Forum Posts

Rob Shaver
Aug 31, 2021
In Family Ministry
These posts are all about incorporating our teaching our children about God in the normal routines and rhythms of life. That is to say - outside of organized church meetings. It has become fairly common for families to decided to maintain a belief in God and a love for God, but forego the church part of things. I lot of churches are set up to cater to the young family of yesteryear and there is a lot that can be done to make "church" better. Ultimately, if you are in that situation you can try to help makes things better, or... not. Change can happen from the top-down or from the bottom-up. Change can be in big sweeping motions or it can come from several micro-adjustments. We can wait for the things around us to change, or we can change our hearts and minds about what is around us. Someone once said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." So, as you go to church, if your church is boring, I have good news for you. You can change that. Certainly, a typical church service is harder for children to sit through. There are a lot of words being said that they don't understand or relate to. They know that they are not the primary audience. They are being asked to sit (mostly) and be quiet (relatively) so that other people can do their thing. The rest of their lives are mostly filled with running, jumping, shouting, or being entertained with screens that change scenes every couple of seconds. Years ago Cassie read through a little book called, Parenting in the Pew by Robbie Castleman and it had a suggestion to personalize the public prayer time for the kids. Essentially, when someone gets up to pray for whatever, you put your child on your lap and fold/hold hands with them. Then everything that the person up-front says, you echo, but you use words and phrases that will connect with your little one. Behold! You have the power to transform some part of the church from irrelevant to engaging. You took something that was otherwise boring and made it a connecting point and a teaching moment. This is just one way we can take initiative and live out being the ones responsible for teaching our children about God - whether home, on the road, or in the church's building. What are some other things you have done or seen others do that help young minds engage in the worship times that might not be geared toward them?
As You Go... "to church" pt.4 content media
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Rob Shaver
Aug 10, 2021
In Family Ministry
This worldwide pandemic has certainly changed or strongly affected the way that we do things. This is especially true in how churches meet and relate. We went almost a year without meeting at all, then we had several months of meeting in some adjusted states. Finally, we got back to normal - almost. The only thing that hadn't come back to our old Sunday routine at the Utica Church of Christ was what we were doing with the kids - bringing them up to the front for a song and lesson and sending them out to classes during the sermon. Some perceived a need to get this back going. We took the step of opening a classroom for monitoring if people wanted to take advantage of it - if their child(ren) were getting antsy and needed to have a place to be a little louder and move around some. It didn't go so great. The kids moved around a lot and were very loud. I spoke up. "You know - since we have been meeting again and we've had our children sitting with us through the entire worship, I have not had a single parent complain about that. I have not observed a single kid seem to really struggle. I have noticed that some of the older kids who would normally leave have been paying attention to the sermons too." I have had a handful of Sundays in which I've got 3 or 4 kids at church all by myself. Most weeks, I'm the one getting up to deliver the sermon - so those kids are being left alone. Sorry... they would be alone, but they never are. Someone is always helping me out. Even when Cassie and I are there, we rarely have all of our children with us. What a joy to look around the church building to see them sitting with other kids their age, sitting with other families, sitting on the laps of their spiritual aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It is a joy to play host to other people's kids too. To know that some general guidance and a watchful eye can free up some other parents in the church to focus that much more on worshiping our Creator and Redeemer. The concept of "as you go" is that as we go through our lives we are always teaching our children about God. Some moments we make, some we capture. Some lessons are taught, some are caught. We are the church. We are community. We are family. Our children are learning this every Sunday that they show up to the meeting at 1330 Herkimer Rd. They are loved by a bigger family. They belong to a bigger community. They are the church too.
As You Go... "to church" pt. 3 content media
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Rob Shaver
Jul 27, 2021
In Family Ministry
In Part 1 we discussed knowing the reasons why you are meeting with the church and taking the time to communicate those reasons with your children (https://www.uticacoc.com/family/family-ministry/as-you-go-to-church-pt-1). Again, if the parents don't really think it is important to show up to meet with the church on Sunday, it is probably not happening. The popular excuse has shifted from, "It is hard to get the family up and going that early on a Sunday morning" to something like "it's hard because my kid thinks church is boring." This reveals a lot about our attitudes toward the church meeting. If your child says that they don't like school because it is boring or the teachers mean or some other reason, how do you respond? Most of us see school as very important and even necessary and send them back into the fire. If your child won't eat their vegetables, how do you react? Some of you who are not healthy eaters are just as happy to eat chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, and pizza every other night for dinner. But most parents are making some effort to form good eating habits for their children and require some portion of vegetables to be eaten at supper. A couple of take-home points: Know who is making the decision to meet with the church. Someone recently reminded me that in all of their research, car insurance companies still find that human beings are not capable of making good choices until they are 25 years old. Don't let your 4, 7, or 11 year old be the spiritual decision-maker in the family. Make the meeting a priority. Meeting with the church is not as good when we show up tired and unprepared. Make good choices throughout the week especially heading into Sunday. Get enough sleep. Make the meeting a joyful occasion. If you are dragging, your children will see it. If you are excited about meeting with the church, they'll catch that too. Help your kids make friends in the church. The meeting is about praising God and learning about God. We can do those things on our own. Meeting with the church is also about community. A child with no friends in the church is a lot more likely to want to stay home. A child who does have friends is that much more likely to want to go to where they are. Church attendance has dropped off severely over the last 10 years in the US. We need the encouragement that comes with meeting with the church and worshiping God with one another. Teaching our children about God "as we go" is vital, but connecting them with the community of believers for support and encouragement is a no-brainer. Make plans to meet with the church this Sunday, understand your reasons why and lead your children to grow in their knowledge and love of God.
As You Go... "to church" pt. 2 content media
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Rob Shaver
Jul 12, 2021
In Family Ministry
Times have changed quite a bit. When I was a boy, getting dressed up for church was a thing. Then it turned into looking spiffy on special days like Easter Sunday. Gradually, many churches all across America went lax with their unspoken dress codes - so much so that if I wear a tie and a sport coat, people will make comments or ask questions about why I'm all dressed up. It's ALL ABOUT THE WHY! Interested in a 20-minute video on generational differences in the church? Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MQiMWVkgUA 30 years ago dressing nice was important because - you know - "Sunday best." You put on your best clothes for God because He deserves the best of everything you have. The sentiment nowadays is that God looks at the heart. Anybody can wear fancy clothes, but how committed are those people to the ways of God? Also, not everyone can wear fancy clothes. A concern grew around those who couldn't afford the nicer digs and may feel like they didn't belong at certain churches because of cultural and economic disparity. So someone who dresses in ripped jeans and flip-flops is not trying to give God their worst but doesn't feel compelled to dress up for the Lord. This post is not about how we dress for church though... It is about why we go and meet with the church in the first place. The way that church has been done in the US for the past 15 or so years has been a strange mix between trying to honor and praise the Almighty God while trying to attract and appease the very powerful CONSUMER. This has solidified the approach that many young families take when looking for a church or in weighing whether or not to attend their church on a particular Sunday. Questions that are being asked are: What are we getting out of going to church? How good are the youth programs? Do my kids like to go? How is the teaching? Preaching? Singing? Is this a valuable way to spend 1-2 hours of my Sunday morning? I think these types of evaluation questions can be good for considering how we can best honor God. These questions however stink when we ask them with the focus of honoring ourselves. That line can be fine and it can be a mile wide. You can only judge for yourself where you are at with these things. What if you flip those questions around? What are we contributing to the church when we show up on Sunday? How are we helping make the youth program the best it can be? Does the worship honor God? Where would God have me be this coming Sunday? Am I following His will or my own? The different sets of questions represent two different approaches to the answer of the question, WHY? Brian Sanders, in his book Underground Church, tells the story of how he and a couple of dozen others quit church. They were so disillusioned by the rituals and doctrines, they needed a break. So they took it and set off on a journey of searching the Scriptures, exploring how other cultures do church, and petitioning God for direction. In the end, he writes, what their Sunday morning fellowship and worship times looked like were very similar to what they had left behind. Something major had shifted, however, now they all knew what they were doing and why they were doing it. When we are dedicated to following Jesus and are committed to living a life that is holy - it is hard to outline a way to be successful outside of having a bunch of other like-minded people to meet with on a regular basis for reminders and encouragement. I do believe that a lot of churches need to give young families better reasons to show up. We can do better. Young families it is not just important to bring your kids to church, it is important to know WHY you are going in the first place. If you don't know why or you have selfish motives, you are probably not showing up very often. If you are, make sure that AS YOU GO, you are taking the time to communicate to your children the reasons WHY.
As You Go... "to church" pt. 1 content media
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Rob Shaver
May 20, 2021
In Family Ministry
I monitor a handful of emails and links that are purposed in the same way this forum is - to help you help your children get closer to God. Sometimes emails, posts, and ideas are downright disappointing, other times they are OK and some are pretty good (in my opinion at least). Here are a couple that I found share-worthy this week: First up is an email from D6's Splink. I'll share the image below. Splink is a weekly email with 3 or 4 ideas for sharing Jesus with your children at home. WOW, I was worried it might come out too small! Feel free to go right to the source: https://d6family.com/splink/ You can sign up for the weekly email by clicking the button in the top right-hand corner of your browser and filling out the form. Another email I got was from YouVersion. They are promoting "family week" and shared a handful of blog posts that work right into our theme of teaching your children at home and as you go: https://blog.youversion.com/2019/05/youversion-bible-app-family-bible-week-2019-speak-life-over-my-family/ https://blog.youversion.com/2019/07/family-time-the-best-time/ Grace and peace
Week of 5/20/2021... A couple of Resources to Share content media
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Rob Shaver
Apr 19, 2021
In Family Ministry
In this week's sermon I told the story of, "long-prayer Louie." He is a man who gets in front of the church and says extremely long prayers. We saw how the book of James can transform a prayer from, "Lord, help him," to "Lord, help me." Here's a recap and an outline that you can use at home and with your families. I created an outline in google forms as well, you can access it HERE. 1st - What do you want? James 4:1-2 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God." Hopefully there's no one killing anyone else in your household, although it may feel like somedays that is not far off. Quarrels and fights? Yeah, you are probably experiencing that on some level. James identifies the underlying reason behind most of those fights - we want something that we don't have. A good first step in pursuing peace is taking the time to identify what it is that you actually want. What do you desire? 2nd - Are you asking God? This might seem trivial in the world of parenting because if child #1 wants the toy child #2 is playing with, we are not going to stop that kid and have them pray to God for the toy! That being said, we cannot start too early instilling in our children that God is the giver of all good things. The Lord is generous, and we should "ask, seek, and knock." 3rd - Check Yourself The next verse in James 4 says, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." Later in the chapter we are told to submit to the Lord (verse 7) and humble ourselves (verse 10). The thing that I want - is that what I really want? What desires are battling within me? Am I asking God? Is what I'm asking in submission to God? Am I asking humbly or for my own gain and pleasure? 4th - Pray It could be easy to go through a checklist, ask yourself a bunch of questions and determine NOT to pray. That would be a mistake. James concludes the letter by asking, "Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray" (James 5:13). Rather than just thinking, "OK, I shouldn't pray for THAT," what should you be praying for? In our example on Sunday we started by praying that Long-prayer Louie would start saying shorter prayers. We ended up praying that we would be better listeners with longer attention spans. We could ask that we could learn from Louie, that we would grow in our spiritual maturity. Then, we can still pray that those prayers would be a little shorter, but we can do so because now we are asking God from a humble place and with better motives. + Parents, try applying some of these principles in your own prayer life, especially regarding your attitudes toward each other and toward your children. + Consider ways we can fuse prayer into our regular, as we go activities... are you in trouble? Pray. Are you happy? Sing songs of praise, etc.
Week of 4/18/2021... Prayer that Changes content media
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Rob Shaver
Apr 13, 2021
In Family Ministry
"As you go" began with 3-4 months' worth of posts to help the families of the Utica Church of Christ navigate and adjust to life without Bible classes. The worldwide pandemic put the American church on her head. So much of what we were used to and relied on had to cease. Though tough at times, it was a stark reminder that the church, as an organization, was not ever prescribed to be an institution of usurping child-rearing and faith-building responsibilities from their parents. The reality is though, that not a lot of Christian families do teach the Bible in their own homes. They were relying on the church to teach them. National trends would also tell us that pre-covid church attendance has been on the steady decline and Bible class attendance has been even worse. Parents of the typical North American progeny are much more concerned with their kids doing well in math and playing soccer than with them knowing who Moses is and learning how to pray. Some may take offense at those first two paragraphs but notice that I have not written them to call anyone out. They are simply in the voice of "matter of fact." The truth of the matter is also that you get to have control and say over how you raise your children, how you train them up, etc. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Before reading the verse in the Bible, when I was simply pondering, I thought, "That verse is written to the parents, it is not written to the church." When I look at it in context I now see that there is no way to know. It is actually written very generally. It is also very "matter of fact." Whoever participates in the training of a child has a responsibility to train them up in good and right ways. As things begin to open up we will start having a lot more opportunities for our children to be busy. School activities, sports, clubs, even church youth groups, and Bible classes will be available again. Now is as good a time as any to remember the words that Paul wrote to Timothy so long ago, "physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance." + If you haven't yet, make some weekly times and rhythms for your family to be focused on God. + Create and capture moments regularly to show your children how God is living and active in the world around them. + Pray for your children and call on others to be praying for them as well and for you as you train them up. + Enlist helpers, whether it be your church or your family members, who will assist you in the training of your children in the Lord Blessings. Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash
Train up a child... content media
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Rob Shaver
Jan 12, 2021
In Family Ministry
We have officially kicked off the Believe series. Materials are available for you and your children in the form of devotional books, storybooks, and coloring books. We're also sending an email with a "family page" for adapting the children's curriculum for the home. Week 1's truth to believe is: I believe the God of the Bible is the only true God - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here is a link to the teaching geared for adults: https://www.facebook.com/uticacoc/videos/2473784522926262 Here is the thing about children and believing in God - they naturally believe. Obviously, age and understanding bring different observations and questions to different children, but kids are very ready to accept the idea of an Almighty Creator who loves them. This makes talking about believing in God the easiest "as you go" teaching there is... Anytime you talk about God or to God in front of or with your children you are teaching them that God exists. When you read your Bible, when you meet with the church - you are teaching them that God is real. Challenge yourself to change the way you speak about the world to reflect your faith and have more, "as you go" moments this week. - instead of talking about nature, talk about God's creation - instead of saying you are blessed, talk about how God has blessed you - instead of just saying, "goodnight, I love you," tell them that God loves them too You believe in God. What are some other ways you can infuse that faith in your everyday life and conversations?
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Rob Shaver
Dec 21, 2020
In Family Ministry
Hebrews is a book of the Bible aimed at people who are drifting away from the Lord. It is hard to think about children drifting away because their faith is so young and still being formed. The same principles that the Hebrew writer draws on to call people back apply to the foundation of faith we are trying to establish in the lives of our kids. In Hebrews 6, the message moves from a serious warning about falling away from God to a warm reminder of the hope we have in Jesus. Here are a couple of observations from the text (Hebrews 6:9-20). A) Hope is an anchor for our souls, in other words, it keeps us from drifting. B) Hope is future-focused, looking forward to something but has its foundation in past confidence. In this case that is God's promise. God has never broken a promise. C) 6:18 talks about 2 unchangeable things. That would be a reference to 6:13-16 that speaks of God's promise to Abraham and the oath made to Abraham. Promises and oaths cannot be changed. How can you impress these truths upon your children? Here are some ideas. 1) There is just a ton of room to talk with your children about promises. What are they? Should we make them? God makes them and has never broken one. Sometimes it takes a long time for God. Here are a couple of minty verses to read together: Joshua 23:14 & 2 Peter 3:3-9 2) "I'm hungry" "Dinner will be ready in 15 minutes" "Can I have a snack?" "I said dinner would be ready in 15 minutes." "Can I have an apple?" Do conversations like that happen in your home? Maybe this is a lesson for the parents more than for the children but those conversations happen for a reason: the hope and promise of food in 15 minutes does little to quench the hunger pangs being felt right now. Denying yourself pleasure right now for the hope of something better in the future is called discipline. Jesus spoke about it a lot. Try to capture one of those moments this week to tell your children about the good promises we have from God. 3) Hebrews 6:18 says, "we who have fled." That language would call to mind the Israelites who fled from captivity in Egpyt to chase after hope and promise from God. Telling or retelling some of Israel's story and connecting our own waiting and journeying can be helpful. 4) Yes, I said waiting. The whole idea of "as you go" is to seize teachable moments in life and make the ordinary things special and holy. Every day we have to wait for something. Whether it is waiting for food as mentioned above or waiting for someone to get home or waiting to get to play outside, your children are going to have to wait for something. We can remind them that it is easier to wait when there is a promise made by a promise keeper who never breaks promises. "As you go" ministry is both difficult and easy at the same time. If you are not in the habit of teaching your children about God then infusing spiritual truths into daily activity and life will be tough. Once you get going though and you are connecting with the Lord more regularly yourself, you will find that the conversations and pointing toward God and truth and love will come more often and more naturally. May God bless you and your family as you go...
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Rob Shaver
Dec 15, 2020
In Family Ministry
The book of Hebrews is a plea for people to stop drifting and to hold on tight to the faith they have in Jesus Christ. To make the appeal, the author holds Jesus up to His alternatives and concludes that Jesus is a better messenger with a better message, He is a better covenant bearer with a better covenant, He is a better high priest with a better sacrifice and He is a better leader because He is not just a servant but also the Son of God. Though we do not always choose the way that is better, most of the time, when it is spelled out clearly to us, we do. In the USA in 2020, most of us are not tempted to drift away from Christianity in favor of Judaism. We aren't lured by the leadership of Moses, the covenant of Abraham, or the sacrifices of bulls and goats. That being said, there is no shortage of forces competing to get our attention away from the life-giving words of Jesus. How can we impress these truths on our children this week? Sing some songs. I could not get Fairest Lord Jesus (https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/175) out of my head this week. What are some other songs that you can think of that reinforce the greatness of Christ? Who's the king of the jungle? The broken record of, "live by example." It is the best way we teach our children but seeing the reality of Jesus being more important than things and how that makes you a better person and parent will make following Jesus more desirable to our children. The picture above is a snippet from the "splink" newsletter you can sign up for at D6 families. You can apply the same logic to the greatness of Jesus... 4. Read Jesus' call to follow Him from Matthew 10:32-39; 16:24-27; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 9:57-62; and Luke 14:25-33. Discuss with your family the things that people often put ahead of following Jesus. 5. We are constantly making decisions based on what is "better" - we bought this instead of that because it was a better deal. We ate this instead of that because it is better for us, etc. Try to capture some of those decision-making moments and remind your children about the greatness of Jesus Christ.
Week of 12/13/2020, Jesus is Greater! content media
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Rob Shaver
Dec 10, 2020
In Family Ministry
In the book of the Bible, we call, "Hebrews," there is a theme that courses through the message: Listen up! Hebrews 1:1-3: Listen up, because God has been speaking to us in a lot of different ways over time but now He is speaking to us through his very own Son. This Son, Jesus is the "exact representation of His being." ("His," referring to God the Father). Hebrews 2:1, Pay careful attention to what you've heard so that you won't drift away Hebrews 3:7-11, Remember the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years? Don't be like them. What did they do? They heard God's voice and didn't listen. Hebrews 4 expounds on the Old Testament references from chapter 3 to point out that each day is a new opportunity to hear God but our hearing is not just about words and ears, it is about believing and obeying. Hebrews 5:11, the audience is chastised because they seem like they are not even trying to understand God any longer. and the list goes on... I don't know about you, but this is one of the ways I believe parenting makes me feel closer to God... and it is very humbling. I get frustrated when my kids don't listen to me. God gets frustrated when His children don't listen. It is also not enough for me that they heard what I asked of them (although, that is a good start). What I really want is for them to love me and trust me enough to believe that what I'm asking is what's best. How do you think God feels about it? The Hebrews were drifting, we want our kids to have faith with a firm foundation. How can we impress these truths? Listening is not just a theme in Hebrews, it has already come up a couple of times in our "As You Go" posts: https://www.uticacoc.com/family/family-ministry/week-of-11-08-2020-the-sower-and-the-seed or https://www.uticacoc.com/family/family-ministry/week-of-10-11-2020-god-is-listening Hebrews 1:1-3 evokes a connection to the parable of the evil farmers in Matthew 21:33-46 and the concepts of drifting vs holding fast or standing firm brings to mind Jesus' words about wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-27. Parables and teachings like this are quick and easy to reproduce from memory at the dinner table or bedtime. Take some time as parents to examine what forces are competing with God (and you) for your children's attention. As parents, we have a considerable amount of control to filter what is coming into their lives. Just last night we let our children stay up late to watch a special Christmas program on TV. I'd guess that about 30% of the advertising had subtle agendas that were not supportive of Biblical truth. If we let our kids go unchecked with the videos they watch, the music they listen to, and the games they play, we can't be surprised when good messages get tuned out. Maybe these should be 3a & 3b... Apply the same ideas above to yourself. What are you watching, playing, and listening to? If our children see a good example of us not drifting but listening to God and trying to live faithful and obedient lives that'll make a big difference compared to a dad who picks on them, argues with their mother, never reads his Bible but tells everyone else to be a good little Christian. There are a lot of fun listening games like operator, or crafts - connecting two cups or cans with a string... have some fun and use one of those activities as a bridge to talk about listening to God. Here is a fun "tin can phone" video that might be more interesting for older kids and adults: https://vimeo.com/61160400 <a href="https://www.freepik.com/photos/vintage">Vintage photo created by luis_molinero - www.freepik.com</a>
Week of 12/06/2020, Listen Up! content media
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Rob Shaver
Dec 01, 2020
In Family Ministry
This week we looked at the parables of Matthew 24 & 25. The point that Jesus is stressing in these stories is that of vigilance. He is going to be leaving the disciples and then, at some point, He will return. Knowing how men's hearts work, Jesus warns them that they will be tempted to be lazy and wicked in His absence. People rationalize this kind of behavior and think that they can clean up their mess in time and everything will be OK. Inevitably something goes wrong and mom and dad pull into the driveway an hour earlier than you'd expected. Somewhere in that last paragraph, my analogies shifted, but you get the idea right? In a Jesus sense, we too are looking forward to another coming of Christ. We are hopeful and we too should heed the message of the parables to be ready. A general lesson pertains to vigilance and diligence. We are more susceptible to temptation when we are not ready for it. What do you think? How will you impress these truths upon your children this week? Here are some ideas that you can use: Try doing a marshmallow test like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX_oy9614HQ my Sunday school teacher when I was in 3rd or 4th grade used to do this with donut holes and instructions to not eat them until she returned. She would leave the room and one of the students would coax the others to eat just one, that no one would notice... No one likes getting caught. The easiest thing to do (or maybe the hardest) is to obey. It is hard to wait. We pretty much have to wait for something or someone on a daily basis. This week use one of those waiting times to remind your kids of one or more of the parables. Read 2 Peter 3. The eighth verse is this one, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." That is a great verse for children to wrestle with, it is fascinating and a good point for discussion. This week's Splink newsletter has an idea for a game called "Why? Because." https://d6family.com/splink/2020/11/why-does-god-allow-suffering/ Check it out and play a round or two with your family. When it comes to hard to understand Biblical concepts we can make stuff up and hope our children don't notice, or we can embrace the mystery that is involved in faith. This is a fun way to talk about the fact that you don't have all the answers.
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Rob Shaver
Nov 23, 2020
In Family Ministry
Photo by Jose Ramirez on Unsplash The text that Vern preached on this past Sunday is Luke 16:19-31. It is known as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. You should read it and hear for yourself Jesus' storytelling mastery. The gist is this: Lazarus is a beggar who sits at the gates of the rich man's estate. They both die. Lazarus goes to Abraham's bosom while the rich man goes to a place of torment. The rich man can see Lazarus and Abraham and begs for help. First, he begs for himself, that he would be comforted. Then he asks that someone would be sent to warn his brothers, so they would not endure the same fate as he. Both requests are denied and Abraham's quote at the end is, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (NIV, Luke 16:31). This is a parable about money. - Jesus knew the hearts of man (John 2:24-25) and... - Jesus was speaking to his disciples as the "Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering..." (Luke 16:14). There are two very important contrasts in this parable. The first and obvious choice is the rich man vs Lazarus. The second and often overlooked is the rich man and Abraham. If we look only at the first set of characters in the parable, one could wrongly conclude that rich people are evil and go to hell and poor people will be comforted and go to heaven. The problem is that the very man pictured in "heaven" with Lazarus is Abraham. Abraham was very, very rich. The famous maxim is wrong, "money is the root of all evil." The truth is, "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil..." 1 Timothy 6:10 As you approach Thanksgiving this week and look forward to Christmas, what are some ways you can impress these things on your children? Here is an article from ministryspark that lines up well with what we've been talking about here for the last couple of months: https://ministryspark.com/how-to-connect-bible-outside-church/
Week of 11/22/2020, The Rich Man and Lazarus content media
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Rob Shaver
Nov 17, 2020
In Family Ministry
"That's not fair!" It is an unavoidable phrase that must be uttered in every home at some point in time. As selfish creatures, we tend to get upset when someone gets to stay up later or get less severe of a punishment. Our Godly sense of justice is ignited and we cannot help but speak up! Several of Jesus' parables contain elements of this universal feeling. The unmerciful servant is one that we can relate to. He is forgiven a large debt but then cannot perpetuate that forgiveness and extent mercy to someone who owes him a little. This is such an important lesson for all of us because it really gives us a glimpse into God's heart. What pleases the Lord? What makes Him angry? This is it - if He forgives you and yet you hold the grudge or let bitterness grow - the good Lord does not take kindly to such actions. This whole forum is about parents impressing God's truth upon their children. On Sunday, Vern suggested that the context for this parable (Matthew 1821-35) fits within a broader address of Jesus in which He has made an appeal to adults to become more like little children (Matthew 18:1-5). Perhaps a good starting point for teaching your children this week is to reverse the roles. Read or tell the story and let them teach you about forgiveness. Ask them questions so that you can understand better and revel in the wisdom that God has blessed them with. Beyond that, how might you impress these truths this week? Here are a couple more ideas: Play a game about what forgiveness is and isn't. Vern had some slides on Sunday that made this point that he has shared on his Facebook page. Here is a slightly more kid-friendly list https://whatsinthebible.com/talk-kids-forgiveness/ Another parable that Jesus teaches that highlights forgiveness is the Prodigal Son. Sometimes I get in a rut of reading a story from a book or making up a goofy story on the fly. I'm kicking myself now as I write this because just last night my daughters asked me to tell them a story before bed. I should have told them one of these great stories about forgiveness rather than the nonsense I made up. I think I've shared this video before, but I can't find it in previous posts. My kids think it's pretty funny: https://www.pursuegodkids.org/how-forgiveness-works/ May God bless your week of pursuing His kingdom and righteousness!
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Rob Shaver
Nov 10, 2020
In Family Ministry
Jesus' parables are pretty great. Some of the concepts and ideas, themes, and stories have been head-scratchers - how do I teach this to my kid? You come across Jesus talking to His disciples about the sower and the seed and, well, there you have it. Tell the story. Explain the parable. We're in November in NY, so not a lot of new things are growing, but it is a great time to reflect on what did grow and what didn't and why? These are observations you can make while doing some yard work together or getting some outside time before the brutally cold weather comes. The main thing is to remember to do it. Make a plan. Make it happen. Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8 What are some other ways you can teach these truths this week as you go? Here are some more bits of help: Jesus talks in this parable a lot about hearing and understanding. Most families deal with communication issues related to someone trying to shout from one room to another or one floor to another. TV or music playing, dogs barking or other noise can make it hard for us to communicate as well. Sometimes someone is lost in their phone or in a book and doesn't hear someone right next to them talking. Noise, barriers, and attention all influence our ability to hear and understand and can be purposefully connected to Jesus' story about the sower and the seed. Malcom Mackinnon does some neat visuals on YouTube. Here is his presentation for children from this parable: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnJaT0bWNP8 Go apple picking. How many apple trees can come from one apple? How many more apples could come from those trees? What would be needed for that to happen? How does God work in people like that? Download and print a children's activity page like the one from sermons4kids. My kids love these: https://sermons4kids.com/parable_of_the_sower_bulletin?fromSermonId=444 Photo by Michael Weidner on Unsplash Grace and peace as you go and impress these truths on your children's hearts this week.
Week of 11/08/2020, The Sower and the Seed content media
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Rob Shaver
Oct 27, 2020
In Family Ministry
We teach acronyms like CHAT or ACTS that remind us that prayer is about giving God praise, confessing sin, and giving thanks yet, in the public arena it feels like our requests often take center stage. Sometimes it's as if adoration and thanksgiving are like introductions and conclusions but what we're really coming to God for is to ask for some things. What is prayer really about? Why did Jesus pray... and how? In examining a couple of passages involving Jesus and prayer, a theme emerges - the Father's will. He mentions it when teaching the disciples how to pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." and when Jesus is praying in desperation and sorrow at Gethsemane, "not my will but yours be done." Jesus used prayer as a time of surrender. It was more important to listen than to speak. I think a good argument can be made that this is what prayer is all about. It is about us getting our will lined up with God's. It is not getting God to bend to our will. It is letting Him change our hearts so that we can see what His will is. A couple more Scriptures for consideration: 1 John 5:14, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will." Now, about teaching our children... children are naturally selfish (it is hard to grow out of and most parents struggle mightily as well). Humans are often thinking of ourselves and what will be pleasing to us and the path of least resistance, etc. etc. A great thing to be teaching your children, as you pray together, is that what is most important to us is that God's will, not our own, be done. What are some ways you can continue teaching your children about God and prayer this week? Here are a couple of ideas: Pray with your children whenever you can. Stories can be told, truths can be taught, the best way to share prayer is by modeling it. Celebrate answered prayers. My kids love to look at pictures. Get some pictures out from when you were a child. Talk about how you have changed physically - getting bigger, taller, etc. What can you share about times in your life when you had tough choices to make and it wasn't easy to follow God's plan? What about times when you didn't understand what was happening or why but later realized it was the Lord's will? Pray through the Lord's prayer together. See if you can memorize it. Do you have any Transformers? Or other children's toys that can transform from one thing to another? If so, use that and/or a Jello mold to bring Romans 12:2 to life. The way the world thinks is getting scarier and scarier. How can we let God renew our minds regularly? Through prayer? Good answer!
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Rob Shaver
Oct 19, 2020
In Family Ministry
Anxiety, worry, fear - these are all emotions that come with having a family! We are told that God cares for us and because of that, we should cast all of our anxiety on Him. It is easy for parents to get anxious about how our children will behave, worry about how they'll turn out, and get nervous about the job we're doing as parents. Cast that anxiety on Jesus. What about your kids? What makes them anxious? This is a great topic in our series on prayer. Read 1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:6. How can you teach your children this week about praying through worry and anxiety? Here are a couple of resources and ideas: Continue to work on the memory verse: Philippians 4:6. Hiding this in your heart will serve as a constant reminder to bring our cares to our Creator. Just talk it out. Ask your children what they worry about - Read the above Scriptures and find some others on the topic. What does it mean to "cast all your anxiety on Him?" Lead by example. Model trust and prayer to your kids. Share some of the things that you get anxious about and pray so that they can see you. Check out https://www.morelikegrace.com/10-bible-verses-for-stressed-kids/ for one blogger's story about sharing her worries with her children. Why do your children get stressed? Here is a good read with an infographic to boot https://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2017/09/seven-ways-help-anxiety-in-children/ Philippians 4:6 is preceded by encouragement to rejoice and followed by a prescription to think about excellent and praiseworthy things. The verse itself tells us to pray with thanksgiving. As a family, make a list of the stressful, worrisome things in your lives then next to each thing listed write an association that can help us to be thankful, joyful, and/or thinking positively. This guy from iFindSermons on YouTube has got tons and tons of object lessons, here is one on stress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6E_ex24LPA
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Rob Shaver
Oct 13, 2020
In Family Ministry
Hello! Is anyone out there? Something we all struggle with in prayer at some point or another is wondering if God is out there, if He is listening and if He cares. Children are not immune to the same questions and doubts. Prayer is an exercise of faith and an opportunity to have good conversations in our families about what that means. This week's lesson was from Isaiah 59:1-2, which says, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear." There are great opportunities to speak to your children about right living and right prayers. Often times, the disconnect in prayer is not because God isn't out there, it is because we are not where we should be. This is true from the beginning - why did Adam and Eve try to hide from God? Take some time to think through this aspect of prayer and how you might teach your children as you go. Here are a handful of ideas you can take with you if they fit your family and time. Light some incense or a scented candle.OR make note of a good smelling meal as it is being prepared (I love the smell of coffee brewing or bacon sizzling). In Psalm 141:2, King David likens his prayers to an incense offering. Elsewhere in the Bible, the prayers of the saints (Revelation 5:8) and even our lives (2 Corinthians 2:15) are compared to this kind of gift to God. Talk to your children about how God might process our prayers as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him? "What? Huh? I can't hear you!" Is this a conversation that ever happens in your house? It is frustrating to not be able to hear and understand someone who is trying to communicate with you. It is also frustrating when we cannot be heard and understood. Relate those thoughts to the verses above? Can God always hear us when we pray? How does He feel when we hide Him with our sins? Have you worked on a memory verse? Something to write on the doorposts? Philippians 4:6 and Proverbs 3:5-6 are our recommendations for this series of lessons on prayer. Find a way to incorporate these verses into your next craft project or rainy day activity. As you go this week you will definitely be exposed to colorful, leaf-changing trees. There may not be a direct link to talking about prayer - but the main point of all of this is teaching our children about God. What is happening to those trees? Here is a reminder: https://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/leaves/leaves.htm#:~:text=Chlorophyll%20Breaks%20Down,part%20of%20their%20fall%20splendor. God's creation is so amazing and we have signposts all around that speak of the greatness of our creator. In all of the creative ways we can explore to teach our children about God and prayer, don't forget to pray with them. The best way for our children to learn about prayer is to see and hear s doing it and to experience prayer with us firsthand. Be blessed as you go this week.
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Rob Shaver
Oct 06, 2020
In Family Ministry
From Draw the Circle, "there comes a moment when you must quit talking to God about the mountain in your life and start talking to the mountain about your God." As a group on Sunday we drew from the text, Mark 11:15-26 to learn and pray in 3 sessions: Pray for faith - see also Mark 9:24, "I believe, help me in my unbelief." Pray for forgiveness - that we would forgive anyone we have anything against (Mk 11:25) Pray for mountains to be thrown into seas, Mark 11:23 There are aspects of prayer that will always be mysterious to us. We can share that with our children. Though there are not proven formulas or magical words, there are thematic truths that we can learn from Scripture about prayer and this passage contains some of them. God wants us to believe and God wants us to forgive others. The last couple of weeks have had a lot of focus on prayer and faith. Let's spend some time this week teaching our children about anger, grudges, and forgiveness. Think through the lesson first on your own and prayerfully consider how you can teach these things to your children this week. Here are some ideas we came up with: Find something with weight, a sack of potatoes, or a large bag of sugar or 10 lb dumbell. Label it "anger" or "grudge." Have the family take turns carrying it around to identify that when we do not forgive, we are the person who suffers the most. Along those same lines, here is a 5-minute video about an angry bee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aEUjlxOK-Y Here is another short video on "How forgiveness works." https://www.pursuegodkids.org/how-forgiveness-works/ scroll down for a discussion guide. Here are a handful of neat object lessons and craft ideas (not from a Christian perspective but on point). A good variety for you to choose something that'll work for you and your kids. Don't forget to tie these ideas about forgiveness into the 6-week prayer challenge we've been doing... If you are not praying as a family - get going on that. Many have found mealtimes and bedtimes to be easiest to work family prayer into the daily schedule - how about you?
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Rob Shaver
Sep 28, 2020
In Family Ministry
James 1:5-8 "5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." The sermon video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0YykMpDTdw We are in the business of teaching our children about God and that means teaching them about prayer... and that means teaching them about God. Last week's focus was on trusting God as opposed to leaning on our own understanding. This week's focus is more about believing that God has the power to provide and acting as if God will answer that prayer. The question in and after prayer would be - what is my faithful response to this prayer? For Joshua, as he led Israel through the battles of the Promised Land, it was about being obedient to the instructions from God. Here are some things for you to do this week as a family, as you go: Review some of the materials, games, and ideas from the last week of the family ministry kit. Vern provided a slew of prayer-oriented help that can be used over and over by your family. If you are doing the daily readings and prayers from the Draw the Circle book, find ways to incorporate your family in that activity. Retell some stories from Joshua: the crossing of the Jordan, the conquest of Jericho... talk to your children about hearing God and obeying Him. Check out this website for some fun ideas: https://ministryspark.com/creative-ideas-teaching-kids-prayer/ Grace and peace to you all! - Rob
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