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.

2.5 Years After Saddleback Cancels Youth Worship: Follow up Interview with Josh Griffin

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

Our first interview was 5 months after Saddleback started canceling youth worship once a month to have families worship together, appropriately called: Worship Together Weekend. As expected, everyone was excited about the change…at first….

In this second interview with Josh, we talk about the importance of kids in worship, what Saddleback has learned and how they have adjusted since starting Worship Together Weekends.

PS. My wife corrected me. Our boys were 3 and 5 years old…Not 5 and 7… 🙂 How time flies.

Give Family Experiences vs. Stuff

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Family Devo Tips, Ideas, leaving a legacy

A friend of ours sent this link to us and I wanted to forward it on as well.  With it, she said, “Kids won’t remember their best day of TV or video games, but they will remember family times, family events, family vacations, family projects, family ministry, etc… My Christmas encouragement to you is for you to plan to use your time and money to create meaningful family experiences rather than just giving lots of stuff. ”

She is so right!  There is great insight in this article about giving experiences. 46 Ways to Give Experiences Instead of Stuff and Why.

Kids-dont-remember-their-best-day-of-tv

I want to add the importance of spending time together experiencing God’s Word.

How much are you going to spend this Christmas giving your family something that deepens their faith over the next decade?  Give experiences and not just stuff.

Helping you have homes devoted,

Jonathan

Fairy Tale or Father? Raising kids who have more than a fairy tale faith.

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Praying Together

christmas-982255_1280From the time they are young, many children experience the delight of the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and other tales which have been passed down through the centuries.  They not only hear of these legends, but they experience them!  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who put milk and cookies out for Santa to find them gone in the morning.  You probably experienced the excitement of money under your pillow and the Peeps left by the Easter Bunny.

As a child, you really believed.  (Isn’t childlike faith a wonderful thing?)  I bet you would have even defended your faith in these characters.  “Of course I believe in Santa!  He brings me presents.”   Then you grew up and grew out of your faith in those childish stories.

As Christian parents, we read to our children the great events from the Bible teaching them of our Father’s incredible power: parting the Red Sea, Jonah swallowed by a whale, David and Goliath, the empty tomb, etc.  All these are examples of our Heavenly Father at work, answering prayers, doing mighty things, but 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, not just reminisce on events of the past. If we don’t lead them to experience God’s answered prayers, they will conclude He isn’t anything more than a childish fairy tale that they should grow out of.

How do you direct your kids to see that our Father is involved in our daily lives, answering prayer and doing miracles, today?  That He does love us and care about us…today?  That He is involved…today?

Here are a couple simple ideas.

  • Pray with your kids and keep a journal of prayer requests and mark them off as God answers. OR Write prayer requests on popsicle sticks or rocks.  When God answers, exhibit them as a visual reminder of God’s answered prayers.  (Joshua 4:4-7, Exodus 16:33)
  • Share God’s answered prayers of others.
  • Share how you are experiencing God through nature, scripture, prayer.
  • Share what God is teaching you.

I want my kids to see God answer prayers so many times, they can’t help but believe in Him, trust Him and even defend Him.  Our Heavenly Father is way more than a fairy tale.

Encourage others by forwarding this on and sharing it on social media.  It’s the best way of helping us impact more people.
Other blog posts:

The Most Important Reason to Pray Together As a Family

5 Reasons to Pray Together As a Family

 

Going to Ghana: Update with video and photos

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging

The adventure started chasing the sun.  We took off at sunset (from NYC) and after 10 hours in the air, we met the sun on the other side of the planet.  The mission was to lead our workshops to teach pastors and church leaders the importance of parents pastoring their children in the home.  They don’t have statistics, like we do in the US, that quantify the percentage of parents in the church who pray and read the Bible at home with their children, but the message of the importance of faith at home was received as so important that during the conference, Vincent said,

“It will impact our own families as well as the future of our churches.”

Pastor Zach emailed me two weeks later:

“I honestly was blessed and challenged at the same time to be more proactive in instilling faith in my family.  My family has started doing devotions together. There is so much joy and happiness in my family now than ever before. I have also taken it as an opportunity to teach the church, of the many significance and blessings that are coupled with it.  It is my desire  to teach other churches around me on the necessity of having homes devoted.”

The second goal of leading this conference was to do it in such a way that they were able to experience the teachings, first as a participant and then discuss how they could implement the teaching to parents within their indivual settings.  I gave them all the digital files (my notes, handouts, videos, transcripts), so they would have everything they needed to share this vision and train parents how to bring God into the framework of everyday life at home.  Now the adventure continues as we stay in touch with these leaders, offering ongoing coaching as needed.

A HUGE THANK YOU!

I feel the urgency to take this message to parents in the U.S. and abroad.  Thank you to all the donors who made this trip possible.  And also our monthly supporters; without your belief in this mission, we wouldn’t have the means to inspire and equip parents to have homes devoted locally and in other parts of the world.

 

Cultural Differences

One cultural difference was their view of children.  They love their children, but expect them to adapt to their adult world much more so then in America.  We esteem our children; our world revolves around them.  Not so in Ghana.  (The last picture on this page will tell this story more.)   On the other hand, there is great respect for the wisdom of the elderly.  Another big difference was that all their high schools are boarding schools, so at around age 14, children leave home to live at school.  This means the time parents have with their children are years shorter than in the United States.

Some things are common in Ghana like most countries: more affluence means more distractions that keep people (and families) from spending time with God as well as a lesser dependence upon God.  Another similarity is many parents are both working and because roads are not the best, it can take parents and hour or two just to get home.

Takeaways: Short Video

Meet some of the participants in the video below from the the conference in Ghana.  Pastors and church leaders from different denominations share how it impacted them and how they will lead others.

Click here to see even more photos with descriptions.

There are pictures you will laugh out loud to and some you will want to share with your children when they feel the need to complain. 🙂

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I led pastors and church leaders for 10 hours on the vision and importance of parents pastoring their children; giving them practical plans to lead the parents in their faith communities.

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Naomi (far left) runs a Chrisitan school for children at little to no cost (through fundraising), so children can get an education and hear about Jesus. Francis (on right) is a lay Catholic priest.

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Jonah, Constant and George. Jonah and Constant are pastors in the outskirts of Ghana. They go into neighboring villages to share about Jesus, meet needs through education and bring hope. Jonah will visit homes and show them the Jesus Film on his iPad.

 

 

 

 

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Discussing obstacles to why more parents aren’t praying together at home.

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We had fun discussing practical ways parents can lead faith in the home. Laughed a lot, too. — with Yakubu Zachariah and Isaac Gyesaw.

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This was the poorest village we experienced. This “chief” was in tattered clothes. The other chief we saw was in a bright white robe and had his own courtroom.

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When your kids complain that there is nothing to do, show them this picture. They used this rim as a toy. The challenge is to keep it rolling by pushing it with a stick. No balls to kick. No dolls to play with. They barely had clothes.

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This is very cool. Pastor Jonah has developed relationships with many Muslims in his village. Ash is explaining (Jonah interpreting) that he brought some solar powered mp3 players that have Bible stories and stories of others from their tribe who have put their faith in Christ.

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Meet Cornelia. She became a Christian as a teenager in a Muslim family and held on to Jesus even though she was physically assaulted for her faith in Christ. (I recorded her story. Check back soon.)

 

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These two children are 3 and 5 years old. They sat for all 10 hours of training. No coloring pages. No video games. I think they had paper and pencils. They laughed at the videos, but behaved like they were adults. Makes you wonder what they are doing right, doesn’t it?

 

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Melbourne, FL 32904

321.223.1163 jc@homesdevoted.com