RSS

Category Archives: Serving Others

Manners Anyone?

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”           (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

The words “thank you” seem so simple, but they mean so much to the recipient. Thanksgiving would be a great opportunity to thank God for all the things we so often take for granted, and a good time to thank those who mean so much to us.

While growing up with my grandparents, I recall how they modeled good manners before me. My grandfather always opened the door for my grandmother and me when walking into stores. The basic “please” and “thank you” were a given, and I wasn’t allowed to have my elbows on the table while eating a meal. At our Thanksgiving dinner, everyone remained at the table until everyone was finished eating, and come to think of it, this was a normalcy at all our meals. I especially enjoyed the conversation that was seasoned with stories of days past (the good ‘ole days) and the thankful hearts expressed through prayer.

I recently heard a broadcast from Dr. Dobson’s Family Talk, “Teaching Girls to Be Ladies.” During the broadcast Dr. Dobson references the writings of the second President of the United States. Excerpt from the transcript: “He was not a perfect man (John Adams), but he lived by a standard of righteousness throughout his adult life. In his autobiography, Adams wrote a commentary on the subject of moral behavior, which he called “manners.” Though the language is formal and dated, I urge you to listen to these words carefully and thoughtfully. They carry great meaning for us today.”

Adams wrote, “From all that I read of history and government, of human life and manners, I have drawn this conclusion: that the manners of women are the most infallible barometer to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue in a nation. All that I’ve since read and all the observation I’ve made in different nations have confirmed me in this opinion. Manners of women are the surest criterion by which to determine whether a republican government is practicable in a nation or not. The foundations of national morality must be laid in private families. In vain are schools, academies and universities instituted if loose principles and licentious habits are not impressed upon children in their earliest years,” and this is the key sentence, “The mothers are the earliest and most important instructors of youth.”

Continued excerpt from the broadcast transcript, Teaching Girls to Be Ladies:

“Obviously human nature (refer to transcript for context) has not improved much in the past several hundred years, nor will it ever. What has changed, as I have described, is that many parents have become far too distracted, overworked and stressed out to care much about teaching morals and manners to their children. Jolene Savage, who runs the Social Graces School of Etiquette in Topeka, Kansas, says society has reached an all-time low when it comes to matters of civility. Exhausted moms and dads seem not to have noticed what has happened to their children. Clearly, instruction and civility is needed now more than ever. Getting that done, however, can be a challenge.”

Dr. Dobson also shares some personal stories of his parents modeling good manners, which are then reflected in how he treats his wife Shirley. There’s also a touching remembrance of Shirley teaching their children manners at a tea party.

To listen to or finish reading the transcript from this broadcast: https://www.drjamesdobson.org/Broadcasts/Broadcast?i=4b85e9b8-f243-4a4e-ab39-5945136e91e5

Now I’m not trying to single out girls/women in this post…it just happened to be an emphasis from the broadcast I listened to at the time I was formulating this post. I’d like to recommend two books authored by Dr. Dobson: “Bringing Up GIRLS” and “Bringing Up BOYS” These and many other family resources may be purchased at Dr. Dobson’s family talk Shop: https://direct.cornerstone.cc/FamilyTalk+Shop/category/featured

Does anyone drive with manners anymore? I totally get the whole “road rage” mentality, especially when you have people rushing around, feeling spent, and distracted by social media posts. The other day I made this confession to my book club friends. “I thought this lady was going to run into the back of my car while driving to work!” I was in the left “faster” lane, already going a little past the speed limit myself, and was trying to return to the right lane, but there was too much traffic. Somehow, the lady sped up and went around me and quickly threw her hands up in the air signaling for me to return to the slower right lane. I chuckled when she realized that we both had to slow down due to the wreck ahead of us, and we both crept along far below the speed limit.

My point is this, we are hurried people with little patience, resulting in less manners. Manners definitely need to be taught, but more importantly, they are caught by parents and other adults who model good manners. Think about it!

We had the opportunity to watch three of our grandchildren for fours days while their parents got away to intentionally renew their annual family household planning, which includes their family spiritual discipleship. (They began this ritual early in their marriage and continue to use this resource: (Making a Spiritual Discipleship Plan).https://covenantheirs.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/making-a-spiritual-discipleship-plan-new.pdf

Lights shine Bright

jack with ballWhile we enjoyed lots of play time during our grandchildren’s stay, we also made a visit to the local nursing home. Our grandchildren have made some special friends who rarely if ever have visitors. One sweet lady is close to 100. She kept telling the grands how good looking they were. All the children beamed as they said “thank you.”

Before returning to their home, my granddaughter repeatedly came up to me and said, “Thank you Nana, for all the great food (ice-cream, nightly of course!), and for all the fun we have had with you and Pappy.” During all our meals together, each child took turns praying, expressing their thankfulness to God in such humble and genuine ways.

With Christmas coming up quickly, I asked our daughter what her son had on his wish list. She said, “He told me that he doesn’t want anything because he got everything he wanted last year!” I’m thankful for his gratefulness and honest spirit.

Looking for a good holiday movie to watch? Here’s my recommendation: Christmas for a Dollar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqjTIOAZLrU

Advent begins Sunday, December 1, 2019 – There are lots of great family devotionals to use. Here’s one and where to purchase. Creative Communications: https://www.creativecommunications.com/

And from Family Life: The Twelve Names of Christmas Ornaments https://shop.familylife.com/p-3931-the-twelve-names-of-christmas-ornaments.aspx

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Teaching Children Biblical Stewardship Principles

In an age where we can get whatever we want with a click of a mouse on our devices, I think it’s important to teach our children good stewardship principles.

I’ll never forget what one of our daughters said to me shortly after she left for college. “Mom, I sure wish you would have taught me how to budget and manage finances.” Ouch! I guess that one just slipped by. No excuse, other than not being intentional in teaching this important life skill.

I suppose I merely assumed our kids would follow our example by working hard (my husband has always done whatever it takes to pay the bills and put food on our table), by setting aside our tithe (which was taught to us by a pastor who mentored us as young Christians), and to use our resources to help others. As I observe our adult children, I see how much of what we modeled has come to fruition. They are all dedicated workers and they care for the needs of others often above their own needs.

To say we modeled stewardship without any glitches would be inaccurate. There were some areas that we struggled with, especially as credit became a viable option over cash payments. I can still remember searching the house for some lunch money for our kids when we lived totally by faith and within our income. God always provided. Then, before leaving for Bible College in the early 90s, we started receiving credit card offers in the mail. And yes, we followed the status quo by opening and using the plastic cards. This eventually became more of curse than a blessing. Thankfully, God helped us navigate gracefully back to debt-free principles after some challenging circumstances. One of the resources that God has used to help us on this journey is Moneywise, https://moneywise.org/, a Christian ministry that helps people gain financial freedom by following biblical wisdom.

Okay, my conscience is clear. Now, onto the importance of teaching children stewardship principles.

Parents, grandparents, beware! The temptation to give your children and grandchildren everything their little/big hearts desire will come. Guard against this and be ready to say “no” to those things that may easily threaten the future God desires your child to have. One that is guided by His sovereign hand, to purpose what is good and pleasing to the LORD.

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

First Things First

Teach your children that God is the owner of everything.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).

In the beginning of Genesis, God clearly is the Creator of everything and puts Adam in the Garden to work it and to take care of it. In relationship to stewardship, man was created to work and to take care of God’s creation. We are caretakers and God is the owner.

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).

This is the fundamental principle of biblical stewardship. God owns everything, we are simply caretakers on his behalf.

The principle of responsibility

Nothing really belongs to us. God owns everything and we’re responsible for how we take care of what He entrusts to us. We are called as God’s stewards to manage that which belongs to Him. While God has graciously entrusted us with the care, development, and enjoyment of everything he owns as his stewards, we are responsible to follow His principles, will, and purposes.

Kids Learn How to Steward By Doing

I believe the first step in teaching stewardship to children is to teach them good work habits, which correlates to the financial responsibility of money and possessions.

Practical Stewarship for Kids

Assign specific chores (the principle of responsibility). This teaches good work ethic early. Explain to your children that everyone in the family has the responsibility of meeting personal needs and the needs of others. When children don’t have chores they can grow up with a sense of entitlement without responsibility. Unfortunately, we see this in our society today.

To give allowances or not? My personal thoughts on this: I believe kids should be assigned age-appropriate chores that they are responsible for just because they are in the family. For instance, making their beds, folding clothes, taking out the garbage, and helping with the dishes teaches children good stewardship, and it teaches them that taking care of the basic needs of life is what God expects from His children. On the other hand, I think it’s okay to assign children specific chores that they can earn an allowance for. Again, this reinforces a good work ethic and it is a good way to help children understand the precepts of earning money, giving money, saving money, and spending money.

Most recently…I shared with our daughter that I was working on this blog. It was interesting to hear about the ebs and flows of how teaching their children biblical stewardship is working for their family.

Money Jars

Several years ago, our daughter decided to begin teaching their three children biblical stewardship by using money jars. She decorated three jars and labeled them: Give, Save, Spend. Following God’s precept for giving, she has her children set aside the first 10% of their earnings from allowance money, gift money, and other earned money in their Give jar. This is then used to give God His tithe on Sunday mornings at their church. This teaches their children that God comes first and receives their first, not what is left over. The children also give some of their money to missions, as their family supports children who are less fortunate.

About a year ago, our daughter’s husband decided it would be advantagous for each child to have their own bank card (where their earned allowance money, etc. could be deposited and withdrawn as needed). This taking the place of their money jars. After using this method for a while, they’ve decided to return to the money jars, as it helps them visually track their monetary stewardship. At some point they will return to using bank cards when their children are ready to manage their own bank accounts.

During our conversation, we talked through the whole idea of giving children an allowance and the various ways this could happen. We soon shifted our thoughts toward the reason for teaching children how to manage their allowance and other received money. We agreed that the ultimate goal is not so much about teaching children how to manage money (although important) as it is to develop a Christlike character within the child’s heart. Christ is our example, and as we study the Scripture with our children, we see ways that Jesus taught his disciples to live selfless lives by serving and loving others with their time, talent, and resources. Studying the parables of Jesus is a good place to start. See suggested reading below (The Parables of Jesus and Suggested Scripture Reading).

Lead by example

Along with teaching our children to give, we should lead by example. Include your children when giving your time, talent, treasure/money to others. Pray together as a family and ask God to lead you to be a cheerful giver as you determine ways to shower others with what God has so richly blessed you with.

In their Save jars, our grandchildren choose to save their money for a special project, person in need, or for something they’ve had on their wish list.

The Spend jar is one that is used to teach their children that because God owns everything, we are to use our resources to honor Him, especially in our spending habits. My husband/pastor always says, “God is as interested in how we manage the 90% of our income as He is with the 10%…because how we manage the 90% is a better reflection on how we really perceive God as Owner of all.”

God is faithful…God never promises to meet all our wants, but He does promise to always be with us and He does provide for our needs as we trust in Him fully. Several years ago our daughter and family attended the church where my husband was the pastor. During this time I witnessed our daughter write out their tithe check faithfully. She said to me, “I don’t know how we are able to make it, but it always seems to work out.” Lesson learned: As we obey God, He is honored, and we are blessed. This doesn’t always mean that we will receive a financial blessing, but it does mean that our hearts will be at peace knowing that we’ve been obedient.

Prepare children to leave home

As a child becomes old enough, require that they get a job. This will help them budget both their money and their time. Make sure that their job, however, does not jeopardize school or church. While working at a grocery store during high school our daughter was being scheduled to work every Sunday morning. She and another worker brought their concern to their manager, stating that they desired to attend church and worshp with their families on Sunday mornings. The manager honored their request and changed their work schedule for this to happen.

Preparing your child to leave home is a process. One way to help your child succeed on their own is to have them pay for some of their actual needs, at age appropriate increments. Early on, the child could start by using some of their earned money to purchase pet food or their personal sport’s equipment. As they get older, prior to leaving home, the child could start purchasing their own personal toiletries, laundry detergent, gas for their car, etc. This latter thought rang true for our family when our children began working outside the home. They became responsible by paying for much of their car expenses, including some of their car insurance, and later worked during college to pay their living expenses. Lesson behind this. The more we spend unwisely, the less we have to pay for the necessities of life.

With Christmas nearing, one way to help children demonstrate their love for God is by using their money to purchase gifts for others. Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ offers a simple method of filling a shoebox with Christmas gifts for less fortunate children.

Parables of Jesus

Moneylender Forgives Unequal Debts. A parable concerning God’s gracious forgiveness and how little or much we love God by our actions (Luke 7:36-50).
The Rich Fool. A parable warning not to place material possessions above God (Luke 12:13-21).
Good Samaritan. A parable describing how God expects us to be neighborly to anyone that is in need and we have an opportunity to help (Luke 10:25-37).

Additional Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Peter 4:10-11, Proverbs 3:9

Resource Websites

MoneyWise: https://moneywise.org/

Crown Ministry: http://crown.org/ Resources for children and family: https://shop.crown.org/products.aspx?categoryid=55

Renewal Nation: (Offers resources that help children develop a Biblical Worldview.) https://www.renewanation.org/ Check out this resource: The Great Money Adventure — A Bible-based view of money AND a real-life experience of children starting their own business. https://www.renewanation.org/product-page/the-great-money-adventure

Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Raising Kids Who Serve

Taylor and kidsI want to introduce you to my guest blogger, Taylor Johnson. I met Taylor through the Internet as I was looking for a devotional resource to use with our family during our vacation. After discovering Taylor’s devotional: “Keeping God First While On Vacation,” I visited her website and quickly recognized Taylor’s exorbitant love for Jesus and her passion to instill a vibrant faith in Jesus into her children. In her own words: “He has grown a passion within me to sow seeds of faith into these precious kids living in my home. He has taught me that this is not just being a mother to my children, but a mother in Christ to them.” While Taylor intentionally disciples her children to love and serve Jesus, she also possesses a strong desire to come alongside of other parents by offering encouragement and resources that will help equip them to raise children to know and love God, reflect His character, and share His love with others. I hope that you will take time to learn more about this delightful and inspiring woman of faith and all the transformational-filled resources Taylor offers to parents through her website, Growing Kids for the Kingdom, growingkidsforthekingdom.com.

famdoorTaylor Johnson…

I have been married to my wonderful husband, Peter, for 16 years, and we have been blessed with an 8-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. I enjoy serving in my church’s preschool ministry, writing children’s ministry curriculum, and leading a neighborhood Bible club outreach for kids and teens called Lighthouse Community Outreach. I also enjoy spending quality time with my family. My passion is to encourage my own kids as well as other children to know and love God, be like Him in character, and to share His love with others. I enjoy sharing encouragement and resources on these topics on my website at growingkidsforthekingdom.com.

“I believe that God is doing a mighty work in the coming generation.  He is raising up a remnant who will follow Him wholeheartedly. We need to raise this next generation not to be casual Christians that go to church occasionally and are halfhearted about God, but Christians whose hearts are steadfast in the Lord.”

Raising Kids Who Serve 

“But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Joshua 22:5).

 As a very young mom, I remember feeling like I couldn’t serve because so much of my day was taken up by diapers, messes, and nap time rituals. Yet I deeply wanted to serve others and hoped that my kids would learn to serve others as well. As my kids grew a little older and more independent, I started finding ways to serve with them that wouldn’t conflict too much with our routine. One way was through a neighborhood Bible club I helped to start near our church. My 3-year-old daughter would join in with the kids and my 1-year-old son was usually on my hip while I led worship songs or taught the class. Serving in this way became a part of our lives, and I realized how thankful I was that they were learning to serve God at such a young age. Of course, there were times that they didn’t want to go, but they learned quickly that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their desires and that our family prioritizes serving others.

So why is it so important that we teach our kids to serve?

Serving is a huge part of becoming like Jesus. As the gospel of Mark states, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus also taught His disciples to serve by taking them with Him. In the same way, we can serve with our kids or grandkids to show them how to be like Jesus.

Serving others will help keep our young ones away from the world’s draw to consumerism and self-focus. Serving will help them live for God’s greatest commandments–to love Him and others!

Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). We live in such a hurting, broken world, and Jesus wants us to be His hands and feet to show love to those who are hurting. It is our calling as believers.

While serving others is a huge part of God’s plan, I believe it is one of the spiritual disciplines most lacking. Parents often read scripture, lead family devotions, and take their kids to church, but routinely serving with their kids is a lot less common.

There are many ways to teach our kids to have a servant’s heart. Here are some ideas to get you thinking in that direction.

How Can We Encourage Our Kids to Serve?

1. Serve family Members: One of the first ways to get our kids thinking about serving others is to have them practice serving their family. I have encouraged my kids to think of ways to serve each other, such as making a card for their brother’s birthday or doing a chore for a sibling. It’s a good habit to get our kids into and it builds strong friendships among siblings. “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” (Philippians 2:3-4).

2. Serve Friends: Teach your kids to serve their friends. I encourage my kids to be on the lookout for a friend who does not have someone to play with on the playground or sit with at lunch and include them. We talk about coming up to a new kid at church and helping friends when they are feeling sad. “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17).

Kids at door3. Serve Those in Need: Kids need to be taught how to help those in need with words and actions. Including your kids to bring a meal to a mom who just had a baby, visiting a sick church member, or even opening the door for an elderly woman at the store all create great opportunities to practice serving those in need. Some families may even like to take turns choosing a person they would like to all help as a family. Serving others in need allows for opportunities to talk about the importance of serving others and how we show God’s love and bring Him glory. “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

4. Use Their Gifts to Serve: God gives us all different gifts and talents, and it’s fun toMagic Tricks figure out what gifts your child might have as they grow and mature. My daughter likes little kids, so encouraging her to read to a younger child at our neighborhood ministry is a great way to encourage her in her natural gifting. My son is an entertainer, so we have him bring some of his magic tricks to our neighborhood Bible club so he can perform for the kids before we start. Helping your child discover her or his gifts and then talking about ways they can use them for God’s glory is another great way to encourage them to serve others. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

5. Focus on the Gospel: More than meeting physical needs, we are called to meet people’s spiritual needs and share the hope we have in Jesus with others.

We can teach our children to be proud of the gospel–encouraging them to want to share about Jesus with others. We can model this by being bold ourselves when talking about Jesus to others. We can talk to people we meet at stores or with our waiters and ask how we can pray for them. Our family is trying to do this more, and it often surprises me how open people will be when they see you sincerely care to pray for them. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Another way to share the gospel is to go on family mission trips together. This is something we plan to do as a family. It will cultivate a heart in the next generation to continue to bring the gospel to those around the world. He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).

Serving others is one of our greatest privileges as believers. When we take the time to do so, it fills us with lasting joy and stores up for ourselves treasures in Heaven. Serving with our children and grandchildren will reap even more blessings as we pass down the desire to share God’s love with the next generation.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Taylor and kids race“Our family loves participating in walks for orphans and those in poverty. My daughter is a gifted runner, so it’s a great way for her to use that gift for God’s glory.”

 

setting up chairs                              Setting up chairs for our neighborhood Bible club.

GrowingKidsfortheKingdom_COLOREDgrowingkidsforthekingdom.com

 

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,