Whose Job Is It?

 

little girl 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the list below…whose job is it:

Kissing boo boos?                                             Mom’s

Changing a flat tire?                                         Dad’s

Dishes?                                                                  Big sister

Allow kids to jump on the furniture?       Grandma!

Learn to walk?                                                   The Baby!

Spiritual Training?                                           The Church…. Or is it??

No stereotyping intended here… I just want to chat about some possible misconceptions we might have.  Everyone at our house has done dishes at one time or another and I’ve even changed a tire!  But I definitely DID have the wrong idea about our kids and their spiritual training when they were younger.  Because I was not raised in a Christian home, I really thought I was good to go as long as I brought my kids to Sunday School and Kids Church on a regular basis.
Spiritual Instruction…CHECK!

But then someone shared some different ideas, which I want to share with you. Take a look at the numbers below  of sample week for a child/pre-teen:

168 hours in a week
-60 Sleeping
-35 School
-30 screen time (this is conservative for a lot of families)
-10 extracurricular activity
-10 playing
-10 eating
-7 chores
-3 errands/car time
-3 church

Yes, I know there are lots of variables in your family that would change these numbers.  I’ve asterisked (is that even a word??!!)  the ones that have potential to influence kids, positive and negative.  If you are diligent to bring your child to church every week then you can count on three hours of spiritual input.  Even that is only 2% of a total week or 3% of waking hours!  What’s my point?  Even if you are the MOST FAITHFUL church attender – never missing – never sick – never have any family things to attend out of town…the instruction your child gets here is NOT ENOUGH!

Check this out, from Deuteronomy 11:

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

I know that it would be much simpler if it said, “Take them to Sunday school once a week and I, the Lord Your God, will be pleased and will cause your kids to be pleasant and joyful human beings.”   Nice thought, huh?

stock-footage-a-father-reads-to-his-children-from-the-holy-bible1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So if this is true and the Bible does say it’s mainly your responsibility (which it does), why Sunday School?  Why Children’s Ministry? Because many of you NEED SUPPORT!  We are your BEST CHEERLEADERS!!!  Let us help you do the best job you can do! Need ideas? Here’s just a few:

  • PRAY together.  Let the kids lead this!
  • Set aside time as often as possible to read a story from a Children’s Bible.   Need a good Bible recommendation? LMK
  • Memorize your child’s Awana verses with them!
  • Bring God into everyday conversation:  When you see something cool – give God credit:  “God makes cool sunsets, huh, kids??”  When something is hard, talk about what God might be trying to teach all of you through the challenge.  It might be awkward at first, but will be a blessing for all of you eventually!  Trust me on this
  • Instead of Sponge Bob (my hubby says it sucks the brains out of little kids anyway! Lol), look up some great video content on Right Now Media!  It’s free – Just ask Pastor Danny and he’ll get you signed up.

An important note…What if YOU are young in your faith?  It doesn’t matter!  Learn and grow together!  Start somewhere!   The more you do it the more it will become a vital and important part of your time with your child.

So, I could break into some sappy song like Wind Beneath Your Wings… Or I could tell you that your child’s spiritual health is VERY IMPORTANT to us and we’ll do everything we can to help you!  (Are you singing the song now???)  When you spend time teaching and praying and sharing about God, it will never be time wasted.  Blessings all around!

GO TEAM GO!!!

 

 

Better Late Than Never

By David Bush

biblical manhood1

I’ve had the privilege over the past few years to be a part of the Men’s Fraternity classes on Wednesday nights. As the leader of a breakout group, I would have the opportunity to facilitate discussion and encourage men to apply the lessons that were taught via video by Pastor Robert Lewis.

One of the points Pastor Lewis made repeatedly was the fact that boys today are missing out on a significant rite of passage that used to be imbedded in the fabric of nearly all cultures. In past generations, the transition from boyhood to manhood was overseen by fathers and the men of a tribe, clan, or village. It was sometimes conferred ceremonially, at other times by inclusion in adult activities.

In the void of this kind of cultural affirmation, today’s adolescents and young men are left to wonder if they possess what it takes to be a man. Our culture is often filling this void with suggestions that manhood is comprised of things that are associated more with rebellion, violence, and unsafe or unhealthy practices than virtue or maturity.

As the father of four boys, I was convicted that I had a responsibility to not only define what a biblical man was, but to affirm to my sons that they were on their way to achieving this goal. I shared with the men in my breakout group my desire to take action in this area, and started to think about what a “manhood ceremony” would look like. Weeks turned to months, and months turned to more than a year. When my oldest son graduated from college, my second son got engaged to be married, and my third son was approaching 18, the realization came to me that it was “now or never” to fulfill my responsibility and commitment.

Manhood Ceremony BUSH

With all of my family home for Christmas break, and my two oldest son’s girlfriend and fiancé in town as well, I executed my plan. Along with one set of grandparents, we all went out for a nice semi-private dinner. Retiring to our home for dessert, I read to all a list of the things that I thought comprised biblical manhood, and contrasted this with what our culture suggested manhood meant. I then affirmed to each of my three oldest where they had met the qualifications of biblical manhood, shared something of the heritage they would now be a part of sustaining, and expressed my love and pride for each of them. I concluded the speech by presenting each with a special commemorative gift.

Will this be a game-changer for my boys? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I have had the opportunity to publically express my thoughts, God’s word, and my love and pride in a memorable and tangible way. My boy’s grandparents were able to see how their faith and involvement in their lives was bearing fruit that will pass to another generation. Two likely future wives of my oldest sons were able to hear a biblical definition of manhood and see ways that their men were achieving this. And a youngest son was given a picture of manhood and a goal to strive for.

All this, plus I got to fulfill a commitment I made to my band of brothers. Better late than never.

 

A Thankful Heart…

November 20, 2014 | By Sherri Stufflebeem

thankful heart

When I was elementary age, our ‘California cousins’ came for a visit – two boys that were just a couple years older than my brother and me. We enjoyed lots of antics together!  One thing I still remember – I was so intimidated by their good manners – they were impeccable!  I thought WE had good manners until THEY showed up at the dinner table! They were respectful, did not fight with each other (at least that I saw), and rarely forgot to say please and thank you! I was in disbelief that anyone could be ‘that good’,  and I knew that expectations for my brother and me were going to increase after my parents saw that example! I was right – the bar was raised!  Ugh.

Good manners are definitely important. It makes conversation pleasant and makes interaction with others something we enjoy and look forward to. No matter how much time we invest in teaching this skill to our kids, what’s more important than a well-trained thank you is HAVING A THANKFUL HEART. Sounds obvious.  Sounds even somewhat easy. But it is contrary to our culture and the sinful nature that resides in us!

How.do.we.do.this?  How do we help our kids do this?  Here’s some food for thought:

  • Understanding who we are in Christ is vital. (Gal 2:20, Rom 5:8) We don’t DESERVE anything good. Even so, THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE has chosen to call us HIS CHILDREN. This is a life-changing concept!
  • PRACTICE a thankful heart! LOOK for things to be thankful for EVERY DAY.  Instead of dwelling on the negative, CHOOSE to find the bright spot in the tough situation. “Where is God’s hand in this?” Tell yourself, “HE is up to something good – I just know it!  Even if I can’t see it.”

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas following, we find ourselves first reminded of the importance of being thankful, followed closely by the pressure of gift giving. How do we keep perspective through it all?  I don’t have pat answers, but I do know that whatever we focus on will become reality.

Maybe we can decide BEFOREHAND what is most important. Instead of letting the TV convince your child of all the toys they need to have, push the off button and take time to read the Christmas story over a few nights (add special treats!)  Spend time talking about the spiritual meaning behind our common traditions (Google is your friend).

We can impact the holidays by what we choose to think and talk about. When you’re together at Thanksgiving, start a list of things you’re thankful for. Keep adding to the list all though the holidays! Don’t forget to add things that are not THINGS!  (good health, how much gramma loves you, etc…)  This will definitely help to develop an attitude of gratitude!

Giving (and receiving) with the right motive is key to having a grateful heart and having a grateful heart can revolutionize the way you live your life.

Shoebox Queen

Shoeboxes (1)

“Will you still be The Shoebox Queen, Grandma?”  As I approached retirement after twenty-one years as the administrative assistant in Federated’s Children’s Ministry, this was Chloe’s question.  “The Shoebox Queen”… Wow, such a royal title could only be bestowed by a seven-year-old grandchild!

I never planned to be in charge of the shoebox project.  It just kind of happened.   About sixteen years ago, Pastor Charlie Farrell introduced Operation Christmas Child to our Sunday School classes.  A contest between the classes generated a few shoeboxes…some with just one or two small gifts inside.

While there have been a number of changes in the Children’s Ministry staff over the years, the shoebox project has continued…AND GROWN each year.  At first it was just a part of my job on staff to care for some of the details of the project, but soon I was hooked on Operation Christmas Child.  I began wrapping shoeboxes, stalking the stores for sales, and spending winter evenings sewing tiny quilts to wrap around the dolls I would pack in my own shoeboxes.  My husband Mike partnered in my passion for OCC by doing whatever was needed– helping to set up display tables, distributing empty wrapped boxes, bagging candy, collecting filled shoeboxes and more.

Shoeboxes with C&C

Why Operation Christmas Child when there are so many great ministries we could support?  I could go on and on!

  • This is a ministry that reaches children. God loves children.  I love children and I know that their hearts are the most open to the good news of Jesus.  And when children come to Jesus, families will follow.
  • Shoeboxes go where I cannot. These gift-filled boxes go to needy children all over the world and open doors to the Gospel, even in countries where Christian missionaries might not be welcome.
  • Anyone can do this project…singles, seniors, families, small groups. All it takes is small gift items like toys, school supplies, toiletries, clothing, hard candy and $7 to help with shipping.  We’ll even provide the wrapped shoebox.   Larry Jones and I have wrapped thousands of them over the years.

Shoeboxes Jones

You can be a part of this amazing ministry by picking up a shoebox on Sunday, October 26, and then return it to church filled with goodies on Sunday, November 16. Want more information about Operation Christmas Child?  Go to samaritanspurse.org or give me a call (515.277.9459).  I would love to talk with you and help you get started on your own shoebox adventure.  Just be careful.  Packing shoeboxes can be addictive!

Who Are You Mentoring?

It has always been interesting to be the parent of twins. You see one boy and one girl grow up side by side, and yet clearly in all aspects, they are two very different people.  My daughter Sierra has been ahead of Josiah in all sorts of firsts. As a baby the only thing Josiah did before Sierra was sit up and that’s because he had more…heft shall we say.

Now my twins are 9 years old and have different interests.  My son is into sports like basketball, football, swimming, running and soccer.  He has always wanted to be an individual and won’t necessarily follow his family’s team choices, most recently picking the Oklahoma City Thunder to over our family team, the Chicago Bulls.  He is my drummer and He loves math (where did he get that from?!)  Just yesterday he was the only student to get a 100% on his math test in his class.

Sierra, on the other hand, is my artistic one. She loves all of the arts. She is crafty, creative, she sings and acts. She has been in two musicals (Les Mis and Music Man). She also loves swimming and running.

Last month, I had the privilege of baptizing Sierra at Gray’s Lake. She can articulate her faith well, has a heart for the lost, has served beside me on an overseas mission trip, and she just keeps growing in her faith.

My son, Josiah…well, he is just not there yet.  He did pray a prayer of salvation in KZ church a year or so ago, but he just does not seem to get the heart-change piece. He struggles with authority (wanting to be the “boss” himself) and he struggles with justifying his sinful choices rather than really being sorry for them.  He may also have A.D.D.,  as focusing is one of his biggest battles!  I share these things just so you can understand the struggle more than anything. I love my son more than anything and he has the BIGGEST tender heart. When Josiah wants to do something special for me or my wife, Julie – he is beaming ear to ear with excitement. So we aren’t faulting him by any means. We just feel that he has not come to that place of understanding his need for a Savior and truly turning to Christ in repentance through faith.  We believe wholeheartedly he will get there and we are praying for this!

Now that’s a lot of background, but here is the main thought I want to pass to you. When I was baptizing my daughter, I kept thinking and praying about what I could do intentionally this year to help my son connect with an understanding of salvation. I can’t save Him. Salvation is a total work of the Holy Spirit and God drawing us unto Himself.  However, I CAN be intentional to mentor him, disciple Him, and guide more and more of his thoughts to an understanding of the need to follow Christ and to have a relationship with Him.

The twins have a couple of different devotional bibles they read and we have been mentoring them in praise, thanksgiving and praying for others. Both kids memorize scripture really well and they LOVE the children’s ministry here at FFC.

As youth pastor, I have mentored many students. I take them out to coffee or out for ice cream and we talk, we pray, we study God’s Word and I love every second of it.  It dawned on me that I could be just as intentional to take my own son out once a week and spend an hour talking with him, studying the Word together, guiding him, praying for him and praying WITH him. My hope is that we even do some hands on acts of service (maybe volunteer at the Hope center, etc…). I also hope to introduce to him a greater understanding of confession in our time of prayer.

I am so excited about this dedicated time that I will have with my son, mentoring him and studying the Word together. I am already loving our afternoons out together. He loves the special dedicated time from Daddy.   I wish that I had started it much sooner.  And I will continue to love my one on one time with many of the Heirborn students.  Julie is also taking those afternoons to mentor Sierra, WHILE I am out with Josiah.

My encouragement to you is short and sweet.  Who are you mentoring? Who are you being mentored by?  Is someone pouring into your life? Are your pouring yourself into someone else?  Would you pray about who God would have you reach over the course of this ministry year? Here are some things to pray about:

  1. FIND A MENTOR: It is always beneficial to have someone pouring into you,  someone holding you accountable, challenging and sharpening your walk with Christ. If you don’t have this, pursue it with all your heart.
  2. BE A SPIRITUAL MENTOR: I believe there is SOMEONE you know who needs to grow in their faith and grow closer to Christ and a knowledge of how to follow Him.  I have so many students in my youth group alone who do not have any spiritual reinforcement at home, and I know they are not alone.  Could you be THE person God wants to use to reach someone and help encourage their faith?
  3. MENTOR YOUR OWN CHILDREN: Make this your greatest mission!  I definitely don’t want to be working so hard at youth ministry and yet fail to mentor and disciple my own children.  You’ll be tempted to focus on academics, on extracurricular, on schedules and “to-dos” … but you can’t neglect their walks with Christ. Consider joining me in creating a regular time that you invest in each of your children one on one.

The Best Investment

Back in the day, there was a famous preacher story that circulated among what were then known as “Christian Education Directors”.  It was told that D.L. Moody had come back from a tent revival meeting where he reported that 2 ½ people were saved.  Whoever he was talking to replied, “You mean, two adults and one child?”  D.L. Moody responded, “No, two children and one adult.  When a child is saved, you save a life – a whole life.”    *

This is an interesting perspective.  Kids have their whole life ahead of them to live for Jesus and tell others about Him!  This is one thing I LOVE about FFC!!  As a whole, our church gets this!  Our leadership understands that we don’t just ‘do childcare’ to keep our kids busy while their parents are attending services or classes.  We are teaching and investing in young lives to help them follow Jesus.

So, add to that idea some interesting statistics from **George Barna:  Children ages 5 – 13 are 34 percent more likely to respond to the gospel compared to children 14 – 18 where the percentage takes a nosedive to 4%!   Wow!!  For those investment-minded people, the response to this information is obvious!  Spend your resources where the return is greatest!

This is why it is so important to begin leading children to Jesus at an early age. Children look at the world around them and begin asking questions, “Who made me?”, “Why was I made?”, “Is there a God?” As parents, grandparents and caregivers, you are in the perfect position to tell them of a wonderful Savior who loves them, created them, and designed them to find their satisfaction in Him, and in turn, glorify Him in worship. What a great privilege!

But, maybe you don’t have little ones in your home.  You still have the ability to share Jesus and make an impact. The beauty of children’s ministry is the opportunity volunteers have to lead little ones to Jesus. I am challenging you to pray about being involved in Children’s Ministry at some level.  Maybe you join our nursery team on Sunday mornings to snuggle some babies.  Maybe you love sharing Bible stories and would teach one hour a week.  Maybe you love to play games and would join our Awana game team. We need lots of adults to choose to invest in the lives of these children.

Maybe you’ve been wondering what God is asking you to do this fall… where will you serve?  How will you get involved?  Will you take a class?  Maybe a life group is something that has your attention…

 There are lots of opportunities for you to be a part of the best investment portfolio FFC has to offer!  KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!

Give Me Jesus by Ryan Frank

**Raising Spiritual Champions:  Why Children Should Be Your Church’s Number One Priority by George   Barna