Empowering Parents to Nurture Faith During Covid-19

August 31, 2020 by David Cederquist & Natalia Blondet

In Psalm 78, God gives us a blueprint for how faith is replicated throughout all generations. He chose to use the family as the primary place to nurture faith. Now that social distancing is the new normal in these next few months, families are spending more time together. It is parent’s responsibility to “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (v. 4) We wanted to give you some tips to assist you in loving your kids well during this time.


A WORD TO PARENTS


There are times in our lives when things seem a little crazy or out of control. It seems like nothing is normal. During these times, children will look to the only people they know can bring some kind of comfort and normalcy – adults that they trust. Whether you are mom, dad, nana, pops or auntie, it doesn’t matter. They will be watching and listening.


This is an opportune time to talk about God. He is the only constant in our lives. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our God only requires us to be real and to trust Him. We can show our little ones and even our teens how we can be real with God with our emotions and still trust Him. 


Faith is often caught not taught. So, here is permission to be honest to yourself and to your kiddos. If you are feeling scared, let them know you are scared. However, the most important part is to show how you take your scared self to God through prayer, devotions, reading His stories and most of all by placing your trust in Him. God is with us throughout this journey called life. Let’s invite Him into our conversations, emotions and into our children’s lives.  After all, God is not only your heavenly Father but also theirs.


TALKING ABOUT COVID-19 WITH YOUR CHILDREN


When talking about the COVID-19, remember children are able to handle information according to their age. It is possible to overwhelm them with too much information. It is hard enough for adults to process what we can not control. Help your children by protecting them from too much information.


0-3yrs old – They really don’t care. They want to play and enjoy time with you. They are very selfish little ones who are adorably cute. It’s okay for them to be selfish. In these everyday moments with our children, it is parent’s responsibility to express the Father’s love through our actions. When you are patient with your children, they see God’s patience through you. When you get angry, but ask for forgiveness, they begin to understand the mercy of God. Take time to express the Father’s love to your children in this time. 


3-5yrs old – They will only be aware of what they see or hear from you. They will imitate you to a tee. They are only interested on how you react. Because of your reaction, your children will mimic you so allow yourself to pause and see yourself in your young child. Ask them why they reacted the way they did, and share comfort to them in hugs, encouraging words, and care. These are opportunity to express God’s care for us, even in difficult time through simple interaction of love. Ultimately, we must keep it simple. Here are some examples of how to communicate the changes and make it interactive for them:

  • You can’t play with your friends because we are all working on staying healthy.

  • We can’t go to our friend’s house, but we can call them.

  • Let’s draw/color a picture to send to our friends.

  • Let’s schedule a ‘watch the same movie day.’ (It’ll be a watch party from our own homes. Try to have some of the same snacks.)  

If they do ask about the virus, keep it simple like ‘People are getting sick’. This is why we are washing our hands, staying home and eating good food. When everyone is better, we will be able to visit friends.’


Elementary – At this age, kids are more curious. They will miss their friends. Try to be creative on staying connected to friends like phone calls, text, drawing pictures, sending pics of their crafts and such. They will care about the why more than the what. Why are they not with their friends, school, teacher, etc. versus what is going on? This is a great opportunity to point them to certain stories in God’s Word that will show that God is in control. He knows what is best. This is why we put our trust in Him because He promises to always be with us and protect us from any harm. Again, keep it simple but with enough information that will help them understand the importance of trusting God by staying home. Here are some examples of how to give enough information but keep it simple:

  • COVID is a type of flu. Do you remember how it felt to be sick with the flu? This flu is easy to make others sick, too. Everyone is staying home to keep each other healthy. I know it’s different and hard, but God is with us and He will protect us in this time.

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Back to the Basics: Discipleship at Home

August 27, 2020 by Christina Embree

We’re home. I mean, a lot. I’m assuming you are to; whether you’re reading this in America or Australia or South Korea, a global pandemic means we are all spending a lot more time at a place we call home.


Being home has caused me to do some reflecting and I realized that in doing so, I found myself going “back to the basics” in regard to discipleship at home. 


The other day I had someone say to me, “I love reading your blog and I like your thoughts on discipleship in the home but I don’t even know how to get started. I don’t think of those things like you do. Where do I start?”


It’s a good question and one that I have heard expressed many times before. Acknowledgment of the need for faith formation at home is often overshadowed by fears of implementation.


  • How do you “see God in the everyday”?
  • How do you begin to prepare for a “faith talk”?
  • What in the world does it mean to “speak a blessing” over your kids?


If you, or the parents you serve, have ever asked these questions or ones like them, take a second and celebrate. Why? Because asking questions like these show a heart that is already in tune with God’s heart for children and families and even if you feel completely at a loss for “what to do” chances are the very fact you feel that way probably reflects in your parenting and leadership already.


Combining that heart with intentional actions created to draw children into the “mystery” of the faith is a dynamic duo for discipleship at home.


If this is a new arena for your family or those you serve, I encourage you to start with these four small but powerful “baby steps” that begin to shift the focus of the home towards Christ.


Morning Prayer/Blessing


In Deut 6:4-9, God tells parents to “impress” His commands on the children and provides four times in which to do that. One of those times is “when you rise.” Mornings can often be rushed, crazy times as everyone is trying to get shoes tied, hair brushed, coffee guzzled and breakfast consumed. In the middle of it all, take just 30 seconds to stop with each child and pray a simple blessing. 


This prayer doesn’t have to be long or eloquent. In fact, simple is good; it’s easy to remember and repeat daily. Something like, “Lord, be with Grace today. May she know that you are with her, that you love her and that you have called her by name and may she return home full of joy and wisdom.”


Dinner Discussions


Another time God encourages us to engage with our kids is “when you sit.” It’s rare to have families in a place where they all sit down together, but sometimes dinner still gives us that opportunity. To center our conversation during those nights, our family asks four questions: What was your high today? What was your low? What mistake did you make? Where did you see God today?


We have had more “teachable moments” at dinner than we could have ever imagined. Sometimes we only get two questions in before we begin discussing something related to our faith, God, family or church. And what’s great is that everyone, even Mom and Dad, gets to participate.


Drive Time


God tells parents to share with their kids as they “walk along the road.” This doesn’t happen as much as it did but we do drive along the road an awful lot. If you have to travel frequently, might I suggest downloading or purchasing some Adventures in Odessey programs from Focus on the Family? These radio dramas provide a great platform for discussion with kids and they will love listening to them (you will too – they’re pretty great!). We have had many conversations with our children brought on by topics discussed in the episode and as an added bonus, the episodes all have Scriptures to go with them so you don’t have to figure it out yourself!


Older children/teens? Podcasts! There are some great podcasts out there that explore history and story. Remember, Jesus is with us everywhere and He is the greatest storyteller. Listening together to these podcasts can open up conversation that allow us, as parents, to introduce our children to a providential God who shows up all through history.


Bedtime Blessing


The final time God specifies is “when you lie down.” Kids are fantastic stallers when it comes to bedtime. Wouldn’t it be great if you got them at their own game and turned their stall time into a time for discussion and blessing?


For young children, check out the Jesus Storybook Bible which tells the stories of Scripture in a unique way and points out where Jesus can be found in every story.


For older kids, before they go to bed, simply ask them if anything is on their mind that they need to talk about before bed so they can sleep well. It will shock you what they are willing to share in that safe place with you. These moments will be the last thoughts before your cherub slips off to sleep; can you think of a better sendoff?


Once these four practices become habitual for you, you will find it much easier to put Christ in the center of your family activities. Your kids won’t think it’s “weird” when you take time to schedule a Family Faith Talk because you’ve already invited Jesus to the dinner table. It won’t feel difficult to turn to Scripture in everyday moments because you’ve been listening to it in the car and reading it before bed. And before you know it, your baby steps will become faith-forming strides as discipleship happens… at home.


We'd love to hear ways that you disciple your kids! Let us know by sending us a comment here.

How Do I know if My Child has Become a Christian?

August 20, 2020 by Scott Slayton

God tasks parents with the holy calling of raising our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” In this our greatest task is to help them understand the Gospel so they might trust in Christ and be saved. The problem for parents is that we often have a difficult time discerning when our kids have truly come to Christ. Either we get excited that our kids are showing interest in the Gospel and pronounce them Christians too quickly or we are so afraid of them making a false profession of faith that we go a long time without treating them as a brother or sister in Christ.


As parents we do have some guidance in knowing if our children are truly in the faith. Everything that would be present in an adult’s conversion will be present in a child’s conversion, but it will show itself in a different manner. I was 19 when I came to Jesus, and was aware of my new life in Christ the moment it took place. At the same time we have stories like John Piper’s. He does not remember his conversion, but his mother was convinced he came to faith and he does not remember ever not believing since then.


We can never know beyond a shadow of a doubt if our child has actually trusted in Christ, but we can see evidences that point to a genuine conversion. Here are some questions we can ask as we attempt to discern whether or not our children have trusted in Christ.


Does Your Child Know He Needs a Savior?


Awareness of sin and the need for a savior is an absolute necessity in conversion. While a child will not have years of drunkenness or debauchery for which they should be ashamed, he will know he has sinned and needs to be forgiven. In Romans 2, Paul talks about the law being written on the heart of every person. We instinctively know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.


When your child tells you he wants to become a Christian or starts talking about baptism, ask him why he is thinking about this now. Draw out of him, in his words at his age level, whether he feels conviction for his sins and knows that he needs a Savior. Unless he is convinced of his sins, he cannot know that he has a problem from which he needs to be saved.


Does Your Child Understand Jesus’ Death and Resurrection?


If your child shows awareness of and conviction for sin, begin to talk to her about Jesus. You will not be looking for her to give a discourse on the hypostatic union or penal substitutionary atonement. Does she know Jesus is the son of God? Does she believe that he is real, and that he lived the perfect life we could never live?


Then you should move into a discussion about Jesus’ death and resurrection. Can she articulate the basic facts about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Again, you are not looking for a doctoral level treatise, but in her words can she tell you about what Jesus did for her. What you are looking for here is illumination. As she talks about Jesus, do you see an awareness that she understands and knows this at a heart level?


Does Your Child Believe She is Saved by Repentance and Faith?


The other night we read about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment so she could be healed in our family devotion. Jesus told her that her faith made her well. I took that opportunity to talk to our daughters about salvation being by faith alone. Their Dad is a pastor, their Grandfather is a pastor, their Uncle is a pastor, and their Great-Grandfather was a pastor. They never remember a time when they were not gathering with the church each Sunday and never remember a time when they were not hearing the Gospel in family devotions and in discussions during everyday life, so I wanted to make sure they heard a clear reminder that none of these things make them a Christian.


When your child approaches you about becoming a Christian, you must make sure that she gets this. “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves.” The Scripture’s testimony is clear, and while your child may not be able to give you an excursus on justification by faith alone and imputed righteousness, you do want her to evidence that she knows she must repent and trust in Jesus. Does she understand that her works or her baptism don’t make her a Christian, but that repentance and trust in Jesus do? Does she have childlike faith in Jesus Christ alone?


Is Your Child Showing Signs of New Life?


Seeing signs of the work of the Spirit in your child’s life is not as evident as it would be in an adult. Your six-year old is not going to have the same kind of testimony that a man with a notorious past would have, but his salvation is just a miraculous. If he has trusted in Jesus, he has been born again and the Holy Spirit indwells him. He will shows evidences of conversion.


If believers grow in conviction over our sins, compassion for other people, and display the fruit of the Spirit, then this will be present in your child’s life. It will be there in childlike form, but it will be there. You will also start to see the lights come on for him spiritually. He will start to understand more of God’s truth and demonstrate a greater awareness of God’s work in his life. As you observe his life, do you see signs of the Spirit’s work in him?


Is Your Child Free from External Pressures?


We don't want to put pressure on a child to make a profession of faith without actually understanding the Gospel. You can never know for certain that your child has pure motives in his desire to become to profess Christ, but you should examine to the best of your ability any outside forces that may be exerting pressure on him. Ask him what made him start thinking about this. It may have been a friend’s baptism, but what about the event made him start pondering it for himself? Communion may have sparked an interest in him, but does he just want to take the bread and juice, or did hearing the meaning of Communion draw him to Jesus? These are all factors for you to ask about, think through, and pray over.


Always Bring the Gospel to Your Children


Your child does not get a visible mark on her forehead or a stripe on her back when she comes to Jesus, so you have to talk, pray, and discern. Invite your pastor in to talk to your child and ask questions. He may be able to see and hear things you don’t.


Most of all though, keep putting the Gospel in front of your children. Talk about it in everyday life, in family devotions, and around the table after Sunday worship. Sing songs, pray over your kids, and repent to them when you have wronged them. God’s word never returns void, our labor in the Lord is not in vain, and in due time we will sow if we reap, so take every opportunity to tell and show your kids that Jesus is better than life.


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God Created Laughter

August 18, 2020 by Bible Love Notes

“Joy, humor, and laughter should be part of everyone's spiritual life. They are gifts from God and help us enjoy creation.” ― James Martin


Sometimes we forget that God created laughter. 


Think about it. When God was creating mankind, He equipped us to experience a special burst of enjoyment...a way to release stress and relish the unusual, crazy things in life. 


But did you know that laughter also has these 4 additional benefits? 


It improves: 

  • blood flow
  • blood sugar levels
  • immune system response
  • sleep patterns

God tells us in Proverbs 17:22 that "a merry heart does good like a medicine." And He means it! 


Laugh, rejoice, sing, and enjoy the God who gave us laughter. Let it sweep through your soul today and improve your overall health.    


Let us know your thoughts, comments or things that make you laugh by clicking here.

Day 4 - Summer Kids Club

August 13, 2020

Today the kids learned that Jesus’ power lets us live forever.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

They heard the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

 

When we do something wrong, there’s usually a punishment, a consequence. When we sin, the ultimate consequence is separation from God. Forever. Even though Jesus never sinned, He willingly died for us. He loves us so much that He took the punishment for our wrongs. It was the only way to heal our friendship with God.

 

God saves us by His grace when we believe. And we can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8) We’re powerless to save ourselves. Only Jesus can save us.

 

Jesus’ story didn’t end at the cross. Remember, Jesus is God’s Son, with God’s power! And that power is stronger than death! Three days after Jesus died, something incredible happened! (Matthew 28:2-4). The angel at the tomb said: “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”

 

Jesus’ power beat death—on that day, for Jesus. And today, for you and me. The Bible promises this: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

 

God loves us so much that He sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. Jesus died and took the punishment for all the wrong things we do. But Jesus is stronger than death, and he came back to life! Jesus wants to be our friend forever. When we ask him to, he’ll take away the wrong things we’ve done and fill our lives with His love. Jesus will always be with us and will help us make the right choices. When we believe in Jesus and ask Him to forgive us, someday we’ll live with Him forever in heaven.

 

Death is an uncomfortable—and even scary—topic for children and adults. Even though we don’t like to talk or think about it, it’s likely that most kids will experience the death of a pet, friend, or relative. That’s why it’s critical that we help children understand the hope we have through Jesus. Even though death may mean the end of this life, kids can celebrate the astonishing promise of eternal life with Jesus. Today we helped children understand their need for Jesus. They learned that through Jesus’ miraculous power, we can live forever in heaven.


If you'd like to learn more of how you can believe in Jesus and be forgiven and live with Him forever, please click here. We'd love to hear from you.