Sunday, July 16, 2017

Humility Matters

Devotional 5 focuses on a topic that is hard for adults to comprehend: humility.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents, your notes are in italics.  Happy studying! 

Humility Matters 

To Do: Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be humble? Be sure and read the dictionary definition aloud after the kids have a chance to brainstorm. Rick Warren and C.S. Lewis both have thoughts on the topic worth exploring.  

* If humility  is the opposite of pride, how was Jesus humble? Direct the kids to first think of the reasons Jesus could have had pride.  This will lead them to see how He went in an opposite direction.  Answers could include: He could have had pride in being God or in how much He knew, or in having God's favor, but instead he was born in a stable, submitted to His parents, and resisted the devil's urges to be prideful (Luke 1-4).  Be sure and take a moment to look up any stories that they don't remember the details of. 

*What do you have that you might be prideful about?  Recognize here that our real gifts are also real temptations to pride.  Answers will be individual to the child but might include being good at a sport, being smart, being pretty/handsome, having lots of friends, nice things/toys.

*What does it mean to be humble when we are victorious?  How is that like/not like being a good sport? Is it wrong to want to win?

*How can an adult be humble?  How can a child?    Take this time to talk to your kids about how you show humility in your daily life.  Be sure and give them room to think about how they can. Be sure and encourage them to think about themselves rather than simply criticizing others.  

Insights:


Humility vs. pride is one of the many places where English fails us.  There is everything good about being responsible for excellence, i.e. "taking pride in a job”. It's good when parents feel joy in their children's growth and maturity, it.e. they are "proud of their kids." And pleasure in completing a challenging job?  That harmless joy is often called, "being proud of myself." These phrases and others uses the word "pride" or "proud" when in fact nothing sinful is meant. 


This truth though should not hide from our eyes the fact that pride is a real and present danger to our souls.  We cannot think we are better than any other saint or sinner.  We cannot imagine that in ourselves we are worthy of respect or honor.  We mustn't insist on the best or think ourselves above some simple job.  Our Savior shows the way here. 

Who, although He existed in the form of God, 
did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant, 
and being made in the likeness of men. 
Being found in appearance as a man, 
He humbled Himself 
by becoming obedient to the point of death, 
even death on a cross. 


Philippians 2:6-8



Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kindness Matters

FREE Summer Kid's Devotional Series: Devotional 4 is all about kindness, what it means and how to develop it!  Devotional 4 focuses on one of the most difficult commands to fully apply in the Bible: Be Kind.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!



Kindness Matters 

To Do:

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice. If you've been doing these steadily, you should be getting close to being able to say the verses with some prompting. Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What does it mean to be kind? The answer that will come to a kid's minds is to be nice.  Try to help them dig a little deeper and see that we can be kind even when we are not "nice."  For instance a parent can privately and gently correct a behavior; this is kind although no child finds it "nice."

*Why do you think Paul asked us to "put on a heart of kindness?" Doesn't kindness come naturally? Here my children and I thought of people who seemed to be naturally kind.  Then we talked about the fact that the Spirit of God produces kindness in our lives (Galatians 2:22-24). Even if it is not our "personality" or our "nature", if we are walking in the Spirit we wille learn to be kind!

*Think of a time when someone was kind to you.  What did they do?  Is kindness the same in every situation? One way to work through this question is to explore how kindness is expressed across age groups.  (We are kind to babies when we play instead of ignore them; we are kind to busy young parents when we sit with them and help them at church; we are kind to older people when we visit them and ask about their lives.)

*How does the golden rule help us know how to be kind? (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31)  Be sure and begin by reading the golden rule from both passages. Work together to understand way we usual say it vs. how Jesus worded it.  Allow the kids to brainstorm how considering someone else's perspective or desires allows us to be kind to them.  Think up some silly examples of people trying to be kind but failing: for example a 70 year old who gives his 10 year old grandson Icy Hot for Christmas. Then transition into the fact that we ALL want people to be kind to us.  Fulfilling the golden rule requires us to be kind all the time.  

Insights: 

When I was doing this devotional with my kids and got to question 3, they could immediately think of several people who were naturally kind: friends who are generous, sensitive, and thoughtful, who never snap or snarl.  Do you know that kind of person too?  

Ephesians 4:32 Join us for our FREE Summer kid's devotional series to learn more about kindness!I realize that our view of those people from the outside (even family members we know intimately) may not match their "insides."  In other words, they probably have their unkind moments.  Yet for me, kindness is an on-purpose kind of virtue.  In order to be kind, I need to carefully think through what would be helpful, gentle and sweet and then do it.  

And that's ok!  

If our motive, or our children's motive is to love others, to treat them well, and to please God, it is perfectly acceptable for it not to be "natural."  We know that virtues like patience or perseverance require practice and discipline to develop.   But kindness can be learned too!

So how do we teach kindness to our children?  

1. We should point out kindnesses they can do right now: ending cards, doing chores unasked, visiting a sick friend, sharing their toys with a visitor, telling someone they did a good job, not bragging, or giving way to a tired or cranky sibling. 

2. We can help them reason through what they would want to happen in a given situation.  For instance, "If you broke your arm, what would you wish your friends would do?"  

3. We can enable their kindness.  A dollar or two will buy cards and stamps.  Half an hour will let them visit a sick friend.  Many simple kindnesses are beyond the resources of small children!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Compassion Matters


Devotional 3 highlights a powerful aspect of the character of God: compassion.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!



Compassion Matters 

To Do:

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the verses aloud once or twice and see if anyone can recite the first or second verse on their own.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to Ask: 

*What is compassion? To be compassionate means that you are moved to help when you see someone who hurting because their pain/fear/sorrow makes you feel bad too.  Notice that compassion is more than a feeling.  In the New Testament Jesus’ compassion drives him to help. 

*Can you think of a time that Jesus was compassionate? The woman at the well (John 4), the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11), feeding the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21) are all exanples.  If the kids think of a story but don’t know the details don’t hesitate to look it up and read it aloud! 

*When was someone compassionate to you? When were you compassionate to someone? For these questions be sure that you have an example to share and take the appropriate moment to praise anytime you have seen siblings be compassionate recently!

*Why is compassion hard? Although as adults our focus may be very wide, envisioning compassion as helping refugees from Syria or helping victims of a natural disaster, children are more likely to understand compassion as what is done for and with the other children close to them.  Accept any answer that is on topic and help them see that when we are busy, absorbed in a book or play, or have our own problems, it can be hard to think about how other people feel. 

Insights: 

Compassion. Sympathy.  Humility.  Traits we and our children need!  1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
As my oldest daughter began to mature, suddenly she was able to see the adults around her as people who might need compassion.  Before a certain age children see adults as aliens who are impossible to relate to; they struggle see how their words or actions impact the adults around them.  (Think about a child screaming “I hate you” and slamming the door.  A certain amount of immaturity and self-absorption is required not to see or care about his/her mother’s tears)  As we welcomed two extra members into our family for a few weeks, of course the number  of chores that needed done immediately increased.  Seeing my work load, my teen had compassion on me; without being asked she  pitched in at every opportunity to make things easier.  

This devotional may be a good time to let kids know that  adults sometimes forget what it is like to be small.  We should try to ‘walk a mile in their shoes’ and have compassion. Children also need to stretch their imaginations and try to think about things from an adult's perspective.  That's what compassion is all about. 



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Identity Matters


Devotional 2 brings us face to face with a powerful motivator: Identity.  This devotional, like the others, is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  Parents your notes are in italics.  Happy studying!




Identity matters:

To Do: 

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say them aloud once or twice and see if anyone can recite the first verse on their own.  Then read Colossians 3:12-14.

Questions to ask:

*Why should we be good?  Expect kids to say things like, “so we can go to heaven,” “so we don’t go to Hell,” “Because God said so,” and “So we don’t get in trouble.”  Even though these aren’t the answers in the text, don’t hesitate to praise kids for any answer on topic. 

*Why does Paul say we should do all these behaviors?  If the kids don’t come up with “because we are chosen” and “because we are holy and dearly loved” read the passage to them again and ask what Paul said exactly.  

*How were we chosen by God? (Ephesians 1:3-6)

*What does it mean to be holy? Don’t worry if the kids don’t know a good definition.  Emphasize that the idea is that God is without mistake, without sin, without an ugly thought or an ill intention.  He is perfect and complete.  We are, in our unredeemed state, as unholy as can be.  Yet when we were raised up with Christ we were declared holy.  Now, in these verses, Paul calls us to live up to the family standard. 

*Can you point to a Bible verse that says we are beloved?  (John 3:16 and many more)

Insights: Notice what Paul does not say, he doesn’t say, "Be kind or go to hell!" or "Be compassionate or God will get you!" The powerful truth that our sin separates us from God and can cause us horrifying consequences is not the only truth.  It is also true that we are cleansed, raised, beloved and holy. We are driven by that identity to become more like our Father and to imitate our elder Brother.  

Kids can understand this point in two important ways.  First in a family we have certain standards.  For instance in our family obedience and kindness are powerfully important.  Other people may talk back or snap and snarl at one another but in our family that is unacceptable. When we become Christians we join God’s family which has its own standards of behavior.  Paul is saying since we are beloved children in the family of God we have to act like it!

Second, kids can understand that they are grounded in the love of God.   Lots of times we are less than kind, less than compassionate because we feel threatened.  Someone’s action leave us questioning our worth and value so we attack back.  Yet when we really understand that the Creator of the entire Universe chose us and calls us His dearly loved ones, nothing anyone else has to say about our identity matters. 


Monday, June 19, 2017

The "Why" Matters!

I hope you receive as much blessing from Paul's words in Colossians as my children and I did.  Each devotional is timed for less than 10 minutes, but feel free to slow down if your kids are older or have a longer attention span.  I left notes for the parents in italics.  Happy studying!



Why matters: 

To do: 

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Say the first verse aloud a couple of times as a group to start working on the memorization.

Questions to ask: 

*What does it mean to be “raised up with Christ”? See Colossians 2:9-15.

*What are the things above?  My kids had great ideas here.  My little one imagined that Paul meant to think about the stars and the angels! 

*What are the things on the earth we aren’t supposed to be focusing on?  Does that mean its wrong to read a novel, play video games or other free time activities? This is a great place to identify something that distracts you from thinking about God and admit it to your kids!  Devotionals will be more productive if you respect your kids enough to be honest with them!

Insights: 

As we studied through this section, it struck me that the "why" matters.  We do all the things we are going to be studying about because we are “raised up.” 

I love the double entendre here.  Our baptism is a kind of death and resurrection in the likeness of Jesus (Colossians 2:9-15 and Romans 6). Also our humbled state as sinners in front of our holy God has been transformed. Now our status has been raised to beloved sons or daughters, pure and righteous.  Jesus has been exalted to Heaven, to the best place, God’s right hand.  That’s where we are headed.  That’s where our minds need to be focused!   




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Summer Kid's Devotional Series


This summer began for us with the advent of two young guests.  They’ll stay a couple of weeks and then head off to their grandma’s.  I warned their dad before they arrived that they should be ready for morning devos!  

Morning devotionals are a summertime tradition at my house.  For my homeschooler, during the school year, Bible is an academic subject.  My public school teen and I talk about how to apply God’s principles to her school life all the time.  But when the rigors of school are over, when summer slows everything down, we take a few minutes everyday after breakfast and read the Bible together.  We memorize God’s Word and think His thoughts after Him.  

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Mean Friend

Do you have a mean friend?  That friend that will tell you the truth when everyone else politely lies? (“Hey Honey, your new deodorant isn’t doing the trick!”).  That friend who will ask you the hard questions, (“Yes, I understand she’s annoying, but are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?”).  The friend who reminds you of your own responsibility, (“This is the just the kind of growth you were praying for!”) That friend who prays for you and cries with you, but she’ll also confess with you and call you to repent?

I have that friend.  Sometimes I am that friend.  And we all need a friend like that to love us enough to tell us the truth. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Baptism: An Appeal for Mercy

Baptism is one of many Bible topics that suffers from a particular kind of blindness. 

It happens most frequently to important topics.  Once long ago a teacher, an honest and dedicated person, summarized that important topic in one specific way.  He taught that to his followers.  It became a rallying cry, then a way of differentiating themselves from everyone else.  Was the teacher wrong? Not necessarily.  Perhaps not at all.  Yet these pithy ways of explaining complex topics are like a door-one that either opens up clarity into the text or one that closes the door to searching out the Word.     

I want open doors into the Word. I think you do too.  So the only thing is to lay aside what I think I know and go straight to the Bible and ask God some direct questions.  You may be as surprised by the answers as I was. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hannah's Hundred: A Review

Last year my mom brought my daughter a CD from a ladies day she attended.  It was entitled "Hannah's Hundred Vol IV".  We opened it up and popped it in to the CD player on the car.

My 8 year old daughter (who the CD was for) loves it.  Her older sister thinks it is corny. I am on the fence, on the one hand, a little corny, on the other hand, kids under 10 rarely have discriminating musical tastes!  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Does it work?


Is "Does it work" the right question to ask about God?  Marriage, faith, church, hope,
My marriage is in trouble. If we started coming to church, do you think it would work?

I’ve got a kid who is breaking my heart. If I prayed for him, do you think it would work?

I’ve got cancer and I’m really scared to die. If I asked God to heal me, do you think it would work?

Does it work?  

That is a question I have heard before.  It’s a question that hurts me because it so often comes from a  place of immense pain and fear.  But I’m sorry to say it’s the wrong question. Why? Because it implies that we are willing to serve God if it will work (IE if we will get what we want.) 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The end of a love story

The love story isn't over.

After 59 years and 11 months, after children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, after countless adventures and the quiet wasting years, she is gone. 

He was at church today.  Sitting alone.  He hasn't been there in months.  He has spent every Sunday morning at the nursing home with her.  Their pew sat empty awaiting a return that simply never happened. Seeing him today sitting by his son was bitter sweet.  We were all glad to have him but he was displaced.

Displaced is just the word.  He seems lost right now without her. It's no wonder.  He was married to her three times as long as he was alive without her.  

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Communers not Consumers: 6 Ways to Build Community in your Church

What do you want in a church?  A strong youth program, a fantastic minister, visionary elders, lots for your kids to do?  

Would you trade all of that for community?  You know a church where everyone knows you, not your mask but the real you, and loves you anyway?  A place where you are integral, where you are missed, where you are needed?  A place where you know everyone.  Their hurts are yours, their joys are your, their children are like your own nieces, nephews, grandkids.  No, if you had that, you'd be a part of that church for the rest of your life. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Scrubbing Soap Scum for Jesus

One Wednesday I woke up and scrubbed the bathroom. It was the start of an amazing day from God. 

I live in the Wyoming desert.  Rock Springs is one of a pair of twin communities almost a 100 miles of highway away the next town.  We have the hardest water of anywhere I have ever lived. I would like to write, “I am constantly battling soap scum,”  but it’s more like soap scum is constantly winning battles I forgot to show up for.  But this Wednesday, I made a bottle full of the “magic” soap scum cure (Dawn and vinegar) and went to work. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

'Twas the Day after Easter

Communion, Lord's Supper, Eucharist, Easter'Twas the day after Easter and the plastic grass is semi-glued to the candy.  Halves of plastic eggs are lurking in the yard ready to pulverize bare feet and become shrapnel for the push mower. Tummy aches and leftover sugar highs are making parents more miserable than the kids.  Tiny suits and dresses hang in closest and photos are sent out to develop.

'Twas the day after Easter and millions of people brim with the joy of the Lord.  They rejoice in the love of Christ's sacrifice, they revel in the morning arrival at the tomb; they shout with the millions on high, "He is risen! Christ is risen indeed!"  But Monday has arrived.  Spring break is over and it's time to go back to work, back to school.  It's time to return to the mundane and leave our spiritual high behind. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What is an Older Woman Worth?

I once had an older woman tell me she doesn't go to church
anymore because "...church is for young folks and children. They need that in their youth to set them straight. I'm not in need of it now, and no one needs me there."  How my heart broke for that woman!  But I know that she is not alone in her thoughts, even if others may not drop out of attending worship as she had done.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Diligent Woman: An Interview

Angela Legg blogs at The Diligent Woman and has a new edition of her book To Be A Handmaid of the Lord coming out very soon!  I had the privilege of interviewing her for you today.  (Interested in just buying the book?  Check out the review.)

Angela, I know your family has been an inspiration in your writing; can you introduce them and tell us about yourself as a mom?

Bryan and I have been married 22 years this June. We have five daughters, all at home. They are currently ages 19, 18, 13, 8, and 6.  Hmm, I never thought about describing myself as a mom—authoritative but hands-off? I’m a no-nonsense kind of mom. I teach them the things they need to know and then stand back and give them room to act on the knowledge.


Friday, April 7, 2017

To Be a Handmaid of the Lord: A book review

When I recently wrote "Sister Value Yourself," an old blogging friend popped up in the comments, Angela Legg.  She spoke up on this post, I'm sure, because she and I share a soap box or two.  We believe women should be encouraged to eat of the meat of the Word of God.  That so many of the failings of women in our culture are because they don't recognize their value in God's eyes.  That the most important thing we can do as teachers of women is point them back to God's love and His word!  

It's these ideas that drove the new edition of her book, To Be a Handmaid of the Lord.  I reviewed the first edition two years ago when it was designed as challenging Sunday School or homeschool material for pre/young teen girls.  And I was impressed with it then. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Twitchy and Giggles or Why I I Have a Communion Problem

Standing at the front, a solemn brother reminds the congregation that the bread he holds in his hands is the body of Jesus Christ.  Sitting in the pew, I raise an eyebrow as the kid I JUST told to put her feet down sneaks them back up.

He entones, “Let us pray.”  With half an eye open, I keep watch on Twitchy and Giggles ready to thump them if they get too loud.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Encouragement: Introducing Kristin Pace

I want to introduce you to a new blogger you should be following, Kristin Pace.  She blogs about her faith from a wide perspective.  She is a mom, a homeschooler, and her husband's helper in all things ministry.  She has a pre-teen with chronic pain and blog where she talks about all of it.  Be sure and click through at the end of the teaser to find the rest of the article and check out her blog.  You'll find her subscribe button in the same place as our's-top left-hand corner.


Have you ever wanted to try something but there was something that kept you from trying? Have you ever wanted to do something but were afraid it wouldn’t be received well? What eventually motivated you to put yourself out there?
I use my children as examples a lot, but there is so much insight to be gained from watching them interact with the world. 🙂 For example, our youngest struggles with chronic pain. She has fought this fight for over half of her life, but this last year in particular has been full of pokes and prods, countless appointments and tests and even a short hospital stay. Through the course of this, she has developed an intense fear of her doctor and anything medical. It’s to the point where she has full blown panic attacks....

Find out what encouraged Kristin's little girl to new heights of courage.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Wanted: A Peacemaker

I was all set to write a post on peacemaking.We have been talking a lot about how to be a Christian in our modern world.  There was a post on women's value, another on whether Christians should engage in the swirling debate, and a Biblical rubric for social media.  That's not to mention the posts on fear and tamales


 Peacemaking fits right in because more than anything (except Jesus Christ) this country needs a peace maker.  Someone who can bring about reconciliation.  Someone who can lead by example.  Someone who can forgive, whose ego takes a back seat.  Someone who will stand up for God's way but sit down and listen to others' points of view.

But that is not today's post.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Too Stupid to be Afraid

My dad has long said that I was "too stupid to be afraid."  I don't think this is an insult.  I suspect grudging admiration.  He is every bit as adventuresome as me.  And he doesn't really think I'm dumb.  It's just that a certain amount of fear is a smart response to a dangerous situation. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saving the World One Tamale at a Time

Do I look like a super-hero?  

Nope. 

I am a quite ordinary stay-at-home mom and blogger.  We're a dime a dozen.  It's the best disguise since the mild-mannered reporter.  


But let me tell you how I am saving the world one tamale at a time.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Teach Me Your Statutes


This New Year I have dusted off my audio Bible.  Specifically I committed to spending my first 25 minutes of listening for the day to listening to my Bible.  I am on track with all the folks who are reading and HOURS behind on my usual podcasts.  I am absorbed by the Torah.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

To Speak or Not to Speak: A Social Media Rubric


When we lived abroad, I lived an entirely apolitical life.  I had no opportunity (nor desire) to speak about the politics of our host country and no need to think about the politics half a world away in America.  But since we have been back, (especially this last 12 months) it seems to be the only topic of conversation.  I have been thinking about it a lot and finally came up with these 6 passages to help me sort out how to deal with these conversations and my own responsibility.