Family Friday Links 08.30.19

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Here’s what we’ve been reading online lately:

Jon Bloom had a post for parents that helps them not give up praying for their kids. He says, “
Yes, I’ve learned that God is trustworthy, but my perceptions regularly are not. I’ve learned — or more accurately, I’m learning — not to assume too much.” Parents this is a lesson that is easy to say and harder to apply … yet that not a good enough reason to quit.

Shelia Dougal had a post on marriage. She says, “…faithfulness in marriage is radical obedience to the call of God.” She goes on to describe what this looks like everyday. This is an encouraging read for any married couple.

Ministry Spark had a post on communicating to volunteers. It reads, “… the “what” is not enough. Volunteers also need the “why.” It is essential that they hear the vision of the ministry and understand the great value of what they do.” While the what is important, the way is essential.

What have you been reading online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

He Reads Truth (Judges): Conflict with Ephraim

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I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.

What follows is one of the pieces I wrote for the Judges reading plan. You can find the full plan HERE.

 

Day 15: Judges 12:1-151 Samuel 8:19-22Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

My friends, Ross and Jay, like to tell a story about the day that forged their friendship. It was the day of Jay's “intervention.” No, Jay was not a drug user or an alcoholic, but he did have a persistent issue that threatened to damage all of his friendships. You see, Jay had a frustrating tendency to break off plans at the last minute.

On this particular occasion, Ross, Jay, their wives, and a few other friends had planned a Saturday afternoon cookout. Ross’s wife had bought the burgers, brats, and all the fixings. They’d set up the patio furniture and the corn hole boards. They were less than an hour away from the party when the phone rang. A college buddy had offered Jay two tickets to the game that afternoon. He’d gotten a better offer, so he ditched the cookout and headed to the game instead.

Now, this was hardly the first time that had happened, so Ross was angry. Later that night, he drove over to Jay's place to confront him. When Jay tells the story now, he changes his voice to show just how gruff Ross was: “We can NOT be friends if you keep doing this. I want your friendship. I need your friendship, but your word has to MEAN something.”

Friendship is built on fidelity. Broken commitments, on the other hand, can kill. Jephthah was a man who, on the surface, seemed to care a lot about keeping his vows. In fulfillment of a rash promise, he sinfully sacrificed his own daughter (Judges 11:30-40). And when the Ephraimites broke their covenant obligation to fight with him against the Ammonites (Psalm 78:9-1167-72), he turned his sword against their entire tribe, wiping out 42,000 men (Judges 12:4-6).

But while Jephthah seemed to care about vows, his rashness shows us the instability and infidelity of his heart. He was faithful to himself but lacked fidelity to God’s ways. In his heart, Jephthah only did what was right in his own eyes. His mouth spoke too quickly, and his words brought futility and destruction —both to his own household and to the Israelite tribes he was supposed to lead. Jephthah had a short judgeship—just six years compared to an entire generation for the judges who’d preceded him (Judges 3:11,305:318:28)—and it marked the beginning of a downward spiral for the nation.

Perhaps you’ve never been as rash as Jephthah, but we’ve all been enamored with the “better offer.” It’s tempting to let our eyes wander to the next best thing, rather than being faithful to the friendships, spouse, family, or church community where we’ve been called.

Where do we find the strength to be faithful? Where do we find the power to keep our vows? We can only find this strength in remembering that God has been faithful to us. He is a loyal God who kept His promises by sending Jesus Christ to save us. Our God is faithful and true (Revelation 19:11), and in Christ, all of His promises are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).  

Family Friday Links 8.16.19

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Here’s what we’ve found helpful online this week:

Zac Harrel had a post on prayer and kids. He wrote, “Praying with a child changes the way you pray.” This isn’t (necessarily) a bad thing. He goes on to explain 3 ways this is beneficial to the child as well as the parent. As parents we need to be leading our kids in prayer … while at the same time allowing them to remind us that God is ALL things, big and small.

Verge had a post on leadership development. It lists 3 essentials, defines them, and then goes to explain what happens when any one of them is missing. If you’re in leadership, this is a great post to be thinking and praying through.

Sam Luce had a post entitled, “Purity Rings and True Love Waits”. He wrote, “The problem with the purity culture of the ’90s was not the concern of a hypersexualized culture. The problem was that the starting point and goal were not God.” Rules will only get our kids so far, when what they need is God. Parent’s this a that needs to be considered.

What have you been reading or writing online this week? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out!

Three Reminders for Anyone Who Disciples (Including Parents)

I recently finished 4 Chair Discipleship: What Jesus Calls Us to Do by Dann Spader (Moody Press, 2014). Spader writes about the way Jesus discipled and learns from his method. Spader spends time looking at each stage of discipleship from non-believer through the multiplier stage, what he calls the “disciple-making disciple.” And he explores how to move from one chair to the next.

Near the end of the book, Spader lists three reminders that those who seek to disciple others should keep in mind. These reminders are particularly important for parents as well as those who work with kids and students.

First, each person you disciple is at a different stage of the process. Next generation disciplers should always be encouraging the kids and students in their care to take next steps in their growth. As parents or children’s ministry workers we need to understand the difference between childish immaturity and perpetual immaturity. Understanding this well means having maturity ourselves. Spader writes, “Maturity means we understand the development process and work with people based on their stage of life and always give them plenty of grace for that stage” (128).

Secondly, at every stage of a person’s journey, we need the Holy Spirit. On this point Spader writes, “As spiritual parents we know better than anyone that ‘apart from Christ we can do nothing’ but ‘in Christ all things are possible’” (129). Only God’s Spirit can change and transform someone’s heart. It’s our job to be faithful with the message and let him do his work.

Finally, our goal in the journey is holiness. Here, Spader says, “We cannot be holy apart from His constant cleansing. And holiness is God’s agenda for each of us, for as we mature we move from grace to grace and become more like Him” (130). Striving for holiness means that we live our lives confessing every known sin to those we are seeking to disciple. We lead by example, modeling what repentance and forgiveness looks like in real life. And this is particularly true when we’ve sinned against them.

Overall, I really loved Spader’s book. It’s great for any believer who is seeking to be faithful as a disciple-maker. Pick it up to be challenged and encouraged in your own discipleship journey.