Giving Your Kids Jesus Part II: You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

“We are not perfect but being perfected.”

“Life’s not all about you, and what you want, when you want it.”

“More is caught than taught.”

“You can’t give what you don’t have.”

“Throw your snack wrapper away!”

These are just a few quotes Casey and I often find ourselves saying…either to each other, as we are sharing with others, or to our children!

The quote for toady is –

“You can’t give what you don’t have!”

If we hope to see our children walking in a vibrant, consistent, personal relationship with Jesus, we need to be growing in our own relationship with Him.

We get to be the example! (yay, right?!)

The truth is, if we don’t have an active, growing, maturing relationship with Christ, it’s going to be hard to help our children have one.

Our children need to see us value the Word of God and use the Word in our lives. They need to see us in worship. They need to see and hear us in prayer. And not just at church- (though, that’s good) this should be happening in our homes.

Let’s not simply describe the living water to our children while we stand in front of them holding an empty cup feeling parched ourselves. I pray that my cup would be full of the living water so that it can spill over into theirs!

I want to take a long drink and give my children a drink! I want to let them taste and see how good it is, and I want to SHOW them how to get it for themselves.


“People don’t light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let YOUR light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that YOU do and praise your Father in heaven.”             Matthew 5:15-16


 

“Let your light shine in front of people.” Friends, our children are people!

Let US be the light in our homes. Let OUR light shine in front of our children so that they will see the good that WE do. The result? They will praise the Father in heaven!

It has to start with us.

This is where it can get tricky. We think parenting is about our children, but all of a sudden, like a smack in the face, it gets personal.

It is personal.

Christ will use our children, and the journey of raising them, to draw us closer to Him and to make us more like Him. Parenting is just as much about what God wants to do in us as it is about what He wants to do in our children.

The first priority is to be with Him yourself. We must cultivate our own personal relationship with Christ.

I have sat across from people who, as soon as you bring up spending time with Jesus, shut down…they feel guilty. They start beating themselves up because they didn’t read their Bibles this week, this month, or maybe they can’t even remember the last time they opened it. Anybody been there?

This isn’t about that. This is about finding life, freedom, and grace in Jesus!

This, actually, isn’t even about checking “quiet time” off your to-do list for the day. This is about cultivating a very real and very personal relationship with your creator! It is about abundant life in Christ.

We get to find our life in Him everyday; we get to receive His new mercies every morning.

Will that mean spending time in His word? Yes! Will that mean working on some self-discipline? Probably.

The only way to build a relationship with someone is to spend time with them.

But, I’m here to gently and lovingly say, “Take the pressure off.”

Your “be with Jesus” could look many different ways. In fact, it’s not only okay for it to look different ways, depending on the season of life you’re in, it will be necessary for it to evolve and change accordingly.

There is freedom for your time with Him to look anyway it needs to…from the time of day, to the length of time, to what you do during that time. There is no “cookie-cutter” answer or “right” way.

The “right” way is the way that connects your heart to His. The “right” way is the way the creates growth, change, and maturity in you. 

Maybe it is sitting in the quiet early morning hours with your Bible and journal. Maybe it’s going for a walk in the middle of the afternoon while listening to worship music. Maybe it’s late at night when the rest of the house is asleep. Maybe it’s mowing the yard while you listen to a sermon podcast.

Being with Him is about being in His presence. It’s about being aware that He is near and present. It’s about being still and listening. This can happen anywhere at anytime.

Find out what it looks like for you to meet with Him in this season, and do that! 

Now, while I have said that this isn’t about checking “quiet time” off your to-do list, I am well aware that there are self-discipline strategies we can put into practice to help us get, and stay, on track.

For some people, that means making a list and checking it twice! I am actually a big fan of list making, and I love checking things off my lists. (Yes, I am one of those who writes things down that I have already done, just so I can check it off!)

I’m simply suggesting that if all we’re getting out of our time with Jesus is the ability to put a check by a task on our to-do list, we’re missing the fullness of life in Him!

We cannot have abundant life without Christ. We could never, on our own, make enough right choices. We can’t, in our own strength, become all that He created us to be.

If you feel like you’ve tried it all…if you feel like you’ve tried to be dedicated and read your Bible but you never “felt” anything… Don’t stop. Don’t give up. Don’t let discouragement set in.

I believe that He will be faithful. He wants to meet with you.

We cannot give the best of who we are to our family, to our ministry, or to our jobs if we haven’t made the choice to be with Jesus.

Your precious children need a mama who knows Jesus. They need a father who knows The Father.

You will parent with greater grace, patience, wisdom, and discernment if you will parent out of the life you find from being with Jesus. You will serve, bless, and love more deeply if you have been filled with the life that only Jesus can give.

Friend, there is nothing you can do that will change your life, your heart, your marriage, or your family more than being with Jesus.

If we’re going to start looking like Him, we need to know what He looks like. We can rest assured that if we posture ourselves at His feet, the revelation and transformation that comes from His Word will have a lasting impact on our lives.

We will always leave changed. We will always leave looking a little more like Him.

If I want my children to look like Him, it starts with me.

Giving Your Kids Jesus Part I: Redefining Success

Friends, one of the most important things we will ever do in life is point our children to Jesus.

It doesn’t matter if they grow up to be world renown surgeons, astronauts, professional athletes, dedicated school teachers, or millionaires…if they don’t have Jesus, they have nothing. 

Give your kids Jesus. Present the gospel in your home, around your table, to your family.

It sounds so simple doesn’t it? It sounds like it should be an easy enough task to accomplish, but sometimes it can be one of the most challenging. It requires a clear vision and a perspective that sees above and beyond the challenges of the day.

In fact, it requires us to see those challenges, not as interruptions to our day, but as opportunities to help our children find Jesus in the midst of their struggle.

Anyone have a child going through a struggle? No matter how old our children are, there will be struggles.

Got a two year old? The struggle is real! That two year old has a mind of his own and is probably beginning to assert his opinions! Got a twelve year old? The struggle is real! That twelve year old feels like she’s ready for more freedoms and responsibilities but hasn’t quite proven that she is, in fact, ready.

I truly believe that the answer to every challenge, obstacle, and hurdle our children are facing is found in Jesus. I know this because that’s where the answer to MY every challenge, obstacle, and hurdle is found.

About a year ago, I was heading to bed one night feeling pretty defeated. It was one of those #momfail kinda days….I remember laying in bed that night taking inventory of the day…

Homeschool day? It was terrible. Laundry? Never got done. Keys? Lost. Supper? In the crockpot. (Almost sounds like a win, doesn’t it? But, no…. never got plugged in and turned on.) Do you know how disappointing it is to think you’re coming home to a nice, hot supper, but instead, you have a crock pot full of raw chicken?!

It was just one of those days. One of those days you can laugh at later, but in the moment, it’s just not funny. Nothing is funny.

I was laying in bed that night replaying my failures of the day…when I felt the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, “Did you give you children Jesus today?”

But it was such a bad homeschool day…Victoria was still struggling with memorizing her multiplication facts, and Ellie didn’t want to do reading…there were frustrations and tears and…“Did you give your children Jesus today?”

AND good grief, I lost my keys…again! And who just forgets to plug in the crock pot?! “Did you give your children Jesus today?”

When I finally stopped rattling off my failures and actually answered the question I was being asked…I remembered our morning.

Our girls were in their rooms, worship music playing, having their own time with Jesus. I remembered how we started the school day with them sharing what Jesus had shown them during their quiet time. They each read a scripture to me that they had read during their own quiet time. They read me the prayers they had written in their journals.

I remembered how, later that day, when one of them was struggling, I was able to point her to a scripture and pray with her.

With tears streaming down my face, suddenly the day didn’t look so bad anymore.

I had a major perspective shift that night.

I knew, in that moment, that even though my day didn’t measure up against the ruler I was using…when I changed measuring sticks, everything changed.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I know there are things we have to do. Yes, we need to have good school days. Yes, we eventually have to do laundry. Yes, we have to feed our family. Yes, to all the things…

But, maybe we are putting an unneeded pressure on ourselves. Could it be that we are getting distracted by so many other things that we’re missing the better thing? Maybe we need to change the measuring stick?

Sometimes, it’s easy to get distracted and caught up in all the things we think we “need” to be doing or think we “need” to be giving our kids.

You can spend five minutes scrolling through Pinterest and be left feeling like a complete failure.

We can spend our lives reaching for a standard that others, social media, and our culture are holding over our heads…or we can reach for Jesus.

Since that night over a year ago now…I have asked myself a question at the end of every single day…

“How did I give my children Jesus today?”

I want to have an answer for this question…I want to be able to list the ways that I showed HIM to my children…ways that I intentionally made Him tangible in their lives.

We have to understand that our children are on their own journey. As parents, we have the honor, privilege, and responsibility to guide and steward them. More than anything else, I want my children to know how to find Jesus as they journey through life. I want them to own it. I want them to know Him for themselves.

It’s not enough for them to know of Jesus. I want them to truly know HIM.

Reality is that without Jesus we have nothing. He is our everything.

If we want to give our children everything – then we must give them one thing…Jesus.

 

The Day After Easter

The day after Christmas is always a hard day. We spend weeks building up to Christmas Day, and then…its over. The planning, anticipation, and excitement are gone. Finishing the last of the left overs, clearing up the decorations, finally taking down the tree…to be honest…it can take several weeks to get over Christmas being over.

But, the day after Easter…is Monday. Every year, it’s always just Monday. How quickly we forget!

My prayer today is that Easter is not so quickly put behind us.

This year, we did the Sparkle Eggs (click here to read about The Sparkle Egg) activity with the girls. They both wrote very insightful and self-reflective things on the paper they put inside their eggs.

I was impressed with their honesty. But, if we let it, the Sparkle Egg activity will be a distant memory by lunch on Monday as they deal with the same sin and selfishness that they wrote on those papers just a day before.

You know, I thought I had been very clever to sneak the papers out of the eggs on Easter without their knowing. However, at supper, Victoria informed me that book says that the parents removed the papers from the eggs.

Obviously, there is no magic trick involved in getting the papers out of the egg. And there is no magic trick in God’s dealing with the sin in our hearts. The sin in our children’s hearts (and our own) is only removed because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross.  

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact. And, Easter is the time when we remember and celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus.

But, Easter is not just for remembering what God did….it is for remembering what God is doing.

The Bible teaches us that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in our hearts and lives today…..and everyday. The impact of the resurrection empowers our lives every day— all year long.

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We should not put the papers with the sins and struggles that we (and our children) face back in the egg. Today is an opportunity for us (and our children) to live in the power and freedom that is made available to us by Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection.

Remember, the tomb was still empty the day after Easter. 

When you need to find your fight again…

We spent this last weekend at our church for the Family Life Conference. It was a weekend to strengthen, encourage, and refresh families as they navigate through the joys and challenges of parenting.

It was such a great weekend, and if you were able to join us, I hope you left feeling encouraged! I, personally, came away challenged in different areas for our marriage and parenting.

BUT, let me just tell you something…the last couple of weeks leading up to this past weekend weren’t easy…to be honest, they were HORRIBLE!

Isn’t that how it goes? Seems like the enemy knows just when, where, and how to target us. UGH!

So, naturally, the days leading up to this weekend we hit some issues in our home. We were trying to get so much done. I kept looking at a to-do list that seemed to continually grow rather than shrink. I found myself thinking in circles. Sickness hit. Sleep was not happening…at all. Miscommunication in our marriage. Parenting challenges.

Basically, if it could go wrong…it went wrong.

In the middle of everything I found myself asking, “Why are we doing this?” and I would hear the Lord whisper, “Because I care.”

You guys, He cares. He cares about your children. He cares about your heart. He cares about the season you are in right now. He cares about what happens in your home. He cares about you, and He cares about your family.

Family is a beautiful thing – it’s God ordained, God designed, God purposed, and God fashioned. In the beginning, God created…and part of that creation was the establishment of family.

I am increasingly aware of God’s heart for family. For my family. For your family. I am  also aware that there is a fight happening over family – a fight over God’s design and establishment.

We live in a culture that is fighting against family, and this past weekend we came together to fight for it.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

– Joshua 24:15 –

We are living in a “choose for yourselves” culture, and there are plenty of choices out there. Choose your house, choose your car, choose your style, choose your job, choose your lifestyle, choose your gender, choose your god, choose your truth…

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” What is your family choosing? Who is your family serving?

Will we choose to serve our culture and the ways of the land we live in? Or, with everything in us, will we stand and say, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 

God’s word has a lot to say about family, marriage, and raising our children. It’s truth is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path…but it’s our choice to walk in the light of truth or take our own way. 

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”

Friends, we don’t get to not choose.

We’re either intentionally choosing to serve the Lord and walk in His truth, or we’re passively choosing to serve the “gods of the Amorites” in whose land we are living. In our culture, that looks a lot like the gods of self, pride, success, perfectionism, materialism, media, knowledge, status, apathy, etc…

I have been overcome these last few weeks with a heaviness in my heart for families…for my family and for yours.

So, why do we fight for family?

Because He fought for family. Because it’s a battle worth fighting for. It matters. My family matters. Your family matters.

Don’t let someone else care more about fighting for your family than you do. Don’t let another friend, mentor, pastor, or counselor do the fighting for your family. Let them fight alongside you…let them give you tools and insight, but get in the fight for yourself.

Choose for yourselves…no one gets to make that choice for you or your family except you.

This is a choice we get to make today, and when tomorrow comes, we get to make the choice again. Our life is made up of a series of choices….it will mean day, after day, after day “choosing THIS day” whom we will serve.

I am praying for families – for Dads and Moms to rise up and say, “We are making our choice. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. We choose Him today and will choose Him again with each new day.”

I am praying for families who find themselves in a struggle and are fighting with each other – may they find themselves no longer fighting WITH each other but FOR each other.

I am praying for families who find themselves falling a part – know that He can and will hold all the pieces.

If your family suddenly doesn’t look like you thought it was supposed to look, I am praying that you will have eyes to see your family the way HE sees your family. He has a vision and a plan…He knows.

I am praying for a passion to rise up within us…a passion for family, a passion for truth, and a passion to see our families walking in the TRUTH. May we realize that what goes on in the four walls of our homes is critically important.

Friends, no matter where you find yourself today, no matter what your family is facing…know that your family is seen, your family is loved, and your family is important.

I am praying for families to find their fight again.

We care about your family, because He cares about your family. You are not alone. 

We are fighting for our family and we will fight along side you for yours. 

“As for me and my house

we will serve the Lord.”

Bring Them Up

We were getting the house ready for a big gathering, and I went out to pick up a few tables in my old blue farm truck. The trip there went as expected, but when it was time to come home, ‘Old Blue’ just wouldn’t start. I caught a ride back home with my brother-in-law. The next day, I managed to get the truck started and taken to the mechanic.  He looked it over for about 20 seconds and nonchalantly said, “All you need to do is replace the starter.”

He said that to me as if he were saying, “All you need to do is turn the key.”

We all have those things we say to each other…things that are easy to say, sound nice, and make it seem simple to do but…..the saying is often much easier and the actual doing is often much more difficult.  

Sometimes, when I read Paul’s words to families in Ephesians 6, I feel like I did when the mechanic was telling be about my trucks broken starter.  It sounds easy when you read it, but the actual doing is going to take some work.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

The translation of the Greek word to the English phrase “bring them up”  does not do justice to the intention of care expressed by the verb.  Paul’s previous use of this same verb was in  Ephesians 5:29 where it was translated “feeds” but more accurately conveys the idea of “nurture.”

“Bring them up” means to nourish and nurture up from childhood to maturity by providing not just for physical needs but also for emotional and spiritual needs.

More exactly, Paul uses this verb in the present imperative tense as a command calling for this to be the father’s lifestyle or habitual practice. In a sense, he should always (even when he is old and grey) be “bringing up” his children.

Parenting is an intense, invasive, time consuming….life consuming, interactive, all encompassing journey that requires more of you than you have to give. It kind of seems easy at first when you just see it written there: “bring them up,” but it’s one of the hardest things you could ever do.

As we “bring up” our children, God has placed a lot of weight on us as parents. The good news: this is not a weight we were ever supposed to carry on our own.

You see, the mechanic never intended for me to fix my truck on my own with my own tools and talents.  Likewise, the Father never never intended for us to bring up our children by our own strength and abilities.

 

Practical Ways to “Bring Up” Children

(Adapted from The NIV Application Commentary on Ephesians by Klyne Snodgrass)

1. Refuse to live through them

2. Avoid unhealthy pressure or expectations

3. Reject jealousy and contempt

4. Refuse to put down, demean, or damage them

5. Attend to their material and emotional needs

6. Provide experiences— especially in work and in caring for others

7. Grant freedom within legitimate boundaries

8. Create a context of grace, love, support, respect, and encouragement

9. Always speak the truth in love

10. Give a theology of life in Christ

 

Download your printable copy of “Practical Ways to ‘Bring Up’ Children”