Family Reminders

We recently led several families in a service we call “Parent/Child Dedication”. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite things that we do at Journey.  (You can read more about that here.)  I was reminded of few things this time around though:

Parents can change the story for their family.

When parents begin asking questions about how to lead their children spiritually, it alters the future of their family.  The journey begins as those answers are put into action.  We have the opportunity to change the journey of our kids starting today.  I was reminded yesterday that while there are generational curses, there are also generational blessings.  Parents can change the destiny of their children and grandchildren.

 Everyone in the family has a part to play.

Just as the church is a body made up of many parts with everyone having a part, the family is a unit that functions best when each member contributes to the whole.  Even older siblings can play a part in the spiritual development of other siblings.  It was a beautiful thing to witness sisters committing themselves to teach their new baby brother about loving others.

Families need other families.

The church can make a commitment to help families.  Parents also need other parents to walk through life together with them, to lean on, and to speak truth into their lives and into the lives of their kids.  There are no perfect parents.  But as parents, we can learn a lot from each other. We all do better when we have people we care about holding us to our dreams and commitments and to our walk with Christ.

 

I know in the years ahead as my kids grow up that I want other adults involved in their lives.  I want them to know that mom and dad are walking out their faith but so are other families.  We are part of a larger community of followers and  together we can forever change the lives of others in our city, nation, and world as we follow Jesus through life together.

The Value of Parent/Child Dedication

Yesterday, we had an event that we do twice a year.  It’s called Parent/Child Dedication and it is one of my favorite Journey Kids events.

Some churches do a “Baby Dedication” in which families of newborns are invited to stand on the stage during a regular adult worship service.  The pastor prays for all the new parents and kids and the whole bit lasts about five minutes.

It seemed to me that a life-changing event like having a child and being a parent (in some cases for the first time ever!) should be celebrated a bit more than a five-minute tag before the offering plate is passed.

So, we tried to create an event that would do a few things:

 1)   Show value to families.

Having a child is a life-changing event.  It is more than giving birth to new life.  It’s raising deciding to take on the call of raising a child, who will one day be an adult.  So, we want to honor that in a special way.  Our service lasts about an hour and I think the word “service” is the wrong term.  To me, it’s definitely a party.  As one of our director’s said, “There’s cake.  So you know it’s officially a party when there is cake!”

 

2)   Equip parents with their first steps.

A child’s first steps are amazing.  The family cheers, and the cameras come out.  With each new step, and each new distance, the family celebrates.  I think we should also celebrate a parent’s first steps.  We should help them think through what it means to raising a child to know and follow Jesus.  What can they do now that will give them the best success for that?

 

3)   Let families know they are not alone.

Our most recent Parent Child Dedication had twenty families participating.  When you looked around the room, you could sense, “we are all in this together.”  All of those kids were within two years of each other in age.  As I looked at them, I saw a flash of the future when those twenty kids begin Kindergarten together.  They begin college together.  And these families have a great opportunity to find community with each other and support each other, as the body of Christ, and as parent’s all fighting for the same goal.

 

As a church, if we say we truly care about partnering with families to have a greater impact in a child’s life then we need to start at the beginning and walk with them the entire way.

Fight for the Heart – Part Three

Proverbs 4:23 says to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”  The NLT says it this way, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

If that’s true (and it is) then we have to also believe there are some things worth fighting for.  There are some things that are not worth fighting for. There are people I’m not going to fight against.  I’m not going to pick up arms against my own family, my spouse, my kids, my teacher, my supervisor, or the guy writing me a ticket.

Because ultimately, the goal is bigger.  There is more than just “behavior management” at stake.  There is more than a “quiet evening at home” at stake.  There’s more than “can’t we just get through one more day” at stake.

People’s eternal relationships are stake.  A life of knowing and following Jesus is at stake. A life of passionately becoming what God has called you to be is at stake.

More than anything, I have to fight for the heart.

Fight for the Heart – Part Two

When I look in the Bible, I see lots of fighting.  There’s all kinds of battles, wars and attacks in Scripture.  In the Old Testament, there’s battles against Israel.  The entire book of Judges seems to just be one great war story after another.

Even after Israel demands a king for itself as a nation, the wars continue.  Saul and David had their share of bloodshed.  Solomon alone reigned in peace.  And then the kingdom is split in two.  God’s people were on two different tracks despite God being faithful to every promise.

Then everything shifts.  Jesus comes to earth.  The Son of God comes to us and tells us to think differently about everything.  “You have heard an eye for an eye, but I’m telling you that when someone hits you, turn and let them hit you on the other side of your face too.”  Jesus was crazy.

Or was he?

I think he was trying to teach us that we are not going to accomplish much fighting against each other.  But if we stand for what we do believe, for the value of eternal life and one that is passionate about Jesus, those are things we can fight against together.

The apostle Paul said, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We have an enemy. But our enemy is not in our own family.  Our enemy is something that lurks not inside of flesh and blood.  It’s a force that threatens to keep us from knowing Jesus.  It’s a force that wants to keep us  from loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  It’s a force that wants to bind our passion to love others more than ourselves.

(to be continued…)

Fight for the Heart – Part One

Last night I watched one of the great Disney classics – “Bambi.” It’s one of those movies that, as a kid, made you really hate hunting.

There is one part in particular that stood out to me this time. Bambi is a little more gown up and he’s hanging out with his girlfriend Faline. They have enjoyed a nice quiet evening together frolicking in the meadow while a chorus sings in the background. Then, out of nowhere, without any warning, comes along another young buck. And he tries to steal Faline from Bambi. And of course, Bambi with his new antlers goes charging in.

I think to myself – wow. That is our life, isn’t it? We have people in our lives, kids, parents, spouses, and we love them greatly. And then sometimes it seems that out of nowhere someone or something comes along to steal them away, to get them to turn down a path we know is dangerous or one that is not what God has set out for them.

The question is, really, will we fight for their heart? Is it worth it? Do we love our kids enough that we would fight against the influences in their world that are the opposite of God’s truth? Do we love our spouse enough that we would do whatever it takes to win his/her heart every day? Is it worth fighting for?

(to be continued…)

FUSION is tomorrow!

I am extremely excited about our FUSION service tomorrow night.  It's going to be a great time for families to come together and worship together.  Each week, families come through Journey and I love it.  But, there's a big gap because kids are dropped off at the door, parents go away for an hour, then they come back and leave.
But what if kids could worship with their parents?  What if kids saw how their parents worshipped?  What if parents saw how their kids worshipped?  What would that do for the dynamics of the family?
I'm not entirely sure, but I can't believe it would be bad!  Recent research showed that somewhere in the neigbhbord of 72% of parents have never had anyone from a local church contact them about how to raise their kids spiritually even though 93% of them felt it was their responsibility to train thier kids about morals and spiritual things.  So, that means families want to know and we're going to give them a few ideas!  (and maybe a few prizes…like some CD's and tickets to the fair..and a Shuffle…)
Anyway our team is excited, and our families are excited.
And there's still work to do!