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Category Archives: Faith At Home

Creative ideas for living out faith in the home.

When you love your Lord less, you love the world more…,

If-we-dont-teach-our-children-to-follow-Christ-the-world-will-teach-them-not-to

While driving home from our church’s Vacation Bible School last night I heard a stirring message on the radio. These words pierced my heart: “When you love your Lord less, you love the world more, and it infiltrates your life and you tolerate sin.”

As a Christian mom and grandmother, it is my desire to help reverse this trend, that is sadly reflected in our world today. I want to love the Lord more and thereby love the world less. How can I do this? Only by the divine presence of a Holy God who permeates my mind, body, and spirit.

A while back, Jeff and I led a parenting series called “Faith At Home.” A large part of the training sessions deal with developing a spiritual plan for the family, and making a family covenant with God.

Here’s a sampling of what I feel lays the foundation for mapping out a family’s spiritual plan. It all begins with valuing the things that honor God in our daily lives.

STEP #2 — VALUES

What do we really believe?

Values are the non-negotiable truths you hold that direct your family’s behavior. They are motivational. They provide an answer for the “why” of every circumstance in life, and they place boundaries around behavior.

The values we teach and model for our children (& grandchildren) have a major impact on their lives. Our values teach them who they’re meant to be and how to be that way. Passing a clear set of core values to your children is the thing that most clearly defines the uniqueness of your family.

Values aren’t taught just by bringing children to church or having a little talk. Children learn values through daily interaction with their parents. They learn them in everyday, ordinary encounters with Mom and Dad. They learn by listening to what we say and watching what we do.   “…when you sit at home and when you walk along the road.” (Living out Deut. 6:4-9)

So it’s important that parents model what they teach and teach what they model. When parents have integrity—that is, when their teaching and example are consistent—the communication of their core values becomes compelling to children. (Most children will grow up and live what has been modeled to them by their parents/grandparents.) Proverbs 22:6

Children become confused when Mom and Dad don’t teach (or model) the same values. Parents can find unity in their values by finding out what God has to say. Discussions about values can often lead Mom and Dad to a richer understanding and refinement of their core beliefs. Parents also learn to appreciate the perspective of their spouses when they see how some differences can be useful.

** Becoming a Christ-centered family begins by defining your family’s core values, and determining that these core values are in line with God’s core values found in Scripture.

“Discipling children is about sharing with them the model of the life you live in Christ, on a daily basis.” – Debbie Salter Goodwin

To learn more about making a spiritual plan for your family, go to my blog site: www.covenantheirs.org and click on the tab at the top of the page: Making a Family Covenant.

 

 

 

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Teachable Moments

Jack & Julia at batWhile at our grandchildren’s ballgame the other night, I observed my son-in-law seize a teachable moment. My husband and I had front row lawn chairs, as we watched Jack, who is seven, play against his sister, Julia, who is five. It was the “big game”and Jack had already set the stage for a win against his sister’s team. Funny, at this level, they don’t even keep score.

We watched and cheered, along with other family members, as Jack and Julia both hit the ball at their at-bats. Jack slugged the ball deep into the outfield twice, and boy was he excited, and so were we.

As Jack slid into home plate, he proudly paraded by the fence as his fans applauded. As one grandpa put it, “He’s show-boating.” We later found out from his mother that Jack was just imitating his favorite ball team, the KC Royals.

Jack’s dad took this moment to quickly pull Jack aside and explain to him about having a humble spirit, and not to draw so much attention to himself. I’m not sure what all was said, but I can tell you one thing, our grandson loves and respects his earthly father, who is teaching Jack and his other two children to respect their Heavenly Father.

In the parent study, Effective Parenting In A Defective World, the author, Chip Ingram, instructs parents to keep their focus clearly on the bulls-eye (Jesus and God’s principles), rather than carelessly missing the target by following the world’s standards.

I am thankful that my son-in-law is training his children to become like Jesus; in this instance, humble.

Philippians 2 (NIV)

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?

Lord, out of the mouth of children___This week I asked my grandchildren what they wanted for Christmas. Before they had time to answer, Max, our 4-year-old grandson, looked up at me and said, “Do you know that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday?” Touching my heart deeply, I responded, “Yes.” Then I asked Max what kind of gift(s) he would like to give Jesus. He instantly replied, “A heart box.” I said, “Oh that sounds very nice; I think Jesus will like that.” Pausing for a moment, Max continued, “How do we get our gifts to Jesus?” “And does Jesus have a cell phone?”

I believe Max’s question requires some introspection.

As we busy ourselves with gift-buying and endless holiday gatherings, let’s remember to intentionally celebrate the birth of our dear Savior, Jesus.

Max’s Heart Box for Jesus

Nana’s Instructions

Help children make a Heart Box. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, fill the box with special “gifts” for Jesus. Place the box under the tree and open on Christmas morning. Family members take turns reading or sharing the gifts given to Jesus.

Suggested prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to our world. These gifts are for You, in honor of Your Birthday. For You taught us, whatever we do for those in need, we do for You.

For similar ideas, see the “Sparkle Box” story at: http://www.thesparklebox.com/

Gift Ideas for Jesus:

  • Showing love to others.

  • Sharing.

  • Obeying parents. (Picking up toys, not fighting with siblings, etc.)

  • Helping others in need. (Purchase a gift for a needy child.)

  • Give canned goods to a local homeless shelter. / Serve at a homeless shelter.

  • Donate new or gently used toys to the Salvation Army, etc. / Volunteer ringing bells for S.A.

  • Pray for the special needs of others.

  • Visit a nursing home or shut-ins, taking homemade cookies.

  • Tangible items (Younger children: rocks, colored pictures, birthday cards, etc.)

  • Make a card for Sunday school/school teachers, etc.

  • Be creative! And let your child come up with his/her own gift ideas.

Store the heart box in a handy place, so that you can get it out every Thanksgiving.

HEART BOX FOR JESUS

Materials Needed:
Wood box with latch (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby), or make own.
Wooden heart
Paint (Various colors, including red for heart.)
Picture of child
Shellac or Mod Podge
Glue
Typed label or handwritten (FOR JESUS) under the heart.

 – Paint the wooden hearts and the wood boxes.  Let dry.

– May choose to decorate boxes with markers, etc.

– Glue picture of child on hearts.

– Shellac (Mod Podge) pictures / and if desired, the entire box. Let dry.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants…” (Psalm 8:1-2 NIV).

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

“Give Thanks”

 “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 106:1).

Thanksgiving is a time to remember all the blessings in our lives.

Let’s begin now…and continue all year long.

Our daughter started a new Thanksgiving tradition last year. Their family makes a Thankful Tree. The children find a tree branch and place it in a homemade container and then cut out leaves made from construction paper. Each day the children and their parents write something they want to thank God for on a leaf and then hang the leaves on the tree branch.  — Adapted from Changing Seasons In Me, article originally written Nov. 13, 2014.

 

Jack and Julia

I’m not fond of the winter months. In fact, my wardrobe is indicative of this, having many more summer clothes than winter. My hands shiver when walking down the freezer aisle at the grocery store…in the summer!

A thankful spirit often requires a different or new perspective on life’s familiarities. Otherwise, we may find ourselves taking for granted the blessings right in front of us….our family, the changing colors of autumn, a red bird perched on a snow-covered branch, and so on. While driving home from work the other day, my husband called and told me to look outside at the beautiful sunset. I ran out on our deck, only to be disappointed I had missed the window of opportunity.

To keep our children from missing the windows of opportunity, we (parents and grandparents) have the awesome responsibility to train our children to have watchful eyes, for the many blessings we receive each day. This takes intentionality! Children and adults not fully surrendered to Christ, are naturally self-absorbed and can easily miss the joy God intends. Looking at the world through eternal lenses portrays true and lasting blessings. The following story depicts two diverse perspectives from ten men who received the same blessing.

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy – Luke 17:11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy[b] met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

After reading and contemplating the two varying responses to the lepers’ healing, ask yourself how you may have responded? Would it be more like the nine, or the one?  I’d like to propose two diverse perspectives—the temporal and the eternal.

The temporal perspective:

“The nine” cleansed lepers missed their window of opportunity to receive an even greater blessing, far beyond their physical healing. Here are a few possible reasons “the nine” didn’t go back to thank Jesus.

  • Being in isolation for so long, their minds were solely focused on returning to their former lifestyle.

  • They may have thought Jesus was simply doing what He was “supposed” to do…heal people. Therefore, they took their healing for granted.

  • Some may have said something like, “I’m sure God wants me to get busy fulfilling the plans He purposed for my life.”

The eternal perspective:

“The one” leper who came back to thank Jesus not only recognized the miraculous healing in his life, he experienced the greater blessing—the presence of a loving and merciful Savior. His perspective was filled with overflowing gratefulness, a direct result of being Christ-focused rather than self-absorbed.

The following quotes are from the book, Love Made Perfect—Foundations for the Holy Life (1997), authored by Dr. William M. Greathouse (April 29, 1919 – March 24, 2011), minister and emeritus general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene.

“Self-love is the disease of original sin.”  “Idolatrous self-love is our sickness, but it is a sickness God wants to cure.”

To help our children develop a grateful heart like the “one leper,” I believe we must first explain that everyone is born with a sinful nature. The sinful nature will naturally dispose every human heart toward being self-absorbed. The only cure for a self-absorbed life is full surrender to Christ. I recommend reading Dr. Greathouse’s book, Love Made Perfect, for a fuller understanding of loving God with one’s whole heart, strength, and mind—a love perfected in us through Christ alone.

Secondly, we need to stop and “smell the roses.” I love this definition for the idiom “smell the roses.”

To take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life.

Parent Challenge

Take time to thank God throughout your day. Don’t let the busyness of your schedule or life’s distractions keep you from missing out on the blessings of life. Begin by thanking God for your precious children, spouse, friends, church family, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Practice pointing out the blessings of life to your children, as you drive along the road. The changing seasons exude with God’s blessings.

My new perspective of winter:  I love sitting by a fire on a cold wintry day with my husband. Building snowmen with our grandchildren imparts cherished memories of innocent smiles and silly giggles into my heart. Christmas brings the greatest blessing of all, as our family gathers together to sing happy birthday to Jesus. God warms my heart throughout the winter.

More Traditions

Thanksgiving tablecloth. Using the same tablecloth every year, each family member writes what they are thankful for on the tablecloth. The little ones love to make turkeys as they trace around their hands. Use permanent fabric markers or pens.

Indian Corn: Our grandchildren help me place several kernels of Indian corn by each table setting. Before eating our meal everyone shares something they are thankful for and then they place a kernel of corn into a decorative basket. Our basket goes around the table several times because the children have such thankful hearts.

 wreathThe first Sunday of Advent is November 29 this year (2015). There are limitless resources available to help families prepare their hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth. The Advent wreath is one of my favorites.

Check out Christian Book.com at:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=Advent+devotionals+for+families&N=0&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

ben-zobrist“Victory Belongs to the LORD”

“Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people”(Psalm 3:8 NLT).

Everyone loves to cheer their team on to victory.

The Kansas City Royals overcame “several” losing seasons and are now 2015 World Series champions.

It was exciting watching the ballgames, especially clincher game 5. Raised a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I had hoped for a matchup with the Redbirds. Maybe next year!

One Met’s player stood out to me during the World Series: Daniel Murphy.

Knowing nothing about this second baseman prior to the World Series,

I thought to myself, “There’s something different about this guy.”

No anger after striking out multiple times and missing some key plays?

I later learned Daniel Murphy is a Christian.

“Oh, that’s the reason he seemed different.”

I’m sure he’s not perfect. In fact, he alludes to this in one of his interviews.

We tend to glamorize “star” sports figures/teams and Hollywood celebrities and the like.

I think by doing so we set ourselves and our children up for idol worship.

How can we guard against idol worship?

By pointing to the One who deserves all our praise and glory.

Ben Zobrist, second baseman for the Kansas City Royals and Daniel Murphy did just that.

Zobrist’s verbal acknowledgement after the World Series clinching 7-2 victory:

 “This is incredible, a very prepared team, everybody is prepared but, you know, you prepare the horse for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord,” Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/world-series-champ-ben-zobrist-victory-belongs-to-the-lord-royals-149083/#cRj1WoFJV7gfDPQI.99

“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

Psalm 3https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+3

Dayton Moore, General Manager, Kansas City Royals. Mr. Moore is a follower of Jesus Christ and readily accredits the success of the KC Royals team to emphasizing moral character within the organization. To read more about Dayton Moore, Ben Zobrist, and Daniel Murphy, click-on the following links.

http://www.bpnews.net/45231/royals-gm-character-key-to-teams-turnaround

http://www1.cbn.com/video/daniel-murphy-a-light-in-the-outfield

http://www.christianpost.com/news/world-series-champ-ben-zobrist-victory-belongs-to-the-lord-royals-149083/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VPowsOl_Ug

Faith at Home

Shape the moral character traits in your children. Helpful resources:

* Character Crew: Develop Moral Character http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/spiritual-growth-for-kids/character-crew/character-crew-developing-moral-character

* Character Matters! Raising Kids With Values That Last http://www.christianbook.com/character-matters-raising-values-that-last/john-yates/9780801064104/pd/64102

For Parents & Baseball Fans: More Than a Season: Building a Championship Culture, Dayton Moore, Author   http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-Season-Building-Championship/dp/1629371556

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2015 11: 50 am - in Faith At Home, Holy Living, Morality, Psalms

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

“Unspoken Words”

Prayer-before-reading-the-Bible

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Spoken words are pleasing or unpleasing to God.

It’s relatively easy for me to speak kindly when “all is well.”

Not so easy, during stressful moments.

Yesterday was one of those moments. Thus, I hesitated to complete this post.

Prior to sinful words proceeding from the mouth, provoking thoughts loom.

Thoughts originating in the hidden places of the heart where only God can see.

18 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:18-20 ESV).

Unspoken words identify the condition of one’s heart.

I have found that the only way to keep my thoughts pure is to meditate on the Word of God.

12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (Hebrews 4:12 NLT).

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.

God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.

The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19 NLT).

Faith at Home Moment:

Parents and grandparents, how is your Bible reading? Our children’s first impression of the Bible begins with us. When we exhibit a love for God’s Word through daily Scripture reading we are setting a holy precedence for our children to follow. Here are a few suggestions for reading the Bible.

– Set aside a specific time and place to read the Bible each day.

– Pray before reading the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to give you clear understanding.

– Use a journal/notebook to write down the thoughts God gives you while reading the Bible.

Suggested Resource:  How To Read the Bible (So it Changes Your Life.)  http://www.cometothefire.org/books/how-to-read-the-bible-so-it-changes-your-life

Select an age-appropriate Bible for children. There are many good ones to choose from. Visit a Christian bookstore or check out some online at:

http://www.christianbook.com/page/bibles/childrens-bibles

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

 Joy in the Journey

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11)”

joy in the journey

Anticipating beautiful fall foliage in Minnesota – JOY!

A professor once told me, “Don’t miss the joy in the journey.”

He was right!

Awaiting Jeff’s graduation from Bible College, we explored the

Colorado Mountains…cheered at volleyball games & homecoming courts…made new friendships…and experienced God’s presence.

By the saving grace of Jesus, I anticipate my eternal home with gladness, and thank God for granting me joy in the journey of life.

Facebook Friends, May the Psalms draw you close to God.

“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16, NLT).

Faith at Home Moment:

Living for Jesus brings great joy into our lives. Yes, at times we have sad and lonely days during our days on earth, but praise be to God, His presence is with us, filling us with hope, peace, and eternal joy in the journey of life. Our children need to see the joy we experience by living for Jesus. The Gospel is Good News! Take a few minutes each day reading through the Gospel of John with your children. Pray that God will fill you with His joy even in the midst of struggles. An oldie but goodie song to sing along with children: Joy, Joy Down In My Heart – http://www.psalty.com/track/687853/joy-joy-down-in-my-heart?feature_id=140418

 

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