Debbie and I are getting ready to go on vacation! As I anticipate our time away, I am reflecting on a priority that we set early in our marriage. From the first years of marriage, we looked for opportunities to get time away–ALONE. It wasn’t always easy because it takes some guts to ask a friend or even a family member to take on the responsibility of five kids! But the benefits that we reaped have been so worth it. Even though our kids are now grown with families of their own, we still love to get away together–we really enjoy spending time with each other. And that’s because we cultivated our own relationship all throughout our marriage.
Don’t let the busyness of the moment stop you from investing in your future! Determine right now that you will make “time away” a priority.
This past Sunday we were privileged to host a Baby Dedication Celebration with 40 families participating. The purpose of this celebration is to give new parents an opportunity to think about the importance of their role in shaping their child’s first 18 years. Intentional is a word we repeat over and over. Great relationships don’t just happen. They take planning with purpose. Here are some great ways to be intentional in your parenting.
Prioritize your relationship.
Be present and dependable.
Love them regardless.
Help them shape their faith.
Congtratulations, parents! We are cheering you on!
In the gospels which were written by eye-witnesses to Jesus and his life on earth, we find many stories of miraculous healings. One incident that I love is the story of a blind man as told in John 9. The man had been blind since birth and so in order to live, he had to beg on the side of the road. One day Jesus and his disciples saw this man and the disciples equated his blindness with his own or his parents’ sin. They asked Jesus about it and Jesus replied that his blindness was not caused as the disciples suggested but rather it “happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:3 NLT)
Of course, Jesus healed the man and that’s when all the trouble started! This man had his vision restored! He was able to see clearly! And yet, no one seemed to rejoice with him. His neighbors couldn’t believe that it was actually him. Then they wanted to know the whole story. After hearing that, they still didn’t rejoice. Instead, they took him to see the Pharisees because this great miracle had happened on the Sabbath. Now the Pharisees wanted to hear his story. Once again instead of rejoicing, the man is subjected to criticism of Jesus and questions about his authority to do such a miracle. It got so bad that even his parents basically washed their hands of the issue and didn’t have anything to say about their son’s healing.
Here is a man who was a nobody. People walked by him every day without any concern or care for him. This man who was a nobody all of a sudden became somebody that everyone was talking about. Because of his healing, this man got to share his story of his encounter with Jesus. Did everyone believe it? No–it would seem that hardly anyone believed it. But the man’s life was changed forever. Read this story starting in John 9:1 but don’t stop before you get to the really great part. Spoiler alert!
When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
“You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus. John 9:35-38 (NLT)
What’s your story? Be ready to share it. Don’t let anyone talk you out of giving God glory. No one can dispute what God has done for you personally. Let God’s power be shown through your story!
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.
If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies , preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not share the true meaning of Christmas, I’m just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not demonstrate kindness to strangers, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
This past weekend in our message series i follow, the theme was “i obey.” Pastor Mark gave us some great reminders of how our obedience to God should not be a “have to” kind of obedience but rather a “want to” kind of obedience. God is for us! God loves us and wants the best for us.
Isn’t that how we feel about our children as well? We love them and want the best for them. At our Baby Dedication Celebration on Sunday afternoon, we talked about the fact that the most important thing any child needs is love. And parents were reminded that they are best positioned to be the ones to give their child love. When love is the basis of your relationship with your child, then all other parts of your relationship will be viewed through that filter. Will you still have to discipline your child? Yes! Will you still have tough conversations? Yes! Will you still be the one who sets the guidelines and enforces them? Yes! But as your child matures, they will understand that all of these hard things are done because you love your child and want what’s best for them.
We can learn so much about parenting from our relationship with God!
NewSpring Church is in a series right now called i follow. The series is designed to help each of us see what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. With that in mind, our most recent message was “i testify.” We learned how important it is to share our faith with others. Hopefully, we began to think about who is in our world that needs to hear about Jesus. But I want to challenge you right now to think about the people closest to you–your children and grandchildren. You have a unique opportunity to show real faith to the people who know you best and look up to you most. They see you day in and day out. You can’t get by with just talking the talk, you have to walk the walk. If you are a parent or a significant person in a child’s life right now, you have the opportunity to share with them a gift that is priceless. You have the opportunity to share about the Savior who loves them and will walk with them through every instance of life. You will never have the chance to show your children what it means to be perfect but you have a greater goal–to show them what it means to be forgiven. We are raising the next generation. They NEED to know God’s amazing love and UNDERSTAND that he has a plan for their lives. Let your children SEE and HEAR you testify about Jesus!
This past weekend, NewSpring Church began a new message series called i followthat is designed to help every individual discover how to be a true follower of Jesus. Our adults are getting the message each week in the main auditorium but we are also sharing applicable parts of each aspect of following with our students and kids.
Families, you can get ani follow for kids activity box at a drive-through event we are hosting Wednesday evening, September 23 from 5:30-7 p.m. at NewSpring. Our KidzWorld team will be there to greet you and give you your box full of fun learning activities and discussions for your family. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to pick up this FREE great resource!
This weekend, September 5 & 6, is devoted to highlighting our family ministry at NewSpring. Back in 2004-2006 when we were adjusting our focus to think about how to build bridges to our community, we realized that we must do more to reach the next generation. On September 9, 2006 we launched KidzWorld with the purpose of creating joyful, relevant, irresistible environments for kids from birth through 5th grade. We began to promote a relatively new concept to families. Parents have the most influence in their child’s life. That means the church is not the place where kids get their religious education–it’s a place where there are caring staff and volunteers who ignite a child’s curiosity with the Truth of God’s Word and then link up with parents and guardians to provide tools to keep that faith conversation going all week long.
Now, 14 years later, we have the privilege of seeing the fruit of our investment. There are staff members on our team who grew up going to KidzWorld, The Wire, and Thrive. Each weekend, dozens of students serve in the ministry at NewSpring–providing an irresistible environment for others around them. Parents have been empowered to lead their children on their spiritual journey. Families have become inviters because they want their friends to experience the joy of knowing Jesus.
This weekend, we are going to share some strategic steps that help a family become intentional about faith. But this weekend isn’t just for parents because as a family of faith, we all have the responsibility to impact the next generation. So I hope you will make the extra effort to be at NewSpring in person or online to find out how you can be part of igniting the faith of the next generation.