What Our 5 Year Old Gains From Being In Church With Us

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Encouragement, Why Kids In Worship

I read this from a young woman as she reflected on her childhood:

“Our family went to church together every Sunday.  I wasn’t really sure why, but I didn’t mind.  I got to dress up in cute dresses and sit with my dad.  He was so busy during the week, and church was one time I got to hang out with him for hours.  I didn’t care if it was in a pew listening to some guy talking about God.  I just drew pictures and showed them to my dad.”

Our 5 year old, Bethany, loves sitting on my lap during church.  She sings, draws and colors.  Sometimes she is restless, but I know she is listening.  One Sunday, after getting our new senior pastor, I was talking too long during our “greet one another” time and she said, “Daddy, stop talking!  The new guy is speaking.”

So sweet.  So innocent.

I love having Bethany in there with us.  I know she is young, but she is gaining an experience every Sunday that so many children are missing.  She gets to snuggle with me and other close friends and adopted grandmas that sit with us.  She is hearing other people pray.  She is seeing her mom and dad, other kids, teenagers, adults and grandparents sing and praise God.  She is hearing the pastor’s stories and maybe even getting more of the message than we think. She sees communion, baptisms, testimonies.  Maybe one day she will help pass the offering plate, handout bulletins, sing in the band, lead a prayer.

She also experiences a community that loves Jesus, young and old!  I frankly, want her to grow up and feel out of place when she attends a church with only kids her age!  Why?  Because there is complete community when multi-generations are present.

Trust me, I know it’s not always easy having our young children in worship.  Have any of your kids smacked the bottoms of ladies as they walked down the aisle to partake in communion?  I don’t think so!   (One of our boys was the guilty perpetrator.  I wonder where he learned that from? )

What they gain from the Body of Christ worshiping together is so much more than just whether or not they get anything from the sermon.   They miss being a part of the full body.

Typically, the kind of worship experience our kids grow up with will be the kind they look for when they are older.   What kind of worship experience will your children desire to belong to as they grow into adulthood?  Most of the time, it will look a lot like it does now.   So the next question is: what are the experiencing on Sunday mornings now?

Helping you have Homes Devoted,
Jonathan

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.)

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.

 

Raising Kids With A Lasting Faith: Interview with Ken and Betsy Delgado

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Encouragement, Faith Conversations, Interviews, leaving a legacy, Why Bring Faith Home?

Ken and IOur family was blessed to have Ken and Betsy join us for dinner in our home.  What intrigued me about them was that all three of their grown children are following Christ and using their gifts to serve in ministry.   The week prior to our dinner, we heard their son preach at their church and while there, met their daughter and son-in-law who work for Hillsong Church in Australia.  They can say with confidence that there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.”  3 John 4

As full-time pastors of The House (http://www.thehousepalmbay.org), they raised kids who love the church and love the Lord and they continue to intentionally minister to their grandchildren.  I had to ask them to share some spiritual parenting tips.  So, around the dinner table that night, I asked, “Would you share with us the things that contributed to your children growing to love the Lord?”

This list serves as a great reminder for all of us, which we can refer to often:

  1. Complete dependence upon God. Betsy said, “We didn’t do anything without prayer.  We wanted them to taste God’s goodness.”   They said there were times when they didn’t have any food in the fridge, leaving them with only one option: prayer.  God miraculously answered with people showing up with food without them sharing their predicament with anyone but the Lord.  Their children experienced God at work!!!
  2. One-on-one time with Dad. Ken intentionally spent time with them individually on a weekly basis.  He took them on a walk around the block with the purpose of connecting with them at a heart level and at the same time sharing God’s truths.
  3. The Message. They gave each of their children The Message version of the Bible and asked them to read through the New Testament one summer.  [No matter your opinion of The Message, it is a great read for children.]
  4. Hour for hour. At one point, they instituted a rule: for every hour you read the Bible, you get one hour of electronics such as watching TV or playing video games.
  5. TV in the closet. For 30 days, they would put the TV in the closet with the purpose of spending time together as a family playing, reading, etc.  Fasting from electronics will bind the family together.
  6. Family Dinners. They regularly had dinner together; communicating, connecting, sharing life.
  7. Served Together. They put others first by serving together as a family.  How impactful to serve alongside mom and dad!
  8. Worship music. Not just Christian music, but music that was relevant and worshipful.  They would spend time worshipping as a family.  Who said we had to wait until Sunday morning?

Ken and Betsy lived out their faith at home, with their children.  Faith was a part of everyday life; it was a way of life; Jesus was talked about at home; the Holy Spirit was sought during prayer at home; the Word was read, discussed and taught at home.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 6:7

Thanks, Ken and Betsy, for leading many people at church in faithful living, but also for giving us an example to follow in the way you led your home.

*******

PRACTICAL APPLICATION

Here are some practical ideas and questions based on the above.  You can use these personally, discuss with your spouse, or share with your small group:

  1. Complete dependence upon God.  How do our kids see God at work?  Have they experienced God answering prayers?  Our kids must see God at work TODAY.  If we want our children to grow into teens and adults who believe that God is more than a fairy tale, we must lead them to experience God at work TODAY.  Read more here.
  2. One-on-one time with Dad. Your role is so important. How much time do you spend connecting with your kids one on one?  Click here for more “Dad Stats” to see how important our role is in influencing the spirituality of our family.
  3. Served Together. When have your kids seen you serve others?  What are some ways your family can serve alongside you?  Discuss and set a plan.
  4. Worship music. What are some of your favorite worship songs/artists?  How often do you have them playing?  Are you in a worshipful spirit, or mindlessly listening?  Idea: Set up Spotify or Pandora to a station and play it often as you work together worshipfully.  Pick some songs and play a few while you dance before the Lord like David.  The kids will love it!
  5. Family Dinners. Does your family dinners allow time for discussion?  Could this be a time we catch up on each others’ lives?  Could we take 10 minutes for a devotion?  If getting everyone together for family dinners is a struggle, plan ahead and schedule some nights where everyone knows they need to be home. (We have friends who had very active teenage boys and even after they had their driver’s license, they still knew they better be home for dinner or momma wasn’t going to be happy.)  Have device-free dinners.
  6.  Time Together.  Do we sit with the purpose of connecting and sharing God’s values?  Do we take time to connect at a heart level with our kids?  Can I honestly say I know what each of our kids are experiencing at a heart level?  Where are our kids struggling in their faith?  How have they been encouraged through the Word lately?  What are they reading in the Word?
  7. Time Together II.  Collect those tablets/cell phones and turn off the TV at least once a week to spend time talking, playing a board game, or just hanging out in the living room. It doesn’t have to be a whole night event, but rather 30 minutes more often is better than nothing at all.  (Doing something more frequently for a short duration is better, because it’s easy to miss out on the long event.   When it comes to all that techy stuff, I use an app called Screen Time which can set time limits on everything.   If you are interested in hosting our Parenting Techies workshop, you can read more HERE.

Family Devotion: Christmas {5 minute devos}

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Challenging, Christmas, Christmas, Family Devotions

Elizabeth & Zacharias: Patience

Read Luke 1:11-25

The Bible tells us that Zacharias and Elizabeth “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6 NKJV). Zacharias was a priest who served in the temple. We’re also told that they were “well advanced in years.”

Despite this, they had no children because Elizabeth was barren. This could not have been easy on them. For the people of Israel in this time, it was considered shameful if a woman was unable to have a child. Imagine the grief this must have caused them, particularly Elizabeth. No doubt, the light of hope in a child of their own must have dimmed and burned out long ago.

Around the time of the first century, the duty of burning the incense in the temple fell to Zacharias. As he stood alone in the Holy Place, the angel Gabriel appeared before him to proclaim that their long wait was finally over . . . God had ordained for them to have a son named John. Gabriel told Zacharias that his son would be his joy, great in God’s sight, in the vein of Elijah. He would be the forerunner for the King of Kings; the one who would “make straight the way for the Lord.”

Sometimes, God puts something in our hearts, a great passion and desire, but then wants us to wait for His timing so His perfect plan can unfold. The wait, especially if it’s a long one, can cause us to doubt and lose heart.

You’ve probably heard the age-old expression, “patience is a virtue.” All throughout the Bible, we see God rewarding those who patiently wait upon Him, who trust in His promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them. We also see those who don’t wait and often learn difficult lessons. Elizabeth and Zacharias patiently waited upon God and trusted He knew best. Though the reproach of others hurt, this righteous couple found comfort in the arms of the Lord, and in His time, He took their shame away!

It’s not always easy to wait on God’s timing, but the rewards we reap when we do are well worth it!  

Are you experiencing some situation that, like Elizabeth and Zacharias, is testing your patience?

What might God be teaching you?

Elizabeth didn’t see what God was up to …for years.  Even if you can’t see how God is at work, what can you do to trust Him?  Will you trust Him?

*This devotion was edited from a devotional from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale called The King Has Come: Prepare Your Heart.  It can be found in the Bible app.

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