Rising up to take ACTION!

Pushing forward in our Christian blended family and parenting adventures.

My husband and I along the way have consistently been incorporating some form of family devotional, typically during one of our family meals.  We are not successful in doing a devotional every night but typically at least once a week.  Which has been good but we feel God leading us to take this devotional time in a new direction.

         —>Plan of action!<—

My husband and I are going to intentionally direct our family devotions to teaching, modeling, and instilling God’s law in the hearts of our children. I have recently read an amazing book by Ray Comfort, “How to bring your children to Christ and keep them there.” He offers some great advice and tools. This really opened my eyes on how important and crucial it is to teach our children about sin.

I think it is so easy to shy away from the focusing on the affliction of sin to stay more focused on God’s love and forgiveness. Especially with children, your instinct is to protect them from anything that may be scary or harmful. Sin and hell are scary and harmful! But we need to do exactly the opposite. Our children can never be truly appreciate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross if they do not fully recognize and understand the entity of sin.  They need to be taught God’s law, what sin is, they need to see themselves as a sinner or they will never truly repent and turn to Jesus.

I can see how this family journey through the commandments, magnifying God’s Moral Law is going to not only be transforming for our children but will also be at work in my own heart. This has already provoked my husband and I to truly reflect on our own sin and obedience to the Lord (or lack thereof 😉  )

JIt is so easy to deep inside try and justify or rationalize our own sin.  We so easily see sin as big or little, we try and attribute our sin as not as severe.  For example, we tell ‘a little white lie’ which we chalk up as harmless, but in God’s eyes lying is the same as murder and adultery.  Our sinful nature pulls us to downplay the seriousness of our sin.

So my husband and I are dedicated to use our family devotional to open the eyes of our children to exactly what sin is, so they can see sin in their own hearts and lives and recognize why they need to be saved. I know our kids know what the 10 commandments are but do they really understand them? They can recite them from memory but do they know what it means to truly follow them? We are going to slowly week by week take on a commandment and discuss it and study it and model it as a family.

Last week we had an in depth discussion about the first commandment.

““I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:2‬ ‭

God comes first.  It seems simple at first but trying to explain this to a child in terms they can truly comprehend is not as simple.  Before we can take this to our young audience we need to reflect on our own lives and actions; ‘am I living with God coming first?’, unfortunately not like I should or could be.  It is in trying to teach our children this that I can see where my sin has been shadowed, shining the light on it so I can repent and turn toward being obedient and putting God first.

We tried to shine light on what it means to not put God first, to put His blessings in our life before Him.  We used Ray Comfort’s  example and demonstrated what it looks like to love the gift and not the giver.

How often to we do this, value and honor our life, our family, our jobs, our things over the One who blessed us with these things.  We are all guilty, we are all sinners, we all desperately need Christ.  We are also ensuring that our kids are aware that my husband and I are just as guilty, we are not perfect or sinless, we make mistakes and need to repent from our sins and turn to Christ.

This week’s devotional we took on the second commandment.

““You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”  Exodus‬ ‭20:3-6‬

It is very easy to fall guilty to having idols, we do it all the time and don’t even realize this is what we are doing.  We idolize God as this loving forgiving God who won’t punish us for our sins.  We pray our wish lists to Him.  Idolatry is dangerous because it is so easy to fall into.  But breaking God’s law has severe consequences, if He punished us the way we truly deserved it would be unimaginable.

So with this weeks devotional in trying to teach and show the kids that God’s law is God’s law whether you believe or follow it we used the law of gravity as an example.  God of course is the Creator of natural laws, the natural lof of gravity.  My husband got to drop a raw egg and this definately got their attention, intentionally drop and break an egg!  He did it to show them it does not matter what we do we cannot defy the law of gravity because, it is indisputable that if you jump off of a cliff you will fall to a traumatic result of the law of gravity.  

The goal of having them visualize the consequence of defying one of God’s natural laws so we could impress on them on the power and consequence of defying God’s moral law.  We minimize our sins because we don’t see the immediate consequence of our sin.  However just because  we don’t receive immediate punishment we deserve does not mean that God’s law is not being disobeyed.  How quickly we turn to idolatry to justify and downplay our sin.  We need to have a healthy fear and respect of God and his law to truly be saved.  We can not repent of our sins if we are unable to reconize sin as sin.

 

My husband has done an amazing job leading our family devotional.  Not an easy task, with multiple children at varying ages and learning abilities at times it’s like herding cats to keep them on track.  Overall these have gone over really well and the cherry on top is that the all actually are participating and enjoying it 🙂

So to follow up and follow through with our new direction of devotional I have been working with them in the car on our ride to and from school.  We have been talking about the first and second commandments daily, reviewing what it means to follow them, and what it means to break them.  

In an effort to establish starting our day with the Lord and focused on Him we have established a blessing time in the mornings.  I ask one of the kids to lead us in a blessing for all of us to start our day.  They have been enjoying this as well, one morning I didn’t initiate blessing quick enough at the typical point in our drive when I would initiate and I was reminded by our daughter that we need to do our blessing.  

Another area that we been trying to encourage them in is having a servants heart and actively be seeking ways to be kind to others.  Every morning I discuss with them trying to find a way to show someone kindness during their day.  I encourage them to be on the lookout to help someone that needs it.  To look for ways they can serve others, even if it is a small way. I have challenged them to find a way to be kind or help someone anonymously.  So far none have them found a way but it’s only been a couple of weeks.

“Dear children let us love not with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1John3:18

Then on the way home we have discussion and learn who found a way to be kind.  One at a time I ask them about their day and if they found a way.  Some days are more successful than others but I feel like this we are making progress.  I also take time to tell them if I had found a way to show kindness to someone in my day.  We certainly cannot expect them to live to standards we as parents are not modeling and being the example of.

 The goal is encourage them to start their day in prayer and actively be looking for ways to serve, be kind and honoring to the Lord.

With the Lord leading us Matt and I will continue with this part of our parenting journey and continue to teach our children about God’s law, the severity of sinning against God and in turn showing them their own sin and this will lead them to a true conversion as a follow of Christ.  

These few weeks I know I am feeling more convicted, my heart is transforming and growing in my relationship with the Lord.  I can already see some small but positive changes in the kids, our family and home.

Heavenly Father,

Thank You so much for blessing us as parents!  What an awesome and challenging responsibility you have given us.  Please continue to lead guide and direct my husband and I in raising, teaching, discipling, encouraging, correcting and loving our children.  They each are a blessing from You.  I pray that we rise to be the parents You have called us to be, to teach and show our children how to love You, serve You and live their lives to glorify You.  I pray for strength, courage, wisdom and patience in this incredible journey.  I pray that my husband and I can be godly and humble examples for our children to look to us and see Your love.  I pray that our family devotional time continues to capture their attention and convicts their hearts and that they can see their sin for sin and truly repent and come to Christ.   Lord thank You so much for my husband and our children and blessing us so abundantly.  

In Jesus name, Amen. 

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A new season

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭1‬ NIV)

It’s that season again! Time for football, cheerleading and school will be starting before you know it. Such a busy time of the year and it always seems that there is no end in sight. But, it is that time of year so ready or not , here we go!

Tyler and Josh have just begun the 2014 football season, Tyler’s first year playing I might add. Emily is on her second year of cheering and Ingrid and I are preparing to buy a small coffee farm in an effort to provide enough of the warm caffeine goodness that keeps us going, sometimes!

I’m reminded that this is a season, a season that is here for a while and then is gone. Just like any season, we need to intentionally take advantage of its perks. It may be challenging to think there are many perks during this hectic time of quick sandwich dinners and making u-turns to fetch helmets and shoulder pads that “mysteriously” got taken out of the back of the car by the infamous “it wasn’t me” monster. Well, there are. Like the perk of needing to spend more time praying for our children, or the benefit of having the opportunity to share and show our faith to so many new people we meet.

We also have the opportunity to spend this extra time with our children, talking supporting, cheering for and encouraging them. This is a season where they will be watching our every move and hearing every word. This is a time where we need to be thankful to God for giving us the ability to let our children enjoy activities like this.

This is also a season where we will need to be watchful, mindful and always prepared to give an answer for the faith we have in Christ.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (‭1 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭15‬ NIV)

With school starting, our children will be bombarded with many more outside influences than we can even think about. Teachers, friends, team mates even text books and other media. We need to be ready in this season to answer the tough questions they will have. We need to be prepared to set a godly example that shows the benefit of living in Gods will, to the best of our ability.

In this season, we all will grow. Growing as players, as cheerleaders, as parents and most importantly, as disciples of Jesus. Jesus is always growing us, growing us to look like him, love like him and serve like him.

“Heavenly Father,

This season we come to you with grateful hearts. Thanking you for the many blessings you have bestowed on us thank you for my wife and her unfaltering commitment to our children and to me. Thank you for our children and for allowing them to play football and cheerleading. Thank you for this upcoming school year. Lord thank you for the opportunity to show and share our faith with others and to continue growing our kids into disciples of Christ.

Lord we ask for your protection over our children both physically and spiritually. Let them not be influenced by this world but rather be the influencer’s to others for your name sake.

Help Ingrid and I not grow tired or weary during this hectic season. Help us to show love and thoughtfulness and dedication to each other and our children in all things. Please allow our kids to see you in us and help that to permeate our home by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Thank you God for all that you do for us.
In Christ name
Amen”