Category Archives: Faith in Action

Disciplining, Discipling, and Loving Your Kids – Part 2

DISCIPLING

Last time it was disciplining your kids, which can be like playing the “bad cop” routine. Today, it’s the “good cop” turn to shine. Who is discipling your children? Do you leave it up to the church, teachers at school, the TV, or the internet? Hmmmm, what about you?

What’s important to us as parents, will be important to our kids.    -PK

Like discipline, how to disciple your kids can also be found in the Bible. Proverbs 23:19-26 says, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path…Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old…My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways….”. The Bible tells us, as parents, to tell our kids to listen to us and addresses them as mine. Sounds like what we should be doing to God too. We need to listen to Him and we are His.

Jesus said for us to follow Him. Follow means to come after me, to do what I do. Isn’t that what we want our children to do? To follow you? You are your children’s greatest teacher. What would be on your report card? Sure the church can disciple on Sunday mornings, but what about the rest of the day Sunday and the rest of the week?

I’m pretty sure no church children’s ministry operates 24/7. YOU are the ministry your children need 24/7 and as a parent you are already hired for the job. What is important to you? Discipling can be fun for both you and your kids. Maybe it means having the team over for the after game party or going to another birthday party. Your presence and how you act is you discipling your child. When children see that they are important to you, they will take in all you do, and they will remember and learn from it. Action counts.

Discipling your children is not up to the church, it’s up to you. It’s not someone else’s job, it’s your job. How we raise our kids over time will mold them into the adults they are destined to become. Start teaching your children how to be the church, not just go to church.

Disciplining, Discipling, and Loving Your Kids

DISCIPLINING

I just finished up an intense couple of months at my job. I’m a secondary music teacher and it was musical season. You can read about that here. Many days I spent more time with my students than I did with my own kids. So, the message PK gave on Family Time really hit home. I didn’t completely ignore my kids, they had lunches made, laundry was clean, and dinner was always available. But, I missed them and the little interactions we have at random times together when we are home.

So, the question is, “What do you want your kids to remember?” I’ve cried before thinking that all my kids will remember is me yelling at them to pick their stuff up. Will that overshadow the great love I have for them? I hope not and so I try not to get so worked up about all the junk! Really though, I need to cry over the question, “If I die, will they still love Jesus?” This forces me to look at myself and how I am living and how my children see me.

What’s important to us as parents, will be important to our kids.       -PK

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” In order for our kids to know Jesus, whether we are by their side or not, we need to discipline them. Disciplining your children is not necessarily a popular topic, but the Bible does talk about it.

Proverbs 23:12-14, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.” This is not saying how to punish them, but why children need discipline. Disciplining your children doesn’t mean you hate them, but it means you love them and want them to know that they were wrong. And when you love Jesus, and share His love with your children, you are giving them the tools to save them from death.

Then, when you have text conversations like this (yes, I believe butthead is a multi-generational word):

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You remind yourself that Proverbs 29:17 says, “Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Therefore we encourage our children to give hugs not hits, kisses not kicks, and to say words that build each other up. And we do that because it shows them how to love and we have text conversations like this where big brothers ask if little sister is ok:

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The truth is, disciplining your child is part of your job as a parent. Sometimes you have to bring out the discipline that will really impact your child. If that means no electronics, then stick by it and mean no electronics. You, and only you, will know what discipline works best for your family. Use discipline as an act of love so they learn what is important to you. Then, you will be confident that you did your best and that they will not turn from your teachings, which, if they are based on the Bible, are excellent teachings for them to know.

Next time, some thoughts on discipling your child.

 

 

Is Your Worship Better than Mine?

Is Your Worship 2Sometimes I wonder what my worship looks like to others. We live in a world where we constantly compare ourselves to others or try to keep up with the Jones’. I imagine if we are honest with ourselves, we have all judged others “way” of worshipping at some point. I got to thinking about this when I saw this clip by Tim Hawkins. He’s a funny guy and he did this bit on people in worship.

Did that make you smile? Good, because you know what, sometimes a smile is all you are going to get out of someone in worship. And that is OK!

Honestly, I’m not a hand raiser. In fact, I’m barely a hand clapper…which is ironic since I’m a music teacher and I’m quite good at keeping a steady beat. I’m more of just a “standthereandtakeitallin” kind of worshipper. I love listening to the music and singing along – with my hands at my sides.  I love listening to my husband preach – while trying to keep the red in my cheeks from elevating as I wonder, “Why did he share that?”. And I do this while never once nodding my head up and down in agreement, letting out an Amen, or feeling the pressure to.

Remember I just said I sing with my hands at my sides? Well really, my favorite way to worship with music is when my little girl lets me hold her and she rests her head on my shoulder and I hear her singing along. Or, when my son, who sings with so much gusto (on pitch thank you very much),  pulls my arms around his neck and holds them. It’s then that I can feel his vocal cords vibrating and I’m amazed that God has given my these beautiful children. My worship continues when I look at my other two sons, stone faced, slouchy, and totally bored. It’s ok, that’s how they worship and I know they are listening, but they would probably prefer if the whole worship experience included a video game battle or came in four quarters.

You see, God created us all as individuals. Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” He made us, with HIS hands. He knows how we will worship and whether our worship is genuine. Let’s face it, anyone can raise their hands to “fit in” with everyone else, but if it’s not you, then it’s not really a genuine act of worship. Trying to keep up with everyone else is exhausting. You don’t have to do it.

So, the next time you gather for worship, don’t judge others and consider your worship supreme to those around you. Maybe that person sitting down is weary from a long night or illness and it took everything to get there. Maybe the mom running around after her kid doesn’t care what you think about her child’s behavior and how it is “interrupting” your worship because it took five years of trying to get a little one to run after. Maybe that man in front of you never sings a word, but inside his heart is bursting with song, however somewhere along the line a buddy told him he sounded awful and so now he doesn’t open his mouth. Maybe we all just need to remember that in the end, worship isn’t about us. It’s about God. It’s about His son, Jesus who could be doing a whole song and dance in front of you trying to get your attention, but we just don’t see it because we are so worried about what others see us doing and we want to fit in.

The answer to, “Is your worship better than mine?” is no. And mine isn’t better than yours. What matters is that we take the time to worship God in the way He has enabled us to and then to share that love and reason we worship with others.

 

 

What Are You Praying For?

What Are You Praying For_Maybe this morning you dutifully did your quiet time with God. This included reading your Bible or daily devotion book and finishing in prayer. What did you pray for? Do you have list you go through and add an “Amen” and you are done? Does your mind wander on your to do list as you try to focus on your prayers, so it just turns into a quick run down of the top five? It happens, you aren’t alone. I’m guilty of both of those things…frequently. And so I decided I needed to branch out.

The Bible tells us to pray. This is how we can communicate with God and He wants to hear from us. Sure, He already knows what we will say, but He wants us in relationship with Him. And in a relationship, you need to talk. It says in Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Obviously, we’re not expecting him to give us a million bucks, but He will answer our prayers in the way that best fulfills His plan. Here are two things that may help recharge your prayer time.

  1. Read between the lines. When a friend sends an email or you see a Facebook post, really read it. Look between the lines of what was written. See if there is something there that you can pray for. It could be a prayer for a praise, a need, something specific or something general. Consider it a privilege to be able to pray for someone. They don’t even have to know you are doing it.
  2. Listen to those around you. I know this sounds basic, but my kids actually helped me with this one. First, my two youngest were playing and I heard one say, “I’ll be your boyfriend”. Yikes! Boyfriends and girlfriends are long way off, but time flies by. I realized I needed to be praying for future boy/girlfriends for my kids. I need to pray that God is raising up other godly children for my kids to meet one day and have a relationship with. On the opposite end, I feel bad that there aren’t a lot of older kids in the neighborhood for my oldest to play with. A house a couple of doors down is for sale and so I decided to pray for a family with a son the same age to move in.

I know neither of these are life changing ideas. But, as a teacher, I know I have to say the same thing fifty different ways until the content gets through. So, I hope maybe it helps you as you think about your prayer time.

There are prayer needs all around us. We just need to look for opportunities to recognize them and then take action and pray. If we just open our eyes we can easily come up with a whole host of things to pray for. So, I encourage you to look around and see what you can pray for. Put your regular list to the side for a day and read between the lines and listen. There is a world of hurt and a world of things to praise out there. God is just waiting to hear from you!

Has Anything Changed?

Has Anything Changed

We are well into the new year, a time to reflect and make goals for what you want or think the future should be for you. We can get so focused on the moment that it can be hard to see the change. Today, I encourage you to step back and take a look at the big picture. If the New Year’s resolution has already tanked, a big picture look can get you back on track. The last couple of posts have looked at how thorns can help us and how God can use you. But, I think we need to take a moment and look at your faith. Has anything changed?

2 Corinthians 13:5  tells us to, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…”. You can look close in the mirror, really close. PK’s gross example had to do with looking close at that pimple. Eeeew. If you’re that close, all you will see is that pimple. So step back and look at the big picture. What has God done over time in your life?

In the end of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes about how he hasn’t burdened people. He has a day job to pay the bills and hasn’t taken money for himself. He’s setting an example. He does this so we can see what a transformed life looks like and so we can use it as an example. He wants others to benefit from his example of living. Mark 10:45 reminds us that, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Jesus came to give, not to take. Paul is trying to live like that as well. His goal is to make disciples. He’s afraid people aren’t getting the message. If our goal is to make disciples, then we need to remember the big picture. It’s not what we get out of it, but what we put into it so others can benefit.

So, have you changed? When you look at the big picture, do you see how God is leading you? It’s messy and hard. You might do all you can for someone and they just turn and throw it all away. It happens. But do you stop? No. You keep going forward for God and trying to make disciples and living for Him. You hear a message and then you don’t let it stop there…you do the message so other people can go through a transformation like you.

Church isn’t about building up programs or empires, it’s about building up people.        -PK

You can have buildings and butts in the seats, but it can also be void of heart if the visual of “what a church is” overtakes the real mission of the church. Christians need to be people who are committed to people committed to the mission of the church. God reminds of this in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

How is your big picture looking? Are you growing up in your faith? Are you more concerned about building others up rather than yourself? Are you using Jesus and Paul and other disciples in the Bible as your example? When you look at the big picture, you’ll see living a transformed life is not a straight, flat path. Rather, it is hilly, with detours and circles no doubt put there by the one who knows just what you need. I encourage you to look at the picture and map it out if you need to so you are not discouraged by what you think doesn’t matter or hasn’t helped. Instead, I hope you will find that your life has transformed and that each day presents new ways of building people up in God’s love.

 

The Reason for the Thorn in Your Life

got thorns_Roses are beautiful, but when you cut them you need to watch out for the thorns so you don’t prick yourself. Raspberries are delicious fresh off the bush, but depending on the variety, you need to watch out for thorns. Those thorny weeds in the garden or growing up in the cracks of your sidewalk are a pain. And for those, you get the heavy duty gloves out to yank them up with all your might (because you know those roots are big) and your hands are protected from the thorns.

Life has probably handed you some thorns. Whether it’s a temptation, a loss, a gain (specifically of 1.5 billion dollars!), fleas in the house, a broken down car, a divorce, a firing, a kid suspended from school, or whatever else these things are thorns. What are we supposed to do? Sure the saying goes, “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade” but boy it’s hard, isn’t it?

Let’s turn to the Bible, because God gave us that book so we would have the answers. If that isn’t the first place you turn, you’re not alone. I often try to solve things on my own in the way I think it should happen. But, the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  So, God is working through your thorn! Yes, that thing that we classify as “trouble” or “a bother” can be used by God for His purpose! There’s a new perspective on things.

How about Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10? He says beginning in verse 7, “…I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” God is not putting the thorn there, but He is capable of using it for His glory and purpose.

Maybe you have heard of a side hustle? It’s a side job that brings in some extra income to use to invest, pay for kids sports, or whatever. Like this blog could be a side hustle if I could spend enough time and figure out how to get it out there. My Teacher Pay Teacher store is a side hustle bringing in a small amount. But, have you heard of a side mission?

A side mission is when we get distracted by that thorn, let it consume us, and then try to go off and solve it all ourselves. And, when we try to solve it ourselves we are trying to bring glory and praise for ourselves and be able to say, “Ha, look what I did!” or “Na-na-na-na-na I solved the problem and you didn’t”. Neither are a very humble response.

Listening for God’s response when we cry out about our thorns is hard. It’s hard to wait and it’s hard to hear. Be sure to listen and give thanks when a thorn is lifted. Remember Jesus always had a thorn in his life – he knew he was born to die. And yet, he was perfect. Philippians 2:3-8 tells us to be humble and take an interest in others. Maybe by doing that, your thorn becomes smaller or becomes a back burner issue because your joy is now in helping others with their thorns.

Thorns help keep us motivated…and on God’s purpose.

-PK

And that, is the reason for the thorns in your life. Use them to keep you on mission for God. As I was writing this, I was about halfway through and then had to go to work. I ran into a couple of thorns there and it made me think about what I was writing. I had a choice. I can let the thorn bring me down and cloud my vision or I can put it into Godly perspective and work my way through it with His help. So, I chose to help a friend instead and be present for my kids as we ate some really thick pea soup. I’m telling you, it’s not easy when my human response is to growl like a bear, but I’m going to pray for help and try.

So, try to figure out what your thorns are. Chances are, that won’t be the hard part! Then, look around you. How can your thorn help someone else through theirs? And, what action can you take to help relieve someone else’s thorn which will diminish your focus on your own thorn? Don’t try to hide! Go!

Sin Less Not Sinless

Sin Less not SinlessLiving as the Temple of God means that the church is everywhere you are. Are you representing a loving God through your actions in everyday life? How does sin look in a life that is trying to glorify God?

First things first, don’t try to deny that you sin. Your attitude towards sin needs to be recognition that you are not perfect and no matter how good we are at hiding the sin from people in the world, God sees it and knows about it. Sin is our problem and it hurts our relationship with God. “For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us and we acknowledge our iniquities…” it says in Isaiah 59:12.

We all struggle with sin. As we grow we won’t be sinless but we should sin less.        -PK

So, it is time to repent or turn or change your mind about sin. Have godly grief. This is where  you say you are sorry, really, really sorry and recognize that your sin hurts your fellowship with God. Being part of the Temple of God means crying about what God cries about. This is the opposite of worldly grief which says, “Oops, sorry I got caught, but I’ll probably do it again.” It’s a bad sign if you are comfortable with your sin. It’s a good sign if you know changing the habit of sin is hard.

How do you take on the challenge of getting serious about your sin and changing your heart so there is godly grief? Ask God for help. Ask Him to let you feel Godly grief. You need to feel the disappointment and pain that your sin brings on yourself and others as God might. You can’t just keep on glossing over it. And another big way to be serious about your sin and changing is to tell someone about it. That’s right, be accountable to someone else for the sin you keep committing. Pray together for the change in your life which will show everyone you come in contact with that you are a Temple of God.

Asking for godly grief and being accountable are two great ways to begin changing the sin journey of your life. Yes, it’s a challenge, but one that will glorify God as you live. It will also allow you to grow in your relationship with Him. Remember, you can’t hide from God, He knows your heart. You will never be sinless, but you can choose to follow His ways and try boldly to sin less.

If You Already Feel Lost in the New Year

if you already feel lost in the new yearHappy New Year! It is always refreshing to think of the start of something new. Remember looking forward to (or dreading) the first day of school? How about as you look back, do you know when you were going to marry the person you would marry? Did you know it was something new and different this time? Do you have a new project to start, but it seems overwhelming because it is so new? As the media keeps putting resolutions and adding things to do  to your new year’s list, do you already feel lost?

I’m reading the (currently) last book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon called Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. That is a beautiful title by itself. My dad originally got me into the series, always trying to get me into good lit-che-cher (literature) rather than the mindless drivel I tend to read. I’m about halfway through, having saved it for a long vacation from school, so I could read late and pretend to sleep in in the morning. It is so good!

Father Tim, the main character, says:

“Maybe it’s too soon for you to try and figure things out. Know that God has a plan for your future. Watch and wait for his timing, and when it comes, hitch a ride. You’ll know.”

As this new year starts, if you feel like you are already holding on by a thread and still trying to figure out what to do when you “grow up”, rest assured that God has a plan for you. Those aren’t just words from this book, those are words from The Book. Here are 5 great verses to keep in mind as you try to figure things out and jumpstart your new year. If you click on the Proverbs links, you can get a little more thought on the verse.

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:17-18

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

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

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Commit to the LORD whatever you do and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Go ahead, take a leap, hitch a ride, give it a go, or however you want to say it. Follow God’s plan. It’s not yours, but He needs you to execute it. You. He has a special reason for you and only you. Chances are there will be exasperated sighs, some yelling, confusion, and at the opposite end utter joy along the way. But, you won’t know any of it until you trust Him to take you where He needs you. So if you feel lost, even if you are a mature believer, don’t get lost in the voices of naysayers as the new year starts. Build yourself up, build others up, pray, and listen for God’s answer as to what He wants you to do. You’ll get there. Happy New Year!

What the Wise Men Did First

What the Wise MenWhat is your favorite holiday movie? Can you mouth the words along with the characters or do you speak them out loud much to the annoyance of those watching with you? Is the story so familiar that it seems like there is nothing new to see or hear? Well, I think we all can relate to that. A movie, a favorite book, or the predictable family get together all hold something over us that keeps us coming back to it even though nothing really changes.

Do you ever feel that way about the Christmas story? Angels come to Mary and Joseph, they travel to Bethlehem, there’s no room at the inn, the shepherds come, the star shines, and the wise men get there a couple of years later end of story, done. Right? Wrong! Yes, the story is familiar, but the joy and amazingness of it all needs to continue and not die out in each of us. So, today I want to share with you about the wise men.

PK basically told everyone who has their wise men in the nativity set that they were doing it wrong. (I’m guilty too.) The wise men weren’t there when Jesus was born, they had to travel 800 miles to get to him. No fast plane then, just your two feet and some animal help if you were lucky. These men travelled a long way to get to see Jesus. They were probably dirty, tired, sore, and hungry even if they were kings. I mean a weekend in our pop up is enough to bring out the cranky in the six of us!

But, these men travelled, they followed the star, and they found Jesus. He was probably about two years old. Think of any two year olds you know and then imagine perfection in Jesus. Hard to imagine! So these men, these kings, travelled a great distance to see Jesus. I know I already said that. Now think, what is the first thing you do after travelling somewhere? Do you ask for the bathroom, crash on the sofa, check your email, or engage in polite chit-chat if you are visiting someone? Am I right? Well, what did the wise men do?

Matthew 2:9-11 says, “After they had heard the king, they (the wise men) went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.”

Do you see it? Do you see what the Bible tells us the wise men did first? Read the passage again. What did they do? When the star stopped and they found the house where Jesus was, what did they do? They bowed down and worshiped Jesus! How awesome is that? That is what they did first when they saw Jesus. They worshiped him.

Is that what we do first? Do we worship Him first each day? I know I don’t. Some days I wake up and my mind has already jumped to the to do list or something else worldly and worshipping Jesus gets pushed to the bottom of the list. That’s awful, but it happens. I need my relationship with Jesus to be first. It needs to be at the top of the list with no option to do anything else first. I want to be a wise man, who might be tired, dirty, and hungry, but it doesn’t matter because I get to worship Jesus.

Who else wants to be a wise man? This Christmas, worship God first. Read the Christmas story as a family before opening presents. Give a birthday gift to Jesus that really means something and that really costs you something. Seek Him, find the star that is leading you to Him. And again, when you find Him, worship Him. Merry Christmas!