Conversation Starters: Our Caretaker

Posted by Teeny

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomey 31:8

How can you keep this conversation going at home?  Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together.

For Preschoolers:
Play a game of “Follow the Leader” or “Simon Says” with your preschooler.  Use the experience to talk about how you as a parent would never give your child something to do that was impossible or that would hurt them.  Talk about how God is the same way.

For Children:
Have you ever tried to put a model together without a plan or a picture to go by?  Was it frustrating?  Why?

For Students:
Do you think God is concerned about every detail of our lives or just the “big stuff”?  What makes you say so?  If it is just the “big stuff”, then what counts as “big stuff”?

If God is concerned about every detail, then do you trust Him with every detail?  Why or why not?

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Conversation Starter: I Call on You

Posted by Phil

Psalm 86:1-13,15-16

because of God’s character, He will hear and respond to our prayers

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers

• When you talk to God, how do you know He listens?

• Do you have any questions about God?

• What should our family pray for?

For School-Age

• Do you believe God hears our prayers?

• Why do you think you don’t always get everything you ask for in prayer?

• What should our family pray for?

• How often should we pray together?

For Students

• What kind of prayers do you think God listens to?

• Do you pray because you want to or because you have to? Do you think that makes a difference to God?

• How can I pray for you?

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Conversation Starter: Center of My Life

Posted by Phil

Colossians 3:5-10,14-15,17-21; 4:5-6

Christ-centered character, home, and witness

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers

• How do you know Mommy and Daddy love you?

• How do you let Mommy and Daddy know you love them?

For Children

• What does it mean to obey your parents?

• When is it hardest for you to obey Mom or Dad?

• Why do you think God wants children to obey their parents?

• Who else should you obey besides Mom and Dad?

• Do you think parents are supposed to obey too? If so, whom?

For Students

• What do I do that exasperates you? (This question is only for the strong-hearted parent!)

• How can I be more encouraging to you?

• If you were a parent, how would you handle this specific situation that you and I have been dealing with?

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Conversation Starters: Center of My Belief

Posted by Phil

Colossians 2:8-23

fullness over emptiness; substance over shadows; relationship over rules

Conversation Starters

How can you keep this conversation going at home? Try bouncing some of these questions around at the dinner table, as you’re driving your kids to school or an activity, or even while you’re shopping together:

For Preschoolers

• Read a Bible story book together. Talk about the pictures. Point out words and letters. Why are you happy God gave us the Bible?

For School-Age

• What’s your favorite book? Why?

• Why is it important to know how to read?

• What is your favorite Bible story? Why is it important that we read the Bible?

For Students

• Why do you believe what you believe about Jesus?

• How would you respond to someone who thinks believing in Jesus Christ is wishful thinking? Where would you get your facts?

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The priceless purpose of fatherhood

Posted by Phil

Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Resolution for Men, by Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick, and Randy Alcorn. This book, and The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer, expand on the message of the Sherwood Pictures film Courageous, challenging Christian families to embrace the power and purpose of fatherhood.

God created fatherhood with an eternal purpose: to reveal and represent Himself. He did not simply realize that earthly fathers were like Him and then decide to call Himself our Father. On the contrary, He eternally existed as God the Father in heaven and intentionally created the role of fatherhood on earth to reveal who He is and to show us the nature of His relationship with His Son.

Courageous - © 2011 Sherwood Pictures Ministry, Inc. All Rights Reserved.All fatherhood comes from Him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Every human father is called to be a daily, physical representation of God to his children, to introduce Him to the next generation. When a child looks at his earthly father, he should be able to see these qualities of God.

  • a loving Provider
  • a strong Protector
  • a truthful Leader
  • a respectable Authority
  • an intimate Friend

This affects how a child thinks. “If my earthly father loves and cares for me, then my heavenly Father loves and cares for me. If my father means what he says, then God means what He says. If my father would die for me, God would die for me.” On the other hand, if a child’s earthly father is harsh or distant, what will the child think when someone says, “God is your Father”?

Naturally, all of us earthly fathers are unavoidably flawed. We are a long way from being like God. And yet it is part of children’s human nature to judge what they cannot see in God in light of what they can see in us.

Right now, this generation doesn’t know what true fatherhood looks like. They rarely see it modeled in the media or at home. And sadly, the result is another generation deeply struggling to understand what God is really like.

The word father means “founder, source, chief, or leader.” The father of a nation, an invention, a company, or a movement is the one who helped bring it into existence. As our heavenly Father, God is the source from which all other things come into being. In Scripture, God as Father is the first Person of the Trinity. Any time you hear the Godhead described, it is always God the Father first, then the Son, then the Holy Spirit. Jesus the Son willingly follows the leadership of the Father. And if you study the life of Christ, you discover that He always speaks the words, performs the works, and carries out the will of His heavenly Father. As God’s Son, Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. The Bible says that Jesus is the “fullness” of the Godhead “in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). So if you want to know what God is like, then just look at Jesus. He represents His Father perfectly.

How well are you representing your heavenly Father? To your son? To your daughter? That is your priceless purpose.

Both the Scriptures and statistics clearly communicate that there is no more influential person in the life of a child than his or her father. Whereas moms are priceless, irreplaceable, and needed beyond measure, they were never designed to be men or to fill the role of a dad. When the Bible states that “the glory of children is their father” (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV), it is revealing an important dynamic of how God has wired the hearts and minds of children.

They learn their identity from you.

When your kids are young, they don’t know who they are, what is right or wrong, or who God is. They don’t know how to live life. But kids naturally go to their dads for answers to their biggest questions: Who is God? Who am I? Am I loved? Am I a success? Do I have what it takes? What is my purpose in life? And if dads don’t teach their kids the truth about these things, then the world will teach them lies.

They learn their values from you.

Kids watch their dads to find what’s important. It’s a dad’s job to keep his children from having to learn the lessons of life the hard way. A father’s wise words and actions constantly reinforce the higher priorities and deeper truths of life. So if he is not there – or if he’s there but not intentional in his training and leadership – his kids will be walking through their most important decisions without the one person who should be loving and leading them the most.

They learn their worth from you.

When a child has a dad who says, “I love you, I’m proud of you, and I’m going to stand with you and always be there for you,” it changes the life of that child forever. Sons who have their dads in their lives do significantly better in school, have better social skills and self-esteem, and are more likely to say no to criminal behavior.

Similarly, when a daughter looks into the mirror, she needs to hear her father’s voice in her heart reminding her that she is beautiful and loved. As a result, girls with strong dads are much more likely to feel secure – and are much less likely to have eating disorders and identity issues or to become sexually active in their teen years. But in too many families, this is not what’s happening.

We need to rediscover God’s original intention of what our homes are supposed to be like. Families should be havens of love and enjoyment. Homes should be places of peace and purpose. But great homes don’t just happen. They are gardens that need to be intentionally cultivated and guarded. A man must let truth, love, and wise discipline become constant ingredients to his fathering. He should carefully nurture his wife, his children, and his own attitude so that his home is a place where his marriage and the next generation can grow and thrive.

That’s why we need a game-changing Resolution.

And that’s what our times are calling for.

by Randy Alcorn , Alex Kendrick , Stephen Kendrick 

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LifeSpan spiritual growth strategy for parents

Posted by Phil

Parents, do you have a plan for your kids’ spiritual growth? At LifeWay, we’ve developed the LifeSpan spiritual growth strategy for children, from infants to high school seniors. Regardless of your kids’ ages, you can be confident that LifeWay curricula, events, and other resources provide targeted objectives that encourage spiritual growth with a strong biblical foundation. Bret Robbe explains how you can do all of this while keeping your family worshiping and growing together.

Watch Video

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Blessing your children – what does that mean?

Posted by Phil

Following is an excerpt from the Leader Kit of Honor Begins at Home: The Courageous Bible Study.

Jacob provides the most descriptive example in Scripture of a father blessing his children (see Heb. 11:21). Nearing death, he gathered his family together and blessed each of his sons and also his grandsons who were fathered by Joseph. In this time, men would bless others by prophesying over them concerning future blessings. This could include praying to God on behalf of the person being blessed.

Courageous: Honor Begins at HomeMost of the time, the future blessing was given in regard to past behavior. Often, a faithful son received a promising blessing. An ungodly son received a dreadful blessing.

When a father gathered the family together to pronounce blessings, both positive and negative moments were relived. In the case of Jacob, he reminded Reuben of his sexual immorality and Simeon and Levi of their violent anger (see Gen. 49:3-4, 5-7). He praised Joseph for his fruitfulness and steadiness (see vv. 22-24). With such verbal blessings, a gift of land was often distributed. The weight of these blessings was felt deeply because the prophecy surpassed the son’s life, on to his descendants.

While biblical prophecy occasionally ventured into set days or events, the prophets usually presented messages similar to those a parent would deliver to a child. “If you continue to do this, your future will look like . . .” “If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to discipline you.” Prophecy usually addressed the natural progression of a person or people concerning their obedience or disobedience.

Apply that to Jacob’s blessing, and we understand more clearly. Simeon was a violent man. Jacob discerned that in his son and prophesied that violence was in Simeon’s future (see v. 7). From Jacob’s example, we learn that fathers are to bless children with appropriate words and gifts.

Appropriate words

Blessing a child with appropriate words means telling the truth. “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit” (Prov. 12:17). Fathers are not to enable children for continual disobedience.

If your children are walking down a path that leads to destruction, the best blessing you can give them is to tell them of looming danger. Conversely, if your children are walking faithfully in the Lord tell them of the great joy they give you (see Prov. 10:1).

Appropriate gifts

Jacob played favorites with his sons. While his extreme favoritism with Joseph caused family drama (see Gen. 37:3-4), Jacob still resolved to give gifts of land to his sons in a way he deemed appropriate. Normally, the more trustworthy the son, the more generous the gift. Jacob had experienced so much of God’s gracious provision that he did not want to see it thrown away by unreliable sons.

The blessing on Jesus

The idea of a father’s blessing is not as prominent in the New Testament due to the church’s functioning as the people of God. In these pages the best example of a father blessing his son is evident in Jesus’ baptism.

Within the pages of Scripture, biblical blessings happened at pivotal moments (near a father’s death, baptism, etc.). God chose to bless His Son at a pivotal time. Coinciding with His inauguration into ministry, Jesus traveled to the Jordan River so John the Baptist, His cousin, could baptize Him (see Matt. 3:13). “After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matt. 3:16-17). At the transfiguration, the disciples heard the Father say, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him. Listen to Him!” (Matt. 17:5).

Through the Father’s words, we see how a father should bless his child in three specific ways.

Acceptance – The Father wanted listeners to know that Jesus was His Son. Fathers show their acceptance by addressing children according to who they really are, not who they desire them to be.

Adoration – God had no problem telling the world that He adored Jesus. As a beloved Son, Jesus knew that His Father was crazy about Him and didn’t care who knew it. Fathers should express the type of love that treasures their children and delights in them.

Approval – Not only did God tell people that He accepted and adored Jesus, He also wanted all to know that He approved of Him. He told the disciples to listen to what His Son had to say. When a father tells a child that he is good at something and everyone should know and benefit from it, few compliments in this life will ever surpass this one.

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Invading teen’s privacy – how far is too far?

Posted by Phil

by Sandi Black on Thursday, December 29, 2011

This article is courtesy of Living with Teenagers magazine.

Most parents want their teens to have some freedom. But in today’s world, some freedoms can be unhealthy, harmful, and even dangerous. Without a doubt, parents need to establish proper boundaries for their teens. And, at the same time, kids want and actually need some privacy. So how can you balance independence with your parental right to invade their space?

Here are some facts about today’s teens that can serve as foundational points:

  • If your son is on a computer without an Internet filter to block porn sites, he’s probably “taking a peek” at sexual Web sites. Guys are wired that way because God created males to be visual creatures.
  • Teens are curious. They naturally want to know about things their parents consider unacceptable. In some cases, telling them not to do something may actually be taken as a dare.
  • Media exposes girls to various morals, cultural messages, and lifestyles. Images and sexual ideas that were once taboo are now perfectly acceptable in a secular world.
  • Adolescents get mixed messages as they process what the church says, what their parents say, and what the media says. They long to fit in socially with their friends, which adds to their confusion.

Early adolescence is a time of concrete thinking. Acting on impulse is the norm, and little thought goes into evaluating consequences. Media reports highlight many of the problems and dangers teens (and parents) might face.

So, how far is too far when it comes to spying on your teenagers’ habits? How can you know the difference between “what you need to know” and when to give your kid more space? Here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Follow your instincts. If you suspect something’s wrong, you are usually right. Even if you are wrong, it’s always best to err on the side of safety. In addition to Internet issues, this would include cell phone usage and searching rooms or personal items.
  2. It is important to have a good handle on the Internet-even if there are no signs of a problem. Parents should know all their teens’ passwords and should monitor their social networking randomly. If they show a lack of responsibility, take them off all networks for a month or so.
  3. Insist that you be added as a “friend” so you can view their status, the language they use, and the pictures they post. Again, if they show a lack of maturity, do not pay for their Internet access.
  4. Invest in good Internet filtering/blocking software for the computer. Make sure the computer is in a common room with the screen visible from different angles.
  5. Occasionally, view their browser history. Do your homework by becoming savvy regarding all the computer commands, networks, and Web sites that you allow your teen to use.
  6. Let your teens know you are on their side. You want to let them have some privacy, but God has entrusted their safety to you. Say something like, “I really don’t want to control you. I truly want to trust you, but you have to show me that I can trust you.”

Someone has said that parents spend too much time “correcting and too little time connecting” with their kids. Be intentional about giving affirmation and encouragement for every correction.

Bite your tongue when you’re tempted to lecture and learn to listen a little better. You can learn about their world best by listening more than talking. Plus, taking time out to be with them says, “You are important in my life, and I enjoy being with you.”

Finally, if you sense that your teen’s actions might be out of control, seek help. Consult a trusted pastor, a professional Christian counselor, or an0ther community resource. Often God speaks through sermons, through His Word, through a youth pastor, or other godly adults. Don’t hesitate to get an assessment of your situation. When necessary, consult a doctor who specializes in adolescents because God also can work through doctors and medication.

Above all, pray for guidance and direction in choosing the best help for your teen. Hopefully you will find a good balance regarding privacy and healthy parental “snooping” so you can lead your teen toward a healthier future.

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Conversation Starters: Watching Others

Posted by Phil

There is a fine line between judging others and holding them accountable. Learning to follow Jesus in community with friends, almost always bring hints of conflict as we struggle through this. Help your kids begin to understand these topics from an early age… Not to mention learning how to love people through these times.

For Preschoolers
Are all boys and girls good?
When someone does something you think is bad, what should you do?
How can you still be his or her friend?

For Children
How do you know when someone is disobeying God?
Is someone always wrong because they do something different than you? Why or why not?
What does it mean to judge somebody?

For Students
What’s the difference between judging and rebuking?
Why are we so quick to criticize and condemn others?
How can you balance loving weaker Christians and standing strong in your own beliefs?

I can imagine that this can be a tough subject. Did you learn anything that could help the rest of us?

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Conversation Starters: Forgiven

Posted by Phil

Forgiveness is crucial. It is usually a part of our kids lives from very early on. Of course, I’m not sure that she understands it, but my daughter Piper (5) is quick to forgive her sister and her friends. But at some point it seems to become more difficult. As I try to imagine Piper in conflict with her teenage friends, it makes me want to talk with her about forgiveness even more. And from there, the wonder of how God forgives us. Here are a few helpful questions…

For Preschoolers
When someone says, “I’m sorry,” what should we say back?
What do you think Jesus meant when He said our sins are forgiven?
Why do we forgive others?

For Children
What do I mean when I tell you you’re forgiven?
Why is it hard to forgive people who do bad things?
How do you feel when someone forgives you?
How does Jesus help you forgive?

For Students
How is accepting an apology different than forgiving?
What are some consequences of withholding forgiveness?
Who are some people you need to forgive?
What does it mean that Christ forgave you of every sin, past, present, and future?

Do you have any stories of when your child really understood forgiveness? Share it here… Enjoy the Holidays…

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