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Tag Archives: Growing Kids for the Kingdom

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

 

 

 
 

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Keeping God First While On Vacation

For the past three years our family has vacationed together in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Two grandparents –us (Pappy and Nana), our two daughters and their families, including our six grandchildren. Each year we’ve made many special memories. The grands all agree that tubing on the lake is their favorite. This year we had the opportunity to rent a boat for the week, so it was one big splash after another.

Each year Jeff and I intentionally prepare for the spiritual emphases. Since we are at the lake over a Sunday, Jeff (Pastor Pappy) shares a special message and serves our family Holy Communion. It is such a precious time. This year’s message was about David and how he was an unlikely candidate to take down Goliath (but he did…with just a slingshot and a stone), or to become a king, being a simple shepherd boy, the youngest of eight sons (but God chose David to reign over Israel for forty years).

Jeff told our grandchildren that God has a special plan for each of our lives, and that God wants to use our unique qualities and abilities to honor Him and to help build His eternal Kingdom. In conclusion, Jeff singled out our youngest and shortest grandchild (Jocelyn), illustrating how God looks at the heart and not our outward appearance. “So, whether young, old, short, or tall, when God calls us to serve Him, He also equips us and helps us overcome obstacles that attempt to thwart His plan and purpose in our lives.”

Desiring to keep our family God-focused throughout our vacation week, I thought it would be helpful to share devotions. Knowing I had only a couple weeks to prepare, I initially thought of grabbing a faithful devotional book from our library, but then God directed me to google the Internet. Sitting behind my computer I began the search and within minutes I landed on: Keeping God First While On Vacation. As I felt my heart resonate with this title, I opened the link and it took me to this site: Growing Kids For The Kingdom (https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/) and to the post, Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional.

I emailed the author, Taylor Johnson, requesting a copy of the devotional and she quickly replied, attaching a copy to the email. After reading through the devotional I knew it was for our us. The devotions are perfect in quantity and content. (A total of five, counting the preparation and follow-up devotions.) This is especially true when you have younger children in your family. More lengthy devotions may not hold their attention. Plus, there’s plenty of Scripture to read and elaborate on as the Holy Spirit directs.

Prior to our departure, I emailed copies of the first devotion to our family members and suggested that they go over The Before You Leave: Preparing Your Hearts section. Jeff and I read this section together and I asked Taylor to help us pray for God’s guidance. She eagerly agreed, and we are thankful for her prayers and for her vacation devotional.

Here’s how God answered our prayers!

Knowing everyone would be anxious to begin their play each day, I knew I must follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. He impressed upon me to be flexible with the time of day to share the devotions. (This goes totally against my nature, as I like to have all my ducks in a row). I’m so thankful I listened and heeded to the Holy Spirit’s instruction.

Monday morning arrived and several family members were already at the boat dock, leaving a few of us to begin eating breakfast. Unsure of when everyone would be together at the same time, I chose to share Vacation Day 1 – Loving God and His Creation. After reading the entirety of Psalm 104, I asked everyone to look for ways God shows His love through creation. Soon after, I brought the remaining family members up to speed on our devotion for the day. Later that evening our family all came together to celebrate my birthday. Following this very special time, I asked if there was anyone who would like to share our family devotion for Wednesday? Not expecting this at all, our ten-year-old grandson Jack immediately said, “I will!” With no reservations, I handed him a copy of the devotion.

After my sweet birthday celebration, we were visited by a four-legged fury friend…a small beady-eyed raccoon. Our grandkids affectionately named him Ronnie, and of course, they left a plate of goodies on the deck to ensure his return visits. Everyone agreed Ronnie showed us God’s love and vice versa.

Early Wednesday afternoon, I caught Jack sitting on the deck with my Bible opened. He had asked me the day before to use my Bible so he could begin preparing for our devotion and to mark the Scriptures. He didn’t know I spotted him on the deck, so I quickly snapped a photo of him for memory sake.

Wednesday evening our family gathered together while Jack led us in Vacation Day 2 – Being like Christ in Character. I was so blessed by his preparation and leadership. After reading the suggested Scripture, Jack instructed us to talk about the various character traits and challenged us to live these out during our vacation. Following our devotion, Jack’s sister, Julia, confidently said “I’d like to do the next devotion.” “Can I?” I said “Sure!” Julia’s parents reminded her that she would have to take time to prepare. No problem!

On Thursday, we visited the beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens. This turned out to be a delight for all. We experienced so much of God’s marvelous creation. George, the resident male peacock greeted us at the entrance. George was thrilled when we fed him some almonds. We saw lizards, snakes, fish, bugs, waterfalls, and trails leading to a gigantic tree house, a crawdad waterhole with beach balls, and a wrong turn leading us to a beautiful lake view. Here we captured the beauty of the moment.

Friday quickly arrived and I thought maybe we should have our family devotions in the morning, but no, God had other plans. Again, trying hard to be flexible, I followed the Holy Spirit’s leading. After much play on the lake, fishing, boating, and just having fun together, my precious Julia (eight years old) approached me and asked if I would help her prepare for our devotion. My heart leapt with joy as I sat down with her at the table as she read through the suggested Scripture, and we talked through the discussion questions.

Knowing in advance we would face some opposition from the enemy to keep our family from having devotions together, I began to pray for the evening. God was honored when all family members and a family friend listened intently as Julia read the Scripture and led us in Vacation Day 3 – Sharing God’s Love With Others. It was such a tender and Spirit led time. After sharing how we had shown love towards each other during our vacation and ideas for sharing God’s love with others, Julia asked us all to pray. She specifically called out each of our names to let us know when it was our turn to pray. At the conclusion, Julia asked for prayer requests. There were several and as she closed our time in prayer, Julia recalled each request and prayed for them. I knew Jesus was in our midst. What a glorious moment! Our Julia has expressed interest in becoming a missionary. I’m sure God is pleased and will guide and direct her life, along with all our family, as they trust in Him and strive to keep Him first in their lives.

Throughout our vacation week, the Holy Spirit was faithful to remind us of our devotional time together. While trying to decide on where to eat lunch one day, several family members paused to allow differing ideas, demonstrating the Christlike Character of kindness. Another time, I overheard a grandchild say, “Let’s remember to show the love of Jesus.” And parents who praised God and thanked Him for the beauty of His creation; demonstrated by stopping to examine an unusual looking bug, and a dad taking his family on an intentionally planned hike by a creek.

The memories we’ve made on our family vacations are all very special and will remain in our hearts a lifetime. But by far, the greatest memories that I will cherish above all are those of our grandchildren growing closer to God through His love, His Word, and through His creation.

I personally want to thank Taylor Johnson for providing such a wonderful resource for our family to use while on our vacation. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I highly recommend Keeping God First While On Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional. To read about this devotional and to learn more about the Growing Kids for the Kingdom ministry, you may click on the following links:

Growing Kids For The Kingdom: https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/

Keeping God First while on Vacation: A Family Vacation Devotional https://www.growingkidsforthekingdom.com/keeping-god-first-while-on-vacation-a-family-vacation-devotional/

Creation Vacation by Covenant Heirs: https://covenantheirs.org/2017/09/22/creation-vacation/

And for further study:

What does it mean that God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Article by Got Questions Ministry. https://www.gotquestions.org/God-looks-at-the-heart.html

Disclaimer: Covenant Heirs Ministry recommends this article but does not necessarily endorse all the content found on the God Questions website.

 

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