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Tag Archives: Serving God

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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