A Sincere Faith

A Sincere Faith

 A Sincere Faith | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 32

Today’s Reading: 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 2 Timothy 1:5

I looked at our family genealogy tree, tracing the branches and limbs from generation to generation. I stopped at a large limb with the names of my parents written in bold black ink and in smaller letters, written on thin branches growing from the limb, are the names of their four children, my siblings and me.

My parents modeled a strong faith in the Lord and loved the words in God’s book, taking great delight in reading and thinking about it throughout the day, so much so that God’s words became their language in conversation with us. They demonstrated to us what a sincere faith looks like, not only in how they lived but the way they taught us kids. This is a beautiful legacy to pass on through generation to generation! The roots of my parent’s genealogy tree are spreading out wide and growing deeper into a better story of trusting God.

It’s a beautiful thing to look at our own genealogy tree become deeply rooted in Christ and growing strong limbs of faith…our children. It’s an amazing thing to add small branches, our grandchildren, growing from those limbs and to imagine more grand and glorious trees with roots spreading out wide and growing deeper into a better story of faith in God.

I love that my children are able to talk about the genuine and sincere faith that they remember about their grandmother, my mom and the conversations they continue to have with my husband’s mom. I’m so thankful for the legacy our children have…for all of those conversations that were and are seasoned with grace and the fragrance of Christ.

It is a beautiful gift to watch our tree grow stronger, to add little branches of faith sprouting from those limbs.

A Sincere Faith 1 About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Planting and Watering Little Sprouts of Faith

Growing 2

Planting and Watering Little Sprouts of Faith | Gift 25 | 40 Gifts of Lent 

Reflections on I Corinthians 1 – 8

It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow  I Corinthians 3: 6 – 7 (MSG)

I finally have a garden. It has taken several years of nurturing the soil and ridding the ground of overbearing thistles with prickly thorns and tap roots very difficult to pull up out of the ground. I had to work hard and steady week after week, staying focused on the vision I had for the garden, to prepare the soil for new growth. Seeing the fruit of my hard work is quite rewarding, seeing God’s handiwork in every glorious bloom.

I Corinthians 3: 6-7 is another gift of hope that I treasure because I am reminded how faithful God has been to our family. There were months and years when our children looked like they were growing thorny thistles with a tap-root trying to choke their faith. My husband and I fought against the fatigue of constantly pulling out the weeds in their lives, turning over the soil once more and planting seeds once again…not to lose sight of the vision we had for our children to produce a righteous fruit, to grow and thrive in their faith in God, by grace alone.

Parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do and the more you love your kids, the harder it is. You already realize how much time is involved with planting truth into your kids and to continually fuel their faith but have you considered how much prayer is vital to their spiritual growth?

In the book, Praying Circles Around Your Children, author Mark Batterson exhorts us with a metaphor of praying circles around our children. It simply means “to pray without ceasing.” It’s praying until God answers. It’s praying with more intensity, more tenacity. It’s not just praying for, it’s praying through. [1] That’s when you’ll see the thistles and tap roots of sin in your children’s life replaced with new life mirroring Christ. It’s a beautiful garden!

Praying for our kids strengthened our resolve to stay focused on the vision for them. With your physical eyes, you see who a person is. With your spiritual eyes you see what a person can be. [1]

What vision do you have for your children? What does the garden look like in your home? Planting and watering is knowing your children and knowing scripture so that you can train them in the way they should go. Pray that they won’t just survive but pray that they will thrive. [1] Your family garden will thrive when you saturate your life with God’s word. Read God’s book so you will know what to teach your children and what to pray for your children.

Don’t just pray for them, pray with them. Praying for your kids is like taking them for a ride; praying with your kids is like teaching them to drive. [1] Repeat words from God’s book to your children. Pray those words together. Repeat them over and over again. Your prayer is for your children to use God’s word as their GPS to guide their way.

I remember the exciting days watching our children grow strong in their love for God and the exciting day when they became the drivers of their own children’s faith. Planting and watering little sprouts of faith in the tender hearts of their daughters and young sons.

The effect of planting is faith. The effect of watering is faith. But the decisive cause of faith — the life and growth of little sprouts of faith — is not planting and watering, but God.

 Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children.  (Lamentations 2:19)

Growing

[1] Praying Circles Around Your Children by Mark Batterson 

 

The Saturday Assortment #4

The Saturday Assortment

The Saturday Assortment is a collection of unrelated and random things that I find interesting, challenging, motivating and sometimes quite out of the ordinary. It’s an assortment of things that caught my attention throughout the week. I bet you will find them equally engaging.  Enjoy!

This issue of The Saturday Assortment focuses on children with special needs and the families that love them. (so many children and so many families.) 

Watch this! You will be inspired! You will be proud. I am passionate about ministry to children with special needs. I wish every church would consider how they can become an inclusive church for all families, and in doing so, it will require children’s ministry to change and grow in a new-right direction. And you will not regret the effort. It is so worth it! Listen closely  to what Conner says. Perhaps his words will motivate you to consider how your church can become an inclusive church for children with special needs.

Speaking of an inclusive church, please check out this website to discover a plethora of information about ministry to children to with special needs.  The Inclusive Church blog is packed with resources, practical application, insightful solutions that will surely encourage and inspire.

A very personal journey about a family that thrives on God’s grace, is devoted to family, has ventured on the journey of adoption, passionate about special needs, and brings it home to all of us wanting to know more. Go to: Dinglefest.

Snappin’ Ministries is “a nationwide support network for parents of children with special needs. Their mission is to support and encourage those living with the daily challenge of parenting a special needs child, so that they may experience the genuine love and hope of Jesus in their everyday lives.”

Noah’s Dad writes about his son, Noah that has Down’s Syndrome. This is more than a personal life story, there is information helpful for families and ministry leaders.

The Saturday Assortment

The Saturday Assortment

The Saturday Assortment is a collection of unrelated and random things that I find interesting, challenging, motivating and sometimes quite out of the ordinary. It’s an assortment of things that caught my attention this week on the web. I bet you will find them equally engaging. There are no affiliate links–if you click-through and buy a book that is referenced, I don’t earn a dime. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: the video or advertisements below this post are not from me but are built into the WordPress site. These ads are shown on mobile devices.

Doing Something Everyday Is Hard: What does everyday mean to you? It doesn’t mean, “If you have time” or “When you get around to it.” Everyday means every single day with fail or excuse. via Time Management Ninja

What’s the secret to longevity in leadership?   A challenge not to “flame out” as a leader. Here’s the truth: Only a few people in each generation become long-term leaders in their field of expertise. What is your story? Here are four ways to peak as a leader.

“My encouragement to you would simply be this. Be patient. The Lord has given you a gift for the building up of the body of Christ. He did not give it to you so that you would sit on it your entire life. Just be patient. When He’s ready, He’ll open the door.” ~The Village Church ❘  Titus, Part One

How to Guard Sabbath for Your Children: Because time is our most limited resource, how we allocate it reveals much about our hearts. A “Family Equipping” article at its best!

The Saturday Assortment

The Saturday Assortment

The Saturday Assortment is a collection of unrelated and random things that I find interesting, challenging, motivating and sometimes quite out of the ordinary. It’s an assortment of things that caught my attention throughout the week. I bet you will find them equally engaging.  Enjoy!

The Power of Focus Most People Miss: “About a decade ago, a colleague said something to me that I haven’t been able to get our of my head. ‘What you focus on expands.‘”

Enough Time is a short story taken from the book, More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity by Jeff Shinabarger, founder of Plywood People. In More or Less, Jeff Shinabarger calls readers to create their own social experiments to answer the question, “What is enough?” Through more than 50 stories, readers will be challenged to change their worldview, change their habits and live a life of less, so others can have more.

Two books for families to read: 

Princes Poison Cup

The Prince’s Poison Cup Dr. R. C. Sproul continues his series of books designed to present deep biblical truths to children on their own level. In this work, he focuses in on the atonement to show that Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people.

The Priest With Dirty Clothes

In this new edition of his classic story, The Priest with Dirty Clothes, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his project of illustrating theological concepts for children. In this book, he teaches the concept of imputation, which lies at the heart of the important biblical doctrine of justification.

 

Be Persistent

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

I recently bought the devotional book, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones to give to my children to encourage them as they establish a rhythm of family devotions with their kids. This is a remarkable devotional book with profound spiritual truths from the Bible told in a conversational tone. I greatly appreciate how theologically rich it is and yet so easy to understand. I think the grown ups reading the book to their children may love it just as much or even more than their kids.

I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite out of the 101 devotions, but what prompted me to write this post was when I read the title of Devotion #65 (Page 146) that simply says, “Nagging God.”  It’s about praying…constantly talking to God…never stopping. The author poses a question and then gives us the answer…

“Is it okay to nag God? And pester him? God says we MUST!”

I have a friend going through a very difficult and challenging time. Whenever she asks me for advice, I encourage her to be persistent with praying to God.  I can’t solve the problem or purchase a quick cure-all solution, but I can be persistent with my encouragement, mercy and care for her while gently reminding her that God is never tired of listening to her. Our problems are not bigger than God. And while we are being persistent with finding a right and just solution, God is even more persistent with rescuing us and pouring out more grace in our lives for his glory. I’m reminded about The Parable of the Persistent Widow:

 1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3 And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1–8 (ESV)

The widow persisted beyond what is comfortable yet she did not lose heart. If an unjust judge finally grants the window’s “prayer,” how much more will God, who is all and completely just, hear our prayers? God will not and cannot grow tired of us constantly talking with him. He is a big God, a good God and He is a King–
“–and Kings love to do marvelous, powerful things.”

So yes, my friend, it is okay to nag and pester God. Please do so! Be persistent. God is always there and he loves it when you ask him for great things!

I think I shall give my friend a copy of this book. It will encourage her heart to sing.

There is an affiliate link on this page. If you purchase the book using that link, I will receive a small stipend.

“Supper’s Ready!” family dinner devotions

“Supper’s Ready!”  I loved hearing my Mom or Dad shout those words to us. Besides being hungry, dinner became a great highlight of our day because we were all together, enjoying a meal, listening to each other talk about school and friends. We laughed a lot and we bickered too, but inevitably after dinner, my father would direct our attention to listen to scripture being read…either by him or Mom and sometimes one of us kids would take a turn reading. We would talk about the verses or passage of scripture and my parents would help us to see an application that was relevant to our situation. They would explain the meaning of words, doctrine, theology and the bible stories were always full of adventure, intrigue and alive with God’s power and love for us. We would pray for each other and pray about anything and everything. Our family devotional time became a tradition. However, it wasn’t always easy to keep up with, due to schedule conflicts or the tyranny of urgent mingled with different attention spans. Nevertheless, my parents continued to persist. Even though we were very involved in our church programs and ministry, my parents took full responsibility to disciple us. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:18-21; Psalm 78:5; Proverbs 1:8-9; Ephesians 6:4) This spiritual legacy has been passed down from my parents to us and to our generations that follow.

Family worship and devotions became a rhythm with my husband and I when raising our children. It’s a beautiful thing to see God’s promises fulfilled in our next generation as we watch our grown children teach their very young children about Jesus.

The following are suggestions and simple steps for beginning to incorporate a tradition of family worship and devotions.

Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly.

Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion.

Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for.

Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to
pray aloud.

Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went.

Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age-appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the
Bible, and assign a portion to read aloud while everyone is eating and listening.

Step 7. Parents should note key words and themes in the passage and explain them to the kids on an age-appropriate level.

Step 8. Ask questions about the passage.  You may want to begin with having your children summarize what was read—retelling the story or passage outline.  Then, ask the following questions:  What does this passage teach us about God?  What does it say about us or about how God sees us?  What does it teach us about our relationships with others?

Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them.

Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too.  This demonstrates gospel humility to them.

Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you.

Step 12. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable.

For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other—thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world.

Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor, so make sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories. Discussing the Scriptures is a wonderful way to see into the heart of your children, and to reveal your heart for them and Jesus’ heart for you all.

What you do for God beyond your home

will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home   

 ~Timothy Paul Jones