Category Archives: Family Time
I recently shared with my family that my biggest regret as a mom was not helping our children learn to read and study the Bible. As a rather young mom and new Christian, it took me awhile before I realized the importance of daily Bible reading in my own life. This happened several years after receiving Jesus as my Savior.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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:
Passion (from the Latin verb patere meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything. (Wikipedia)
1 often capitalized : the sufferings of Jesus between the night of the Last Supper and his death 2 a plural : the emotions in general b : strong feeling or emotion 3 a : great affection : LOVE b : a strong liking c : an object of desire or deep interest (Merriam-Webster Student Dictionary)
People have a great passion for many things. Just to name a few:
Football – On September 29, 2014, the Kansas City Chiefs fans reclaimed the record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium. Chiefs’ fans made enough noise to register a 142.2 dbA reading at Arrowhead Stadium while playing against the New England Patriots.
Vacations & Fitness – (Online Advertisement) Take Your Passion For Fitness on Luxury Adventure Vacations With Reebok Fitness Vacations by Austin Adventures – Two leading brands in the active lifestyle and fitness worlds are teaming up to offer Reebok Fitness Vacations by Austin Adventures. This partnership seems to offer a series of vacations that promote fitness as a way of life. Now you can combine two passions at the same time!
Food – (Quote from chef blogger): “I have a passion for preparing and serving great food. I have a goal of getting a great meal on the table every evening in around 45 minutes.”
Attempting to trick Jesus, a religious “expert” posed the following question.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38).
I believe this is the greatest passion.
There’s no room to be lukewarm as a Christian. In fact, being lukewarm makes God nauseous.
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:14-16).
From the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promises the following:
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”(Matthew 5:6).
My life passion (mission): To intentionally pass down my faith in Christ to my children and grandchildren. 2 Timothy 1:5
So, what’s your greatest passion?
In 2015, why not cultivate a great passion for loving God, in your children and grandchildren.
Break the record for loving God.
Pray fervently and often.
Give up a favorite beverage (Starbuck’s, soda, etc.) for a month, and set aside this money for a work and witness trip or other service project.
Skip the family vacation one year (or more), and instead, spend this allotted time and money towards serving at a local or global mission.
Rather than wasting endless hours on social media / T.V., etc., use this time for personal and family Bible study.
Purposefully reach out to your neighbors with kindness and the love of Christ.
Intentionally share your faith in Christ with unsaved friends, relatives, coworkers, etc.
Use your gifts and talents at your local church. Serve together as a family when applicable.
Have a Happy and Fulfilling New Year….
by living a life of passion for Christ.
Take a moment to reflect upon this phrase: If it’s the Lord’s will…
Now ask yourself, when was the last time you included God in your decision-making, or plans?
Are we, as parents and grandparents, setting the example of praying for and discerning God’s will in our daily lives? If not, why not?
Teaching our children to diligently seek God’s will in their lives will take more than casually adding the phrase, “if it’s the Lord’s will” to our prayers.
Many of us (me included) can run around aimlessly if we are not intentional in seeking God’s will. Instead of saying: we are going to do this, or buy that, or go there, etc., we need to be sure that we are prayerfully asking God for His wisdom, His leadership, and His direction in our lives. This doesn’t come naturally, especially for those of us who are extremely independent and like to do things our own way, and in our timing.
Eight months ago we listed our house for sale by owner. Now, in my finite way of thinking, I certainly can’t understand why our house hasn’t sold, yet. After all, I prayed for it to sell. And it makes perfect sense to me for this to happen (yesterday!). And in my prayers, I did include “if it’s your will, Lord…,” but did I really mean it?
I know in my heart that God truly knows what’s best for us and I also know that His timing is often not the same as ours. God is all-knowing and all-loving.
When praying for God’s will to be done, we need to remind ourselves and our children that the outcome of our personal desires and prayers is always for His glory and for our good, no matter what the outcome.
Amazingly, I read the following Scripture this morning during my devotional time.
“In him we were made heirs, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory”(Ephesians 1:11-13).
We rarely know God’s will ahead of time, nor fully understand it later. However, I’m so thankful that God does give us some absolute principles in His Word, which express His perfect will. Here are just a few (to share with your kids/grandkids).
God’s will is…
…for none to perish, but for all who believe in His one and only Son, to receive eternal life (John 3:16)
…to be set apart for His glory, by living a life that pleases Him
Living to Please God
“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
…to confess and repent
“ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
…to forgive as we have been forgiven
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation’”(Luke 11:4).
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
This is just a starting point for knowing God’s will for our lives. Dig into Scripture with your kids/grandkids—to know and live out God’s will. This summer set a goal as a family, to read through the entire New Testament. Take time to discuss the many ways Jesus and His disciples sought after and lived out God’s will in their lives. The Bible mini series is also available to watch through Netflix.
Living an intentional life that pleases God is what we desire. Jeff and I offer a faith-at-home ministry called Covenant Heirs to churches and their families. The ministry’s goal is to encourage and help equip parents and grandparents to intentionally pass down their faith in Christ to their children and grandchildren.
“God’s dream for our children is to be holy, not happy.”
Quote by Chip Ingram, from his book, Effective Parenting in a Defective World.
A few years ago I led a small group study for parents at our church. The name of the DVD/book study is Effective Parenting in a Defective World. Chip Ingram, the author of the study, challenges parents to rise above the cultural norm for raising successful children in a defective world. He states in his book that the goal of Christian parents is to help their kids become like Jesus. (Romans 8:29b)
I believe most Christian parents truly want to raise godly offspring, but some may be duped into believing they are obtaining this goal based merely on a spiritual check list rather than on God’s authoritative Word.
First, if you are a parent, please take a moment to answer the following question, and include your answer, along with any comments at the end of this blog.
Q. What is your dream for your child? Is it the same as God’s dream?
Look again at Chip Ingram’s quote from above. I imagine that many parents will say, what’s so wrong with wanting my child to be happy? Am I right?
Of course we want our children to be happy! What loving, caring parent, wants their child to be unhappy? Before you jump too quickly to your own conclusions, take a moment to consider the following.
If we define happiness only by the world’s definition, we risk raising children who desire external pleasures over any other desire. If a parent’s dream is to raise happy children without intentionally and continually training their children to become more and more (like Jesus), they will ultimately raise children who embrace our current culture’s view of happiness. “It’s all about me!”
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). – NIV
I’d like to share a few quotes from some notable Christian authors.
Warren Wiersbe, from his devotional book, A Time To Be Renewed:
“The Christian student who obeys only because the school has rules is not really maturing. What will he do when he leaves the school? God’s Word can change our hearts and give us the desire to do God’s will, so that we obey from inward compulsion and not outward constraint.”
Happiness—true and lasting, is only achieved when one’s inner desire(s) align with that which pleases our Heavenly Father above all.
From Andrew Murray, The Secrets of Intercession:
God’s Will and Ours…thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42)
“It is the high prerogative of God that everything in heaven and earth is to be done according to His will and as the fulfillment of His desires. When God made man in His image it was, above all, that his desires were to be in perfect accord with the desires of God. This is the high honor of being in the likeness of God.”
Excerpt from Chip Ingram’s book, Effective Parenting in a Defective World:
“Examine society’s picture of parenthood carefully. It tries to convince us that the target of a good parent is to ensure their children have highly developed athletic prowess, refined social skills, and the best and most prestigious education, all of which should lead to greater upward mobility in life with greater opportunities, and of course, greater happiness. We can easily find ourselves bending over backward to make sure our kids never have a bad day and never lack any opportunity for success that might be out there. And the pressure’s on, because if we fail at any of these points—if we don’t work hard enough to earn enough money and rearrange our schedules to make enough time—we (and others) might feel as if we’ve done a bad job as parents.”
“I’ve got news for you. This is a dead-end street. The difference here is not simply a matter of parenting style; it’s a matter of distinguishing between your dream for your child and God’s dream for your child. Do you understand what you want to produce—or more importantly, what God wants for your kids? You have a tremendous opportunity to shape these vessels of the Holy Spirit and help them fulfill God’s calling. God has a plan for your children that will fit with His overarching purpose. What are you doing to set your children up for success as God defines it? You can’t hit the target until you know what the target looks like.”
Looking back over my parenting years, I can tell you forthright, that I didn’t always hit the bull’s eye while shaping the lives of our now adult children. From time to time, I allowed the things of this world, and the desires of the flesh, to redefine the bull’s eye. There were times when my target appeared blurred while I was preoccupied with raising “happy” children based on the world’s standards rather than on God’s holy principles clearly defined in the Bible. Thankfully, God granted me and my husband much grace as young Christian parents, and He also took the initiative to train and correct us as we learned to seek Him and his wisdom for raising our children.
It is my hope and prayer that every Christian parent will define their bull’s eye as Jesus, and that they will diligently pursue this aim, with God’s grace and wisdom, and by the power of His Holy Spirit.
The key to raising Christ-centered children is determined by how we, as parents, respond to God’s Holy Spirit in our own lives. I pray that parents will respond to God’s Holy Spirit by diligently shaping their children’s hearts to God’s desires, building their minds to think His thoughts, and acting in ways that will build His Kingdom.
There are so many good parenting principles to glean from Chip Ingram’s book, of which, I’ve only skimmed the surface in this blog entry. I encourage every parent to get a copy of Effective Parenting in a Defective World and possibly use the DVD study with other parents in a small group setting.
To order a copy, see below:
To help keep your family’s focus on Jesus, make a target similar to this one and attach it to your refrigerator as a visual reminder of your goal.
During evening meals, ask family members:
In what way(s) did you look more like Jesus today? Allow plenty of time for everyone to share—successes, and setbacks. Pray together as a family, asking God to help you grow in Christlikeness.
Example: I want to learn to be more kind to my siblings and friends. (Read Gal. 5:22, Eph. 4:32, 1 Peter 3:8-9, Col. 3:12)
Closing Thoughts: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”—Quote by Zig Ziglar
Instead, aim at Jesus, keeping Him and His kingdom in clear view, and diligently point your children in this direction every day.
A Brief Litmus Test
Do I typically “cave” when my child pleads with me to skip church when his/her sport’s activity falls on a Sunday?
Does my child observe me consistently reading my Bible and praying?
Do I tend to spend more money on my child’s favorite activities (movies, video games, sports, etc.) than I do on faith-based opportunities that will nurture my child’s spiritual growth? (Fundraising for a youth’s mission trip, purchase of a new Bible, saving for a mission trip, Christian music, Christian concerts, etc.)
Is it more important to me to help my child live for God and become like Christ, than it is to see my child grow up to become a successful athlete, musician, artist, or business person?
Did you know that if your highest goal is to raise children who love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind, they will possess the greatest potential for becoming successful in whatever God calls them to do or become?
Other useful Scriptures:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). – NIV
“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14). – NIV
And from The Voice Bible, Galatians 5:16-25:
“Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. For everything the flesh desires goes against the Spirit, and everything the Spirit desires goes against the flesh. There is a constant battle raging between them that prevents you from doing the good you want to do. But when you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.”
“ It’s clear that our flesh entices us into practicing some of its most heinous acts: participating in corrupt sexual relationships, impurity, unbridled lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, arguing, jealousy, anger, selfishness, contentiousness, division, envy of others’ good fortune, drunkenness, drunken revelry, and other shameful vices that plague humankind. I told you this clearly before, and I only tell you again so there is no room for confusion: those who give in to these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this. Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us.”
“Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let’s keep each step in perfect sync with God’s Spirit. This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.”
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.
The purpose of this weekly blog entry, titled: Building a Legacy of Faith, is to share practical and biblical ideas with parents/grandparents who are passionate about intentionally passing down their faith in Christ to their children/grandchildren. I would also like to receive other tried and true spiritual formation ideas from parents and grandparents. These may be sent to my email address at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and from time to time, I will publish some. Please mention in your email, consent to publish (with potential edits) of your submission.
Volume 1, Issue 2 (October 3, 2013)
Building a Legacy of Faith
2 Timothy 1:5
For parents who are passionate about passing down their faith in Christ to their children.
Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!
Summer has come to an end, but thankfully, here in the Mid-West, we are continuing to enjoy picture-perfect warm sunny days. The cooling off at dusk as daylight quickly dwindles, tells me that autumn has arrived. Even though I am more of a summer person, there’s something very captivating about fall. For me, it’s the changing colors of the leaves and bright orange pumpkins arriving on neighbors’ doorsteps, that draws me into the pleasantry of the season. Whether you have toddlers or teens, this is a great time of year to experience God’s amazing creation together as a family. Here are few suggestions:
♦ Take a Sunday afternoon drive into the country. Have everyone point out the “colors of fall” ranging from freshly cut cornstalks to blazing burnt-orange leaves. End up at a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard.
♦ Choose a day that offers a little breeze. Provide small containers for each family member. Find a location (a park, backyard), where there are plenty of trees. And as the breeze blows, chase the falling leaves, catching as many as possible. Award a small prize to the one who catches the most leaves. (Little ones can simply collect leaves from the ground.)
♦ Bake pumpkin pies or cookies and deliver them to someone who could use a sweet treat (a lonely neighbor, your pastor, a friend, a shut-in). Make a leaf-shaped card from construction paper and attach it to the treat.
After experiencing these intentional family fall moments, build in some extra time to discuss the process of dying and new life. Begin by talking about the changing seasons. For instance, summer is a time of vibrancy and life, which then surrenders itself to fall, when leaves on the trees die and fall away and many plants appear to die. Winter arrives and with it the frost and chill seem to halt all growth and life. Following winter, when it seemed as if everything had died away, spring comes forth. New life surrounds us. Daffodils, crocuses, and tulips begin to push through the once-frozen ground. The bare tree branches begin to show signs of new leaves. Talk about the New Life that is found in Jesus alone. Use these Scriptures, along with others to describe our new life in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:18; (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23); John 12:24; John 14:6
Recommended book for toddlers and preschoolers: The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs
Covenant Heirs 10/03/2013