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.)

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

 

A Lesson From the Movie: War Room

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Dads, Encouragement, Grandparents, Moms, Prayers, Praying Together

I hope all of you see the movie War Room.  Not only is it an encouragement for marriages, there are so many other life lessons we are reminded of.  One of them is the influence we have on our children.  In the movie, their daughter, Danielle, writes down a list of prayers she has for God.  She learned this fromseeing her mom’s list.

What an incredible opportunity we have to lead our children to experience God’s answered prayers!  He is the same God that parted the Red Sea, healed the injured, rose people from the dead, etc.  (You may need the reminder, too, that GOD does answer prayers; He is powerful; He is at work today.)

Do your children see you fervently pray?  Do you pray with them?  Pray in boldness, so your children will grow to know that Jesus does care, is alive and is at work!

We have the greatest opportunity, responsibility and privilege to

tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,

    his power, and the wonders he has done.”  Psalm 78.4
Toward the end of the movie, Danielle checks off an answered prayer, deepening her trust and faith!  I’m convinced, if we will pray with our children & teens, they will grow mighty in faith!

If you want the parents and grandparents at your church to catch a vision and be equipped for making faith at home a daily routine, look into scheduling our parenting conference. (See here.)

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.

Shrimp & Ketchup

Written by Jonathan on . Posted in Blog, Dads, Faith Conversations, Family Devotions, Moms, Praying Together

Over lunch with a radio talk show host last week, I was enlightened.  I ordered fish tacos and he ordered fried shrimp.  When our meals arrived, he did something strange; he moved his little dish of cocktail sauce out of his plate and squirted some ketchup in its place!  Who does that?

I had to ask.

He said when he was a child, that’s the way him mom served shrimp.  Since that’s the way he was brought up, that’s the way he eats them now.

I laughed.

He looked at me with a question mark on his face.

I chuckled because, it was a great example of the influence of the home.  What we do at home will shape our children’s spiritual lives even as it shapes our taste buds.

We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.

Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Psalm 78:4-7

I have to remind myself that what I’m doing now with our children is not only impacting them; it’s also impacting their children, too.   We are influencing our grandchildren; future generations.  Our children can pass the love and trust of the Lord onto their children and their children’s children.

Whatever we choose to dip our shrimp into doesn’t matter, but the way we spend our time connecting our children’s hearts towards God’s can have an eternal difference.  The habits we instill in our children while they are at home will carry on long after we are gone.

Pray together as a family.  Read the Word together and tell your children the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord…Then they [will] put their trust in God and [will] not forget his deeds but [will] keep his commands.”

 

Discussion Questions for parents and small groups:

When do you share with your children the “praiseworthy deeds of the Lord?”

How are you developing spiritual habits in your home?

What is a habit you are going to start?

When is the best time to pray together as a family?

Find someone to share this with, so they can ask you about it.

 

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