A Template to Thank God as a Family

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Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
He remembered us in our low estate. His love endures forever.
He freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1, 3, 24-26)

Psalm 136 provides a superb outline for a family prayer time that helps remind us to always “give thanks to the Lord.” As the psalmist does, family members can take turns stating a specific attribute, work or provision of God and pairing it with the refrain, “His love endures forever.” This can be done around a family meal, while riding in the car, or at a child’s bedside. You can make it fun by passing a ball or other item to the person who takes the next turn to thank God.

You can offer up thanks to God for his awesome character and power over nature, for specific family needs he has met, and for his goodness and grace to all people. Since every good gift comes from God (James 1:17), every good thing is in play.

Give thanks to the Lord, for another birthday. His love endures forever!

 

 

 

 

Is Your Love Light On?

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“Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” – 1 John 2:10-11

My love for Sue causes me to walk around in darkness. I’m natural ly an early riser, up before the sun and Sue. Sue hates light when she’s sleeping, even the smallest glow. We have a piece of masking tape over the kitchen microwave timer display to block the slightest emanation of light from reaching the bedroom. So, I make my way around the bedroom creating as few rays as possible.

Because I’m very familiar with the bedroom and take careful note of things out of place before bed, I’m relatively comfortable and have had very few stumbles over the years (like when our Labrador is off her bed).

But I hate walking in the dark in unfamiliar terrain. My first reaction is to turn on a light so I don’t stumble. God is love (1 John 4:8) and he is light (1 John 1:5). Therefore, love for our brother is the spiritual light bulb in our daily walk. It’s the power to our spiritual lamp.

By loving our brother and sister we eliminate within us any spiritual stumbling stones. If we don’t love our brothers and sisters, we’ve turned off the spiritual love light that allows us to see where we’re going. Unfortunately, this condition is very deceptive. Thinking we can still see quite well, we keep on walking, bumping around blindly in spiritual darkness.

If you seem to be stumbling in your relationships, check to see if your love light is on.

Learning the Empathy of Jesus 


“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

Even the sinless Son of God went through the experience of learning obedience through suffering.

The result for us was more than the Savior who offers the free and full forgiveness of our sins and a right relationship with God. Jesus’ journey in obedience also certified his amazing empathy with our weaknesses. His empathy gives us great confidence to access the very throne of God for mercy and grace.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 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 ‭4:15-16‬)

We all must learn the same obedience to God that produces empathy, grace and mercy for the weaknesses of others. Teach your children not to begrudge the suffering through which we learn to obey God and gain Christ-like empathy for others. 

Help for Putting Technology in Its Place at Home

“Parents today believe it is harder than ever to raise children. The number-one reason? Technology.”  (Barna)

I recently read Andy Crouch’s latest book, The Tech-Wise Family. I highly recommend it for every parent and grandparent. Barna’s research on technology’s impact on the family complements Crouch’s compelling guide for managing technology in our families.

Crouch lays out “ten commitments” that the “tech-wise family” can make to live a better life with technology. He summarizes how and why each of these commitments have worked (and sometimes haven’t worked so well) in his own family with his “Crouch Family Reality Checks.”

Every commitment challenged me personally is some way, even as an empty-nest grandparent. His thoughts on purposefully “shaping spaces” in the home and “structuring time,” to include sabbath rests, were especially beneficial.

This is a short book with lots of practical ideas to at least get you thinking about how to keep “technology in its proper place” at home.

Blessings,

Dave

 

Good Affliction?

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You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” – Genesis 50:20

I prefer to avoid affliction and pain of every kind. Yet, I type this with one hand due to a physical affliction I’m enduring as a result of a recent bicycle mishap. Pain and suffering are part of this fallen world.

Jesus said there is an enemy, a thief, who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) Therefore, we know there will always be affliction meant to harm us. But children of God must always look expectantly for our good and sovereign Father to reveal his good in trouble. In my current distress, the Psalmist has reminded me how affliction draws me closer to God’s word:

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” – Psalm 119:67

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” – Psalm 119:71

“I know, Lord, that your laws are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.” – Psalm 119:75

“Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.” – Psalm 119:143

Anything that causes me to obey, learn, know and delight more in God’s word, no matter my foe’s harmful intent, God has certainly “meant it for good.

Why Kids Should Keep Asking for More

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Children are generally pretty bold when it comes to asking their parents for things they want or need. We should teach them to have that same boldness in bringing their requests to God. Jesus taught us that we should not only ask but ask persistently–never giving up. (Luke 18:1-8)

God has given us an open invitation to ask him for anything that is good. In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)

God is good and holy; therefore, he cannot give us something that is evil or will lead us to sin. But he’s more than happy to give us ANYTHING that honors his name or is according to his will.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.(John 14:12-14)

How do we know what honors his name or is according to his will? His word tells us. Anything God’s word instructs us to do or be, we can ask for with boldness based on his authority and will. What about fear and anxiety? God’s word says, don’t be anxious or afraid. What about the troublesome classmate, neighbor or friend? God says to love our neighbor and our enemies. What about rest, peace and joy? God is in favor of those. Ask and keep asking. Asking is faith. God likes faith. Teach you children to keep asking for more.

 

Teaching Kids What is Good for Them 


“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change.” (James 1:17)

“In all things God works for the good of those who love him…. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:28-29)

Teaching children what is good and good for them is a formidable task. Every lesson about what is good should begin and end with God. He alone is good. He does and gives only good things, because his character is infinitely and absolutely good, impeccable and unchangeable. If good is found in anyone or anything, that’s God. In fact, in order to see good at all we must first see and know God.

It’s a tough task because sin has distorted our vision of God and what is truly good. As a result, God’s goodness is questioned and challenged. Actually, questioning God’s goodness is what ushered sin into the world to begin with (“Did God really say…?” Genesis 3:1-4).

In our sin-impaired view of God and good, we’re easily convinced that what is good for us is a life free from hardship and discomfort.

But what’s genuinely good in life comes from knowing and trusting the One who is good. God sent his Son as the ultimate good gift and to show us what is good for us–that we be “conformed” to be just like Jesus.

That’s what’s truly best for every child.