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?










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!




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!

Time to Pick a Fight


Danny Lightner Pastor of Adult Ministries

It’s time for the Lightner family to pick a fight.  Let me explain.

When I was first taught “vertical” and “horizontal” as a kid, I remember that it was hard to keep the concepts straight.  I’d always mix up the two.  It took a lot of practice to remember which one was which.  Honestly, even today if I’m given instructions to “fold a paper vertically”, I still have to take a second to think about it!

Concerning His Kingdom, God has been teaching me lately that I still don’t have the vertical/horizontal concept figured out yet.

We all evaluate our Christian lives and our relationship with God differently.  How do you evaluate yours?  By church attendance?  By the cleanliness of your language on any given day?  By how you controlled your temper?  For me, evaluating my Christian life has always been in the form of spiritual disciplines: how consistent I am in reading my Bible, praying, giving, etc.  Now, don’t get me wrong—all of these things ARE decent evaluating tools to measure how much our life has been transformed by God.  All of these things SHOULD change as we are changed by the power of the gospel.  But, there is one evaluating tool that I never used and God is teaching me that I NEED to use it more.  It is His heartbeat and it is namely this:

How am I meeting the needs of others around me?  How am I using the resources God has granted me to display God’s love?

I’m not sure why I never used this evaluating tool, because it is ALL OVER Scripture.  I have always evaluated my walk with God by VERTICAL means (how I relate to God), but rarely HORIZONTAL (how I relate to others).  And yet, God doesn’t separate the two.  Here are a few examples that God has brought to my attention recently:

  • ·When God gave the nation of Israel the Ten Commandments, the first four explain what God expected of them vertically, and the last six explained how to behave horizontally.
  • ·When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He told them that loving others (horizontal) was equal with loving God (vertical).
  • Jesus taught that before we take communion (vertical), if we have someone who has something against us, we are to go fix the problem first (horizontal).
  • Jesus taught that if we don’t forgive others (horizontal), that God won’t forgive us (vertical).
  • Jesus taught in 1 John 4 that if we don’t love people who we can see (horizontal), it is not even possible to love God who we cannot see (vertical).

Wow.  The Holy Spirit has revealed to me lately that while I may feel good about my vertical relationship with Him, I am not as tight with God as I thought I was, because of my regular neglect of the horizontal.  So something has to change in the Lightner house, because I don’t want my vertical relationship to suffer.  I don’t want my wife and kids following my current example—someone who is building His own Kingdom to the neglect of showing the needy people of this world God’s Kingdom.

The Lightner family packs bags of food to hand out to the homeless in Des Moines.

The Lightner family packs bags of food to hand out to the homeless in Des Moines.

I recently posted on Facebook a quote that argued the point that social work without the gospel is incomplete.  And I still do very much agree with that.  But I had a friend from high school who commented on my status and said, “But what gets me is when people share the gospel without the social work.”  And He is right.  The horizontal and the vertical always go together in God’s Kingdom.

So the Lightner’s need to pick a fight.  And by that I mean, something or someone to fight for—focusing on horizontal needs that I’ve neglected for so long.  It is not yet clear to us exactly WHAT fight we need to pick, but I do know that if I don’t find someone to fight for, I’ll eventually be fighting for my own relationship with God.  If I don’t pick something to fight for, then God’s gonna pick a fight with me.

I leave you with two quotes that have been extremely challenging to me, and have been used by the Holy Spirit to bring me to this point of wanting to pick a fight.

“Christians account for a staggering percentage of social good throughout the world.  Yet as we approach a new world fraught with injustice, hunger, disease, poverty, and social and sexual exploitation—and as the world looks for the true face of God to believe in—I feel we can no longer view the viability of the church through the lens of a Sunday church service.  That’s simply not the time we do our best work.”  –Hugh Halter, Flesh

“Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of people living in poverty, children sold into slavery–the thought disgusted me, so I shook my fist at Heaven and said, “God, why don’t You do something?” He said, “I did, I created you”.  –Matthew West, Do Something

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