role of parenting, you cannot underestimate the power of quantity time.  Quality is essential, but quantity cannot be neglected.  If your kids are spending more time with friends who may not share your convictions and values about life and God, you may not have the impact you think you have.  Quality time without quantity of time leads to kids whose hearts are still far from us.

WARNING: When they share something that makes you want to erupt or flip out; you must remain calm.  Don’t raise your voice, over react or start hyperventilating.  You obviously know what this will do to any future conversations.  Yup.

Remain calm.  Talk.  Ask questions.  Get to know them: what they are thinking; what they’ve done; what their friends think.  You get the picture.  Pretend like you are talking with your boss or close parent.  Show respect. Listen.  Ask more questions.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”  James 1:19

The Bible is full of wisdom.  Do this and you will find that you will have some great conversations with your kids.  They will trust you.  They are smart.  If you ask the right questions, you can lead them to the right answers.  Another result is that you will know them.  In fact, you will know them better than anyone else.  Just a reminder, our kids don’t have many people, if any, that they can open up with and be completely transparent.  And…If you think they are open with friends, do you really want another 14 year old giving them advice on faith and life?

Guide them to God’s Word for advice.  Show them what God’s Word says.  BUT…

Know when to tell them what to do.  Know when to let them choose.  Know when to let them fail.  (Let them fail a little at home while you are still close by to help. (Pssss… That time is coming.)

Tips for talking about internet use with younger kids:

  • Ask them why they like the video games they play. Play their games with them, so you know what games they are playing (and you should be approving every game and app first).
  • Talk about balance. What are the pros and cons about playing video games vs. playing outside?  (Don’t forget to set time limits with them.)
  • Tell them what pornography is: pictures of people without clothes on OR people with only their birthday suit on.
  • Why do you think God wants you to wait until your married to see another boy or girl in their birthday suit? (He wants it to be special; something for you to experience with the person you will marry. He wants you to save your eyes too.)
  • If a person without clothes on flashes on the screen, I’d like you to turn your eyes and I want you to tell me. Will you do that?
  • What could you say to a friend that shows you a picture like that?

Ask questions: (We can learn so much from our children if we just ask questions):

  • What age is a good age to join social networks? Why do you think most of them set the age to 13?
  • What kinds of things should not be shared online?
  • Do you realize many people can read what you write, but may not know the context (if you are being sarcastic, etc.)
  • Have you seen any of your friends post something that made them look foolish?

For teens: You will want to stay engaged:

  • Ask them what apps are popular right now and why are their friends using them?
  • Show them online articles or newspaper clippings (if you still use one of those things) that reveal the terrible things that can happen. Not to scare them, but to show them the reality.  Expose them a little to reality and let it teach them.  It also gives you another voice, another advocate for your case.
  • When you see something online, ask them what they think about it. It could be a risqué picture or a comment about something or someone.  Ask: What does this say about that person?  Do you think they value who they are?   What is really important: inside beauty or outside?  Do you struggle with this?

Don’t shy away from tough questions.

It’s part of being a guardian!

For a pdf of this, click here: Discussion questions for kids and social media.

 

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