Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What devotions do you recommend for families?

We are often asked about devotional books. People wonder what we would recommend or are doing at our house. Christian parents want to share the gospel with their children but sometimes do not know where to start. We want to spend time in the Word yet families struggle to find time daily with so many distractions and the overall busyness of life. Two months ago, a friend told us about a Bible resource they use in their home. When I researched it, I saw these two devotions. You need to know, I am always looking for devotionals to use with our girls since we have done most everything out there. The minute they arrived, I was so excited to start using them.

Long Story Short is an easy to use family devotional.  It takes about 10-15 minutes a day for five days a week. Each day focuses on highlighting the gospel of grace through the stories of the Old Testament. It is deep enough to keep parents learning yet simple enough to transform the heart of a preschooler. We LOVE it! I love how it constantly points us to the Bible and to Jesus, not just morals or stories. Each day has a Bible passage to read, thoughts to think about, and questions to discuss.  Don't worry, they include the answers. It will take 78 weeks to complete.

Here's an overview of its format:
     Day 1-Introduces the story
     Day 2- Help you remember
     Day 3- Connects it to Jesus
     Day 4-Help you remember
     Day 5-Has you learn about Jesus from a different Bible passage (a Psalm or from the Prophets)

Old Story New is the continuation of Long Story Short. It continues the gospel story begun in the Old Testament. It uses the same effective ten minutes a day structure. It will connect children to the living gospel through 78 New Testament stories.

I can not say enough good about these two books! They are Christ-centered and rich in theology. We will continue to use these daily for the rest of their childhood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How to help friends who are fostering or adopting

How do you help a family who is adopting or fostering?  We all may not adopt or foster, BUT we can support and serve those who do!

If you have a new child, you KNOW how helpful it was when people brought meals after arriving home from the hospital.  Do the same thing for a family that is adopting or fostering.

Do what you can to help take burdens away as the family bonds with the child.  Mow the law, rake leaves, run errands for them, etc.

Children who have not been legally adopted yet will need babysitters with special certification.  Apply for clearances!  In the early stages, it may be as simple as sitting there after the children are in bed.

4.  PRAY
These families are standing on the frontline in a spiritual battle for vulnerable children.  Pray for them and these precious children!

Diapers, wipes, gift cards...the needs will be ongoing.

Once the family has had time to bond, invite them to play dates, family meals, etc.

Monday, November 16, 2015

#Acts29Dallas highlights...


Here are some of the best quotes from our days in Dallas at the Acts 29-Healthy Leaders Conference...

"When we realize we are more sinful than we know, the more compassion we have for others."  Amie Patrick

"The more we experience forgiveness and freedom, the more we want it for others."  Amie Patrick

"Don't see opposition as an out.  See opposition as an opportunity to preach the gospel."  Doug Logan

"Do we say mission more than we do mission?"  Doug Logan

"Follow Jesus in such a way that you wear out, not rust out."  Doug Logan

"God's mission will be accomplished with or without you, but you are being called to participate."  Doug Logan

"You cannot be more forgiven than you are right now."  Scotty Smith

"You cannot be more loved than you are right now."  Scotty Smith

"The gospel is not about getting over things, but growing through them."  Scotty Smith

"You will never regret knowing and loving your children better than your parents knew you."  Scotty Smith

"Before we speak, we should let Him speak."  (go to scripture)  Steve Timmis

"Whoever it is about, it is not about me.  In Christ, I am called to be a lover of God and others, not a lover of self."  Steve Timmis

"In all our joys, Jesus is better.  In all our sorrows, Christ is enough."  Steve Timmis

"Our sin will affect our communion with God, but it does not eradicate our union with God."  Steven Um

"Speaking of money, we (our church) say no to a lot of things so we that we can say yes to church planting."  Rob Tobias

Monday, November 9, 2015

Orphan Sunday Resources

Deuteronomy 10:18 ESV  "He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing."

There are 143 million orphans and waiting children. That's a BIG number! Every Christian can make a difference. Go to Jesus and pray about what He wants you to do! There are many things you can do on behalf of these children:

1.  Pray  
Pray about adopting, fostering, or becoming a safe family. Pray if God is calling you to be involved in fighting human trafficking, working to preserve families, or helping women in need who are currently pregnant. Pray that God shows you what He wants you to do to care for these children. Pray for children who are looking for homes. Go online to find a list of children who are waiting for a home.  Check out or Print out a picture of a child. Pray for this child daily!

2.  Read, study, and learn more about adoption, foster care, and orphans.  Become educated!
Adopted for Life  Russell Moore
Orphanology:  Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care  Tony Merida
David Platt's Radical site has many resources.
Watch "Adopted: Rescued to Love"

3.  Find an organization that supports orphans/vulnerable children and support it!
Check out Heart for Africa, Asia's Hope,  IJM, or the Haiti Collective.  Locally, learn more about Mars Home for Youth or the Foster Love Project.  Search for others!  If you have more suggestions, let me know!

4.  Find a family who is adopting and adopt them. Adoption can be a long and difficult process.  Families who are adopting need lots of support. Pray for them. Encourage them. Help them fundraise.

5.  Support a family who has adopted or is fostering.
Think "wrap-around care". Mow their lawn, offer to babysit, help with car maintenance, house cleaning, donate supplies, line up meals, throw a shower for them, or run errands. Brainstorm other ways you can support! Check out this video from Austin Stone to be inspired. "Foster Care Babysitting"

Can't wait to hear how God uses you!  Remember, it only takes one caring person to change a child's life forever.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Persecuted Church Resources

What an amazing night of unity!  I am glad that we were able to come together to worship and pray for the persecuted church.  Here are some resources if you want to learn more about it:

1.  The Voice of the Martyrs
The Voice of the Martyrs offers many resources and ways to support Christians who are being persecuted around the globe.  They offer prayer maps, newsletters encouraging you to pray about current events, and a chance to write letters to Christians who are being held prisoner because of their faith.  They have a website for children called Kids of Courage.  I would recommend looking through to see if it is age appropriate for your child.

2.  Operation World
Operation World offers prayer guides for every nation.  A number of the countries have videos that you can watch to learn more about how to pray specifically.  (I would preview before showing some to children.)  I would highly recommend starting with the 60 Days of Prayer!

3.  7 Things to pray for Missionaries
This blog is based on Paul's charge to Timothy. (see 2 Tim. 2:1-7)  It includes 7 simple ways to pray for missionaries.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Your biggest blindspot: Grace!

We all have blindspots. I certainly have many of them! Sometimes the biggest blindspots exist in the areas where we feel most comfortable. It's where we take the most for granted. As a pastor, there should be significant emphasis placed on the meaning and application of "words". What they mean, why they matter, how they are used in conversation, and how they apply in proper contexts really are important.

I have recently been contemplating the word "grace". It's obvious that churches around the world use the word "grace" all the time. Why? Because the Bible speaks of grace throughout both the Old and New Testaments. It's such an integral part of God's character.

But, do Christians grasp the depth of its meaning? Are we in awe of its impact? How can we better understand it and teach it to others? Is this a blindspot in your faith? I love this short, yet very insightful post by Paul David Tripp.

Paul David Tripp - Great Article!