I want to take a moment to tell you about an awesome group that I recently joined!! Mom’s in Prayer is an international organization whose mission is “Our vision is that every school in the world would be covered with prayer.” I think this is so cool. Once a week a group of moms at my child’s school join together to pray over the school, the faculty and staff, each child and their families! Imagine if every school had a group of prayer warriors! Imagine the changes that we’d see! (Acts 12 comes to mind!)
The first time I joined these moms, I was blown away. Think about the things you know are happening in your school through different conversations you have with teachers, staff, other parents or your child. What if there was a group of people who came together consistently to cover each of those issues (good or bad) in prayer! Whose life could be changed? Whose eyes may be opened to Christ’s undying love for them? Whose health could be healed?? SUCH a cool idea!! It is such a blessing to know that when I send my child off to school, he’s headed somewhere that has been lifted up to the throne room of the Creator.
If you are interested in joining a Mom’s in Prayer group near you, you can use this link <https://impactroster.momsinprayer.org/public/group-info>.
But what if you are a working parent without the time to commit to meeting each week during the school day? Have no fear! How about a family prayer night where you specifically lift up your teachers, principals, counselors, janitors, coaches, students and their families in prayer? What a testament to our children! What a great way to show your children how to interact with the people around them!
Be on the lookout for opportunities to cover the areas you frequent with consistent prayer!
Ok, so maybe you don't work in the local school system and maybe you don't lead Sunday school classes. That doesn't mean you don't teach.
Education doesn't only take place in a classroom. Much of it happens around kitchen tables or in cars through the rear view mirror. So much of our learning in life is not a formal effort. So I'll repeat it again, don't fool yourself into believing you aren't a teacher.
I've heard it said, "Christianity isn't a product to consume (think Sunday morning activities), but rather a lifestyle to live out." If this is true, then what's happening around your kitchen table on a random Thursday afternoon is just as important as what your child will hear from the pulpit on Sunday morning. We also know that the consistent conversations around your kitchen table will carry more weight in the long run than what's mentioned from the pulpit.
Let's open some scripture. Flip over to Matthew 28:19-20.
"18 Jesus came to them and said:
I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth!
19 Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
20 and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world." Matthew 28:19-20, HCSB
You may have heard this before. It's commonly referred to as the Great Commission. This is when Jesus gives His disciples their instructions on life after He's gone. Their job is to go replicate what He did in their lives within the lives of many many others.
This scripture is often examined during discipleship discussions; as it should be. The part that doesn't always get as much coverage is the fact that He tells them to be teaching. This command was not just for the disciples with Him then, but also for us as well.
So the question isn't, "Are you a teacher?"; but rather, "What are you teaching??".
Ok, let me start with an apology about the title. I promise I’m not about to get political. Please stick with me!!
Let me start with the backstory. While I was in college, I had a friend who got pregnant. Having grown up in a Christian environment, she knew to be shell shocked and embarrassed. She called me not too long after she left her appointment. I asked if she wanted me to go with her to tell her parents because my assumption was that of course she was going to have the baby. I was the one shell shocked when she told me that she and her boyfriend had already decided to abort. She went on to tearfully tell me that she was terrified of what her church family among others would say. Having grown up in this church family, she knew all too well what the whispers would sound like once they all found out. Sadly, I’m sure you do too. (There's another lesson to be had here too. The one place that people should know they can turn when they've messed up, is among God's people. They should always feel as if we are going to support and love on them as we've been loved by a perfect Savior.)
Let’s take a look at scripture. Flip over to Psalms 127:3,
"3Children are a blessing
and a gift from the Lord."
I have encountered nowhere in scripture where God says He’s punishing someone by making them a parent. On the other hand, there are a number of places where children are described as blessings.
This is what I believe God has been showing me with this memory of mine. Children aren’t the only blessings that He gives. Do you recognize all your blessings as such? Or like my sweet friend, do you see a blessing as a disruption to your plans that needs to be removed? Everyone’s story is different, but one thing I know is that He has blessed you with something. Do you always see it as a blessing? Maybe it’s a job that initially looked perfect for you but now is full of demands you didn’t anticipate. Perhaps He had you move across country (or maybe just across town) and away from your support group in an effort to grow you.
There are days that I don’t see His children in my home as blessings from above. (Then I peek in on them while they’re sleep and I smile.) There are days that laundry is piling up like a skyscraper going up in a bustling downtown. There are days that I feel pulled in every direction but right with no time to get anywhere. There are days that I am just counting the minutes/hours until nap time just to get a break. Its in these moments that I have taken my eye off the prize…. God’s glory! Just like God told Abraham,
"17 The Lord said to himself, “I should tell Abraham what I am going to do, 18 since his family will become a great and powerful nation that will be a blessing to all the other nations on earth. 19 I have chosen him to teach his family to obey me forever and to do what is right and fair. If they do, I will give Abraham many descendants, just as I promised.”, Genesis 18:17-19, CEV
He was blessed so that he could bless others. In other words, Abraham was given a blessing so that his obedience and the family that came from his obedience would bless all the other nations on earth!! I was blessed with two beautifully sweet children so that my obedience would become a blessing to those around me, namely those two little souls. With what were you blessed? Time? Health? Wealth? Kids? No kids?
This week’s challenge is to recognize your blessings for what they are. We have a loving, caring compassionate God who is ready and willing to bless you freely within His will.
We are grateful to you for all the many blessings you have sent our way. This includes the ones who call us dad or mom. Especially in the hard times, help us to remember this!
Do you know who Rahab was? She is listed in the Faith Hall of Fame, Hebrews 11.
“By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.” Hebrews 11:31, HCSB
However, we first meet her in the second chapter of the book of Joshua.
“Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two men as spies from the Acacia Grove, saying, ‘Go and scout the land, especially Jericho.’ So they left, and they came to the house of a woman, a prostitute named Rahab, and stayed there.” Joshua 2:1, HCSB
Joshua had sent these spies over into Jericho to spy out the city. Rahab lived in Jericho and hid the spies from her king so they were able to return to Joshua. She did this because she had heard of what God had done on behalf of the Israelites against other cities. While some of her neighbors had learned of these things and began to cower in fear (which eventually led to their ruin), she had begun to have faith. It is through this faith that we come to learn of her.
Flip over to James 2:24-26. In a discussion about righteousness and faith, James brings up her name and says,
“24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:24-26, HCSB
Now you would think that all this time later, she could just be Rahab, right? I mean she did the Children of Israel a solid and then spent the rest of her life among them. But James still refers to her along with her profession. I mean we don’t ever see people say, “Jesus the carpenter” or “Paul the tentmaker”, but here we see her still discussed as a prostitute. I think this is indicative of the difference in how we see our neighbors versus how God sees them. Here we are thousands of years later still seeing her as a prostitute.
Let’s find out how God sees her.
“1The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: ………. 5Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse,” Matthew 1:1,5 HCSB
Not only did Rahab go on to became the great grandmother of Israel’s 2nd greatest king (David), but she is in the family line of God’s Son!! There are two big points here for us as parents. First, we have to be sure that our children are able to look past people’s pasts and see the faith they’re operating in today, no matter how immature or imperfect that faith is. Secondly, we have to be sure that our children know that even if (or when) they get into trouble and mess up, not only do they still have a place in our lives, hearts and families but more importantly they still have a place in the kingdom of God!!
Thank you, Lord for seeing us for who we will be and not the mess that we are currently in!
I was listening to a sermon. As he was talking about the future plans for their church as well as the accomplishments they had recently completed. He made this statement, “No one plans to get out of shape”. Though this statement is simple, it hit me (maybe because I remember the day I looked up and noticed I was out of shape). Just the same as no one plans to get out of shape, no one plans to have children who don’t know Jesus for themselves.
As with so many areas of our lives (finances, health, child rearing, etc), if we aren’t intentional about how we live we can one day look up and find ourselves in a place we never expected to arrive.
Take a look at what Paul has to say about how we “walk”.
“15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk — not as unwise people but as wise — 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17, HCSB
We have to be intentional not only in our walk but how we raise our children. We have to start out with the end in mind. If in the end we want to live in Heaven for all of eternity with Christ, then we’ll need to be working toward that goal today. If we want to reach our 80s and still be able to move about easily, then we need to be moving lots and eating well today. If we want to end up with children who are not only attending church but have fully devoted their lives to His service, we need to introduce and model this lifestyle for them today.
Father teach us to spend time planning how to introduce and train our children to love and serve You. Remind us that this isn’t something we can put to the side and pick up later, but rather we need to be focused on it diligently and consistently.
My mother was an athlete in every sense of the word. She didn’t just play the sport, but she was the MVP on every team. She was that girl who could grab a ball and play just as good if not better than the boys. So of course when she had a daughter she expected that she would be just the same…. but she was wrong. There’s a whole lesson on our expectations for our children. But that’s a lesson for another day.
I was nothing like that. Not for lack of trying, I just wasn’t that great of an athlete. So these were words that I heard quite often. “You throw like a girl!!” For a while I took those as the insult she intended, until I got old enough to respond with, “Thanks mom! I am!” Don’t get me wrong, though I have a flawed human for a mother, she is fantastic!!
I was reminded of this not to long ago while sitting in Bible study talking about controlling the tongue. Especially when we got to this verse,
“So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6, HCSB
In this verse and the preceding verses, James is reminding us to walk like we know Jesus, not just talk about it. That includes the words that we say. So specifically, this verse is reminding us that our tongues can be a destructive force, though it is but a tiny organ. But lets look at the flip side of that. If our tongues can be the cause of a forest fire, doesn’t it make sense that our tongues can be a huge force for good, especially for our kids?? Last week we talked about bragging on our kids. This week I want to talk about all of our speech with our kids. It’s important to remember that our words have big meanings, especially to our children. So, imagine if that fire that we started was a positive fire?? What if regardless of the negative words that our kids hear from everyone else, they know we’re a fount of positivism on their side??
As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Pursuit of Happyness. Will Smith’s character is playing basketball with his son. While they’re playing, his son says that one day he wants to play basketball in the NBA. Initially Will Smith’s character tells his son that more than likely he’ll only get to about his (dad’s) height so he has little to no potential for making it to the big leagues. Once he sees his son’s reaction (the little boy grabs then throws the ball away, angrily) to the misguided slight, he corrects himself. He then tells his son that he was wrong to say that. He tells his son that what he should have done is the only way to do anything he wants to do in life is to work hard and go for it.
This is the perfect example of lighting a fire! Lets remind ourselves of this verse every morning. Remind yourself to light a fire for God in your babies!!
“After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Sprit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: ‘This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!’” Matthew 3:16-17, HCSB
How often do your children hear you brag on them? I don’t mean being the obnoxious parent at the party who thinks their kid is the second coming. I mean speaking life into them by highlighting aspects of their character that are wonderful. In a marriage lesson not too long ago, the instructor suggested having something great to say about your spouse always; especially to other people. This isn’t the phony kind of made up ignore real issues type of compliment. But truly great things to say. The point the instructor was making is this: if you are constantly looking to have a compliment, not only will you find it, but you’ll also fall deeper in love with this amazing person God has gifted to you! And, who doesn’t LOVE to overhear their spouse talking about how great they are?!
The same is true for us as parents. Your children are constantly looking to you as their validation and personality development. Look for a way to encourage their self-confidence. Again, we’re not talking about phony or shallow compliments, but deep personality characteristics that you see consistently.
Paul talks about this in Philippians chapter 4. Take a look,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8, ESV
Earlier in this letter Paul talked about having the mind of Jesus within them to help them maintain unity in the brotherhood. He doesn’t want you overlooking problems that need to be addressed, but rather he encourages us to be fully committed to searching for the honorable, just, pure, lovely and commendable attributes of our kids. Doing this will give us clarity into who God intends for our children to be and become. I honestly believe that He had a specific honorable purpose in mind when He created our children. Our job as parents is to help them along the way to figure out who that person is and encourage them (even to other people) to grow in those areas that are lovely and commendable!!
God FTW (for the win!!) Thank You Father for showing us the example!! Brag on you babies as they grow and do things that are commendable!!
I don’t know if you’re like me but, I sometimes get caught in the “if its not big it ain’t worth it” trap. You know the one, right? If its not something that took two years of research and another year of planning and tweaking, then there’s no possible way that it could be beneficial.
I am thankful that I serve a God loving enough to keep teaching me the same lesson over and over! Moses told the children of Israel to teach God’s word to their kids daily.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7, HCSB
Well the other day, I got one of those lessons. I saw a mom make a promise of a fun bowling trip to her son, only to have to cancel it later so that she could go serve a new mom; with her son in tow!! She left the new mom’s home to make a visit to a local hospital. In both places she served with a smile, a meal and her sweet son.
As I reflected on the day, I was awestruck by this mom serving with her son along for the ride. What a lesson!! Just because you had plans for the day, doesn’t mean that’s where God planned for you to be.
One thing we know, is that more is caught than taught. This mom could have planned a lesson or family devotion about serving with a smile. Instead she chose to LIVE the lesson in front of her baby! Good job mom!! Lesson caught!!
Jesus says, “I have a given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13:15, NLT
The life you model for your kids will have a much greater impact on the life they live rather than the words you share with them. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with having said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I would change that to, “Be the adult you wish your child to be.”
Just like Jesus modeled the life He wanted us to live, let’s do the same for our kids.
“And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:2, HCSB
Jesus, thank you for loving us enough to show us Your example!!
For the past couple weeks, we’ve been talking about engaging your children intentionally. There is a plethora of ministries that are producing content that will help you as a parent some free and some for a cost. As I’ve been walking down this path of intentionally making disciples of my children, I’ve come across some resources that may be of interest to you. I’ve listed and linked to them below. Hope this helps!!
SEEDs Family Worship CDs (All ages)
These CDs are AWESOME!! This ministry has set the text of scriptures to music. Its all scripture! Play this in the car and your kids will be singing scripture constantly! They also have YouTube videos of some of these same scriptures. These CDs are not free, though their YouTube content is.
Parent Cue App (All ages)
This app is a free download from the folks at Parent Cue. This is soooo cool!! This app sends you regular reminders and encouragements about your parenting. Within the app you can setup a profile for each of your children. They use the age of your children to share weekly video devotions that are spot on to what they may be dealing with at this time. If you head over to their website, they also have videos, podcasts and other resources to help keep parents on the path of discipleship.
Bible App for Kids (Up to about age 7)
If you have the YouVersion Bible app on your phone, then you are already familiar with this ministry. This is more than just an app. There is an app that allows kids to play games to help them learn different stories from scripture. But wait that’s not all!! There is also the webpage!! This is the coolest part! There is a full curriculum that will walk you through the Bible in an age appropriate manner for kids up to about age 7. Everything you need is there (FREE)!! There are also videos embedded from YouTube of many many Bible stories. They ALSO have a children’s story Bible (not free) that maps along with the videos. (This might be a good way to help kids who are learning to read).
Jelly Telly (Pre-K to Elementary)
I LOVE this app and so do my kids!! This is NOT a free download. There are a couple different price structures, my family is doing $5/month. This app is similar to Netflix but there are only Christian based kids shows without advertisements. This is one of the few entertainment apps that I can open up for my kids and feel ok about them watching without me sitting over their shoulder. My kids’ favorite shows here are Veggie Tales and Bibleman. There are many others.
Homeschool Curriculum (All ages)
I couldn’t begin to list all the many homeschool curriculums that are available online these days; many of them free. This is a great option if you are looking to engage your child outside of the classroom. Google and Pinterest are your best friends in this search.
Mommy Blogs (All ages)
If you are looking for a free and completely customizable option this is it! God has empowered His moms across the globe with an internet connection. If you are looking for an object lesson you can do at home with your children this is a great place to start. I actually plan to feature some of those on this blog later in the year. So many of these moms (some homeschoolers, some stay at home, others not) have created the content they couldn’t find in bookstores and are willing to share it with other parents. Some of them charge, but many do not.
Christian Bookstores (All ages)
One of the best things we have in our home is a personal daily devotional for my 6-year-old son. He is required to go through this short devotion each day before he can play or watch TV. Some days he has questions to answer, other days there’s an activity. There are many many of these available for kids (and adults) of all ages. There are also many different topics and focuses.
Our hope is that this list is helpful for you. We hope you found something on this list that will aid you in being more diligent and intentional about equipping your children.
I can remember when the news broke that someone, just days before Christmas, had walked into an elementary school and shot and killed a number of kids; many of whom were under the age of seven. My heart broke in a way that I was previously unaware it could. No, I didn’t personally know anyone affected by this tragedy. However, I had just given birth two months before this to my first child. This was all so new! I was suddenly confronted with the thought that I would one day send my sweet baby boy off to school and be completely unable to fully ensure his safety.
I remember asking my mom, how I could safely raise my son if there were so many people intent on harming him?! If I am honest this is a thought with which I have wrestled constantly since then.
Years later I still struggle with this. My oldest has started kindergarten and its truly been a struggle. But late in 2018, I came across a verse that reminded me of the answer.
“3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”
2 Peter 1:3-4, HCSB
His promises are where my focus should lie. His promises are what protect my baby, not me. Recognizing the gift that they are and the precious gift of His promises is what will protect my babies!
While I haven’t the ability to be everywhere my children are at all times and completely aware of the intentions of everyone around them…. I know someone who is….
Thank You, Jesus for loving my babies better than I ever could!!