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Tag Archives: Loving Others

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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Producing Empty Results?

Do you ever feel that your efforts are useless or produce empty results? I think we’ve all been there, right? It can happen at the workplace, in the home, on the golf course, or anywhere. We are all hardwired to achieve success when we set out to accomplish a task.

rosesMost recently, I diligently tried to revive my roses from all the damage they received due to a deluge of rain. To no avail, after spraying with anti-fungal product and mulching, etc., my roses still look pitiful, producing puny-looking blooms. Sometimes our best efforts result in poor or even empty results.

Obviously, producing beautiful fungi-free roses is not as crucial as raising spiritually healthy children. As much as I enjoy the beauty of a bountiful array of roses, my greatest joy comes from experiencing our children and grandchildren growing in the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD.

Sometimes my best efforts for transferring a strong faith in Jesus to my family ends up feeling empty, or at least less fruitful in my perception. For instance, this past year I started a drama/music ministry with our grandchildren. We named it Lights Shine Bright. They were excited to share their talents at nursing homes and churches. My grandeur plans also included presenting at a low-income children’s center. Seemingly, the door closed due to scheduling conflicts, and yes, I felt like my efforts came up empty. My desire is to see our grandchildren use their gifts and talents for the glory of the LORD, while sharing the love of Jesus with others.

cast netI’m pretty sure the Apostle Peter felt as though his efforts were futile while fishing all night without even getting a nibble. This miraculous fishing story is recorded in the Gospel of John (John 2:1-14): Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”

“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it) and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came ashore in the boat. They dragged in the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn.

“Come, have breakfast,” Jesus said to them. None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.

This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.

Take-aways from the truth of God’s Word

  1. Listen for God’s direction or leading in our lives, especially when our personal efforts seem empty.
  • Initially, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus on the shore. Then Jesus spoke these words: “Children, do you have any fish?”
  1. Follow God’s instructions. / Obey His commands.
  • After hearing His voice, the disciples followed these instructions: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

The outcome: “So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.”

  1. Recognize God when He draws near. “None of the disciples dared to ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.”

The disciples knew it was the LORD because they had spent three years developing an intimate relationship with Him.

The only way we can know it is the LORD is by spending time with Him. This happens primarily by…

Developing these spiritual disciplines:

  1. Reading the Bible
  2. Prayer
  3. Seeking God through quieting the noise of the world (Unplug!)
  4. Fellowship with other Christ followers
  5. Worship through a Bible-teaching/preaching church

These spiritual disciplines are more often caught than taught to our observing children and grandchildren. When is that last time your children/grandchildren caught you reading your Bible, kneeling next to your bed in prayer, turning off your cell phone while experiencing the beauty of God’s amazing creation (beginning with your family…sharing an uninterrupted meal together), worshiping together on the LORD’s Sabbath?

Remember, there are times God wants to redirect our efforts to reflect more of His holiness in our lives and within the lives around us. Our greatest need is to recognize the LORD in our midst rather than experiencing mere human successes.

lights shine bright

Lights Shine Bright

I’m praying to God and listening for Him to speak to me about our Lights Shine Bright ministry. One of my grandsons keeps asking me, “When are we going to do our program again?” Thus, I am exploring our options and watching for God to lead the way.

Thoughts and Scripture to ponder

God may be asking you to let go of your preferred “fishing” style and be ready to cast your net on the “right” side. Follow God’s direction and be amazed at the results you will “catch!”

“Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her” (Proverbs 8:10-11).

“Now then, my children, listen to me;
blessed are those who keep my ways.
Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it. Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 8:32-35).

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

The definition of insanity:

“Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

This quote is simply a reminder to stop repeating the same human efforts that continually produce empty results. Instead, listen to and follow the LORD’s direction, for He is the One who transforms the heart and produces a great catch.

For further study:

John 15:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; Mark 4:1-20

 

 

 
 

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The Sparkle Box

sparkle box picWith the busyness of the Christmas season, I was determined to read The Sparkle Box book to two of our grandchildren last night. I’ve read it to all our grands the past few years and each time it helps me to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of Christ and sharing the love of Jesus with others.

The story depicts a little boy, Sam, who anxiously wants to open the sparkle box that sits on the fireplace mantle. His mother tells him that they must first fill the box up before opening it on Christmas day.

Unknowingly to Sam, his mom begins writing down acts of love their family offers throughout the Christmas season and puts the slips of paper into the sparkle box. There are several, but not to give the whole story away, here’s the one that touches my heart (and the heart of our grandchildren) the most.

“Mittens and candy bar given to a man in need.”

While driving back home from dropping off some blankets and other items at the homeless shelter, Sam noticed a man curled up and lying on a park bench. Sam’s mom said, “That’s someone who might get one of our blankets.” A few days later, while shopping with his mother, Sam bought some mittens for the “mitten tree” at his school and a candy bar for himself. But as they were leaving the store, the man they had seen lying on the park bench entered the store. Immediately drawn to the tired-looking man, Sam ran by him sticking the gloves and the candy bar into the man’s hands as he and his mom left the store.

To read The Sparkle book online, you may go to this website https://www.thesparklebox.com/ It is free to read through December 31. 2018.

After finishing the book, our grandkids said that they would like to go by and visit their friends at the nursing care facility and take them some Christmas gifts. Emy recalled that her friend enjoys ceramics, so she said she’d like to buy her a paint set. And Max said he’d like to take his friend some sugar packets because his friend loves lots of sugar in his coffee.

lights shine brightOur grandchildren’s ministry, Lights Shine Bright, makes routine visits to a local nursing care facility. Each grandchild has been assigned a special friend who doesn’t receive many visitors. They (Lights Shine Bright) will present the Tale of Three Trees at the nursing care facility during the Christmas season.

I am thankful for the time God gifts to me, to intentionally spend time with our grandchildren, as we live out a love for Jesus and others.

Reading books to children and grandchildren can be a cherished memory. Our daughter started a Christmas tradition of reading 25 Christmas books with her children throughout the Advent season. One-a-day!

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2018 2: 01 pm - in Holiday Traditions

 

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Starfish Moment

Starfish Pic“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!” At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.” ― Loren Eiseley

This story was retold by our mission team director during our recent mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Sheila challenged us to look for our “starfish moment.”

While at the mission work site, Scot approached me and asked if I would go with him to visit a teen’s home.  Esmeralda proudly led us to her humble, yet lovely home. I was overcome with awe as we entered the home and greeted by four women, Esmeralda’s mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-aunt. Three of the women sat in beautifully hand-crafted rocking Rocker 1chairs. I quickly noticed a Bible lying on a shelf and asked Scot to hand it to me.  I had hoped to read Scripture until Scot said, “Isn’t that a Spanish Bible?”  Everyone smiled, and then the ladies all began singing hymns. After basking in the Lord’s presence for several moments, the women took us back outside to see their beautiful tropical garden. They were all extremely proud of a starfish-shaped blossom that had recently bloomed. This was definitely my starfish moment! With a simple invitation to visit her home, Esmeralda made a difference in my life. And out of all the other team members Scot could have asked to join him, he invited me.

This mission trip memory along with so many others will forever remind me of God’s amazing love for me and for each person He has created.

   Bench picRocker 2

Four generations

Intentionally Passing Down Your Faith in Christ –

Parents, grandparents, take time to challenge your children/grandchildren to look for God in the everyday moments of life. God makes Himself known to us. “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:19-20 NLT).

Encourage your children to tell about their God-moments (starfish moments) at the end of each day. This will help build their faith in the One True God.

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2015 2: 10 pm - in God Moments

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Boots…Am I in Style?

Boots…Am I in Style?

“3Do 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.

boot picPersonal Reflection:  Boots…..Everyone seems to have a stylish pair of boots, but me. Who doesn’t want to stay in style? Why have I even noticed that so many women are wearing fashionable boots? Is it because I am feeling a little envious of what others have, or is it because I just don’t want to be considered unfashionable? I’ve been searching my heart lately as these thoughts popped into my mind. I’ve come to the realization that I must not be alone in these thoughts. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many women wearing boots, right?  Then I think about the recent disaster that hit the Philippines, leaving potentially thousands dead and so many more missing and homeless. Why am I not much more concerned for those who are going through such horrific pain and suffering, than simply wasting my thoughts on boots, of all things!

*Note: About a year after writing this, my husband (Pappy) gave me a pair of brown boots for Christmas. My first internal thought,”Oh, I had hoped to go without getting a fashionable pair of boots.” Then I quickly felt delighted that Jeff had given me such a thoughtful gift. The following Christmas I bought myself a black pair.

While making a few edits of my original Covenant Heirs blog (to prepare for publishing a legacy book for my family), I re-read this blog. Personal conviction once again resonated. “Help me Lord, to set aside those things that deter me from pleasing you and make me look more like the world rather than my Jesus.” I don’t intend to be legalistic, but desire God’s wisdom in making eternal choices that reflect Jesus.

This brief personal reflection is a good place to contemplate what type of messages we are sending to our kids and grandkids. Consider these options.

Messages that reflect Christ and His love for others:

–   Praying for those who are hurting.

–   Donating nice or even better yet, new clothing to the Salvation Army or other compassionate ministry/organization.

–   Volunteering time serving those who are less fortunate.

–    Praising God and giving Him thanks for all the “things” we do have.

–    Sacrificially giving up something that I want, so that I can provide a need for someone else.

–    Spending time with someone who may be overlooked by others.

–     Inviting someone who is going through a difficult time over for a meal and conversation.

–     Replacing TV/computer time with family projects that will bless others.  Suggestions:

       + Call someone who you haven’t talked to for a while, just to let them know you care about them.  And, or: Write notes of encouragement and mail them to that special someone.

       + Bake some goodies for someone who needs cheering up.

       + Invite a neighbor(s) over to play table games.

        + Mow, rake, shovel snow, for someone who is physically unable to accomplish these tasks.

        + Visit an elderly care facility, and provide conversation, prayer, Bible reading, or whatever else, to brighten the hearts of those who are often overlooked. (I am reminded of a family who enjoys playing their instruments and singing for the elderly who are in nursing homes.)

So whether I choose to conform to the stylish pattern of this world and purchase a pair of fashionable boots or not is really not the real question.  The truer question I must answer: Am I willing to love others by giving up something that I “want” just because I wish to be in style? This isn’t even much of a sacrifice, is it? I really need to give up things that cost me something, such as my time. See below for a list of organizations where you and your family can volunteer time and resources.

Fill-a-Boot with Love  (Family Care Project)

Take an empty boot and begin filling it with loose change. Sacrifice money that would have been spent on a family pizza or family activity like bowling, and instead, add it to the boot collection.

In advance, designate a family care project such as: Purchase a new winter coat to donate to a homeless shelter, or purchase food for a Thanksgiving meal, to be given to a person or family who would not be able to purchase their own meal. When the boot is full, use this money to accomplish your family care project. Repeat the Fill-a-Boot with Love by designating a new family care project.

Organizations to donate time and resources to:

–  Salvation Army: https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org

–  Compassion International:  http://www.compassion.com/

–  Samaritans Purse: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/

–  Nazserve (Church of the Nazarene organization): https://serve.nazarene.org/serve/secure/Index.xhtml

Kansas City:

–  Kansas City Rescue Mission:  http://www.kcrm.org/

–  City Union Mission:  http://www.cityunionmission.org/

– Hope Faith Ministries:  http://www.hopefaithministries.org/

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2013 10: 51 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith

 

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