What makes a prayer “precious?”

One of the most precious things we can do with our kids/grandkids, is pray with them. I don’t mean the regular meal-time or bed-time prayers, but the special prayers that will help build up our kids when things are going on that make them anxious. These are one-on-one prayers when you either hug them, hold both of their hands, or even pray with them over the phone. These are the “precious” prayers.

Especially when a family’s focus is on trying to incorporate Jesus into their kid’s everyday life, praying with a child when they are nervous, or scared about something is truly, “Where the rubber (Jesus), meets the road” (is requested to help a child with a need). It shows your child that you depend on Jesus. It reveals your heart and love for Jesus to him/her. We teach our kids more by how we live, than what we say, and praying shows our kids it is ok not to be able to fix everything, and it is good to depend on Jesus to help us through our problems.

I’m not just talking about bad problems, either. I have prayed and held hands with my oldest granddaughter before she has auditioned for plays. I have also recently prayed with my 11 year old granddaughter, who is struggling to adjust to middle school as a 6th grader.

Showing your kids/grandkids that you trust Jesus and they can, too, is one of the most powerful lessons your kids can learn.

Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 John 5:15, And if we know that he hears us-whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him.

Can you keep a secret?

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When you are a parent, you hope and pray that the secrets your kids keep from you are minor issues, not major ones, right? And we, as our kids’ parents/grandparents, try to be the role models for how we want our kids to behave and live as adults, correct?

That doesn’t mean we tell our kids every detail of our lives though. There will be things we have done, and that have happened in our lives, that we may never tell them, or not until they are mature enough to handle or understand the information.

Someone we can’t keep a secret from, however, even though we may want to, is Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 4:13 it states, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Just as we need to be “real” to our kids, which means sharing some of our weaknesses with them, we need to be completely real to our Lord Jesus. It doesn’t matter if we feel like we want to hide secrets from Him or not, He knows everything about us, and loves us anyway. Continuing with Ephesians 4:14, “For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) 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.”

Jesus knows, really knows, you. We hide things from friends, coworkers, even our spouse once in awhile, but we can’t hide anything, from what we think, to what we do, from Christ. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Our best role model is Jesus Christ. He is also our kids best role model, but they are going to look to you to lead them and help them grow as Christians. Be the role model your kids need, by closely following your ultimate role model, Jesus. He loves us despite our doubts and weaknesses. His love for us is unending and complete.

Keep the secrets that must be kept from your kids; hide nothing from Jesus.

Psalm 136:26 – “Give thanks to the God of Heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever.”

Are you a teacher?

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One of the biggest reasons many parents don’t spend much time teaching their kids about Christ, or how to grow as a Christian, how to pray, etc., is they just don’t have the time. I totally understand. I see my adult kids trying to fit everything they need to do, both for themselves, and their kids, into their daily routine, and it is tough to get everything done.

But I think there is another way to achieve everything you need to do in a typical day, AS WELL AS spending time teaching your kids about Jesus, God, the Bible, praying, and so on.

The Bible tells us that time spent with and for God will be rewarded (blessed). Matthew 6:33 states: “But seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” By “all these things,” Matthew was talking about what you will eat, wear and drink. Your necessities will be taken care of when you put Jesus first. This includes having to go to work, wash the car, clean the house, and all the other “fun” (ha, ha) things parents have to do besides helping their kids grow as Christians.

Romans 8:28 states: “And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Again, God wants to bless you, when you put Him first.

It takes faith to make time to teach your kids about God. But He states in these and many other verses about both the importance and blessing He will give you if you do make Him your priority.

You may see you have more time in your day than you anticipated. You may get a break at work you weren’t expecting. You never know exactly how God will bless you, but He will, if you put Him first, and allow time to teach your children about Him.

Hebrews 11:6: Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

Do you have a daily quiet time? Do your kids?

Do your kids have a daily quiet time? I am all about parents/grandparents being role models. I know quiet time is usually adult time for individual, quiet, one-on-one with God – but creating a specific time when kids know to pray and read their Bibles can be a wonderful habit for them.

Most kids have time they use for doing homework, right? You, as their parent, have time set aside when your kids know you expect them to complete whatever homework they have brought home.

I know this might be hard to establish, but a morning quiet time can be as simple as reading a Bible verse on a topic, then praying for their day. Since it is still summer, now would be a fantastic time to set aside 10 minutes in the morning to pray for the requests in your family prayer journal, and read one or two verses on a topic you have chosen.

No matter what age, even small kids can learn how to fold their hands, bow their heads and listen while their parents say very short prayers.

To tell the truth, I did devotions with my kids in the evening for about 15 years almost every night, but I never tried to have them do a morning quiet time. It could be difficult during the school year, unless you are doing this with small children, or they have a later school start time, but it could be scheduled into weekends, holidays and summer mornings. Let me know if you try this…I’d like to know how it goes!

Ephesians 6:4,  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

They will know we are Christians by our love??

(I posted this a few days ago, but I was having issues with FB. So I am reposting)

When I was a kid (16),  I joined the choir. We sang a song called “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” All I remember is the chorus, but it saddens me that today, to many Christians, our “love” only extends to other Christians, not to the world in general.

According to the Biblical definition, a “Christian” is a “follower of Christ.” Christ Himself stated in John 14:15 that “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” But in I John 2:4 and 6 it says, (4) “Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not do what He commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (6) Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” In Matthew 22: 36-39, Jesus was asked which of the Commandments was the greatest. To this He replied, “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (My bolding)

Christ did not say to love certain people, and hate others. He did not tell us to judge people by their beliefs. We, as Christians are the role models for our kids, and we are buying into Satan’s lies. I have seen more “sharing” of ugly, hurtful, cynical, spiteful, “in your face,” political posts in the last year than I would like to see in a lifetime.  This is NOT what our faith is about. We are not to buy into this trash, but to see it for what it is. TRASH.  It is all about dividing Christians, and all Americans. It is about getting us to hate each other, and especially to hate anyone that disagrees with us.  Jesus stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That doesn’t mean only Christian neighbors. Wake up to Satan’s lies, Christian brothers and sisters!

This DOESN’T mean that I agree with what is going on in our country. I have some pretty passionate beliefs about our President, but I am praying for him. He needs Jesus just as much as anyone else. He is loved by Jesus, just as much as anyone else.

We need to love the sinner, hate the sin. Period. Sharing pictures of mobs of kids in a filthy room, and saying, “Another President did this, too.” is absolutely wrong.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have passionate views, either. It means that unless you know without a shadow of a doubt that what you are posting is accurate and 100% true, because you have checked it out yourself, DON’T SHARE IT!  

Please be your children’s “Christ following” parent/grandparent.

What is “faith?”

To you, what is faith? I think a lot of people struggle with what faith is, and how to have it. In the past, when a pastor would preach about faith, I felt like they presumed if they said I needed more faith, it would just happen.  In Luke 17:6  Jesus stated, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” I figured I must have the faith of an amoeba, because I honestly knew I wasn’t going to be moving any trees!

I asked two of my grandkids about faith. My 9 year old stated that “Faith is when you are brave, and you are sure you can do something.”  My 11 year old stated that it is “believing in someone or something, trust. When you have faith in God, you trust Him.”  I thought that was pretty good, but wanted to see what the dictionary said.  Dictionary.com defines (specifically regarding religion) faith as, “the trust in God and His promises as made though Christ and the scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.”

The google dictionary defines faith as: 1) Complete trust or confidence in something or someone, and 2) A strong belief in God… based on spiritual apprehension. (No one convinces you to believe, you believe of your own accord, or understanding).

Finally, the Bible, in Hebrews 11:1 states that faith is: The assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Just knowing what faith is, doesn’t give you more faith. So what does give you more faith? Faith and trust are synonyms. You really can’t have one without the other (as far as I am concerned). What it amounts to, as far as I believe (you may disagree, that’s ok) is that faith begins with trust. Small babies learn to trust their mothers when they cry, and Mother responds. They develop faith in their mothers based on the fact that they can trust them.

Building faith in Jesus Christ can happen the same way. Faith is built on trust. The more you learn to trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and is there for you no matter what, the more you will trust Him. The more He comes through when you need Him, the more faith you will have that you can trust Him, no matter what. This doesn’t mean He will give you everything you want! Jesus is not a “Sugar Daddy.” But praying to see God’s will in all circumstances will help you see Him working in your life. And seeing Him work is definitely a faith builder.

Hebrews 11:6, Without faith it is impossible to please Him, (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.

Summer Family Fun, Week 4

Hi all! You may well be further into the summer than week 4, but for me, this is the fourth installment of my summer family fun suggestions.

Starting with the Body:

Go to your favorite family park. See if you are as strong as your kids/grandkids when they cross the Jungle Gym without stopping. Can you do that??  How about the swings? (My personal favorite). Can you swing as high as your kids? Your kids will LOVE IT that you are actually playing on the same equipment (assuming it is made for adult body weight) as they are!!

Mind:

Reading time! 20 minutes a day for at least one week. This keeps their skills up for the start of next school year, and I tell my grandkids that it “helps their brain grow.”

  • Graphic novels are ok. (AKA comic books – they look like paperbacks)
  • Also, for very young kids, I would show my kids a picture and have them make up a story for it.  It’s amazing how their minds work!
  •  Reading to kids, no matter what their age,  is also important. Kids get the sense of how to read fluently (without sounding like a robot), and will eventually try to copy how you read aloud.
  • When kids read, YOU read as well!

Soul:

How is the verse memorizing going? Even if kids do 1 verse a week, they are still learning God’s word.

Also, are they signed up for VBS? It’s a great way for them to have fun and learn about Jesus, as well. Many children come to know Christ through VBS.  VBS starts at Sonrise tomorrow, July 9th.  At Sonrise (in Santee, CA), we even have a water slide!

 

 

 

Ways to Bring Jesus Home (Compilation)

Ways to Bring Jesus Home   

 Bringingjesushome.com

(This post is a combination of the previous three posts. It is intended for those who might want to print it out and keep it. Right click to print)

This compilation of information from my blog, “Bringing Jesus Home (from Church),” is in no way complete. The information I am sharing is from my Biblical studies, and years of involvement in church and school, working with kids. I have a passion for raising this next generation with a love of Christ in their hearts, and the reality I see is our churches dying, because the younger generation no longer sees the need for Jesus Christ in their lives. My heart’s prayer is that you will prayerfully consider the information presented and have God guide you, in how you use it.

(There are a lot of suggestions here. Don’t think you have to add or change as much as possible!! Find ONE thing you want to add or change, and make only one change at a time.)  God bless you!

A. With your family…

Make sure your kids are Christian.

  1. I know this seems silly, but many kids believe that people are born into whatever religion their parents are.
  2. Help your kids realize that being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus, and that it is much more than just a “religion”.
  3. If your child is not sure, or you are not sure they have accepted Jesus into their heart as their Savior, share the gospel with them, and ask them if they want to ask Jesus into their heart.

Trust your kids into God’s hands.

  1. Let Him control what you do and say to them about Him.
  2. Believe that God will have a hand in how you raise them, if you want Him to.

Pray, pray, pray!

  1. Discuss with your kids on when during the day you should pray, both as a family, and individually.
  2. Share with them the things you are praying about (unless it shouldn’t be shared, of course).
  3. Create a prayer journal, and review it to show your kids how Jesus has answered their prayers.  (Remember, “wait” and “no” are also answers to prayer!)
  4. Encourage your kids to pray for the Holy Spirit to take away their desire to get mad, or get even with other kids, and also, to take away temptations to gossip, and complain.
  5. Have your kids hold you accountable to pray everyday, as you hold them accountable as well.

Work consistently to build up your kids’ faith 

  1. Do devotions with them several times a week
  2. Find a time that works, and stick with it!                                                                      (Morning, evening, right after dinner, right before bedtime)
  3. Memorize, memorize, memorize! Besides prayer, this is an activity that will “arm” our kids with the necessary gospel that will help them when they are being challenged by their friends and circumstances. (Get “armed and dangerous” in God’s word!)
  4. Discuss biblical topics with your kids; salvation, God’s love, His intimate interest in them, control, anxiety, patience, honoring Mom and Dad, etc.
  5. Use Jesus as a positive role model for your kids, not a judgmental authoritarian figure ready to pounce on them when they mess up.
  6. Discuss the hard topics; why God lets bad things happen, why people do bad things, how God feels about sex, drugs, gay lifestyle, etc                                          A.  (Obviously, this needs to be at the time when kids are ready for these topics, not before)
  7. Go to church!  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be stated, but I believe there are a lot of people who are so busy, they don’t have time for church.  I also believe that God will honor the time you spend with Him, and bless you for it.
  8. Guide your kids with their spare time: Use electronics wisely, set time limits and keep to them!                                                                                                                      A. Play board games as a family.                                                                                    B. Have a family night out and do something together.                                              C. Play outdoors together, or at least have your kids play outside.                      D. Have your kids get involved in church clubs and groups (AWANA, Youth group, choir, drama), and/or school extracurricular activities like clubs or sports.
  9. Celebrate the Christian aspect of big holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.       A. It’s ok to acknowledge the secular parts of these holidays, but they get so much of it at school that participating in Christ honoring traditions at home is not necessarily “leaving out” the secular aspect.
  10. Challenge your kids to accomplish something in keeping with God’s word.         A. For example, can they demonstrate in real life an example of following the Golden Rule?
  11. Eat dinner together!!! If not every night, at least several times a week. Get off all the electronics and talk to one another. Get to know each other all over again!  If you need to, come up with a topic for discussion before dinner, so you know what you want to discuss.

B. For parents/grandparents:

For the last segment of my compilation, I have separated out the things I think parents/grandparents need to do for themselves. I know you know that raising kids is a full time job…which, if you already have a full time job outside the home, means that you have two full time jobs!  Whew!! Even though we have the “head knowledge” of having many jobs, we rarely treat ourselves as if we did. In other words, we are like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going, and going, and going.

As I started to write this, with the above information in mind, my next thought was that parents don’t need more things to do in their day. I get it! Really! But, I think the time that you do have can be used differently, and still not add “things” to your day. For example, prayer. To increase your prayer time, pray before meals. Pray when you are having “cuddle time” with your child, pray after devotions. It takes time to change habits, but if you decide you want to pray with your kids, write yourself notes, or put the activity on your planner until it becomes habit.

To me, the best things you can do for yourself, are pray, and read your Bible.  In the online article “Prayer 101: How Do I Talk to God?,” it states that prayer is talking with God, and it helps us develop a deeper relationship to Him. We need prayer, because we need to talk to God about what is going on in our hearts and lives. In Hebrews 4:16 it says we can, “…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (https://billygraham.org). And, we need to know what God wants us to do, in terms of raising our kids. Not praying could be compared to not talking to your very best friend, or spouse, when you really need to talk to them. Would you do that? God loves hearing from us, both good and bad things.

I don’t believe that we can raise Godly, Christian kids without prayer. We need to ask God to help us get through our jam-packed days, and still be able to reflect our relationship with Jesus to our kids. “With God ALL things are possible,”(Matthew 19:26b).  I believe it!

The second (and equally important) thing parents/grandparents should do, is read their Bible. It is hard to defend your faith, if you really don’t know what you believe. There are many “read the Bible in one year” devotionals, that can break down the Bible into doable parts. But you don’t have to read the entire Bible, if you don’t have time. Please choose a good devotional, one that touches your heart, and read the verses that are referenced for each day. Even a few verses a day will start you on the road to getting more familiar with God’s word.

One last thing I think is important is to have a Christian friend and/or spouse, who can walk with you down the road of raising Christian kids. You need someone to bounce ideas off of, share carpooling to church and activities, and even to vent to when things are difficult.

The job of raising Christian kids is tough, but ETERNALLY rewarding.

(Right click to print document)

 

More ways to bring Jesus home? Part 2

This is a continuation of the list I posted last time. It is a compilation of ways to “bring Jesus home.” Next time, I will have a list focused on parents/grandparents.

D. Work consistently to build up your kids’ faith

  1. Do devotions with them several times a week
    1. Find a time that works, and stick with it! (Morning, evening, right after dinner, right before bedtime)
  2.  Memorize, memorize, memorize! Besides prayer, this is an activity that will “arm” our kids with the necessary gospel that will help them when they are being challenged by their friends and circumstances. (Get “armed and dangerous” in God’s word!)
  3. Discuss biblical topics with your kids; salvation, God’s love, His intimate interest in them, control, anxiety, patience, honoring Mom and Dad, etc.
  4. Use Jesus as a positive role model for your kids, not a judgmental authoritarian figure ready to pounce on them when they mess up.
  5. Discuss the hard topics; why God lets bad things happen, why people do bad things, how God feels about sex, drugs, gay lifestyle, etc.
    1. (Obviously, this needs to be at the time when kids are ready for these topics, not before)
  6. Go to church!  This seems like it shouldn’t need to be stated, but I believe there are a lot of people who are so busy, they don’t have time for church.  I also believe that God will honor the time you spend with Him, and bless you for it.
  7. Guide your kids with their spare time: Use electronics wisely, set time limits and keep to them!
    1. Play board games as a family.
    2. Have a family night out and do something together.
    3. Play outdoors together, or at least have your kids play outside.
    4. Have your kids get involved in church clubs and groups (AWANA, Youth group, choir, drama), and/or school extracurricular activities like clubs or sports.
    5. Celebrate the Christian aspect of big holidays, such as Christmas and Easter.
      1. It’s ok to acknowledge the secular parts of these holidays, but they get so much of it at school that participating in Christ honoring traditions at home is not necessarily “leaving out” the secular aspect.
    6. Challenge your kids to accomplish something in keeping with God’s word.
      1. For example, can they demonstrate in real life an example of following the Golden Rule?
    7. Eat dinner together!!! If not every night, at least several times a week. Get off all the electronics and talk to one another. Get to know each other all over again!  If you need to, come up with a topic for discussion before dinner, so you know what you want to discuss.

 

Do you know the ways to bring Jesus home?

Over the past seven months or so, I have been posting about things that parents might want to make a priority, when raising Christian kids. Last week I went over all the posts I have written so far, collected and prioritized these, in order to have one “document” that lists what I think God has given me as important things that help families incorporate Jesus into their everyday lives.

I am going to make this a downloadable document, so it can be printed out and won’t look like a blog post, but it doesn’t exist yet. I’ll let you know when it is available.

I have sub-divided this list into things to can do for yourself, and things to do with your family.

With your family…

A. Make sure your kids are Christian.

  1. I know this seems silly, but many kids believe that people are born into whatever religion their parents are.
  2. Help your kids realize that being a Christian means having a relationship with Jesus, and that it is much more than just a “religion”.
  3. If your child is not sure, or you are not sure they have accepting Jesus into their heart as their Savior, share the gospel with them, and ask them if they want to ask Jesus into their heart.

B. Trust your kids into God’s hands.

  1. Let Him control what you do and say to them about Him.
  2. Believe that God will have a hand in how you raise them, if you want Him to.

C. Pray, pray, pray!

  1. Discuss with your kids on when during the day you should pray, both as a family, and individually.
  2. Share with them the things you are praying about (unless it shouldn’t be shared, of course).
  3. Create a prayer journal, and review it to show your kids how Jesus has answered their prayers.
    1. (Remember, “wait” and “no” are also answers to prayer!)
  4. Encourage your kids to pray for the Holy Spirit to take away their desire to get mad, or get even with other kids, and also, to take away temptations to gossip, and complain.
  5. Have your kids hold you accountable to pray everyday, as you hold them accountable as well.