Category Archives: Parenting

Speaking this weekend at Friendship Baptist Church

“Reviving our Fire for Kids and Families Weekend”

Join me this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Friendship Baptist Church in Chesterfield, VA for a weekend of Family-focused, Christ-centered equipping, encouragement, and exhortation.  Topics to include parenting, marriage, missions, and children’s ministry.  More information available at www.friendshipva.org 

Shabbat – God’s Gift of Rest

A talk given to Parent’s and Jr. High Students at Reston Bible Church on December 6, 2017

Gift of Rest

Equip Their Ship

sailing shipHave you ever asked yourself the question, “what exactly is my objective in training my children up in the faith?” I know I’ve thought to myself, “Leading them to Christ is my first and greatest objective but then what? Where should my focus be?”   Recently a good friend and mentor of mine pointed something out in Ephesians that I’d like to share with you.

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12 (emphasis added)

I’ve read this passage in Ephesians many times and the word “equip” has always given me the sense that we were to be preparing the body, through spiritual training, to carry on the work of the kingdom. This I believe is true. But the mental picture that is communicated by the original Greek word is somewhat lost in our English. The word is “Katartizo” and it means to fit out, make sound, or complete. To fit out. Outfit. It is used in the sense of outfitting as one would think of outfitting a ship that has a journey to complete. First the ship must be seaworthy. The sails must be in good repair, the hull must be sound, all of the navigational tools must be present and working properly, charts maps, etc. Additionally the ship will need to be supplied with all of its provisions for the journey. Food, water, etc.

So as parents and the church, our role is that of a loving spiritual outfitter. What a wonderful picture. More important, yes MORE important, eternally more important than our roles as academic outfitter, athletic outfitter, financial outfitter, is our God given mission as our child’s spiritual outfitter.

I will close with a quote from Patrick Henry’s will, “I have disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give to them, and that is the Christian religion. If they had that and I had not given them one cent, they would be rich. If they have not that, and I had given them the world, they would be poor.” I could not have said it any better. Equip their ship.

May you be blessed in your role as outfitter!

Last Man Standing – the eBook is now discounted at Amazon.com!

Available now on Amazon.com – http://amzn.com/B00K2NSZIE

Order via Amazon Smile and select Open Arms Worldwide as the beneficiary organization.

cover last man std

 

 

 

TRAIL GUIDE: The Purpose of Strengths

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Loving God with all our strength: part 3: The Purpose of Strengths

Remembering back to our first lesson on strength we said that, “First, He is the fountainhead of our strength. Second, He stands ready to renew our strength if we will seek Him, trust Him, and wait on Him. Third, God gives us strength not for our own selfish interests or nonsense but to glorify Him and do the good works of the Kingdom that He has prepared in advance for us to walk in.”

Let’s talk this week about that last point. The Bible teaches that as followers of Christ we have been given the right to be called “children” of God. It goes on to teach us to imitate God, “as dearly loved children.” In what ways can we imitate God? The Living God is in His essence a savior and defender. Psalm 68 says He is a “Father to the fatherless and defender of widows.”

Psalm 34 tells us that He is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 82 extends these duties to us. “Stand up for those who are weak and for those whose fathers have died. See to it that those who are poor and those who are beaten down are treated fairly. Save the weak and those who are in need.”

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this only applies to physical oppression either. Jesus says of himself (and by extension his followers), “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”

The Spirit of the Lord is upon all of His children now and in His strength we are to be imitators of our Heavenly Father. The fact that Jesus immediately moved from loving God to loving our neighbor isn’t coincidence. This makeover isn’t to be kept to ourselves. God saved us, but left us in the world for a reason. We are being made over for a purpose! Let’s get to it!

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.” -Psalm 28:7a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Heb 13:16 | Phil 2:4 | Lk 6:38 | 1 Jn 3:17
Gal 6:2 | Rom 15:1 | Eph. 2:10

Actions & Words

Whether it be the crisis of fatherlessness or failing marriages or violence or drug abuse or any of the other social ills on the front page today, Jesus’ church is the only institution with the complete answer.  Jesus is the “last man standing.”  As His people, the children of the King of kings, we are called to imitate His character in a world gone wrong, to share His good news and grace with a world in need. That is the ultimate message of this blog.  One of the ways in which my family and I have chosen to put our actions where our words are is through the ministry of an organization we founded in 2006 called, “Open Arms Worldwide.”

OAW partners with Christian churches to implement and maintain gospel-based programs to reach at-risk children in the church’s local community.  Their vision for the future is a world where all children grow up understanding that they are beautiful and precious in God’s eyes and are enabled to discover the Hope and future that He has for them.

We have been blessed to be a part of this organization as full-time missionaries as well as Board members over the years.  If you haven’t heard of OAW then I invite you this Christmas season to check out their 2014 Year in Review which just came out.  It is an encouraging read and I pray it will be a motivating one as well.  Enjoy!  http://www.openarmsworldwide.org/2014-year-review/

Merry Christmas and a blessed 2015 to you and yours,

Mike

TRAIL GUIDE: Strength Training

QUEST-Trail-Guide-DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 4, Lesson 1: Strength Training

What is strength? How is the word used in scripture? It can mean our physical strength or energy, strength of character, strength of the will, perseverance, capacity or ability to perform work, or emotional strength. These are all different aspects of strength, but they all have two things in common: their source and their purpose.

“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides” (1 Peter 4:11)

So what is it that God teaches us about strength? First, He is the fountainhead of our strength. Second, He stands ready to renew our strength if we will seek Him, trust Him, and wait on Him. Third, God gives us strength not for our own selfish interests or nonsense but to glorify Him and do the good works of the Kingdom that He has prepared in advance for us to walk in. In the coming weeks, let us help the children to understand that God, and only God, deserves all of our strength.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My
heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.””   
-Psalm 28:7a

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Deut 8:17 |1 Chron. 29:12
Phil 4:13 | Is. 41:10
2 Thess 3:3 | Is.40:27-31

TRAIL GUIDE: Teach Well

QUEST Trail Guide Devo

The “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 3, Lesson 2: Teach the Children Well

When we think of Daniel we think bravery, good looks, government leader, survivor of the lion’s den, prisoner of war, advisor to kings, child… What? Where did childcome in? Let’s think about it for a moment. We know from Scripture that Daniel was a youth, probably about 14 years old (think 8th grader), when he was taken from his home in Israel and into captivity in Babylon. Upon his arrival he was offered the best food and wine in the palace, but thought of a plan to keep himself kosher.

Already as a young teenager, Daniel was knowledgeable about his God and his faith. I’m fairly sure that the King of Babylon didn’t have any Hebrew schools at the palace. So Daniel had to have had a very solid understanding of his faith, the food laws, the teachings regarding the worship of Yahweh alone, and most importantly a deep respect for the Lord BEFORE arriving in Babylon. When he came to Babylon he then was taught about, “all kinds of literature and learning,” but what he knew about his faith was already so ingrained that he held steadfast to the God of his fathers.

There are two important lessons for us here. 1.) The mind of a child is more than capable of taking in and assimilating deep truths about God, and 2.) What we believe about God and the world around us, our “worldview” and morality, are pretty well set in stone by the age of 14 and will not easily be changed. In short, we are working with young people in the most crucial time of life for the mind. Let’s help the children this week understand the aspects and power of the mind in our lives. How can each be renewed by the power of Christ?

“Don’t live any longer the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely  changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.”    -Romans 12:2

 

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Dan 5:12 & 14 | Col 3:2 ! 1 Sam.3 | Ecc.7:25 ! 2 Corinthians 10:5

TRAIL GUIDE: God’s Gift of Wisdom

QUEST Trail Guide DevoThe “Trail Guide” devotional is used by our adult leaders of grade school groups in Quest as a way to prepare their hearts and minds for the topics we will be covering with the children on the weekend.  We have made them available here to help our parents of grade-schoolers engage with their children around the topics we are discussing and also for anyone else that might be blessed by following along.

EXTREME MAKEOVER, Section 2, Lesson 1: God’s Gift of Wisdom

About two years ago, I started using a Mac laptop instead of my old PC. One thing that prompted that switch was the problems I was having with viruses on my PC. As it turns out, the Mac operating system is much less prone to virus problems. It does a better job on its own, without the expense of extra virus protection services, of keeping out unwanted and damaging material that could slow down or freeze up my machine.

Last week we talked about the good passions and desires that God has put in our hearts – let’s call them the pre-loaded software. We also talked about guarding our hearts from storing up ungodly things – let’s call them malware or viruses. The human heart was made for loving and glorifying God. Sin has corrupted that heart, but by faith in Jesus we can have our hard-drive (heart) wiped clean of sin and reinstalled with God’s programs, so that it is free to function as it was intended. The problem is that we still live in a sinful world where there are new viruses around every corner. That’s where God’s heart operating system comes into play: WISDOM. Wisdom comes from God and is the atmosphere in which all of your pre-loaded heart software works best. It is also highly resistant to viruses and will prevent unwanted items from piling up in your heart and slowing down or freezing up your system. If our kids want to love God with ALL their heart, then they need the right operating system… wisdom. “Whatever else you get, get wisdom.” (Prov. 4:7)

 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for
everything you do flows from it.”   
-Proverbs 4:23

MEDITATING ON THE WORD:

Prov 2:1-11 | Jer 33:3!
James 1:5 | Psalm 19:7
Prov 10:8 | Prov 16:23
Prov 2:10

As You Walk Along The Way – God’s Call to Generational Discipleship (Audio)

marriage-booster-0514

The greatest battle that the church family currently faces is the knock-down drag-out fight with Satan over the hearts of the next generation. Raising a generation that knows Christ and makes him known will be the greatest gift & legacy we leave for the world.

Key Verse:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:5-7

Considering our passage in its immediate context,

  1. Verse 5 – Preceded by the “greatest command”
  2. Verse 6 – It is a matter of the heart

Notice in Verse 7,

  1. Not a request – The imperative form is used. This is a command.
  2. “Impress them on your children” – Teach them diligently.
  3. Life on life discipleship

7 Principles for Walking Along the Way

Principle #1 – Don’t Freak Out – “Concern is healthy; panic kills.”

  • Take the long view because God is writing a story in the life of your child. It’s a movie not a snapshot.

Principle #2 – Be Real

  • Walking along the way means not being a pretender. You may fool a very young child for a little while, but they will find you out it will shake their faith to its core.

Principle #3 – More lens, less shield

  • Spend more time giving our children the proper lens through which to see this world, and less time sheltering them from it. If we don’t someone else will.

Principle #4 – Enter their world – Jesus entered ours (Phil. 2:5-7)

  • Make it a point to know the young person you are walking with.

Principle #5 – The target is the Savior, not behavior – Adjust your aim

  • Lead them to the gospel (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

Principle #6 – Be joyful

  • “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

Principle #7 – No excuses

  • Excuses may be valid, but they will be overcome when generational discipleship becomes a priority.

I hope that you found something here to challenge you and to encourage you to take seriously God’s call to generational discipleship and ask yourself the question, “What legacy are we leaving?” “Will we be mentioned in anyone’s story of faith?”

Questions for further discussion:

  1. If I could be remembered by my children or grandchildren for only one thing it would be…
  1. If you looked back at your life using Mike’s metaphor of the “snapshot” what period of your life might have given the adults around you reason to despair? How has God used that time period in the broader narrative of your life?
  2. Have you ever thought about your relationship with the children in your life as one of teacher-disciple? Why/why not? How might this perspective change the way you parent or engage with young people close to you?
  3. Did you ever view your relationship with your parents as one of disciple to teacher?  Why or why not?
  4. In what ways does the teacher-disciple relationship change as children grow up and in what ways does it stay the same?
  5. How are you, or could you be, living out God’s command to “walk along the way” with the next generation?