“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?

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?

Easter Continued…5 Min. Family Devotion that continue after Easter

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in 5 Minute Devotions, Blog, Faith Conversations, Family Devotions, Resources

#1 John 20:6-20

Read the verses and ask some questions:

  • Do you know why your mom and dad want you to keep your room neat and clothes folded and put in their place?  Jesus folded his clothes.  Verse 6-7
    • (Here is a funny question you can ask your kids.  You can laugh and joke about this.  This is not my theology to justify all the neat freaks out there, but if you needed justification, this is the best verse you will find. 🙂   Keep a straight face to see their reaction.  Then one of them will ask if you are serious and then you can start smiling.
    • But, since we are on the subject, you could ask, “How should we keep our bedrooms/house?”   (I’ll let you take that discussion where you want, but for us, we want to be ministry ready.  We want (not that we always are) to be able to use our gift of hospitality and that means keeping our house neat enough that we can “do a 4 room clean up” in a few minutes.  Well, maybe 15 minutes.  Carrie, my wife, has done a great job keeping our house ready to have people over with a few moments notice.)

(Back to the devo…)

  • Why do you think all the guys left the tomb? (vs. 19.  They were afraid.)
  • Why did Jesus came after everyone had left except Mary?  (My son said, “Because He wanted to stretch their faith.”)
  • How would you have reacted if you were in the locked room and suddenly Jesus appeared?
  • Mary was filled with emotions. One minute she is weeping, because Jesus is gone.  The next minute, she is overjoyed, because Jesus revealed Himself to her.  Even though we don’t see Jesus, how can we know He is with us?  (Through His creation, what He has done in the past, His Word tells us so, and through His Holy Spirit.)

 

#2  John 21:1-14

Read the verses and ask some questions:

 

  • Why did they go fishing?
    • If they don’t know, ask this: What did they do before Jesus asked them to follow Him?
    • They back to the thing they knew how to do.  They went back to the family business. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do now that they were leaderless.
  • They didn’t catch any fish, then a man says to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  That is a silly idea.  Know why they did?
    • They heard that before.  Jesus said that in Luke 5.4.
  • Do you know who John is referring to when he says the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in verse 7?
    • Himself
  • How many times had Jesus showed Himself to them? (Verse 14: 3 times.)
  • Peter once again “plunged into the sea.”  I think it would have been funny to see a grown man jump into the water and swim to shore out of complete excitement.  How might you have responded?
  • Jesus loves these guys doesn’t He?  He really cares.  Isn’t it good to know?  How do you know Jesus cares for you? (He has blessed you with parent(s) who love you and care about you. He gave us His Word that says He loves us…and He proved that love for us by going to the cross and suffering for our sin.  That is good news!)

More coming.  Check back daily.

 

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.

Anonymous Unmasked: Using Halloween to Help Kids Understand Digital Identity

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Faith Conversations, Tech Stuff

Halloween_V1Here is a blog by Art Ramford from Fuller Youth Institute.  This is a great post to help us open up conversations regarding social media.  Check out our Parenting Techies workshop where we discuss these issues and do live demonstrations of settings, apps, etc. to help parents protect their children and teens online.

It is always fun to see the way a Halloween costume changes a kid’s demeanor.

Give a boy a set of foam Hulk muscles and he’ll start stomping around and growling loudly. Or put a girl in a princess costume and watch her twirl dramatically, singing at the top of her lungs.

Halloween is a day when we give kids permission to put on costumes and pretend to be someone else—in a fun, safe way.

For today’s parents, the issue of identity is one of the trickier topics to deal with when it comes to how young people use digital media. Halloween can be a great opportunity to talk with your kids about how identity works online.

Younger kids typically use media to play games as avatars. An avatar is something that represents us within the fictitious world of a game. Kids choose a character to “be,” but don’t see that choice as related to who they really are. For younger kids, game avatars are a lot like Halloween costumes in this sense—they just pick a character they like. And change their mind tomorrow.

As kids get older, they start to think more about costumes as personal and social statements. Factors like their friends’ costumes, and how their peers will perceive them, carry more weight as they decide who and what to be. For adolescents in the process of forming their own identities, Halloween represents a rare opportunity to do something that society doesn’t let them do often—“try on” being somebody else.

Young people experience a similar kind of transition as they go from using game avatars to sharing as their ‘real’ selves on social media. The distinctions between childish play and grown-up socializing get murky.[1]

When it comes to the online behavior of both young people and adults, researchers have found that a feeling of anonymity is one of the main factors that cause us to behave badly in digital spaces. Like teens egging a house on Halloween night, we’re more likely to trash somebody else’s walls when (we think) we’re well hidden behind a mask.[2]

One of the really difficult things for adolescents to figure out as they begin using social media is this difference between an avatar and the “costume” of anonymity.

Not all anonymity is bad. Digital spaces are a lot like Halloween in how they provide young people with outlets to explore their identities and have fun with their friends in the process. This is why apps that let users share anonymously are often so popular among teens. But it is important to help young people recognize the boundaries and limits of this. Participating on social media can also feel a bit too much like a game that rewards users for hurting or outdoing on-screen enemies. [3]

If your kids are relatively new to the world of social media, think about using this Halloween as a teachable moment that helpfully illustrates the way we’re able to participate in digital spaces as an avatar, anonymous user, or authentic self. Ask questions like, “What’s the difference between the avatar version of you and the real-life version of you?” “How do you feel about the way you relate to other people online [through gaming or social media], and how they relate to you?” “Are your relationships in real life with these people similar or different? How does that make you feel?” One of the most important lessons for young people to learn is how, unlike an avatar, the actions of a costumed character online have real consequences for the offline people they conceal.

Art Bamford

Photo by ljholloway photography


[1] Livingstone, Sonia. Children and the Internet. Polity, 2009, pg. 12-23.

[2] Wright, Michelle F. “Predictors of anonymous cyber aggression: the role of adolescents’ beliefs about anonymity, aggression, and the permanency of digital content.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 17, no. 7 (2014): 431-438.

[3] Davis, Katie. “Friendship 2.0: Adolescents’ experiences of belonging and self-disclosure online.” Journal of Adolescence 35, no. 6 (2012): 1527-1536.

– See more at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/anonymous-unmasked-using-halloween-to-help-kids?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:#sthash.KR7Rtx5J.dpuf

 

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