“It is easier than ever.” Mr. Peeping Tom

ptg01680591What would you do if you caught a man peering into the window of your teenage daughter or wife’s window to catch a glimpse of them in their underwear or a tight fitting tank-top? You would probably call the police, grab your Louisville Slugger and run outside to catch him. But I know you would not call the man and tell him when would be the best time to be at your daughter’s window. Your would never want to make it easy for a young male to gawk, visualize or even fantasize about your daughter or wife. But I think we actually are.

When June rolls around, it does not take long for the pictures of teenage girls and even sometimes their mothers in tight (revealing) tops and swimsuits to start popping up on social media sites like instagram, twitter, snapchat, and facebook. If we would be upset over a man peering into our daughter’s window then why would we allow them to posts photos of themselves in bikinis. We are in fact inviting young men over to gaze through our daughter’s blinds.

Instead, we need to make sure that we are protecting our wife, daughters and even our sons.  Here are some questions, including myself, that we need to ask and answer:

  • Do you know the types of pictures that your family is posting on social meda sites?
  • Are you having conversations about modesty and the dangers of posting pictures for others to see?
  • Are you helping protect the innocence of your children and the children of others?

As summer and swimsuit season kicks off we all need to be reminded of our responsibility to protect and serve.

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Spiritual Leadership in the Home – Key #4

The last key I want to talk about in the realm of being the spiritual leader of our homes is Family Worship. The words Family Worship often strike fear in our minds. I believe it is because we picture our families sitting in the living room, mother playing on the piano and father trying to lead the children in singing. My hope is that I can dispense some of this fear and help us all with the idea of Family Worship because I believe it is a vital part of spiritually leading our families.

Family WOrship

I see and practice with my family two forms of Family Worship – Planned and Spontaneous. Deut. 6 reminds us that leading our families spiritually in worship of our creator should invade every aspect of our lives. When we lead our families in worship it should be a natural thing. So here is what I mean by the Planned approach.

Planned Family Worship:
We as spiritual leaders need to be gathering our families together. I know we are all busy but we will make time for what we feel is most important. So look at your week and see when you could carve out sometime to sit down as a family. Your schedule may work best to have a breakfast family worship but for others it might be after supper or before bed. Our goal during these times should be to turn our children’s hearts and minds toward God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Here are a few ideas we have used or have heard that work well for others.

Preschool:
1) Read to them –  There are some great books such as the Jesus Story Book Bible, The Big Picture Bible, Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers, etc. We have typically used our bedtime routine to include reading and talking with our preschoolers.
2) The Gospel Project I-Pad App: Our church uses the Gospel Project for our elementary ministry called Bethel Kids. There is a great app that we found for the Gospel Project and the app has a preschool and an elementary version. The app includes videos, puzzles, trivia, etc. We have been trying to use the app during our dinner time.
3) Take Home Stuff: Our preschool ministry called Snap Shots does an excellent job of letting us as parents know what is being taught and how we might continue the teachable moments at home. Our children are given a memory verse, table talk questions, etc. These are great and can be used anytime and any place, such as driving down the road, before bed, at bath time, etc.

Elementary:
1) New City Catechism I-Pad App. Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas have created a kid-friendly app for families. This is a great app that can be used in teaching our children about who God is and what He has done. This app will allow you to track several children at a time or to lead your family through. This would be a great additional to breakfast, driving in the car or before bed.
2) The Gospel Project I-Pad App: Our church uses the Gospel Project for our elementary ministry called Bethel Kids. There is a great app that we found for the Gospel Project and the app has a preschool and an elementary version. The app includes video, puzzles, trivia, etc. We have been trying to use the app during our dinner time.
3) ESV Grow! Bible: is designed specifically to reach children ages 8–12 for the time between when they use a children’s Bible and a more advanced Bible. Coupling the full ESV text with many helpful features, this is a Bible that young students can call their own. The ESV Grow! Bible comes with all-new features to help children learn and understand God’s Word. Nearly every other page features a “W Question”, boxes answering the who, what, where, when, or why of a text—basic questions a child might have while reading. Introductions to each Bible book, charts, and maps help young readers understand the themes, characters, and context of Scripture. 45 “Cross Connections” explain how certain Bible passages point to Christ and 90 “4U” sections explain and apply texts to the child’s life. In addition, articles about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith help children understand important theological concepts. You could set up a reading chart that you and your child follow and discuss at various times.
4) Faith at Home Questions: Each week we try to publish questions to families under the title of Faith at Home. These questions will go along with that weeks sermon. These questions could be used on the drive home, over lunch or any other time during the week.

Junior High/Middle School:
1) ESV Grow! Bible: is designed specifically to reach children ages 8–12 for the time between when they use a children’s Bible and a more advanced Bible. Coupling the full ESV text with many helpful features, this is a Bible that young students can call their own. The ESV Grow! Bible comes with all-new features to help children learn and understand God’s Word. Nearly every other page features a “W Question”, boxes answering the who, what, where, when, or why of a text—basic questions a child might have while reading. Introductions to each Bible book, charts, and maps help young readers understand the themes, characters, and context of Scripture. 45 “Cross Connections” explain how certain Bible passages point to Christ and 90 “4U” sections explain and apply texts to the child’s life. In addition, articles about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith help children understand important theological concepts. You could set up a reading chart that you and your child follow and discuss at various times.
2) New City Catechism I-Pad App. Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas have created a kid-friendly app for families. This is a great app that can be used in teaching our children about who God is and what He has done. This app will allow you to track several children at a time or to lead your family through. This would be a great additional to breakfast, driving in the car or before bed.
3) The Gospel Project I-Pad App: There is a great student version for the Gospel Project for the i-pad and smart phones. This app allows the students to have a daily reading plan along with questions. This would be something I would recommend the parents follow along with their student so they could have some planned discussions.

High School:
1) New City Catechism I-Pad App. Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas have created a kid-friendly app for families. This is a great app that can be used in teaching our children about who God is and what He has done. This app will allow you to track several children at a time or to lead your family through. This would be a great additional to breakfast, driving in the car or before bed.
2) The Gospel Project I-Pad App: There is a great student version for the Gospel Project for the i-pad and smart phones. This app allows the students to have a daily reading plan along with questions. This would be something I would recommend the parents follow along with their student so they could have some planned discussions.
3) ESV Study Bible: I would highly recommend every family owning a copy of the ESV Study Bible. One of the ideas you could use as a planned teachable time are the resources in the back. You could have your student talk about issues such as The Bible and how we get the books that are in there, Character of God, The Trinity, Creation, Sin, Abortion, Marriage and Divorce, Homosexuality, Government, etc. These sections will give you some great information to talk about.

I do believe that our families need us to lead them in planned times where we turn off the TV, put the cell phones away and turn our minds and hearts toward who God is and what He has done. But as I said in the beginning, it should be a natural part of our lives. So family worship can also be spontaneous. Times where we can have what I like to call a faith talks. There are teachable moments all around us. Your children will see and experience things and we need to be ready to capitalize on those moments.

Here are some examples.

When we are having to talk to our children about making right decisions make sure we take the opportunity to talk about the decision that God made to create us and to send His son to save us.

When we are having to talk to our children about forgiving others. Make sure we are ready to teach them that God forgive us.

When our teenagers suffer mistreatment from friends, these are moments that God wants us to speak truth into them about their identity in Christ.

There will be countless moments to teach our children and teenager but we must be watching for them.

The truth is no one is perfect at leading their families because I know I am not. If we could lead our families perfectly they may not need a Savior. But because we are not perfect we must rely on the truth of the Gospel to guide us. So my last word of encouragement is just to start. You may feel awkward at first and sometimes it will feel like an utter failure but I promise you that God will be faithful and your family will see you trying to lead them.

I would love to visit or correspond with you if you have any questions and I would love to hear what you are doing with your family in the area of Family Worship.

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Spiritual Leadership in the Home – Key #3

Today I want to communicate the third key I see in the lives of people who are striving to be the spiritual leaders in their home.

Key #3: Being committed to a local church
I know no church is perfect but Christ is and Christ has established His church and He will one day return for His bride. If we are going to be the spiritual leaders of our homes we need to make going to church, serving the church and being the church a priority. Our children need to see us striving and loving the church.  And here is why.

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Christ founded the church (Matthew 16:28), purchased it with his blood (Acts 20:28), and identifies himself with it (Acts 9:4). The church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27; Ephesians 1:22023; 4:12; 5:20-30; Colossians 1:18, 24; 3:15)., the dwelling place of his Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:18, 22; 4:440 and the chief instrument for glorying God in the world (Ezekiel 36:22; Ephesians 3:10).  The church is also God’s instrument for bringing both the gospel to the nations and a great host of redeemed humanity to himself (Luke 22:46-48; Revelation 5:9).

I know we all have experiences where we have seen the church fall miserably at these. But Christ has not given up nor will he given up on the church and neither should we. In fact, you need the church and the church needs you.

People who want to rise up and not just raise good, quality citizens but raise children who grow up and follow Christ no matter the costs, need the encouragement, accountability, inspiration, perspective and power that comes in and through the church. And the church needs strong families.

Our children need to see us giving our time, resources, and energy to the church because that is exactly what Christ did. Here is the bottom-line for key #3:

You and I help shape our children’s passion and hunger for God.

They will see this or lack of this in numerous ways and Christ has given us the example to follow in loving, serving and sacrificing for his church.

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Spiritual Leadership in the Home – Key #2

The second key to providing the spiritual leadership that our children need is marriage. One of the best things we can do for our children is to love, serve and sacrifice for their dad or mom.  Marriage is hard but worth the fight. We can often put on a good face for people outside our homes but our children have a behind the scenes look. A healthy marriage is key to being an effective spiritual leader and discipler of our children.

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We will prepare, give time and invest in the things that are most important to us and our marriages need to be at the top of the list. Our marriages will speak volumes and are meant to be used to show our children what God is like. And the truth is that children seldom internalize and embrace the teaching of hypocrites. So when our children hear us say “be nice, share, use kind words” but they see us yelling, screaming at and putting down their mother or father they will see us as hypocrites. But the teaching of parents who live what they preach will pierce deeply into their children’s hearts. J.C. Ryle in his book “The Duties of Parents” says, “To give children good instruction, and a bad example, is but beckoning to them with the head to show them the way to heaven, while we take them by the hand and lead them in the way of hell.”

Our marriages are meant to preach and teach the Good News of Jesus. Think about it, human marriages exists to preach the gospel. Our marriages with teach a message that either draws children to Christ or repels them. Here is an example:

When a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church by serving her, forgiving her, leading her, praying for and with her, he is saying to his children, “Christ loves his church. You can trust the groom because He is infinitely loving.” On the other side, when a husband is unfaithful to his wife, verbally puts her down, loves his children more than her, and takes her for granted, he is saying “Christs’ love is not that great. He loves us only when we do what He wants. You can’t trust Him and you will never meet His expectations.”

The second key to being the spiritual leaders of our home is to focus on our marriages. We must give time, energy, and resources to build our marriages strong so that they communicate the message that God designed. I agree with William Farley when he said, “Our marriages exist for something bigger than themselves, and our children our watching.” (Gospel-Powered Parenting).

Husbands:
Here are five practical ways we can lead our wives as we strive to be the spiritual leaders of our families

1) Pursue Christ. This is the foundation for good spiritual leadership.  Before you try to start leading, you need to make sure you are following.  Men whose hearts are humble before the Lord can be shaped by Him.  Sit before God regularly, with His Word open, eagerly seeking to be purified and conformed into His image.  Show her the importance of this in your life.

2) Honor her publicly. Speak highly of your wife.  Don’t focus on her flaws or deficits.  Be the man that makes your wife light up  when you speak about her at meal tables with your friends.

3) Sacrifice for her. Philippians 2 gives us a great picture of Jesus’ love and example.  It is marked by putting others’ needs before your own.  Do the same in marriage.  Put down the rights you think you deserve and start sacrificing for your wife.

4) Be eager to serve. My temptation is merely to be able to serve.  Some days I am even willing to serve.  But Christ’s example and calling for Christian leaders is to be eager to serve.

5) Pray with her. Yes, I said it.  Pray with your wife.  This might be the go-to question for older men teaching younger men about spiritual leadership in marriage.  There is something unique and intimate about praying together.

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Spiritual Leadership in the Home – Key #1

Last week I began a blog series on spiritual leadership in the home.  As I grow in my understanding of being a leader and the importance of what it means to be the spiritual leader of my home I am humbled and challenged. When I looked over the lives of people I admire, glanced back over books I have read, and re-read passages in scripture I began seeing several keys. So today’s post is what I call the first key. The first key that begins to unlock the door to being an effective spiritual leader in the home is ME.

Key #1 is that “IT STARTS WITH ME.”

It Starts With Me - Album Cover There are two passages and two statements that have challenged me in the realm of stepping up to be the spiritual leader of my family. Here they are:

Joshua 24:14-15 – which closes with the phrase, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – which shows us the importance and progression of leading our children.

“Faith is not something that can be just taught; faith is something that is caught.” Mark Holmen

“We will all realize that what we are seeing in our children and teenager’s faith, is in all likelihood, a mirror image of our faith.” Dr. Mike Anderson

I am realizing that it is my responsibility not only to make sure my children are well-educated, find good jobs and have happy families, but that they grow in their knowledge and faith of who God is and what He has done.

So the first key to being the spiritual leader of my home is to make sure that I am striving to be more like Christ in all that I say, do or think. This will never happen outside the power of the Holy Spirit and we need to make sure we are striving and equipped to rise to the challenge of spiritual leadership. So here are some questions we must all answer.

1) Are you surrounding yourself with a group of men or women that sharpen you and hold you accountable?
2) Are you involved in a Bible study or small group that focuses time around the scriptures and is more than just a hang out time?
3) Are you spending regular time in God’s word?
4) Do you read? The saying is true, “Leaders are readers and readers are leaders.”
5) Do you have older people in your life that you can gain wisdom from?
6) Are you placing yourself in ways to use your spiritual gifts and serve others?

Do not be afraid to seek out people to help you in any of these areas.

The first key to being the spiritual leaders in our homes is that it must start with us. We must be growing spiritually in order to lead others (our wives and children) spiritually.

I pray and desire to be the type of parent that follows God in such a way that my children are inspired to follow Christ as well. I must live my life in a way that shows them that worldly gods only lead to temporary satisfaction and that this world is not their home.

The truth of the matter is that when I am not engaging in faithful Christ-like living at home, work and play, I am actually giving them the wrong impression of Christianity. According to Deuteronomy 6, they must see following Christ as an everyday lifestyle not a Sunday morning activity.

But what about our single parents? First of all, if you are a single parent, I am praying for you as I write this post. I can’t imagine what it is like to raise children as a single parent. If you have this responsibility, you need the help of the church. Christ has told the church to care for you. Do not be afraid to speak up and ask for help. If you have a young son or daughter, find someone in your church and ask them for help.

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Spiritual Leadership in the home

SL - dad and sonOver the past year I have heard questions like “How do I lead my family?” or “What can I do to be the spiritual leader of my home?” or “How do I disciple my children?”

I can’t tell you how excited I get when I hear questions like this. So I have sought out on a journey to come up with some practical things dads and moms can do. But first, know that this is not meant to be a list that you just do, check the box and everything will work out just fine. But I believe there are some things, some keys, that are common among people who are being intentional about the spiritual formation of their children and leading their families. So I want to outline four keys to spiritual leadership in the home and over the next week or so I will go further in depth on each key.

Key #1: It starts with you.
Spiritual leadership, discipling your children and leading your home starts with the head of the house. If you are a single mom, you have a unique battle and I hope to advise you biblically and effectively. You are faced with a great challenge but Christ does not leave you without hope.  If we are going to lead our families, if we are going to be the spiritual guides of our children it starts with making sure we are growing in Christ.

Key #2: Marriage
One of the best things we can do for our children is to love, serve and sacrifice for their dad or mom. God created man and woman and the idea of marriage. In fact, He knew that  guys could not survive on our own. Marriage is hard but worth the fight. We can often put on a good face for people but our children have a behind the scenes look. A healthy marriage is key to being an effective spiritual leader and discipler of our children.

Key #3: Being committed to a local church
I know no church is perfect but Christ is and Christ has established His church and He will one day return for His bride. If we are going to be the spiritual leaders of our homes we need to make going to church, serving the church and being the church a priority. Our children need to see us striving and loving the church. You need the church and the church needs you.

Key #4: In-Home Worship
What I love about the idea of In-Home worship is that it looks different for every family. There is nothing more creative than God, and families express that creativeness in the way they conduct In-Home worship times. Some families read right from the Bible, others play music and sing, I have heard of others acting out Bible stories, many pray for missionaries, etc. But when our children are being led to worship God in creative ways, in the home, discipleship truly happens.

I know there are probably other things I could add but for now these are the four keys we will unpack over the next week or so.

I would really love to hear back from you on your thoughts of spiritual leadership in the home.

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Eyelids of God

NGC-7293-or-The-Helix-NebulaThere is a lot of talk, discussions, facebook rants and posts about our government and the state of our country. There are things I listen to and hear that if I am not carefully can easily lead me to dispair. I begin thinking about what the U.S. will be like when my children are my age or what will the church be like in twenty years. As believers in Christ Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father and hold all things together, our hope should never be in a person, tax system, or government plan. This morning I found the verses of Psalm 11 reassuring.

Psalm 11:1–4 (ESV) 1In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,2for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;3if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”4The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Even if our foundations are destroyed what are the righteous (believers in Christ Jesus) to do? We are to rest assured that the Lord is in his holy temple reigning and that his eyes are always aware. There is nothing God does not see, nothing that catches Him off guard and nothing that is outside of His control. Not only does He see but his eyelids?

Take a moment and really concentrate your eyes on something on your desk or wall. What do you feel your eyelids doing? They are probably contracting because you are really focused on something.

God not only knows what is going on with your life, government, etc. but He is focusing his eyes on it. HE IS IN CONTROL.

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