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

Reminded Of What’s Most Important

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Family Devo Tips, Praying Together

Bethany Reading to babiesWatching our children play when they don’t know we are there can be very entertaining and revealing. Sometimes it is convicting, sometimes it is a blessing.  It is always honest.  

Last Sunday, before revealing I was there to pick up our 3 year old daughter from the nursery, I saw her opening her Bible.   (Yes, her Bible.  The one she brought from home.)  

Sitting in the play cribs, she placed her Bible in front of some “babies” to read to them.  

It was one of those moments when I realized something we are doing is sticking.  

It reminded me that nothing is more important than our kids loving God’s Word.  Even at 3 years old, Bethany loves her Bible.  She often reminds us to grab our Bibles as we head out the door to church.  What a blessing she is!

Our summer schedule has been so out of whack between traveling, spontaneous get togethers, summer camps, etc., that I look forward to the routine of school starting again, so we can get back to regularly spending time in God’s Word as a family.

As school starts again, I boldly encourage and challenge you to spend time together in prayer and in God’s Word as a family.  Help your kids know, understand, and apply God’s Word, so when they are older, they “will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22.6).  So they will know where to turn for truth.  So they will know where to turn to hear God.

Modeling our relationship with God is so important, but Bethany didn’t learn to read her Bible to those baby dolls because she saw us read the Bible in our own devotions.  She learned to read the Bible to those babies because that’s what we do with her.

The Lasting Impact of Faith Conversations

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Family Devo Tips, Family Devotions

Doing a family devotion just might seem overwhelming or intimidating or just plain impossible!  What about having conversations about faith?
Watch video and then download another Faith Conversation you can use with your family this week.

This is a transcript of the above video:

Get this: When college students, with a strong faith, were asked, “Looking back, what would you say attributed to your lasting faith?”  A huge percentage of them referred to having faith conversations in the home.Connecting your children to the heart of God, doesn’t just happen by having family devotions and prayer times.  Those times are vital, but it also happens as we, throughout our daily routine, talk about the things of GodWe connect our child’s heart with God’s:

  • When we discipline and then pray together.
  • When we play and then apologize for being too competitive.
  • When we bring God into our decision making and ask for help.
  • When you turn off the TV, because it isn’t pure, noble, praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)
  • When we do chores and work and mention how great heaven is going to be.
  • When we catch ourselves worrying and then remind the family that God is in control.
  • When we serve our neighbor, just because God compels us to love in action.
  • When we see a strange looking animal and wonder what God was thinking.
  • When we sin and talk about how easy it is to do wrong and how in need we are of a Savior!

This is what God intended when He said, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 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.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When we do these simple things, we bring God into the daily routine of life.  We live out constant communion with God.  We show our children a dependency upon God.  We demonstrate a real relationship with Him.   Do not be afraid to be bold and blunt with your children about the things of God.  They need to see you live out your faith and they need you to lead them until they decide to (hopefully) follow Him for themselves.  Then they will see what it means to be “in Christ”…a real Christian.

To help you on this journey of talking about God throughout life, look in your email every Tuesday for a conversation starter; a discussion on a scripture verse to help you some time throughout your week to help you devote some time to thinking about God.  It can be around the dinner table, in the car, at a restaurant, at bedtime, etc.  The point is to talk about God whenever & wherever; just do it.  When you do, you will be impacting the next generation and the generations to come; your kids, your grand-kids and your great-grand kids.  It starts now.


When Kids Ask Tough Questions

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Encouragement, Family Devo Tips, Why Bring Faith Home?

When faithful young adults were asked what solidified their faith the most in their teen years, the prominent answer was faith conversations in the home!  What does this tell us?  It says that we must talk about God with our family; when it is inconvenient, when it is uncomfortable, or if you don’t feel like you have an intelligent answer.  This shouldn’t be a surprise to us, because this is what God said to do in Deuteronomy 6:7

“Impress them [the commandments] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  

What about those tough spiritual questions our children/teenagers ask that we just don’t know the answer to?

We can’t be afraid of tough questions! We must answer tough questions.  (Notice I didn’t say WE need to have all the answers.)   Help them grow in their knowledge and understanding of scripture and God through helping them discover the richness and depth of the Word.  And when you don’t know an answer, it’s a wonderful thing to find the answer with them!  You may look up passages through your concordance, the internet (www.biblegateway.com), answersingenesis.com, books, or even your pastor or friend that has been on this journey with Christ longer than you.

What does this teach your child/teenager?

When you help them answer tough questions, you are discipling them!  A disciple is a follower, a learner.  By the way, you are discipling them in lots of areas (how to dress, how to get along with others, how to study, etc.), so make sure you are also discipling them in their faith. You will gain respect and build your relationship by being humble and learning with your children.  When you explore questions with your child, you help them learn how to learn, how to find answers.  You also teach them that you are open to learning new things and you never stop learning.

They will need as many questions answered before going off to college, so they can stand firm.  We must teach them to depend upon the Word, to seek it, to know it.  When the storms come, we want them to have a solid foundation, a lasting faith and trust in our Savior. Luke 6:48-50

Small group questions:

How are you answering your children’s questions?  How are you building in them a solid foundation that will stay firm when the storms come?  How are you preparing them for a faith that will last?  If you have any suggestion on what worked for your kids, share them with others below.

What questions have your kids asked?  Post them in the comments section below and we will help you answer them.

Helping you have Homes Devoted,

Jonathan & Carrie

Discipling your children…now there’s a challenge!

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Challenging, Encouragement, Family Devo Tips, Marty Gonterman

I was discipled by a man who knew what he was doing. He was exceedingly skilled at building deeply into another’s life. This discipleship process had such a profound effect on my life that I absolutely had to learn how to do it, no matter the cost.

At age 23, I put my career plans on hold and moved halfway across the country to learn how to make disciples of Jesus Christ. After three long but rewarding years dedicated to this ministry, I completed the training I wanted, and it was time to resume my original life plan: Career and…etc.?

So, here’s my next few years in a nutshell: I landed the job of my dreams with a giant ad agency, met the girl of my dreams, ran away scared from the girl of my dreams, finally came to my senses and married Sharon (she’s still the girl of my dreams), had two kids, built a career and maintained a ministry discipling men in my church. Life was good, all according to plan.

Then…out of nowhere…things changed. The kids started walking, talking, thinking, talking, growing, talking, talking, talking!! If I had had any dreams or expectations about family life, this was not even close. And any ideas I may have had about what a family might someday require from me was—easily– the greatest underestimation of my life.

Of course, those of you with children are nodding and (maybe) smiling. This experience is certainly common to every parent that has ever lived. So, as all parents have done before me, I asked myself, “Now what?”

For me, there was an immediate answer to that question. Go with Plan A.

Since I was a trained and experienced disciple-maker, Sharon and I should simply do what I already knew how to do: Disciple our children. “Easy enough,” thought I.

And that was the second greatest underestimation of my life.

Turns out that discipling your kids is a completely different animal than dealing with men who are eager to follow Christ. Who knew? Fast forwarding, my children survived and actually turned out great. God is faithful! They’re both in their 20s and love the Lord. But the process…wow! I wish I had kept a journal, but at the time, we didn’t know how challenging it would be.

There were very few resources available at the time to help guide us, and we didn’t really know anyone that was attempting to do what we had in mind. So we made it up as we went along, and there were ups and downs along the way.
Still…making the commitment to disciple our children and seeing it through was—easily—the greatest, most rewarding accomplishment of our life. Nothing else is even a close second.

We offer concepts and ideas to guide parents in their discipling perspective and family development. A few are easy to introduce for first-timers, a few are fun, a few obvious…and a few may scare the bejeebers out of you. Stay tuned.

By Marty Gonterman

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