I heard this as an example not to long ago and thought it was super cool! You could even use this as a visual aid on the importance of integrity and actually “walking worthy of the calling to which you were called.” (Ephesians 4:1)
When you go to the grocery store to buy water, you hand the cold unopened bottle to the cashier. He or she will then scan the black and white rectangle. After this, the computer (cash register) will register that this is a specific brand and size of water along with the price of the item. Now imagine that the same bottle was empty. If we then scanned it, the computer would still register the price, brand and size. And once more let’s pretend that the bottle had been refilled with dirty water. Once again when you scan it, you would still see the same specifications on the screen (price, brand, size).
Maybe you already see the point. There are many people walking around today who if you asked, would label themselves a follower of Christ. They would call themselves a Christian. However, if you were able to cut their spiritual hearts open you wouldn’t see the living water that Christ offers, but rather the filth left behind by sin or maybe the emptiness of a life lived for one’s own pursuits and interests rather than a life lived for Christ. The best way to identify the content is not by the bar code.
Jesus offers another way to know the truth of someone’s master, and its not the bar code. Flip over to Matthew 7.
“15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”, Matthew 7:15-20, NIV
Jesus here is specifically talking about false prophets who come to His children on behalf of satan trying to pull them away from Christ. He tells us to determine their validity by the fruit they are producing. So the question is, what type of fruit are you producing? Or back to our example, what’s in your bottle?
This would be an easy lesson for your kids! Depending on their age, maybe you pour them a glass of water from the good bottle. Maybe you let them collect some dirt from the backyard to put in one of the bottles and explain that our sin is dirty to God and only He can cleanse it from us. There are many directions that this lesson can go. Share it age appropriately!
I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but recently I was doing some reading in Deuteronomy and something hit me differently than it has in the past.
Let’s take a look,
“4 ‘Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’ ”, Deut 6:4-5, CSB
In my study, I learned that this is called the Shema in Judaism. ‘Shema’ is the word that is translated here as ‘listen’. It is also the name of a prayer that has been repeated by the Jewish people for many, many generations. This Shema is also the scripture that Jesus quotes later when He is asked “What is the greatest commandment?”. I would say these “coincidences” meet together to mean something big about this scripture.
As interesting as all this is, it’s the next two verses that hit me like a ton of bricks. Take a look,
“6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 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.”, Deut 6:6, CSB
Right after Moses gives the children of Israel these immensely important words, he goes into raising children! One of the first times that God gives instructions about parenting, He tells us to teach them God’s ways.
As parents, we are constantly concerned about tomorrow. Young parents are consistently told to enjoy the days of potty training and scraped knees that need kisses or rolling over in the middle of the night to find your frighten toddler in your bed. The reason they are told this is because, especially in the midst of sleeplessness it can be easy to long for a new day in which the “troubles” of today are over; only to look back in nostalgia once they really are over.
Today I want to talk about tomorrow. Today we’re going to talk about legacy. I’m hoping and praying that you’re planning and preparing to leave a rich legacy to your children. However, I’m not talking about money. It is absolutely important to be concerned about your child’s financial well-being in the event that something happens to you. But I’m talking more so about your spiritual legacy. What will you leave behind in that respect?
In the portion of scripture often called the Great Commission, Jesus tells His apostles to go, make disciples, baptize and teach. This is the scripture that most people turn to in relation to the growth of the Kingdom. The expectation is that each of us is teaching and growing the Kingdom. This is your legacy!
“22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren,
but the sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous”, Proverbs 13:22, CSB
Have you made plans for your legacy yet? What should you be saying/preparing for your grandchildren?
Have you seen the Disney movie Moana? It was released in 2016. Here’s the basic premise. The creator “god” was robbed. Her heart that holds the mystical powers of creation was stolen by a demi-god. Because of this theft, life was being drained from islands, trees, fish etc. Without this “heart”, she couldn’t maintain life, even to the extent that she became a monster.
I’m not simply recounting this movie for fun (though I have to admit I love it! My 3-year-old daughter and I have seen it at least 30 times). Over the many times I’ve seen this movie, it has occurred to me that though the movie is not theologically accurate there are many, many spiritual lessons to be learned here. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it to you! I promise my synopsis doesn’t give too much away.
One of the lessons that glares at me through this movie is about parenting. Sometimes with the intent of protecting our children from harm, we hold them back from something to which they have been called by God or we push them in areas for which He has not equipped them. Moana’s father, the chief, as a teenager had longed to sail on the ocean. When he finally decided to sneak out and steal a boat, his best friend begged to go along. While out on the seas, Moana’s dad (he has no other name) hit rough seas and the boat capsized. This threw his buddy over into the sea, he eventually dies. With a past like that it’s easy to see why her dad wouldn’t want her on the sea.
The problem however is that the whole movie is about Moana and her calling. The ocean “god” chooses Moana when she’s just a toddler in the very beginning of the movie. We can’t allow our biases and fears to hold our children back. Just because this thing didn’t work out for you (or anyone you’ve ever known), doesn’t mean God hasn’t specifically equipped your child for that same task.
Let’s take a look at the call on someone’s life in scripture whose family probably wouldn’t have approved. Flip over to Acts 9:15,
“The Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings, and the people of Israel about me. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for worshiping in my name.’ “, CEV
Here we see God telling Ananias to, “GO!” place his hands on Saul and baptize him. Later in the book of Acts (after we’ve read about much of Paul’s ministry), he tells King Agrippa that he comes from a line of pharisees. Remember them? The group of Jewish religious leaders, many of whom opposed Jesus while He was in the flesh and then began persecuting His followers after He had returned back home. Paul (when he was Saul) was one of them. For the first almost half of the book of Acts he along with other pharisees sought to imprison and kill followers of Christ. But by the end of it he’s one of the prisoners being persecuted for Christ. Imagine if Saul had asked his parents’ opinion of joining up with these people of the Way? They probably would’ve lost their minds. But look at the end of Acts what Jesus says to Paul about his calling,
“15’Who are you?’ I asked.
Then the Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus! I am the one you are so cruel to. 16 Now stand up. I have appeared to you, because I have chosen you to be my servant. You are to tell others what you have learned about me and what I will show you later.’ “, Acts 26:15-16, CEV
Jesus had called Saul to be His servant! The call that God has placed on the life of my child is bigger than anything I could ever think or imagine. And even more importantly, God has a plan to move His agenda forward on this Earth. My child’s involvement in that movement is more important that what I can even see.
Lord, don’t allow me to stand in the way of Your calling on my babies’ lives. Help me remember, that its not my will but Yours that must be done. Thank You, Father for my babies!!
I can remember a gospel meeting from many many years ago. I was probably about 14. A minister from all the way in California came to lead it. To this day I can't quite remember his name, but what I do remember was electrifying! He recounted for us in grave, scientific and specific detail just what was physiologically going on with Christ during the last days of His life. He talked about how Christ suffered and what specifically He would have been feeling during the torture that led to His death. This one sermon has left an indelible mark upon me ever since. I suggest that all followers of Christ take some time to read or learn about the specifics of what this was.
Because I heard that sermon, there are times that I read through scripture and have to stop a moment. One of those times, happened when I read through Hebrews 12; especially verse 2. Here's what it says in the NIV,
"1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Yup you read that right. Jesus considered the end result of your salvation to be worth His endurance of the cross to the extent that the Hebrew writer calls it joy! This is huge on its own. To think that He thought so much of my salvation that He'd be willing to endure such shame and agony moves my heart and strengthens my faith.
But as we studied this a thought came to mind. There are days for me (I'm sure for you as well), that I endure frustration and agony over my children. There are days that are pure drudgery. While definitely not anywhere near the same level of shame and agony that Christ endured, this passage is an encouragement to me. You see I think so highly of what Christ did for me, that I want His kingdom to continue growing exponentially. I know that one of the ways that I can do that is to encourage and equip my children to spend their lives in service to Him and the other image bearers that they meet.
"2 Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.", Psalms 8:2, NIV
As I teach my children to praise the Lord, He establishes strongholds against the enemy! I want to be a part of that stronghold being built. I want my grandchildren's grandchildren to be still establishing that stronghold through praise of our great Creator! I want to encourage you to join me! Let's teach our children to praise like no one's watching! Let's teach our babies to praise His name at every turn!! And let's start by being the example of that praise!
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!!