Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I refuse to put my eyes on outward circumstances, or listen to prophets of doom, or buy into what is trendy, worldly, popular, convenient, easy, quick, thrifty, or advantageous... nor will I settle for a cheap imitation of God's real thing, nor will I seek to lower God's standard, twist God's will, rewrite God's word, violate God's covenant, or accept what God hates, namely divorce!
In a world of filth, I will stay pure; surrounded by lies I will speak the truth; where hopelessness abounds, I will hope in God: where revenge is easier, I will bless instead of curse; and where the odds are stacked against me, I will trust in God's faithfulness.
I am a STANDER, and I will not acquiesce, compromise, quarrel or quit.. I have made the choice, set my face, entered the race, believed the Word, and trusted God for all the outcome.
I will allow neither the reaction of my spouse, nor the urging of my friends, nor the advice of my loved ones, nor economic hardship, nor the prompting of the devil to make me let up, slow up, blow up, or give up 'til my marriage is healed.
- Author Unknown
(From Rejoice Marriage Ministries)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Maybe family devotions don't work for your family/kids/personality. Maybe you're just not spiritual enough. Maybe you lack some parenting skills.
I'm here to tell you that none of that is true! You can have wonderfully enriching family worship times. You can do it!
Here are some ideas to help you to start afresh:
First of all, face the facts: Children are wiggly. Children are curious. Children are also blessedly intuitive about spiritual things, you sometimes just have to be prepared for the message taking a different shape than you've experienced in the past.
Let's break that down. Children are wiggly. Some adults are, too! I, for one, have a very difficult time sitting still through a long sermon. So, don't start your devotions thinking you're going to read through Psalm 119 or the genealogies in the books of Moses while they sit there patiently with contented placid expressions on their angelic faces. I couldn't do it, so I don't expect it of my children!
Knowing this, we begin our worship time with some movement. We put on some upbeat worship music, give the kids some scarves or banners and let them dance. In our house (with four active boys) the dancing sometimes includes kung fu moves and break dancing! We set realistic boundaries for the movements. For example, "You must stay in this part of the living room and no jumping off of furniture."
During this active phase, we encourage one another to "Shout it out!" and anyone can call on anyone else to shout. "Hallelujah!" "I love you, Jesus!" and "Yea God!" are the usual replies.
Children are intuitive. After this active phase we have a quiet soaking phase. We put on some music that is more contemplative. We encourage the children to find a spot by themselves. They may sit or lay down. And we pray over them as they soak, asking Jesus to give them gifts. During this time they may sing or talk to God; they may not bug one another. Sometimes during soaking time we give the kids paper and crayons to express something about God.
After this phase, we talk about what they saw, felt or heard. Sometimes it's as simple as, "I asked Jesus to help me be a better big sister." Sometimes it's deep and theological. Sometimes we give them a chance to prophesy to one another. Sometimes this is as simple as "Jesus loves you." Sometimes it's complex, like "Today is a day for healing and mercy." Whatever our kids say, we just encourage it and we don't judge it for depth.
After this, we often read a short portion of Scripture. It might even just be a few verses or a single parable. And we close up in prayer.
Sometimes we let the children plan and lead the worship time.
Children are curious. Let your children ask questions about the Bible, God, prayer, life. Never judge a child for their questions. But, also don't feel like you have to have all the answers either! (One time my four year old asked, "Mom, if Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father, who is sitting at God's left hand?" My reply? "Go ask Daddy.") It's OK to say, "I don't know" or "Let's ask the Lord for that answer" or "Let's look that up in the Bible." It's OK to give the children just a piece to the puzzle and let them work it out for themselves.
Children learn by example. So, make faith a normal part of your everyday life.
"Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got! Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates." Deut. 6:5-7 The Message
Your family's spiritual development doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be!) a separate part of your life. It can be as natural as eating cereal for breakfast. If you stress about it, you're much less likely to enjoy it. And if your family isn't enjoying it, it's not likely you'll consistently do it. You don't have to have everything perfect before you have focus on the spiritual development of your family. Wherever you are, start there. Build on what you have. Let everyone participate on whatever level they currently are.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Get a sitter for the kids and date your mate! :-)
We feel so strongly, as we know you do too, that the fun and romance shouldn't end with the "I DO"! Getting time away from the office, house, kids, yard-work, etc. is SO IMPORTANT! To encourage everyone to keep dating, this Saturday we are having a DATE DAY!
DATE: August 22
TIME: 12 noon until whenever you want
PLACE: Dave and Buster's at the Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia.
WHAT: Lunch, games, laughter, memories
For those who have never been to D&B's, it's a restaurant and arcade for adults! If you register here: http://www.daveandbusters.com/rewards/profile.aspx ahead of time, you can get $10 of free play with a printable coupon! They also have eat-and-play combo's to make it an even more affordable date!
Please let us know if you plan on attending so we can reserve a big table for all of us! Call Daja at 626-584-1667 or drop me an email.
See you Saturday! We promise it will be more fun than this:
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Once in bed, Ian, our youngest son, starts in with his two-year-old version of whispering. I roll over and pull the covers tight to subtly tell Anne and Ian to keep it down (Failure #2). After a few minutes in that position, I realize he's not going to be quiet or lay still – which both of us have asked him to do several times. I groggily slither out of bed and head for the closet to get dressed so I can take Ian downstairs.
When I get downstairs, I pull out some muffins and milk for Ian and then head to the basement to watch whatever is on TV at 5:30 a.m. so I can lie down for a few more minutes. I decide I'll get Anne's coffee in a little bit (Failure #3).
In just seven minutes, I've failed to show my wife love in the same way Jesus loves me! It may seem harsh to beat myself up like this, right? Wrong! If I was really intentional about loving my wife like Jesus loves me, I would have 1) hopped out of bed to try and catch Ian before he woke Anne; 2) taken him into the closet with me while I got dressed, so not to bother his mom; and 3) started the coffee and made Anne a cup so it was waiting when she got up to get in the shower.
Did you see yourself in my situation? If you don't have kids or it's been some time since you were there, you can make up another circumstance. This same mentality, where it's much easier to do the selfish thing, can creep into every part of your day. But, Jesus has set an example for us to follow. And, the first place he wants us to put this into place is in our marriage. The Bible very specifically compares Christ's relationship with the church directly to the relationship between husband and wife. And as we examine the characteristics of Jesus, we discover exactly what we must do so our spouse will see Christ in us.
It's not just about being unselfish. If you really want your spouse to see Jesus in you, you have to genuinely put into practice an attitude of becoming more like Christ in everything you do. This is not a simple, one-time event; it is an everyday struggle. It's not easy to act like Jesus in every situation. In fact, it's notably difficult. We live in a world where it's much easier to do what feels good or take the easy way out. But, becoming more like Jesus involves sacrificial love; it takes a servant's heart; it means forgiving when it's not easy to forgive; and it takes a concerted effort toward humility and self-forgetfulness!
By Matthew J. White