Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 5 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 5 of 5

Throughout the Bible, we read several examples of parents who did an extraordinary job of teaching and training their children, and a number of examples of those who did not. A couple of examples of parents who did teach and train their children well include:

Timothy was trained well by his mother and grandmother, and Paul continued to teach Timothy throughout his ministry (2 Timothy 1:5).

Zacharias and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, were righteous in God’s eyes (Luke 1:6).

A couple of examples of parents who did not teach or train their children well include:

King Solomon, who wrote the Proverbs and had more wisdom than anybody else, did not himself always make wise choices, and even did evil in the eyes of God, not modeling Godly actions to his children (1 Kings 11:4-13).

Eli, Samuel’s greatest influence, did not train up his own children well. God revealed to Eli that neither he nor his children would be forgiven for his wrongdoing (1 Samuel 3:11-14).

These passages all affirm that parents have an extraordinary role in the teaching/training of their children. Not only that, but they also affirm that God has disciplined parents for not following His commands to do so.

Read: Proverbs 1:7

Questions to Consider:

  • Can you think of any other examples in the Scriptures that show a parent (or parents) who did an extraordinary job of training up their children?
  • Can you think of any other examples in the Scriptures that show a parent (or parents) who did a poor job of training up their children?
  • Read Proverbs 1:7. What does it mean that the fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge? Does fear mean to be afraid of God, or does it mean something different?
  • How can you best teach your children to fear God?

Prayer:

Father, I pray that You will continue to instill Your wisdom in me as to how I can best train up my children to follow You. I realize this isn’t a process that will not happen right away, but is more of a continual investment I need to make in the lives of my kids. Help me to stay the course and remain encouraged that I am building a faith foundation that my children will build on the rest of their lives. I pray for You to teach and lead me in the way I should go. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 4 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 4 of 5

Father: “You always do stuff like this. He’s going to continue to do these kinds of things and get away with it if we never correct him, you know.”

Mother: “All he did was push his brother. He didn’t even do it hard. There is such a thing as rough and tumble play.”

Father: “Yes, I do know. Now ask the one that was pushed if he thought it was play or not.”

Mother: “You’re being ridiculous. They’re boys. Boys will be boys.”

Father: “Yes, boys will be boys. But they have to be taught how to behave properly. If I did that I’d get fired. If he did that with another child at school, he’d get kicked out of school.”

Mother: “You’re blowing this way out of proportion. He didn’t do it at school. He did it here at home, and it really wasn’t a big deal.”

Father: “Again, ask his brother if he thought it was a big deal.”

Mother: “Maybe he just needs to learn to sometimes bad things happen. You’re really taking this too seriously.”

Father: “Look. I really think we need to be on the same page on how to discipline the boys. And I really think it would be a bad idea to just let them get away with things like this.”

Mother: “I want to be on the same page, too. But you’re too rough on them.”

Father: “So do you think we can find a middle ground somewhere?”

Mother: “We’ve been down this road before. I’m not sure we can.”

Father: “Well we can’t just keep giving them a free pass like this. We just can’t.”

Mother: “It’s not a free pass!”

Father: “Then what’s your suggestion? How should he be punished?”

Mother: “He shouldn’t.”

Father: “Not giving him a free pass, indeed.”

. . . . .

The Scriptures make it clear that children are to be disciplined. Hebrews 12:11 says, 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (NLT).

Verses such as these, and others throughout the Proverbs, encourage the use of discipline in the training up of children. These verses were not written as a way to justify harming a child in any way, and must be understood in the manner they were written – that children must be disciplined when doing wrong.

Most importantly, it’s necessary that both parents be on the same page when it comes to how to discipline their children. For one child, one form of discipline may work well. For another, it may take something more creative. Nevertheless, parents need to work together and regularly be on the same page.

Read: Hebrews 12:5-11; Proverbs 13:24; 23:13-15; 3:11-12; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21;

Questions to consider:

  • Read Hebrews 12:5-11. In what ways has God disciplined His children (i.e. the people of Israel, or others)?
  • In what ways has God disciplined you as one of His children?
  • Read Proverbs 3:11-12; 13:24; 23:13-15. What is the main principle being taught in these passages?
  • In what ways were you disciplined as a child that worked? In what ways were you disciplined as a child that only caused anger and bitterness, and not godliness?
  • Are you and your spouse currently on the same page when it comes to how to discipline each of your children? (In what ways are you on the same page? In what ways are you not?)
  • We should never discipline out of anger, but out of love. Do you find it difficult sometimes to not let your anger direct your discipline?

Prayer:

Father, I know that Your Word teaches the importance of disciplining children. I pray today that You will reveal to my spouse and I the ways we can best discipline our children – not to bring them to anger, but to bring them to understand Your ways and Your love. It is our sincere desire that our children will know You, trust You, and fear You, and we commit today our willingness to do whatever Your Word asks us to do for our children to follow You. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 3 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 3 of 5

It wasn’t supposed to happen. Jesus had spent nearly three years traveling from city to city, teaching others the ways of God. And without warning, a number of parents in one town began bringing their children to Jesus, asking Him to bless them. He could have easily sent them away. In fact, the disciples scolded the parents, believing that Jesus had many more important things to do than to spend his time with a bunch of children. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children (Matt. 19:14).”

It was a simple statement. The disciples had heard a number of one-liners over the years. But this one stuck. “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children.”

Read: Matthew 19:13-15; Psalm 127:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13

Questions to Consider:

  • What do you think it means that, “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children?”
  • Read 1 Timothy 5:8. Do you think this passage is only talking about providing physical needs (food, clothing, shelter), or do you think it means something more?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the most well-known passage about what it means to love others. Read it carefully, and write down at least 5 things you will do this week to love your child.

Additional Question for those without children:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 13. This is the most well-known passage about what it means to love others. Read it carefully, and write down at least 5 things you will do this week to love children you may come into contact with over the next few weeks.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, when I think about what it means that, “The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children,” I’m amazed at the love that You show to children, and to me as one of Your children. I simply pray today that You will continue to reveal to me the love You have for me, so that I may better show that same love to my children. And I ask that they will come to see how much I truly do love them. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 2 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 2 of 5

As children continue to grow, they pay close attention to how their parents interact with one another, and with others. They’ll gladly receive instruction on how to control their anger or how to get along with one another, but if they see their parents not applying these same principles, they’ll be more likely to follow their parent’s behavior. Think about it – are your children following what you’re teaching them, or are they modeling the same behaviors they see you doing? That’s a challenging question, isn’t it?!

One of the key principles children need to see is their parents following the leading of the Holy Spirit. If your children hear you say, “It’s important to trust God in everything,” and see you trust God in everything; they’ll grow up with a firm foundation.

Read: Galatians 5:16-26; Psalm 19:7-8

Questions to Consider:

  • What have you said today to teach your children the importance of trusting God?
  • What have you done today to show your children the importance of trusting God?
  • In your own words, summarize the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26 in just one sentence.
  • If you were sitting down with your children to teach them the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26, what would you say to them?

Additional Question for those without children:

  • How would you teach children you know the key principles of Galatians 5:16-26?

Prayer:

Father, I pray today that You will lead me to better see any fruits of the flesh that are evident in my life, and in the lives of my children, and that You will lead and guide me to remove these things from my life so that I may live a fruitful life for You, and guide my children to do the same. I also pray for my spouse, that we will work together as a team to help our children better trust You. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Parenting Devotional (Day 1 of 5)

Weird: Parenting – Day 1 of 5

Father: “My kids have been looking forward to this all week long. I just wanted to let you know how much we appreciate all you do.”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Oh, well thanks. We love having them here.”

Father: “No, really. They love it here. I’m not sure if you all put something in the water, but our kids just love it here!”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Thanks. That’s what we like to hear.”

Father: “I did have a question though. They keep bringing home these Parent Cue and God Time cards, and my preschooler even brought home a placemat. Are we actually supposed to do something with these at home?”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Oh, those. Yes, those are the ways we let parents know what their children are learning about, tips on ways to disciple their kids at home, and we hope parents are practicing the monthly memory verse with their child, too. We teach all of the kids core truths from the Bible every week, and so these are really important tools we send home to you each week.”

Father: “And…just so I understand correctly. It’s your hope that we’ll help them in this process at home?”

Family Ministry Teacher: “Yes. Our goal is to engage the whole family. Not just the children.”

Father: “Well, don’t take this the wrong way or anything. But we’ve got plenty of homework to do already. Throw in soccer practice for two different kids in two different age groups, and we’re already swamped. This just isn’t something we have a whole lot of time for in our family.”

Family Ministry Teacher: “These are designed to be very simple. It’s something you can go over in the car, during dinner, or you could even pull them out right at…”

Father: “Like I said, it just isn’t something we have much time for. That’s why we bring them here, isn’t it?”

. . . . .

The Book of Proverbs was written as a textbook for young men entering adulthood. It was helpful in teaching them principles of wisdom in regards to many areas of life – from knowing God, to finances, to anger, to friendship, to marriage, to parenting, and much more. And even though the Proverbs were initially written for men, they’re just as applicable to women.

One often-recited Proverb is 22:6 – Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it (NLT). It was encouragement for men to lead their children onto the path of wisdom. For fathers to take the initiative to instill all of the principles within the Proverbs (including knowing God, finances, anger management, friendship, marriage, and more) and to teach those principles to their children.

In other words, the Bible says that it is the primary responsibility of the parents to instill Godly wisdom into their children. The church is available as a resource for guidance and direction, but the parents need to be the primary teachers and trainers of their children in the ways of God.

Read: Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 22:6

Questions to Consider:

  • Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Why do you think God commanded parents to read His commands again and again to their children?
  • Do you think God had any specific commands in mind for this passage?
  • In your own words, what does it mean to train up a child in the way they should go?
  • What are you currently doing well to train up your children in the ways they should go?
  • What could you be doing better to train up your children in the ways they should go?

Additional Question for those without children:

  • What, specifically, can you be doing to help parents put these passages into action? Write down at least three.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I ask today that You would provide me with tremendous wisdom and insight as to how to be train up my children in the way they should go. My desire is to be an example for my children, providing my children opportunities to see how to trust You in all things. Help me to partner with my church so that together we can do some amazing things in the hearts of my children. Amen.

Weird: Mission Devotional (Day 5 of 5)

Weird: Mission – Day 5 of 5

A church building is just that, a building. It’s a tool used as a place of worship for Christians, and also used to serve the community as a whole.

The church, however, isn’t just a building. The church is a group of people. The church is one body. The church is holy. And the church has a mission – to reach others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the end of His time on earth, Jesus said, “…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It wasn’t a suggestion. Nor a simple recommendation. He commanded it. “…GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS…”

Read: Matthew 28:18-20

Questions to Consider:

  • What do you think it means to make disciples?
  • Why do you think Jesus gave this command to the disciples as a group?
  • How can you best follow-through on this command?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I just want to take the opportunity to close out this week by praising You for all You’ve done in my life! Specifically, I thank You for ____________________________.

I also want to pray for this weekend’s ministry project, “The Church Has Left the Building.” As South Ridge Church leaves the confines of our building, I pray that You will continually provide us opportunities to be the church to our community. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Mission Devotional (Day 4 of 5)

Weird: Mission – Day 4 of 5

The New Testament makes one thing abundantly clear; every follower of Jesus is to share the Gospel message with others. But it makes something else clear, too. Every follower of Jesus is to continually share the Gospel message with themselves on a regular basis, too.

For example, Paul wrote to Christians in Rome that he was looking forward to preaching the Gospel to them (Romans 1:15). They already had faith in Jesus, but Paul knew they needed to continually hear the Gospel message themselves. In fact, many of Paul’s letters focus on specific Gospel truths. Truths he knew God’s people needed to hear on a daily basis.

Read: Ephesians 2

Questions to consider:

  • If somebody asked you to define the Gospel, what would you say?
  • What are at least five truths of the Gospel you think you need to hear on a daily basis?
  • What will you do in order to remind yourself of these truths on a daily basis?

Prayer:

Father, I recognize that I need Your Gospel to permeate every aspect of my being. I know that I sometimes feel guilt and shame, and I forget that Jesus has done everything that needed to be done to make me righteous (Romans 5:19). I also recognize that I sometimes feel unholy, but I know that You have done everything that needed to be done to make me holy (Hebrews 10:10). So, today, I simply pray that You will continue to remind me of Your Gospel truths, so that I may continually live freely in them. I praise You, today, for everything You have done! Amen.

Weird: Mission Devotional (Day 2 of 5)

Weird: Mission – Day 2 of 5:

Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t always mean you need to pack your bags and move to some remote country on the African continent, hoping to share the message of Jesus with those who barely have access to food and water, let alone a local church. Yes, God may call some into full time missionary work, and it’s possible you’re one of them! But most people will continue to work in the same job and enjoy the same hobbies, year after year.

This doesn’t mean we are to keep what we believe hidden from others. Instead, we are to relate with others, befriending them in such a way that they see and hear our faith in action on a regular basis. We don’t do this to receive recognition and accolades. We do it so that God receives the recognition.

Read: Matthew 9:9-13,10:32-33, 12:46-50

Questions to Consider:

  • What types of people did Jesus take specific opportunities to relate with?
  • What, specifically, did he did do to relate with them?
  • Think of one or two people you struggle to relate with. What do you think makes your relationship with them so difficult?
  • What specifically, can you do to better relate with them throughout the week? Month? Year?
  • If someone asked you what God has called you to do and/or where He’s called you to go, how would you answer?

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that there are people in my life that I have a hard time relating with in a positive way. But I know that You have called me to live intentionally for You, and live with others relationally in a way that points people directly to You. Today I want to pray specifically for those I struggle to relate with. I pray that You will continue to help me see them as people created in Your image, and that You will provide me the wisdom to know how to love them in the same ways You do. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Weird: Mission Devotional (Day 1 of 5)

Weird: Mission – Day 1 of 5

Nick: “Did you ever think that…oh, never mind.”

Jordan: “What is it?”

Nick: “I don’t need to say it. Really.”

Jordan: “Really, it’s OK.”

Nick: “I just sometimes feel like, maybe we were made to be part of something bigger.”

Jordan: “Are you saying this job isn’t everything you hoped it would be? Because of all the other companies I’ve worked for, I think I could retire from this one.”

Nick: “No, it’s not that at all. I mean, sure, I like my job and all. And I agree that I could retire from here, too. But every day is the same thing. Wake up. Get the kids off to school. Come here and meet with clients. Go home. And then get up the next day and do it all over again. I suppose we are making a difference and all, but I just wonder if I could be doing something that would provide more meaning and purpose, ya know?”

Jordan: “Sorry. I’m not sure I do know. What else is there?”

Nick: “Well, you go to the same church as my family, right?”

Jordan: “Yeah, we’ve been attending for years. We really like it there.”

Nick: “The message from this weekend is really sticking with me. The pastor talked about living out our faith intentionally, and relationally with others.”

Jordan: “Yeah…what’s your point?”

Nick: “It just doesn’t seem like we do that. You and I. Our families. I mean, what do we do to intentionally live out our faith around others.”

Jordan: “I understood the point of the message. But I also know that this is the real world. We can’t really talk about our faith with others. Remember Michael?”

Nick: “Oh yeah, whatever happened to him, anyway?”

Jordan: “They fired him. He kept going on and on about his faith. Apparently somebody filed a complaint. I mean it’s one thing to be nice to people, or invite them to a special church event or something like that. But we can’t go around just openly talking about Jesus all the time.”

Nick: “Maybe it’s not that we can’t talk about our faith with others. Maybe we just need to figure out how to live out our faith more intentionally around others.”

Jordan: “How?”

Nick: “That’s exactly what I’m trying to figure out. Like I said, I feel like we’re supposed to be …no, I feel that we are part of something bigger. But I’m just not sure how to be intentional about it.”

Jordan: “Well, if you ever figure it out, feel free to let me know. Gotta run. But we’ll catch up again soon, alright?”

Nick: “Sure. I suppose we will.”

.  .  .  .  .

Be honest. Do you get up every day and take the opportunity to think through how to live out your faith around others? Do you go into each and every day with the intention of living out the Gospel?

Some may read through these questions and say, “Of course I do.” While others may think, “I’m honestly not sure what it means to intentionally live out the Gospel.”

To intentionally live out the Gospel means to do your very best to see every person you interact with in the same way Jesus sees them. To see their hurts, struggles and fears. To love and encourage them, considering their own needs as more important than your own (Philippians 2:3-4).

As you begin this week, take time to evaluate the people you interact with the most. Some will be immediate family. Others will be colleagues, or other parents out on the soccer field. How can you be intentional about living out the Gospel around them throughout the week?

Read: Philippians 1:20-2:4

Question to Consider:

  • In your own words, what do you think it means to intentionally live out the Gospel? Do you know of any scripture passages that support this?
  • How can you be intentional about living out the Gospel this week? Take the opportunity to write down your answer, and look at it each and every morning throughout the week.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I simply pray today that You will give me wisdom and insight as to how I may better live intentionally for You each and every day. Amen.

Weird: Sexuality Devotional (Day 5 of 5)

Weird: Sexuality – Day 5 of 5

A Community Group of friends gets together to discuss this week’s message on sexuality, when the following conversation takes place:

Jonathan: “OK, everybody let’s go ahead and get started. I know Sunday’s message about sexuality may have caught some of you off guard, but I think we can still have a pretty good discussion about it.”

Natasha: “I don’t think we need to talk about it at all. I mean, I think sex is a very private subject. What somebody does behind closed doors isn’t really anybody else’s business, right?”

Kira: “Nobody is asking us to talk about personal details of our sex lives. We’re just talking about God’s purpose for sexuality as well what constitutes as sexual sin.

Natasha: “If you say so.”

Jodie: “I kind of agree with Natasha. I mean, do we really need to talk about this? I know the pastor said that it’s not a ‘private’ subject, but it is ‘personal’, and I can kind of buy into that. But it IS personal. And I don’t know that we really need to get into this too much.”

Mark: “Well, I listened to the same message, and I agree with Kira’s assessment. Not only that, but the pastor also talked about confession a great deal, too. I mean, we’ve been together as a group for a while now. Perhaps we can openly discuss some of the struggles we have. If not now, perhaps when we break into separate men/women groups later?”

The room remains silent for at least 30 seconds.

Landon: “I’ll break the silence I suppose. And I’m with my wife (Jodie). It seems like our group here is about 50/50 in our desires to talk through this one. Maybe we should just get into another subject for this week.”

Jonathan: “I see that we all have some strong feelings on this subject, and many may have some questions. Let’s go ahead and check out what the scriptures say, and then we can discuss some of our questions, and maybe even some things we wrestle with. If not in an entire group context, we can do so in separate groups later on. Sound good?”

Everybody nods in agreement.

Jonathan: “Ok, great. The passage for this week is…”

As the group continues their discussion, they discuss subjects such as the cultural celebration of sex, whether or not there’s a difference between fulfillment and satisfaction, and even some specifics regarding sexual sin and the importance of confession. Afterwards, as the men and women meet separately for prayer time, each group member confesses some kind of struggle they have in this area. For some it was clicking on websites. For others, it was romance novels, or flirting with other men or women in the workplace. Jonathan and Rebekah, the group leaders were well prepared and were able to help each individual think through the ramifications of the decisions they had been making. And after an opportunity to pray for one another, each group member agreed to help keep one another accountable.

 . . . . .

Many do not like to talk about sexual sin. We don’t want to point out others sins, and we certainly don’t want to discuss our own. But many are struggling in the area of sexual sin. Recent studies indicate that 77% of men who attend church regularly look at pornography at least once a month. The same statistic for women is over 50%, and climbing rapidly.

Questions to Consider:

  • What do think about the Community Group discussion written above? Which character do you most resonate with and why?
  • Have you ever had a group of friends where you felt free to share anything you were struggling with? What was it like?
  • Do you agree that discussing sexuality is personal, but should not be private? Explain.
  • Read 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16. Why do you think it’s harder for people to confess sexual sin than for them to confess other struggles they may have?
  • Read Psalm 51 (a Psalm written by David after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba). David, king of Israel, wrote a confession that would have been read by everybody in Israel. The punishment in Israel for such sin was usually death.
  • Why do you think David wrote this Psalm?
  • What is one thing you will do this week as a result of this message?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that You have created sex solely for the marriage relationship, and that within a marriage it is to bring relational fulfillment to both the husband and the wife. I again confess that it’s a challenging subject for me to speak about with others, but I pray that You will provide me opportunities to openly discuss what Your Word says about this subject with my friends and family. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.