Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ripe for harvest

In John 4 there's a story of Jesus meeting a stranger. He crosses paths with a woman he's never met before. Culturally, he should have kept his distance. Instead he initiates a discussion, and the second thing out of his mouth turned their conversation to spiritual things.

At the end of their five minute talk, she is so convinced that Jesus is the Savior that she goes and tells the entire town about Jesus.

Jesus leaves two days later. Remaining behind is an entire group of people that now believe Jesus is the Savior.

What if that wasn't just a story of what Jesus did? What if it was a guide for what followers of Jesus should do today?

Over the last couple of months I've been trained to engage and disciple people that are far from God. I've seen it work, even among total strangers. I'm convinced Jesus left an example for us to follow.

Would you like that training? It's a 3 meeting commitment, about an hour and a half each time.

Let me know.
You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. - John 4:35

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dusting off the blog...

I'm working on a re-launch of my blog.  That may happen in the next 2 weeks, 2 months (or 2 years!)

(Spoiler alert: It's not a blog about nothing anymore.)

Now's your chance to unsubscribe! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Getting God's Word into our Home

I’m always on the lookout for different ways to make God’s Word a centerpiece in our home. When I’m at a friend’s house and I see a children’s Bible I’ve never read before, I sit down and flip through it to see if it’s any good (usually without asking!). I do the same thing for kids devotionals. I want to find great Bibles and great devotionals that help my kids get into God’s word. One of my recent finds is Seeds Family Worship (www.seedsfamilyworship.com). Seeds is a music ministry that puts the Bible to music. It's quickly becoming a favorite at our house.
     I know what you’re thinking (because I thought the same thing when my wife told me): Forcing a tune onto a Bible verse usually doesn’t work out. But when I gave Seeds a listen, I was pleasantly surprised! Far from being annoying, lame, or trying too hard, Seeds puts the Bible to music with creativity and quality.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THEIR VIDEO FOR "THE GOOD SONG (PSALM 34:10)."

     Besides being decent music, the main reason I was sold on Seeds Family Worship was that it helped our family memorize Scripture. Nothing gets stuck in your head like a good song lyric, and since Seeds’ lyrics are taken directly from the Bible, it’s a win-win! My three-year-old quoted Philippians 4:6-7 in it's entirety: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition present your requests to God.” 
     The Seeds Family Worship website has a blog with continuing encouragement to memorize God’s word, and inspiring parenting and family posts from time to time. I found one article about how to prioritize family relationships during the busy times that particularlly impacted me."When Time Is a Four Letter Word," written by Sarah Patrick, comes from the perspective of a family where the husband travels extensively for work. Even though my family situation is different, there are many good take-aways for all of us who find ourselves in a crazy, hectic schedule. I appreciated the reminders to put Jesus first, be friends, and communicate as much as possible.
 
I wrote this, my friend and co-worker Kyle Hill improved it, and it originally appeared on the COCUSA Blog.  You can find it and more cool posts about parenting at www.cocusa.org/blog

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Discipline and Celebration

There's tension in my house. I try to navigate it every day with my kids, but it's tough to balance. I want my kids to grow to know, love, and live like Jesus, but I sometimes that seems like an unattainable goal. In parenting them to live like Christ, I've found two contrasting areas that are an especially difficult challenge: Discipline & Celebration.
DISCIPLINE
     Discipline is a skill that every parent learns along the way - no one comes by it naturally. All kids need to be corrected, and it's amazing to me how young kids are when they start to exhibit acts of defiance and selfishness. Without correction (and sometimes even with it!), that defiance can grow into full-blown tantrums and fits. As parents, we're tempted to choose 1 of 2 extreme responses. We can swing to one side by hesitating to correct our children at all. We let them run the show and just try to make ‘suggestions’ to their behavior. We can swing the other way and become an ultra-authoritarian ("You do what I say or else!”). This can border on tyrannical if done without compassion or restraint. Neither of these extremes is a good option because neither one points kids to Jesus.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you point kids to Jesus in correction:

Check Your Motives.

     Are you wanting to "drop the hammer” because you're angry? Are you avoiding disciplining your child because it’s too hard? We need to make sure our motivation is to help our kids become more like Jesus. If we do, we’ll avoid both correcting in anger and not correcting at all.

Connect Your Discipline To God's Word.

     Children need to know the reason behind discipline. Never correct your kids without teaching them how to behave in light of God's Word. Help them to see not just what they did wrong, but what they can do right next time. Share a verse or passage of scripture that teaches them how God wants them to behave.

Right The Wrong.

     Give your children the opportunity to apologize and make amends. For young kids, you might need to walk them through what to say and what to do. For older children, remind them they should make things right and give them a chance to act. This is also a great moment to teach the other person how to show forgiveness and unconditional love.

Include Consequences. 

     If there aren't consequences involved in discipline, it isn’t much more than a conversation. Far from being cruel, providing an age appropriate consequence teaches kids that their negative actions can bring negative results. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening - it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."

CELEBRATION

     The other side of the coin is celebrating your kids' good behavior. Surprisingly, this is also a difficult time to point kids to Jesus. If your kid does something awesome - like great work on a school assignment or helping a sibling without being asked - it's far too easy to simply say “Good job! I’m really proud of you.” What’s wrong with complimenting your child? Nothing in and of itself. But if you never go any further and point to Jesus in your compliments, it opens the door to selfishness, pride, and behavior that's motivated by people-pleasing and not serving God.
     Changing our compliments to things like: “That was awesome, I love it when you live out your faith in Jesus by…” or “Great job winning that race, God has certainly gifted you.” Small tweaks to our compliments keep everyone's focus in the right place.
     In discipline, in celebration, and in every situation, we must remember to point to Jesus in our words, actions, and attitudes.

I wrote this, my friend and co-worker Kyle Hill improved it, and it originally appeared on the COCUSA Blog.  You can find it and more cool posts about parenting at www.cocusa.org/blog