Monthly Archives: March 2014

Be a Model for Your Child

Proverbs Picture

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I’ve seen the first part of this Proverb hanging in several church classrooms for two and three year olds. This is a little humor for the parent who is trying to potty train their child. Everyone needs some comic relief sometimes. Do you realize as a parent how early the impact of what you teach your child affects them? Have you blinked and your child is now as tall as you? And as you send them out to high school, a first job, or even just to play at a friend’s house, do you wonder if they will remember the things you told them? Let’s face it. There is a lot of bad stuff in this world and it only takes one smooth talking, “cool” person to plant a seed of doubt.

So what can you do as a parent for your child? Love them. Shower them with hugs, kisses, words of praise, (This sentence was just interrupted by my 6 year old waking up and coming down and sitting on my lap and giving me a huge hug. I don’t want to shove off this time, so if something isn’t done, oh well, it’s not an end of the world situation. So instead, I stop and hug and kiss him back. And I’m giddy because it will happen three more times with my other kids!) and show them that they are important to you. Yes, that means putting down the phone, turning off the computer, having them help you in the kitchen, cheering for them on the sports team, or reading a book to them. Giving them your love is training your child how to love others.

Part of training is also allowing your child to try out new things to find out what he or she likes. Just because you like football, doesn’t mean your kid will. Just because the family business has been in the family forever doesn’t mean your child has to take over next. It is important to show children what is important to you. By showing them the family business, you might be creating a budding entrepreneur, bring out their political leadership abilities, or even showing them that being in charge is not for them. If you give your child opportunities to succeed and fail at various activities then you are training your child to make the best possible choices for themselves.

You can also train your child by showing God’s love in your life. You can’t force your child, or anyone, to put their faith in Jesus. But, you can show them through your actions, words, and life that having Jesus a part of it makes your life better. Pray for your child that they will have a relationship with Jesus. Modeling now will make your child stronger when later on they are tempted to maybe do something they know is wrong, but feel pressured to do. Modeling now may help your child to help someone else and impact another person’s life. Modeling now will help your child not to turn from your love and training.

May I suggest that before you train your child anymore, stop and take a look at yourself. Are there things in your life that you are embarrassed by or need to forgive? Be a leader for your child, be their Mom, be their Dad, be the adult your child needs you to be. Teach them, train them in the ways that will help them to grow and become a strong individual who will not be turned by every folly or foe that comes their way. Love your kids.

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

 

Church Planting: Our first small group

Our first small group meeting was held on the first Sunday in August after the sports camp. It was a beautiful day, set to start at 4pm. A gorgeous sun was shining and it wasn’t too hot. I had made up some lemonade and cookies or something and set it out on a plate. My husband had The Story of Hope books fanned out across the table and some pens. I had cleaned up the back yard in anticipation of doing a small lesson with my kids and the other kids who were coming. We had prayed as a family and separately all week. This was it!

At 3:40pm a wild, crazy thunderstorm rolls in. Gone are the perfect climatic ingredients. Gone is the dry backyard and toys. The phone rings and our hope for people showing up is gone. Someone is stuck somewhere and they’ll try to get there. Someone else just isn’t coming. So, remember that having a large family helps? Well, at least there were six of us. Crushed disappointment for my husband and for the kids who were looking forward to playing with other kids descends in the living room

At 4:05pm the phone rings again. It’s some lady wondering if we were still having the study. Yes! YES! (Please, I’m begging you to come, please, please went through our heads.) She did! So, on that first Sunday study, when we could have been completely devastated, completely shocked that all our planning didn’t pan out, we had one lady come to the study. She hadn’t even had any kids at the sports camp. But she had gotten a door hanger flier and talked to the person who gave it out. And, even the thunderstorm didn’t hold her back.

This one lady gave us the hope that the church we were planting with God’s guidance, was going to be ok. Even though our plans don’t work out, God’s do. I have to tell you, she doesn’t come anymore, but if it hadn’t been for her coming that first Sunday, we would have been devastated.

The good news is, the group grew and fluctuated between 6 (yes, some weeks it was just our family…more snacks for us) to 22 people. Each Sunday we opened our front door and as they came, the kids went outside or upstairs and the adults stayed downstairs but everyone was getting the story of God’s love. Snacks were eaten, drinks were spilled, books were forgotten, and conversation was plentiful as we met during this time.

If you are a church planter getting ready to start a small group or service, know that there will probably be a storm. It’s just that bad guy trying to get you down before you can even get started. Wait for that phone call and be ready to shout “YES!” as loud as you can to let the bad guy know he isn’t going to win. Of course, there will be more than one storm and I can’t wait to tell you about them soon.

photo credit: creationswap.com/Kelly Sikkema

 

Diamond Knockers Game

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Here is a fun game the kids came up with as we try to beat these last winter blahs and the wind stops so we don’t blow away every time we go out! Diamond Knockers is easy and you probably have the supplies in your house already. A few summers ago we went camping at Camp Hebron and they had a game called Carpetball. If you have ever played carpet ball, it is very addictive. This is kind of my kid’s take on that.

For two players you will need 9 balls. As you can see, they don’t all have to be the same, use whatever you have. Set the four balls up in the diamond shape at each end of the hall, one kid sits behind them at each end. Then, you just take the last ball and one kid rolls it toward their opponents diamond. If they hit a ball, it is out. The first person to hit all their opponents balls out wins.

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We played it round robin, where the winner stayed in and the next kid, myself included, played them. It was a lot of fun and actually a little harder than I expected, since my 8 year old beat me! Of course, if you are into angles and stuff, you could be more scientific about your aim, but we just want to have fun. You could probably set this up in a living room with more kids and play in a triangle or square too.

So, love your kids and go have some fun and play Diamond Knockers with your kids!

Church Planting: Getting Started

dandelion pictureChurch planting. It’s not glamorous, it’s not the path to fame and fortune, and it’s not like what it says in the books. The reality is, it is hard work, it is disappointing, and it is rewarding. Here is the story of how we came to plant a church.

When I married my husband, he was a music store sales rep, and didn’t really go to church much. He had been brought up in the church, but as so often happens when you go away to college and live on your own, you fall away. A few years into our marriage, we started going regularly to a church pastored by his pastor from his childhood church. Except this one was different. It was a church plant. Located in an old movie theatre turned dinner theatre, it was not the sanctuary of a “normal” church. Kind of neat.

At this church, the pastor began to mentor my husband into the ministry. He was taken on as an administrative assistant. You know what that means. Yup, he did all the work the “real” pastors never want to do! He worked hard, cared about the people, started taking classes at Moody Bible Institute, and decided he was going to be a pastor.

Fast forward a few years and we knew it was time to move on. The founding pastor had retired and after a three year search for a replacement and then transition, it was obvious that the work wasn’t there for my husband. We were tired of playing church and wanted to do church. After applying for some pastoring positions and going on some interviews, things weren’t clicking. Why? Well, there was the Dream Conference at ORBC in Salisbury, MD. My husband went to this one day conference and came back changed. He was excited, he was motivated, and he said he wanted to plant a church! Whoa! Planting a church would give him the opportunity to start something from the ground up. This something would not be steeped in the “this is the way we always do it” mentality. I have to admit, I kind of liked the idea too.

Two opportunities presented themselves to us shortly after this. One was for a pastoring job at a small, could be dying church. It was on a dead end road. Um, no thank you. And the other was for a church planting opportunity in a town, where a church from a neighboring town and one in North Carolina had been easing a presence into over the past few years.

After much discussion, which can be like praying out loud, and a successful interview, he was “hired” to be the church planter. Great news! He was now the pastor of a yet to be named church, with a yet to be determined salary, with exactly six attendees. Yes, if you have a large family, you know someone will always be there! What were we thinking?

Well, things worked out. We found some nice people to rent our house, we found some nice people to rent us a house, and we moved about 40 minutes north. Seriously, we’d been praying to move south for warmth, shucks. So what do we do now?

My husband proceeded to survey the area, going to door to door and asking about five questions. He met a lot of interesting people and out of about 200 surveys only had the door shut in his face about two times. But, it is hard to tell people you are a pastor of a church and people ask where it is and oh, it hasn’t started yet. If you don’t have a vision, this is kind of difficult for people to buy into.

As I said earlier, another local church and a church from NC had been watering the fields for several years by doing a sports camp in the area. It had grown from about 50 attendees to about 200. Wow! The year he was hired, our family became a part of this adventure. With over 200 kids attending, we just knew that there were people searching for a church home. On parent night, which was attended by about five families (hmmm, I’m thinking the sports camp was more of a “get the kids out of my hair for a few hours” opportunity), my husband gave a little talk about the church and how he was starting a small group based on The Story of Hope. This is a great beginning resource for unbelievers, new believers, and dechurched people.

We could just feel it in the air that this was it, this was going to work! Several people we talked to that night and throughout the week were excited. Some even committed to coming to the small group which would start that week. We didn’t want to have a lapse in time or the excitement would fade. After the camp, my husband followed up with people who had marked that they didn’t attend any church and got more positive feedback. This church planting stuff was going to work! I can’t wait to tell you how our first small group went.

*photo credit: creationswap/bokeh02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get Out of the Pit You Dug

Proverbs Picture

If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him. Proverbs 26:27

I had to smile as I read the Proverb for today. Can’t you just see a stick figure cartoon drawing out the scenario? You might think that the person dug a pit or rolled the stone and then after some silly antics ended up falling into the pit or having the stone roll back on him. It’s not really meant to be funny. The pit and the stone are actually not good things that you have created and brought on yourself.

“If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it…” What do you find at the bottom of a pit? Nothing. (Or maybe snakes if you are Indiana Jones!) If you are at the bottom of a pit, you are probably trying to figure out how to get out of it. As you scramble to try to climb up the walls, the dirt will just crumble in your hands or you can’t get a grip on the stone to pull yourself up. The dirt cakes under your fingernails and sifts into your eyes. You just keep looking up, shouting for help, begging for someone to find you and wondering how you fell so far.

“…if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him.” Imagine the biggest stone or boulder you have seen. You are using all of your strength to push it forward to get it from point A to point B. You have it rolling and things are going good when all of a sudden you feel a shift in the weight and you realize that it is harder to push this stone. You start to panic and sweat. You call for help in the hopes that someone is close by and can come and help you. You want to escape from behind the stone to get out of the way, but it is so wide you know you won’t be able to move fast enough out of the way if you let go. And you wonder why you ever thought you could roll this stone.

What did you do to get to this place of desperation? That’s right. What did YOU do? It’s time to take ownership and responsibility for your actions. It is time to stop shifting the blame and pulling others unwillingly into your web of thoughtlessness. If you dug the pit, you need to take action to get out. If you rolled the stone and it has rolled back on you, you need to figure out how to get out.

But, do you need to go at it alone? Do you need to claw your way out or twist and squirm under the stone? Do you realize that your cries for help are always heard? All you have to do is ask for help. Ask God for help. He is the only one who can help you get out from the trouble you have gotten yourself into. This doesn’t mean He is going to swoop in and save you right away or in the way you think He should. It does mean He is going help you figure out a solution or He is going to send help your way. You just need to be humble enough to accept this help. Sometimes you need to admit defeat, swallow your pride and embrace the help that is given. You never know when this might turn itself into another opportunity that you never imagined! Pray about your situation and be ready to be open to the help God sends.

This reminds me of a joke that goes something like this: A man was in his house and as the rain poured down the neighbors drove up in their car and came and told him to come with them. He said, “No, my Jesus will save me”. The flood waters rose and some people came by on a boat and asked him to get in the boat with them. The man replied, “No, my Jesus will save me”. The flood waters came in quickly and forced the man to his roof. A helicopter hovered overhead and let down a ladder and they hollered for him to climb up with them. He replied again, “No, my Jesus will save me”. Unfortunately the man perished in the flood. When he got to heaven and saw Jesus, he said, “Why didn’t you save me?” Jesus replied, “What do you mean? I sent you a car, a boat, and a helicopter”.

Friends, don’t miss the people Jesus sends to help you in the car, the boat, or the helicopter. Look for them in the smiles and the helping hand of people around you. There is no pit too deep or stone too big that Jesus can’t help you with.

If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stone, it will roll back on him. Proverbs 26:27

Watch What You Say

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He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23

Who has ever chanted to someone, “I’m the rubber, you’re the glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you”? Or were you ever scolded by an adult (or maybe you say it as an adult), “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? I’m cringing as I write this because I have said all of these things and had these things said to me! Words can be powerful, powerful tools of destruction or powerful, powerful tools to build up.

Another reason I cringe is because I have said mean things or spoken in haste and hurt someone’s feelings. As a teacher, sometimes I have to make a split decision about a situation that I see unfolding that is interrupting the class. Yes, my tone of voice can be harsher than it needs to be and yes sometimes I wrongly accuse in the moment. How can I, how can you, how can we keep from escalating the situation within ourselves so we do not say hurtful things to others? One solution could be just to keep our mouths shut. Take an extra three or four seconds to assess the situation, say the person’s name, and let them explain. Maybe we just need to say less and let others speak more.

What about hurtful things said to you? How do you get to the point where you can laugh it off, ignore it, and just move on? Here’s another example from my teaching days. A teacher, actually it was a student teacher, came to pick up her class who had a done a great job. They were excited and wanted to tell her what they had done. She says, “Not now, it’s time to get back to the learning zone”. Seriously? I mean, I know I just teach music, it’s not a real academic subject, but really, you want to say that in front of your students in front of a degreed teacher? I never said anything to her, it wasn’t worth it. Sometimes guarding your mouth means not saying anything and letting it go. No matter what you say you will always be wrong and some people just have an urge to feel more important than others. Don’t fall into that trap.

Just give it over to Jesus. Pray and tell Him what is going on. Whether you are frustrated or you need the strength to approach someone, He can help. Before you speak, ask for the right words. Before I jump to conclusions, I have found myself quickly praying for a way to get through to the child without getting upset at their nonchalance or fake smile of innocence. Guard your tongue and in so doing, you might keep yourself from digging a deep hole that is hard to get out of alone. If by chance you do dig that hole pretty deep, remember you are not alone. God can help you out of that hole, but you need to listen to Him and you need to be responsible for what you say.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23

Motives of the Heart

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A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

Are you sure that you are doing things the right way? Whose “right” is the right way? Each of us needs to decide that for ourselves based on what we know, how we have been raised, and what we know in our gut to be true. But, what is that one thing that can cause us to look at things with blinders on? Sin. You see, sin can skew our vision of things.

“A person may think their own ways are right” but our own prejudices and preconceived notions keep us from looking at the heart of things. The past couple of weeks, I looked at Proverbs about the plans we make. You may have mapped things out for what you want. Is your life all about me, myself, and I. You might put up a good front that can fool everyone you meet. But other than yourself, God knows your true heart.

He can hear your brain thinking thoughts. He knows those thoughts before you have them and you can’t hide. He hears your prayers and knows whether they are genuine or selfish. What is your motivation? You don’t have to have it all together. If you’re a Mom and feel overwhelmed, ask for help. I always smile inside when I see a mom going through the same thing as myself with the kids. Yes! I am not alone, others have this problem too!

“…the LORD weighs the heart” Have you ever prayed and not asked for something that affects you directly? It’s hard to do. Even when you pray for someone else, whether it’s your kids, a neighbor, or someone who is sick somehow that person is important to you. Therefore, you are indirectly praying that their situation becomes better because you care. It’s ok. God knows whether your prayers are genuine or whether it is a show for an ulterior motive of yours. What is the reason you are praying about or asking for something? If it is just for the gimmies, you might want to rethink your priorities.

It’s hard to know your path. You are going to do the best you can to decide what will ultimately glorify God in your life. If you don’t believe in God, but believe in “me”itis, then perhaps it is time for you to step back and see the larger picture. If your ways that you think are right are leading to dead ends and troubled times, step back and weigh your own heart. You know your innermost thoughts and need to take the time to be honest about them. Once you honestly seek what you think is right then you will be on track towards making better decisions. Those better decisions will ripple into the lives of all those around you. The blinders will come off and you will see your true heart.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

What Brings You to This Point?

Proverbs Picture

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:9

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought that if you had not done just one single thing the same you would not be where you were right then? It’s kind of a weird feeling. Like the feeling where you do something in real life that somewhere in the back of your mind you remember from a dream. Have you been there? It’s the saying about being in the right place at the right time. Or the stars all aligned just for this moment. I guess on the other hand you could also make a case for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but let’s think positive for now.

So, what brings you to the point where everything lines up? Like, you decided to get coffee at a different shop this morning and when you walked in your eyes locked with your future spouse. If you had done the usual routine, it might have taken ten more years for you to meet. Who knows? It’s kind of weird to think about.

Guess who has all of this under control? Yup, God. “…it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” and He has it all under control. He is the one whose voice you need to listen to in your day. As you go about your business, your plans, He can help. You might desire to do certain things, but these things might not work out the way you have long hoped they would. Instead, God takes your gifts, talents, and desires of the heart and uses them to fulfill the perfect plan for you.

I encourage you to pray and ask for guidance with the plans you have. And I say this because I need to do the same thing. Or, we are lost. We’ll be floundering without a hope of rescue if we try it all on our own. Go ahead and make plans, but remember to listen to God speaking to your heart.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:9