Monthly Archives: February 2013

When Your Kids Aren’t Paying Attention During Prayer Time…

images (9)What happens when we bow our heads to pray with our kids?  As we’re expressing our hearts to God, what are they doing?  We may stress to them the importance of praying along with Daddy or Mommy in their hearts, being still, keeping their eyes closed, and staying quiet, but how much of that are they really doing?

The reality for them is that prayer time is a time when their parents aren’t talking to them.  You’re not giving them instruction or asking them questions, so more often than not (at least for my kids) this means giving some semblance of quiet and control for thirty seconds whilst traveling to another world in their own imaginations.

I want my kids to understand that they need God and I want them to understand what it is they need from him, so where does that leave me when I’m pretty sure they’re not listening to a word of what I’m bringing to the ears of God?  It’s simple, and I don’t know why I haven’t been doing it before now: I just tell my kids what I’m going to pray before I actually pray.  This way I’ve got their attention and they begin to see the wide expanse of ways in which we need God (both spiritual and physical).


A Better Way to Think About Giving Away Books for Easter

images (8)If  you didn’t already know, WTS Books is having a big sale on books for Easter.  Two books of particular note are Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper on sale for $3 (or $2 if you buy five or more) and The Cross He Bore by Frederick S. Leahy for $3.50.

These books, no doubt, are discounted so drastically because WTS Books wants us to buy them in bulk and give them away during the time of the year when we are thinking most about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  To this I say “Amen!”  I love to give away books, and I imagine many of you do as well.  This is a good thing, but perhaps we can do more good with an opportunity like this.

Giving away books (whether to believers or unbelievers) is pretty easy.  You buy a book, give it to someone you know, and tell them you think it’s a good book for them to read.  Sure, you have to muster up some courage and dish out a little cash, but it’s a pretty small commitment.  Plus, unless you keep asking that person about the book, you never really know if he/she read it.  I can’t tell you how many copies of Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die I’ve seen at Half-Price Books.

But here’s a crazy thought, what if you bought the book, gave it to someone, and said, “I think this is a good for you to read… I want to read it too, so how about we read it at the same time and talk about it over lunch… and lunch is on me.”  Yeah, he might make up an excuse or flat-out tell you “no”, but you’ll never know unless you try, and if he says “yes”, it could be the start of a great conversation that may lead to that person’s salvation if he’s an unbeliever or a deeper faith if he’s a Christian.

Discipleship Through Prayer

imagesBy God’s grace, we are working to create a culture of discipleship at Calvary Bible Church.  We believe discipleship is something that takes place not just within the formal programs and ministries of the church, but also informally, as people eat together in homes, talk over coffee, serve alongside each other, and work to meet each other’s needs.

One of the ways we encourage this is by exhorting the body to pray for each other with each other, so that prayers are being prayed for people while the one praying is standing right next to them.  How is this part of the discipleship process?  There are a few different reasons why we do this.  First, we believe that God answers prayers, and second, we know how easy it is to tell someone you’ll pray for them and then forget.  But I think there is another element to this that is particularly important to discipleship.  When you hear another person pray you are getting a glimpse into their relationship with God and this can be instructive, moving, convicting, encouraging, and downright inspiring.

I learned how to pray by hearing others pray, and in fact, I’m still learning how to pray by hearing others pray.  Perhaps, more than any other experience I have with Christians, hearing them pray draws me nearer to God.  Why?  I think it’s because a person’s prayers gives flesh bones and to their theology.  I hear what they truly believe; what promises they’re clinging to, what attributes of God they are banking on, and what facets of the gospel they are cherishing.  When I hear a person pray I understand more how doctrine should translate into my communion with God.

Isn’t this what see in the Psalms over and over again?  God lets us gaze into the heart of a man as he stands with sure footing on his theology to praise and plead with his God, as with David in Psalm 4:1:

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O Church, you may think that you have no significant ministry to other believers because you do not serve formally in a ministry program. Or you may think that the most significant things you do in ministry are the things you do that have an official title attached to them.  Please do not neglect to pray for people out loud in their presence as a means of discipleship.  It is more valuable than you think.

Redeeming Story Time: Where the Wild Things Are

images (7)I know that Where the Wild Things Are is a classic of children’s literature, but I only just read it to my boys last night for the first time.  You probably remember the story: Max, a young imaginative boy, is making mischief one night and when his mother catches him she calls him “Wild Thing”, to which Max replies, “I’ll eat you up!”  His mother then sends him to bed with no dinner and that’s when Max uses his imagination to sail to a distant land where the wild things are.  He quickly gains the respect of the monsters there and they make him their king.  They have a lot of fun together, but soon Max wants to be “where someone loved him best of all.”

When I can, I try and use the stories I read to my kids as a way to point them to greatest of stories; the true story of God sending his Son to rescue his people from their sins.  So, last night after we read the end of the story where Max returns home and finds a hot meal waiting for him in his room, I asked the boys, “Who do you think brought him that food?”  To which they replied, “His mommy.”  We then proceeded to discuss the reality that Max did not deserve the food that was waiting for him, but that his mommy had mercy on him.  I asked them if their mommy ever gave them something good when they didn’t deserve it, to which they answered “yes”.  Then I asked them why Mommy showed them mercy.  There was no answer, so I explained that Mommy shows them mercy because God showed her mercy when he sent Jesus to die for her sins.

Where the Wild Things Are has unique, eye-catching illustrations and it’s fun for boys to pretend that they are monsters, but I really think the appeal of the story for me is the mercy of a loving mother.  Having said that, it would be really easy to just end the story and appreciate the love Max’s mother has for him, and there wouldn’t be anything inherently wrong with that.  But if there is One whose mercy far exceeds any mercy we find in this world (and there is), then parents, let us tell them of God who “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

The Difference Between a Fan Boy and a Humble Worshiper

From Joe Thorn’s excellent book, Note to Self:

The difference between a fan boy and a humble, worshiping theologian is the direction of one’s passions, the content of their convictions, and the source of their identity.  The fan boy is passionate about a personality or movement, shares that person’s convictions, and is careful to align himself with the right people for acceptance.  It is not that the fan boy is out to deceive or image1pretend.  He truly believes the personality or tribe is right.  But instead of standing with such people and focusing intently on Jesus, he settles for spiritual tribalism and the cult of personality.

Let me be clear.  Point to those who follow Christ well, but only to encourage others to see Christ more clearly.  Link up with like-minded men and women who are serious about God, gospel, and mission, but fight the temptation to let the group be your passion rather than its reason for existence.

Your Kids Need You to Tell Them They’re Desperately Needy

images (6)Our second son, Justin, has the most independent spirit of our children.  Although he’s very young, he wants to do everything all by himself.  As you may expect, this makes for some maddening bouts with this child as he tries repeatedly to do something that he simply can’t do.  The kid has some serious resolve too.  While he was learning to buckle his car seat, we would for wait through numerous aggravated attempts amidst frustrated groans and tears until we had to step in an do it for him.

On my end, most of the time I just want to help Justin because he’s taking forever, everyone is waiting on him, he’s moving toward meltdown and I want to catch him before he gets there.  But there is another reason I should help Justin: because he needs to learn that he is dependent.  These times are opportunities to teach my son that God made us dependent creatures, first dependent on him, and second dependent on others, because God has chosen to give us grace through his people.

Although Justin is an unbeliever I want to teach him now what Paul heard from Jesus when he refused to remove his thorn in the flesh: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  And I want him to understand that the Church has been brought together to build each other up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).  I want him to understand that he is needy and I want him be certain of the One he needs.

Sometimes as parents I think we so badly want our kids to do things for themselves (because they need to get into a good college so they can get a good job so they can live a secure life) that we may unknowingly help to foster a spirit of independence in them, perhaps communicating that dependence is something to be frowned upon.

Don’t get me wrong, I, in no way, want to raise boys who are lazy, free-loading mooches, but neither do I want to raise them in a way that discounts the reality that, as God’s creation, he made us to depend on him (even before the Fall).  Justin is in desperate need of God’s grace that only comes through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, so when he can’t put on his shoes and he doesn’t want anyone to help, it’s a good time to remind him that God made us needy creatures.

A Prayer for Your Pastor(s)

Last week Kevin DeYoung wrote a blog post titled, How Can I Tell If I’m Called to Pastoral Ministry?    In it he gives ten questions for a man to ponder as he considers whether the Lord would have him serve in this way.  I read the post hoping that it would be a good resource to give to young Christian men wrestling with their future, but found that it offered a question my mind has returned to many times over the last few imagesdays:

 Do I still want to be a pastor if I never write a book, never speak at a conference, and never have a big church?

My church is sending me to lead a church plant next year in another community near ours and this question was extremely timely.  While my answer to this question is “yes”, my sinful heart does feel the allure of such things.  Please pray that whatever happens in this ministry God has given me, I will desire to simply be faithful to my Savior and faithful to his people all my days.

I plead with you to pray this prayer for your pastor(s) as well.  Pray that Christ will forever be the allure of our hearts!

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