Is it Time to Lead Your Family to Church?

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It’s time for our children to be in church.”

As a children’s pastor, these are the words I hear regularly from parents who are starting (or starting again) to come to church.

Of course, this is a good thing. Many of these parents grew up in church and, for various reasons, drifted away when they left home for the adult life. Once we have children of our own, they have a way of helping us appreciate our need and their need for God.

Yet, leading children regularly to church takes time and effort. Something else must be forfeited. When I think about the struggle of exchanging that something else to be at church, I often think of Jesus’ words:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” – Matthew 16:24-27

Following Jesus will cost us something else in this life. And that cost is always worth the sacrifice. Leading our children to deny some things that are temporary and fleeting in exchange for that which lasts forever should be a no-brainier. Yet, the struggle for the souls of our children is real. The world is a distracting place with seemingly lots to offer. However, Jesus reminds us that it’s here today, but it’ll be gone tomorrow.

There’s nothing the world has that’s worth a soul. Is it time to lead your family to church?

Blessings,

Dave

Christmas: The Same Old Thing

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The world around us is always changing. Even our celebration of Christmas as a holiday has evolved over the years. Yet, the truth of God’s Christmas message never varies. Kids need to know that.

A few decades after Jesus’ resurrection, the apostle John, who was one of the three closest followers of Jesus during his earthly ministry, wrote to Christian friends (1 John and 2 John). John was concerned with false teachers who were trying to alter the truth about Jesus with a new, progressive message.

He reminded the church that the original message they received about Jesus remains unchanged. He didn’t have a new or updated word for them, as the false teachers claimed to have access to (and many have claimed for centuries). John repeated the same indispensable message they had received from the start. It’s the 2-fold truth that Jesus proved to John and others who were with him: Jesus is the Son of God, who became flesh and blood; and love is our ultimate ethic and command in obeying God (2 John 5-9). There’s nothing new to be told here.

The truth of the Christmas message is just as unchanged 2,000 years later, because it’s the same enduring truth that God planned before the beginning of time (Ephesians 1:4). Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, came to earth, as a man, to save us from our sins and the eternal death penalty that sin brings.

Christmas is a good time to remind our children that God’s truth and love for us in Jesus Christ can never change.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” – 1 John 5:12

Is God Listening To Me?

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“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” – Psalm 18:6

Sometimes we struggle to even know if God is listening to us, let alone try to explain to our children that he listens to them. We have three primary sources of assurance that God hears us when we pray:

  • God’s Word. The Psalms are a particularly rich source of both desperate prayers and joyful praises for God’s listening and responsive ear. See Psalm 28.
  • Other Christians. The Bible is full of examples of godly men who trusted and proved that God was listening and that he does respond. We also benefit from hearing the testimonies of fellow believers, past and present, as they share of God’s response to their prayers.
  • Ourselves. We should be purposeful in recognizing when God has answered our prayers. We tend to forget how God met a past need, as we quickly move on to our next concern. I have made a practice in the past several years of typing out some of my prayers in a journal so that I can go back and highlight all the ways God has responded.

God is our Heavenly Father. He is listening. What are some other ways to teach your children that God is listening?

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

 

What World are Our Children From?

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See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.1 John 3:1-3

One of the great truths of the gospel is that someday every child of God will get to see and live with King Jesus, in his kingdom, forever. This expectation reminds us of three important points to teach our children about living in this world:

Our True LOVE is not from this World. We have been given the Father’s great love. The measure of God’s love that makes us his children through his Son is astonishing and beyond anything this world has.

Our True HOME is not of this World.  Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). The Father’s amazing love has made us citizens of heaven and foreigners to this world (Philippians 3:20).

Our True HOPE is not in this World. There’s a lot about the future that God has not explained to us. But we do know that someday we will see King Jesus. And when we see him, we will become like him!

The expectation of seeing Jesus should affect the way we live out our lives, in the world and not of the world. As God’s children, we should be preparing ourselves to see our King, who’s great love saves us forever. This broken world is a temporary stopover for us, as we anticipate our future home in God’s kingdom.

Kids Know Where Our Treasure Is

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“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21

I recall hearing the humorous story years ago about a minister’s visit to a family’s home. As he sat down with the family, mom told her little daughter, “Go get the book that your mom loves so much.” Her daughter ran off and quickly returned with the Sears catalog.

Kids know where our treasure is because our heart shows them where it is. The things we truly treasure and store up tend to take priority with our time and attention. Jesus said:

“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

Jesus taught that the best investment we can make is in his kingdom. The treasures we store up there will last forever and can never be taken from us.

Where would your children or grandchildren say your treasure is?

Kids Should See Their Church as Family

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Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. – Hebrews 2:11

Kids should learn to see their church as their family. That’s what the Church that Christ established is. The Son of God, came to save us and make us his family

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”  – John 1:12

Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:17

All who are in Christ are children of God. We’re brothers and sisters of God’s Son. We get to share in the unending inheritance that God has reserved for Jesus. And it’s a really big inheritance, too! (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Jesus refers to God as Father 150 times in the Gospels and teaches us to refer to him as our Father, also. (Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:32)

Jesus made our church a family to work together as we live for him. Every child of God has an important role and place in our Heavenly Father’s family.

For as in one body (family) we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body (family) in Christ, and individually members one of another. —Romans 12:4-5

Teach and show your children that their church is part of their forever family, because of Jesus.

 

3 Sincere and Persistent Prayers for Calloused Relationships

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“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” –Psalm 119:140

God’s Word is his bond. If he calls us to obey his Word, then he will certainly help us when we ask, sincerely and persistently. Sincerely means I’m willing to do my part. Restoring hardened hearts requires us to pray and obey persistently, because they rarely get that way overnight.

Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. –Psalm 88:1

 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. –Hebrews 4:16

Here are three verses from God’s Word to pray and obey, sincerely and persistently, for a calloused relationship:

1. “I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”Ezekiel 36:26

Pray that God will give you a heart of flesh and begin looking for ways to act on it. God can turn your stone-cold heart into a warm-soft heart, if you sincerely repent and turn humbly to God.

Search and destroy your pride. In a hardened relationship, pride is present.

“Where there is strife, there is pride.” – Proverbs 13:10

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – Proverbs 16:5

2. “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” –Matthew 6:14

Pray that God will help you forgive. Forgiving others is not an option for the child of God. Jesus told a chilling story about how God views our unwillingness to forgive others, considering what he has forgiven us (Matthew 18:21-35). God is for forgiving others. You can boldly ask him for it.

3. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other.” –1 Thessalonians 3:12

Pray that God will make your love increase and overflow for the one you’ve hardened against.  God is love, and anyone who knows God loves. (1 John 4:7-8). God will help you love sincerely if you ask him sincerely and begin to act upon it.

Whenever we ask God to do something in our lives, we need to be prepared to act in obedience. Don’t expect to pray a couple times to heal a relationship that has been hardened by weeks, months, or years of pride and bitterness. Pray and obey, sincerely and persistently.