Worship Better Together

fam-worship-cartoonThere’s something really beautiful about gathering with family and worshiping together. Growing up, I remember sitting in “big church” with my parents most Sundays. I was raised in a very small church, and we didn’t have the staff or resources to always do separate programs for children. So each Sunday our family filled a pew. I sang songs I didn’t fully understand. I listened to sermons and Scripture readings that went a bit over my head. I watched my parents and other adults worship.

I knew these people. They were my family.

This Easter we are inviting all of our families to worship together. This is an opportunity to see our church family at its finest. This weekend we will get to see everyone in their most natural state—mothers with crying babies, dads with preschoolers hanging on their legs, and then there’s the noise. The crying and talking, and even whining, remind me that this is family. It’s unfiltered and it’s beautiful.

I trust that this weekend will be very helpful for our children. It’s a chance for them to watch their church family worship. They will ask lots of questions about what they saw, learned and misunderstood.

My encouragement to us all this Easter is to savor it. Listen to the extra noises. Watch the children running around. Allow your heart to be blessed by the untidiness and unpredictability that is family. Let us think of it not as a distraction but as a reminder that as a church we are family. And, by the Lord’s grace, this will be a sweet time for families to worship together and will open the door to deeper conversations.

For an Easter Family Devotional to help you continue the conversation at home click here.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor

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Family Worship

Perhaps the idea of taking your kids with you into a worship service senfamilyworshipds fear through you – the thought of your child squirming in their seats or making too much noise. So why would we ask you to do this, and on Easter Sunday?

Each weekend, families come through the church doors and head off to their different areas of ministry: Preschoolers to their room, elementary-aged kids to their rooms, while their parents attend worship services with other adults.

There is a lot to be said for doing things this way. We do it for the same reason restaurants offer a kids menu. Most second graders just don’t need a rack of baby back ribs and would honestly prefer a smaller portion of chicken fingers. Dividing families up helps kids and adults receive ministry in environments where they can best be ministered to. Everyone is taught and ministered to in a manner that more accurately engages individual hearts and minds according to where each person is developmentally.

There are some inherent problems with this approach, though. When families are consistently broken up, they lose opportunities to worship together with the rest of the church family. Kids don’t get to watch their parents and other adults worship the Lord, and kids and parents hear different messages. This makes taking the conversation from church to home a challenge, and teaching opportunities are lost.

girl-prayingWith this in mind, we want to invite all of our families to join us for a family worship experience on Easter Sunday, with services in the Worship Center and the Family Life Center at 9, 10:15, and 11:30. On Easter Sunday, we will not have our normal children’s programs for children ages 3 and up. Instead, we encourage families with children of all ages to worship together in service. It will be a time for families to celebrate together.

Services will be oriented towards adults with the awareness that kids are in the room. In doing this, we hope to provide an environment where kids and adults will hear the same message, participate in the same activities and worship together. By the Lord’s grace, this will be a sweet time for families to worship together and will open the door to deeper conversations.

For an Easter Family Devotional to help you continue the conversation at home click here.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor

Trunk or Treat: More Than Just An Event

trunk or treat flyer 2015

It’s that time of year when we invite members of our church to fill the parking lot with cars covered by DIY costumes and pack their trunks with candy corn and peanut butter cups. Trunk or Treat provides a fun, safe activity for kids and families in our community, but it is about so much more than that!

Trunk or Treat is what I call a front porch event. In our culture we don’t spend much time on the front porch any more. In fact, our porches have grown smaller and our decks bigger. We are spending less time on the front porch interacting with our neighbors and more time cloistered in our back yards on our big decks surrounded by our privacy fences. The church is no different. It is easy for us stay cloistered behind closed doors. Events like Trunk or Treat provide us a unique opportunity to interact with our neighbors and our community, inviting them into our home to experience the love we share in Christ.

So we’ve got the kids, cars, and candy ready to go—but how do we make sure this amounts to more than just a night of fun and nauseating amounts of sugar? That’s where we as the church body come in.

  1. Serve.  Very practically, to make this event happen we need your help. We need you to donate candy. It takes over 100,000 pieces of candy to make this event happen. To make this a fun, safe, and welcoming environment, we need help with greeting, parking, leading games, hosting trunks, and more. To serve, click here.
  2. Share.  Use social media to share the event. Take the time to personally invite friends and family to attend.
  3. Attend.  Bring your family out for this fun event. While you are here look for opportunities to connect with other families from our community. Welcome them and help them feel at home  at Grace Heartland Church.
  4. Pray.  The best thing you can do is to pray. In the days leading up to this event:  pray. Pray for people you are inviting to attend. Pray for the people from our community who don’t have a church home, who might not ever feel comfortable walking in to a church but will join us on this night. Pray that we will leverage this opportunity to share the love of Christ with literally thousands of people in our community. Pray that through this event God might be glorified in our community.

As you serve, share, attend, and pray here are some important details:

Trunk or Treat – Friday, October 23rd @ 6:30 p.m. Don’t miss our annual Trunk or Treat on Friday, October 23rd beginning at 6:30 p.m.  This year featuring D.J. James Hummel, illusionist Jeff Russ, the Nutty Scientists, Rachel’s Face Painting, 50 Trunks filled with thousands of pieces of candy, tasty treats, fireworks, and much more!

Please consider parking at First Presbyterian Church.  This year we are offering a hayride to shuttle people between First Presbyterian Church and Grace Heartland.

New This Year:  Play while you wait.  We know that you have to spend a lot of time waiting in line, but this year the wait just might be the best part.  Along the line you will find fun games to play, a chance to pet and dress up live ponies, up-close illusions with Jeff Russ, character meet and greets, and much more!  Don’t want to wait?  Skip the line and head straight to the field for games, the inflatable fun zone, and live entertainment with DJ James Hummel.

Give back:  This year we are collecting new toys that will be distributed to children at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister

Rockin’ Rally: Living Out Our Worship

I_Heart_VBSIt is hard to believe that another Vacation Bible School (VBS) has already come and is almost gone.  VBS is a great opportunity to share the gospel with children over the course of one high-energy week. In a perfect scenario, we had the attention of a kid for 10 hours and  used every moment to teach and reinforce Scripture. (Of course if you have ever been involved in a VBS you know it is rarely a perfect world.)

Even when we use every element to teach God’s Word (worship, Bible study, music, crafts, recreation, snacks, and even transition time):

our time and influence with kids is minuscule compared to the time they have at home with their parents.

So, here are:

3 ways that parents and church can build on VBS to help kids love God passionately:

  1. Pray – Paul understood the power of prayer in the lives of those he discipled. Paul wrote to Timothy: “night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Timothy 1:3). To the people in the cities where he helped establish churches he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  And,  “for this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you” (Colossians 1:9). Whether it was for a young man who he was discipling in ministry or a whole church, Paul was committed to praying for those he discipled. Church, pray for the children that attended VBS this year. Pray as Paul did for the people at the church in Ephesus “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better” (Ephesians 1:15-17). Parents, pray for your kids. Pray as Paul did for his spiritual son in Timothy that this faith that you are seeking to pass on to your children would live also in them (2 Timothy 1:3-5).
  2. Model – This week at our VBS we had a Jesus mascot walking around. It was fun watching the kids interact with Jesus. Some even thought he was the real Jesus. One little boy the first night wouldn’t leave until his mom met Jesus. Obviously our Jesus mascot was not the real Jesus, but our hope is that as parents and as a church family we would live our lives in front of our children in such a way that they would see Jesus in us. So church, model for our kids what it looks like to worship Jesus, and not just on Sunday morning, but what it looks like to live out your worship. Parents, model for your kids what it looks like to worship Jesus at work, at home, at play. Church, if we want this next generation to live out their worship, parents if we want our kids to live out their worship, we need to show them how it’s done. Think about it: How can you model for children that you are living out your worship? As Paul discipled others, his invitation was to “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). That’s our invitation to these children. Whether you are a parent or a grandparent, whether you serve in children’s ministry or simply model for them what it looks like to worship by living out a genuine faith consider how you can invite others to follow your example as you follow Christ.
  3. Release – our children’s ministry here at Grace Heartland Church is not meant to be a holding cell but a launching pad. Our homes are not meant to be bomb shelters but missile silos. As much as we want to protect our kids, the purpose of the church and the goal of parenthood is not to shelter them and cloister them from the world but to prepare them and launch them out into the world. Psalm 127:4 says, “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
 are children born in one’s youth.” Those arrows won’t do much good if the warrior always keeps them in his quiver. As parents and as a church, we want to launch our children out into the world to make a difference for Christ. So, church, don’t look at our children and our teenagers as the church of the future but the church of today. Parents, look for opportunities now to serve with your children, to live out your worship as a family. As leaders and parents our primary calling is not to keep our children in the church but to lead them to be the church. The best gift we can give our children is to enable them to play an active roll in God’s story of restoration and redemption. If what they hear doesn’t move from their heads to their hands it will probably never make it to their hearts.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor

Serving as Worship

romans-12oneThe other day we were watching a show on TV with Hadley. At one point in the show Hadley needed to go to the bathroom. She asked us to pause the show. She was so used to watching shows on Netflix that she couldn’t comprehend the fact that we had no control over the TV. Kids today have it so easy. I remember as a kid if my parents asked me to clean my room while my favorite show was on I would slowly back out of the room so as soon as the commercials started I could run down to my room and try to get it cleaned up during the 2 minute break before my show came back on. Now all kids have to do is pause the DVR, clean their room, and when they come back they can pick up right where they left off.

When we ask our kids to do something we don’t just want them to go through the motions, we want them to do it with the right attitude. When we ask them to clean their room we don’t want them to stomp down the hallway and reluctantly clean their room.  We want them to want to clean their room. But why would anyone want to clean their room?

As Christians when we are called to serve God doesn’t want us to merely serve out of some sense of obligation or out of some sort of effort to earn His approval.

He wants us to want to serve. We serve as an act of worship.

Most of us are familiar with the famous words in Isaiah as God asks, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” and Isaiah responds “Here I am. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Isaiah’s response grows out of the events that preceded God’s calling. Isaiah finds himself in the presence of God, fully aware of his own sin, declaring “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips . . . .” when one of the seraphim who was proclaiming the glory of God took a live coal from the altar and touched it to Isaiah’s mouth saying “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for” (Isaiah 6:5-7).

When Isaiah heard God’s call to go he immediately jumped at the opportunity. Isaiah was eager to serve God in some way, any way, not because he felt guilty but because God had taken his guilt away. We serve not out of a sense of guilt or obligation.

We serve not in an effort to be forgiven, but we serve because we are forgiven. We serve as an act of worship.

Isaiah didn’t say “Here I am! Send me” until after he had an encounter with God. We encounter God through worship and we continue our worship experience by serving as an expression of our worship. In his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Donald Whitney says it well: “Worship empowers serving, and serving expresses worship.”

As Charles H. Spurgeon preached, “The heir of heaven serves his Lord simply out of gratitude; he has no salvation to gain, no heaven to lose. Now out of love to God who chose him, and who gave so great a price for his redemption, he desires to lay out himself entirely to his Master’s service . . . . The child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, he works because he is saved.”

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).  It is in view of God’s mercy, in light of what He has done and the grace we experience as we encounter God through worship that we offer ourselves as an act of worship.

Worship empowers serving; serving expresses worship.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor

Stop Your Whining

Stop-Whining1When we hear God say, “You will have no other gods before me,” we think of it as a hierarchy: God first, family second, others third, career fourth, and on and on the list could go. But God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many. God will not be part of any hierarchy. He wasn’t saying “before me” as in “ahead of me.” A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated “before me” is “in my presence.” God isn’t interested in being on the top of an organizational flowchart. He is the organization. He is not interested in being president of the board. He is the board.

Jesus describes it this way: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Obviously Jesus isn’t telling us to hate other people. I mean, he tells us to love our enemies and that people will know we are his followers by our love for one another. I think that what Jesus is getting at here is that our love for God would be so great that our love for anything else looks like hate in comparison.

So what are you putting on the organizational flowchart in your life?

What is God competing with to be first place in your life?

A good way to answer this question is to ask:

  • What keeps you up at night?
  • What are you anxious about?
  • What do you complain about?

What we complain about reveals what really matters to us. Whining shows what has power over us. Whining is the opposite of worshiping the Lord. Time and time again the Israelites are encouraged to remember God’s great works! Then, they are warned not to forget.

  • Whining: ignoring who God is and forgetting what he has done for us;
  • Worship: glorifying God for who he is and acknowledging what he has done for us.

We need to lead our kids in this worship. In Deuteronomy 11, Moses tells the Israelites that it was not their children who saw the signs and wonders performed in Egypt, it was not their children who crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, “but it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done” (v. 7). Moses then exhorts the nation to teach these things to their children (v. 19).

This same lesson applies to us. It’s not our children who have seen the many ways God has worked in our lives over the years. It is with our eyes that we have seen all the great things the Lord has done–so let’s celebrate those things as a family!

Exodus 34 warns the Israelites not to intermingle with the inhabitants of the promised land so they wouldn’t forget their God. In the midst of this warning, God reminds them to celebrate the festivals he established so they will remember the things the Lord had done for them. The Israelites were a party people! They had a party for everything. All of these parties or festivals were established to celebrate God’s works.

We can be party people too.

Here are a few ways to party as a family:

  • Birthdays – chances are you already celebrate birthdays anyway. Instead of making that day all about them, why not take time to celebrate what God has done in the life of that person over the past year? Model this for your kids on your birthday by celebrating something God did for you this past year.
  • Baptisms – Baptism is a time to celebrate. Each year on the anniversary of your baptism celebrate this as a family. Throw a re-birthday party and take time to remember with your kids why you were baptized and what Christ did in your life. This will give you an opportunity to talk to your kids about baptism. If your kids have already been baptized each year on the date of their baptism celebrate that.
  • Living debt free – have you reached a major milestone like living debt free? Celebrate that accomplishment by giving glory and honor to God for his provisions. This gives you an opportunity to talk with your children about being good stewards of all God has given us.
  • A new job – did you receive a new job or a promotion this year? Was there another area in the life of your family where you saw answered prayer? Celebrate that together.

What has God done in the life of your family that you can celebrate together? As a family talk about what God has done in your life. Set up times to celebrate what the Lord has done. Use these times of celebration to draw your family into worship.

Stop your whining and start worshiping!

Adam Castenir, Children’s Pastor, Grace Heartland Church

Show and Tell Worship

show and tell 2The other day I was out running some errands with Hadley, my 4-year-old daughter. As we were walking through the store Hadley noticed someone wearing a University of Louisville sweatshirt and shouted out, “Dad, look! The dirty birds! We don’t like them.” In that moment I was both embarrassed and extremely proud.

It is amazing how quickly our kids pick up on what we are passionate about. I haven’t had to sit down and teach Hadley about my love for the Wildcats. I haven’t had to set aside times each week for lessons on the Wildcats. As she has witnessed me cheering on the Cats, she has quickly picked up on my love and passion for UK basketball. For four years, I have been modeling–just like the children’s game Show & Tell–what it looks like to be a part of the Big Blue Nation.

Our kids are quick to pick up on our passions. Do they witness us getting passionate about our relationship with Jesus? Do our children witness us worshiping the God we know and love?

King David was the man after God’s own heart. Most of our psalms were written by this king of Israel, this king who, without a doubt, worshiped the Lord. There’s this really cool exchange in 1 Chronicles 28 between David and his son Solomon. We know from this passage that David was nearing the end of his life, so he gathered a great assembly.  He had a charge to give to them; and then, before he is finished, he gives this charge to Solomon in front of the entire congregation:  “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9)

In front of everyone, David says, “Solomon, know my God. As I have known him, know him.” I started thinking about the relationship between David and Solomon. I wonder if Solomon as a child ever witnessed or ever saw his dad, the king, worship? Did Solomon ever witness his father, in the assembly, praise the God he knew, loved, worshiped, and about whom he wrote multiple songs? I guarantee you he did. I guarantee you Solomon witnessed his father, the king, worship God.  Worship by Show & Tell.

In 2 Samuel 6, David is returning the Ark of the Covenant to the City of David. It was a great moment for the nation of Israel. At one particular instance, the caravan stops to praise and worship God. Then it says, “David danced with all of his might” (v. 14). In an act of worship, we see David, the King of Israel, dancing with all of his might. Worship by Show & Tell.

Now my Dad, I’ve never seen him dance, but when I think about him dancing, it’s not really a pretty sight. But when I add the word danced mightily, it gets even worse. David didn’t care. David knew God. He loved God, and he didn’t care who saw. He didn’t care who was around. He worshiped, and worshiped through dancing. He danced mightily before the Lord.

When David gets home, his wife Michal sees him coming into the city. Literally, it says he was dancing and prancing. His wife sees this activity and is embarrassed: “You are the king of Israel. What are you doing making a fool out of yourself dancing like that?” (v. 20). Listen to David’s response. I love it: And David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord––and I will celebrate before the Lord‘” (v. 20). Basically he’s saying, “I wasn’t dancing for you. I wasn’t dancing for anybody else. I was dancing for the Lord, and I don’t care what you think about it.”

Then he goes on to say, “I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes (v. 21). In other words he’s saying, “You think what you saw was embarrassing? You think that was bad? I will become even more undignified than that, because it’s before the Lord. I know him, I will worship him and I don’t care who sees it.”

This act of worship happened before Solomon’s birth. He wasn’t there. He didn’t see it. But I guarantee he heard about this story. I guarantee Solomon saw his dad worship the Lord with passion.

When David charged Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28 to know God, he was telling Solomon to do something that he had been modeling for Solomon’s entire life.

Worship by Show & Tell. We need to model for our kids what it looks like to worship the God we know and love. “Do as I say not as I do” just doesn’t work here. It is not enough to just tell our kids, we need to Worship by Show & Tell. Our kids need to witness us worshiping the Lord with passion. One of the things we love about Grace Heartland Church is that multiple services allow us to serve or to attend an Adult Bible Fellowship Class while our children get a lesson in our Merge Children’s Ministry.  Then, we still have the opportunity to worship together as a family. It is important that our kids see us worship. Our kids will witness us getting passionate about many things. Will they witness us worship the Lord? Let us model for our children what it looks like to worship the Lord and may this move beyond just a Sunday morning experience to a lifestyle of worship.  Worship by Show & Tell.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister, Grace Heartland Church

From Preaching To Praise

judgesToday we live in what is known as a post-modern culture, which is characterized by relativism.  Everything is relative.  What is true for me may not be true for you.  Everyone defines truth for himself or herself.  Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.  This kind of thinking really isn’t all that modern, though.

The book of Judges is one of my favorite books in the Old Testament.  Throughout the book we see this vicious cycle of the people sinning against God, being given over to their enemies as a result of their sin, crying out to God, being saved by God, and then the whole thing starts over: “again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”  The author of Judges sums up the situation at the end of the book saying, “In those days Israel did not have a king.  All the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

How did things get so bad?  How did they let things get to this point?  “The people served the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and during the lifetimes of the elders who lived after Joshua and who had seen what great things the Lord had done for Israel . . . . After those people had died, their children grew up and did not know the Lord or what he had done for Israel.  So they did what the Lord said was wrong” (Judges 2:7-11).

An entire generation grew up not knowing God or what He had done for them.  So, they did what the Lord said was wrong, what was right in their own eyes. The church is facing a similar dilemma today.  We may take an honest look at our culture and wonder how things got so bad.  Who or what is to blame when one generation fails to value what a previous generation did? Did the first generation fail to reach out or did the second generation harden their hearts. The truth is, it is probably a little bit of both.

A generation grew up who “did not know the Lord.” What’s happening here is not so much a lack of knowledge but a lack of belief. They knew about God but they did not know God. It is not ignorance but unbelief–a deliberate refusal to acknowledge the authority of God.

Discipling the next generation is about more than just getting right information into their heads; it’s about more than getting correct theology into their mind. Our desire is that they would know the Lord, not just know about him.

In Psalm 145:4 David writes, “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.” David could have said one generation teaches your works to another, but he doesn’t. He says commends or praise. There is more to discipleship than just conveying truth. We are to commend or praise the works of the Lord to the next generation.

There is a difference between what we teach our children and what we are passionate about in front of them. What do our kids see us getting passionate about? They see us getting passionate about a lot of different things – our hobbies, our favorite sports teams, our work. Do our kids see us get passionate about the Lord and knowing Him? Do they see us worship Him?  They need to. They need to see this worship happen. And it’s not just parents they need to see this worship from. From oldest to the the youngest generation, these little ones need to see the praise and adoration of the Lord.

So let’s not just preach the truth to our kids, let’s commend it to them. Let’s praise the works of the Lord to the next generation. May the next generation see us worshiping the Lord whom we know and love.  And may they grow up not just knowing about the Lord, but that they might actually know Him.

Adam Castenir, Children’s Minister

Adam Castenir profile

Turn

The time between the last writings of the Old Testament and the appearance of Christ is known as the “intertestamental” (or “between the testaments”) period. Because there was no prophetic word from God during this period, some refer to it as the “400 silent years.” The last thing God said to His people before these 400 years of silence was “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction” (Malachi 4:5-6).

One of the first things we see coming out of this period of silence is the ministry of John the Baptist of which it is said that “he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). There is something about turning our hearts back to our children that will soften this generation to the gospel and “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” As our hearts are turned back to our children we need to turn:

  1. From burden to blessing

As we rush from around trying to get our children to band practice, soccer practice, gymnastics, dance, and everywhere in between all the while trying to find time to squeeze in dinner and homework to begin to at times see children as a burden. Yet Scripture is clear that children are a gift from God “a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3). The psalmist goes on to saw that children are “like arrows in the hands of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4). This might seem like an odd comparison to us, but can imagine a warrior ever being without his arrows. Children are not a burden, something to find need to escape from, they are a blessing from God.

  1. From distracted to engaged

There are so many things that can distract us and take away quality time we spend with our children – work, chores, responsibilities at our kids’ schools or in the community, etc. For me, it can be as simple as wasting time on email or Facebook. A lot of evenings while I am home spending time with my kids the moment my phone vibrates with an incoming email I feel like I have to pull out my phone immediately to check my email. What if it’s something important? The truth is most of the time it is some Zulily email that my wife signed me up for, and even if it’s not chances are it can wait an hour until my kids are in bed. I have since downloaded a free app called the Legacy App. I entered the birthdays for both of my children and it set up a countdown clock until the day they turn 18 and likely leave home after high school. I know that I only have 709 weeks left with Hadley who is just 4 years old. In fact if I wanted I could literally watch the seconds tick away. Now every time I am with my kids and am tempted to jump on Facebook to see what everyone is eating for dinner I am reminded of how little time I have left with my kids. I know this may seem depressing but the psalmist writes “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). When we understand how limited our time is with our children maybe we will use that time more wisely. This is just one thing that has helped me avoid distraction and stay engaged in the lives of my kids.

  1. From punishment to discipline

Punishment is easy. Punishment is usually based on fear (1 John 4:18) and is simply reacting to the situation. Discipline on the other hand takes time. Discipline is based on love and is about going after the heart of our children. Proverbs 3:12 reminds us that “The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” Punishment is about responding to what our child has done. Discipline is about shaping who they will become.

  1. From our dreams to His design

Chances are from the moment you first found out you were having a baby you probably started imaging what life would be like with that child. Maybe as a mom of a little girl you imagined having tea parties together or shopping together. Or as a father of a son you imagined taking him on hunting trips or throwing around the football together in the backyard.   Maybe you imagine your child growing up to be a successful business man or woman or even taking over a family business. We all have dreams for our children but we need to be willing to give up our dreams for His design. Scripture tells us over and over again that God has formed us and shaped us for a purpose, that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Don’t parent your children based on your dreams and desires for them, but based on God’s design for them. Help them grow into the men and women God created them to be.

You’re Hired!

The other day I was driving down the interstate when I passed a bright green truck with the words “Doody Calls” written on the side.  I had to slow down and let the truck pass me again to get a second look to see if I read it right.  If you are anything like me you are probably wondering what it’s all about; it is exactly like it sounds.  Doody Calls is a pet waste removal service.  If you have enough money you can hire someone to do just about anything, and given enough money we can all make a list of a million things we would pay someone else to do for us. But there are just some things you can’t afford to pay someone else to do:

  1. Cooking/Shopping

I always say I would eat so much healthier if I had someone else to plan and cook the meals for me. And how great would it be to never have to make another trip to Wal-Mart again because you had your very own personal shopper. Chances are, though, this is something we can never afford to pay someone else to do. According to simplyhired.com the average personal chef makes about $350/day. A personal shopper can make as much as $300/hour (and we all know how long it can take to make it out of Wal-Mart).

  1. Weight Loss

I am not talking about paying for a gym membership, a personal trainer or a dietician. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually pay someone to lose the weight for you, to pay someone else to eat healthy and do the hard work of exercising regularly while you reap the benefits? Unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way.

  1. Discipling Your Children

In Judges 17 there is a strange story about a man named Micah who wanted to provide a religious influence for his home.  He went out and found a young priest whom he hired to come live with him as his personal priest.  Given enough money people will hire someone to do everything for them.  Micah was quick to abdicate his responsibilities to someone else. This didn’t work out so well for Micah

The sad reality is many Christians do this today.  They are quick to abdicate their responsibility for the spiritual formation of their children to the church, to the children’s ministry and youth ministry.  After all isn’t that what we pay the children’s pastor and youth pastor for?  I may be talking myself out of a job here, but no matter how much money we have I don’t think we can afford to abdicate this responsibility to someone else.

In the simplest sense, a priest is someone who tries to bring God to His people, and then, in turn, represents His people before God.  In the Old Testament a priest was sort of a mediator between God and man.  Christ became our mediator with God, and in the New Testament we are taught that now all who follow Him have a role as priests to an unbelieving world.  1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

As Christians we have the responsibility to serve as priests in our day.  That means simply representing God to others and representing others to God in prayer.  We have the responsibility of bringing God to others by showing them what God is like through word and deed.  Similarly we have the responsibility of bringing others to God by showing them how to become followers of Christ, listening for God’s direction, caring for them throughout their lives, and taking them to God through prayer. And for most of us our ministry begins in the home. This is one thing we simply can’t afford to pay someone else to do.