I wanted to pass on a helpful article about balancing grace and discipline. I’ve found myself many times trying to figure out how to show grace as the disciplinarian. Some really good thoughts here.
I wanted to pass on a helpful article about balancing grace and discipline. I’ve found myself many times trying to figure out how to show grace as the disciplinarian. Some really good thoughts here.
The voting is done and the results are in. I am sitting on the couch in a quiet house (fairly rare with 3 kids!) praying and reflecting. This has been a troubling and divisive campaign season that has tested friendships and brought out strong emotion. Godly men and women have come down on different sides of important issues. Articles have been written and shared as we fought so hard at times to be heard and for what we believe in. However, it was not just the candidates’ character put to the test, but each of ours as well. That test did not end today. Tomorrow as we see family, friends and co-workers and as we interact with posts and statements on social media, our faith and discipleship will be on display for better or worse. Some of my friends will be tempted to gloat and vent the anger and frustration in their hearts. Others will be grieving and hurting. The real question to consider though is this. How are we to act when we wake up since we are followers of Jesus? What difference is the light in us going to make to people on both sides of this election? Jesus answers this for us by giving two commands that cover all other commands. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). That’s the key! Love God and Love Others. Simple, right? So how do we do this?
Let your attitude show that your trust and hope is in God, not a person. Don’t miss this – No matter what side of the results you are on, your attitude can reveal much about where you place your trust. If your candidate won tonight, and you are thrilled because now our problems in America are going to be solved and our nation is saved, your trust is in man, not God. If your candidate lost, or didn’t even register on the graph, and you are feeling like hope is lost and this nation is going down in flames, your trust is in man, not God. Don’t despair!
When Isaiah was confronting Judah for thinking that pagan Egypt would be their salvation from the Assyrians, and not even considering that God would provide it, he wrote, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1)
Our hope is not in a man or a woman, it is only in God alone. Seek Him! We don’t actually know what either of the candidates would have done to or for our country. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you don’t know! God does though. And after we have been good stewards by voting, we trust the results to Him. God is always working His plan and it is good and righteous.
I understand the emotions of winning and losing and there will be some elation or dejection, but when it comes to trust and hope, God’s got it covered. His plan is not threatened. The Lord of all creation wasn’t surprised at the results and isn’t reworking His plan or relieved that His plan didn’t get messed up. The basis for our trust and hope has not changed in the last 24 hours! The true, righteous, holy King reigns! Keep your head up on one side, and your nose out of the air on the other. Most importantly, pray for both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.
We also love God by having more passion for His Kingdom and sharing the Gospel than we did for the election. Our mission has not changed and, quite frankly, it would not have changed or become impossible no matter which candidate won. When people look at you or me, do they see us as first as followers of Christ, or a Trump or Clinton supporter? So show grace in how you talk about each candidate because God has shown you grace. Show forgiveness and patience in how we talk to each other, because God has shown you forgiveness and patience beyond compare. Ask yourself how every word you say regarding this election affects your testimony before you say it. Use every opportunity to expand the kingdom of God. That’s the only “political party” that will last.
Matt 6:33-34 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matt 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Considering our mission also leads us to Jesus’ second command, Love your neighbor as yourself. What are some ways we can put this into practice after the election?
You may be thrilled at the results of the election, but chances are high that you know someone who is not so thrilled. They may be fearful of some things President-elect Trump brings to the table and things about his character that are contrary to God’s character. This is not the time to gloat or rub in the victory. What would happen if you called them up and just asked how they were doing without saying “I told you so”? Care about them more than politics by listening. Then maybe ask if you both can pray together for our country.
Gal 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
This is closely related to the first. God has a lot more for you in this life than this election. Enough said.
While this may be difficult in an emotional election cycle, this is a practical way we exhibit God’s love. All people are made in the image of God. When we make disparaging, sarcastic, and sometimes nasty names for any of them, we are cutting down someone made in the image of God. Instead, commit to praying daily for each of them and watch your heart change! Also, we can speak respectfully of our leaders and still strongly disagree with them. Contrary to popular culture, the two are not incompatible. It just takes work to disagree well and discuss an argument’s merits rather than just slandering.
Rom 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
1 Tim 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
We love others by standing up for values that God has said to be true in His Word. Just as it is loving to stop someone from running into traffic, it is loving to stand up against issues that destroy both individuals and society. By continuing to pray and stand up on issues like abortion, racial division, destruction of the family, marriage, and pornography, we show we truly love our neighbor. These are issues all believers can agree on as they are clear in scripture. No matter who we supported in the election, let’s stand together against what grieves God’s heart.
Really, I’m not being funny on this one. Think, pray, re-read your post, pray again, then press delete most of the time. If you have to, say good-bye to Facebook for a day or two!
Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.”
Dear Lord, You are holy and righteous. You are sovereign above all and I trust You. I will not worry or forget to trust if things are going well. I ask you to be with Mr. Trump as he prepares to lead our country. Give him wisdom that is from You and use the weight of this position to drive him to You. Surround him with godly men and women. Also, I pray for Mrs. Clinton. She poured so much into this campaign and sacrificed much. Help her to be a voice of unity helping to heal a divided nation. I pray for a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. I plead for our nation to see the sin of abortion and racial division. Open the eyes of our nation to areas we are grieving Your heart. Help the church to equip believers to build strong families and to be salt and light in a dark and needy world. Do whatever it takes to create an environment where many will respond to the Gospel even if that means hard times for our nation that shake marginal Christians out of their facade. Your kingdom come, Your will be done.
In Jesus name, Amen
On Sunday, we spent our last hour praying for our country and the upcoming elections. Prayer is a tangible way we wait on the Lord and trust Him. Below are the prayer points we used for our time. I encourage you to keep praying throughout this week! Let’s keep trusting in the Lord no matter the results. Here is a downloadable pdf as well,
Rom 13:1-2 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
1 Tim 2:1-4 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Pet 2:13-15 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
How did the week go? I pray you were able to meet the challenge and have some family worship time with your family this last week. It has been great to hear from people who have been trying it and to hear the results. If you didn’t get your two times in, start this week! It is so helpful to keep encouraging each other to lead our families to love God and love others. For parents of kids in our Route66 Kidz min at Village, Read Psalm 65 together with your kids. Then ask each person how they have seen God bless your family. Celebrate the work of God together and help them see God at work in everyday life!
On Father’s Day, as I talked about family worship, I used some tools to cut and mount 3 pieces of wood on one of the walls. These pieces formed a rough cross to remind us that the 3 tools of Read, Sing, and Pray point our families to the Gospel and to Christ. The last lesson from that illustration that I want to mention is that it wasn’t perfect! I grabbed a few pieces and eye-balled it and nailed them up while preaching. It still pointed us to the cross though. You don’t have to be perfect to have fantastic family worship. The tools are usable. You can do this! Dads and moms, what we spend time trying to do with our families speaks volumes about what is important to us and what is real in our lives. The cross may have been a bit crooked, out of proportion, or used different sizes of wood, but it was still a cross pointing us to Christ. Your worship times may be rough some days, interrupted other days, meet skepticism at times, and feel like a complete battle other days. Keep on going. You are teaching through your actions! It is making a difference.
Deut 4:9 Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—
How’s the challenge going? We are at Friday with just a couple more days to get your two times in. I’d love to hear about your experience as you tried this with your family! I am convinced that family worship is a powerful tool in the training of your families to love God and love others.
I wanted to share another possible component to family worship that you could add if you chose to. I would recommend getting into the habit of Read, Sing, and Pray and then consider adding some options. For instance, we are reading through the Chronicles of Narnia as an added part of our family devotions. It is amazing to hear them say, “Aslan is just like God in some ways!” Another possibility though is to add a time of quoting memory verses. One of our Village family suggested making it Read, Sing, Verses, and Pray – RSVP! You could just share a verses each is working on, or an Awana verse. Growing up though, my parents made this a challenge and a competition. (Of course I’m not competitive at all . . . as long as I win!) We had a list of verses we were working through. Each night we had the opportunity to say 5 verses from where we were at on the list. If we said them all word perfectly, we got to move forward one place in the list the following night. So then it would be 4 of the same verses, and 1 new one. This really helped cement the verses into our brains. Then on one day a week (probably Saturday), we could keep going in the list until we messed up on a verse. It was great motivation because I could really pass my brother and sister!! You could move up in the list 4 or 5 spots if you knew your verses! It was a great way to memorize God’s Word together and make it fun too. I still remember those verses and struggle to re-memorize them in something other than KJV. Perhaps it’s something to consider once you have RSP down – RSVP! Share any ideas you might have. We can do this dads and moms. It’s worth it!
Day 3 of our challenge! How are you doing? Hopefully you’ve had at least one day this week where you spent around 10 minutes reading God’s Word, singing a song, and praying with your family. If you haven’t yet, give it a try! Let me know if there is any way I can help you with this. If you are looking for something to do, you could read Mark 2 with your family. Or if you are interested in using the Daily Bread resource, read Mark 8:1-13 together. Then have someone read the devotional thought and then someone else can read the prayer and quote at the bottom. You can always ask open-ended questions like “What does this story teach us about Jesus?” With young children, you could grab a piece of bread and break it up as you read the story. Jesus is God, He cares for people, and He has power over all things!
My tip for today is to give some ideas for creativity. Don’t get me wrong, it is not necessary to be a creative genius to have awesome family worship times, but it can add some teachable moments. If you’re like me, a few ideas to get the brain going are very helpful! I mentioned one creative idea from Matt Chandler on Sunday, but I wanted to give a few more. Feel free to steal and use them or add some of your own in the comments.
I hope these ideas get your own ideas going. With creativity, you just have to start by trying something small. Like brainstorming, ideas beget ideas. Don’t be afraid to try something, but remember, it is great family worship even if you have no creative ideas. God’s Word is powerful and your faithfulness to show that this is important enough to do speaks volumes.
Let’s do this dads and moms! #VillageFamilyWorshipChallenge #SmoresCanBePartOfWorship
It’s Day 2 of our Family Worship Challenge. Basically the challenge is to take at least 2 days in this week and read, sing, and pray with your family. That might be spouse, kids, roommates, parents, etc. Take 10 minutes and see what God does in your family! If you haven’t looked at the homefront handout from our Kidz Ministry, read Acts 9:36-42 with your family and then talk about how Tabitha helped others and that God is able to heal and has conquered death! Maybe ask where all believers will be after they die. Then talk about ways your family can help others like Tabitha. Yep, that’s it. You can do this! Or if you have older ones, maybe start on Mark today with Mark 1. A great song to sing would be Because He Lives (Amen) from Sunday, or the original by Gloria Gaither. Really, any song you all like would be great! Then pray together.
When thinking of family worship, remember that you don’t have to be a professional. You don’t have to prepare PowerPoint slides or know everything about the text. In fact, it is fantastic that your kids see Christianity in real life and see how you go about finding an answer that you don’t know. Trust that the Holy Spirit provides the power to God’s Word, not our incredibly awesome presentation. Just do it and let God work! Dads and moms, God has put you in a place of immense influence and will use you in your faithfulness. I love this quote in A Neglected Grace.
“Remember this significant fact: a few direct, simple, and heartfelt words from one’s own parent make far more impression on any child than the most eloquent flow of fine instruction from an outsider. Our real problem as parents is not our lack of ability in praying, reading, or commenting, but is rather our underestimation of the immense power and influence God has given us to shape our offspring for His glory simply by virtue of the representative covenant relationship that is ours as parents who are “in Christ.”
We can do this! Let’s try together. #VillageFamilyWorshipChallenge #AllofVillage #RevivalInTheHome
In Our Service on Sunday, we challenged homes to commit to trying family worship this week and seeing how God works! Many homes have never tried these incredible tools for training our families to love God and love others. Following Don Whitney’s model (and a number of others) I challenge you to take at least two days this week to Read, Sing, and Pray with your family. Check out our post on Family Worship from earlier this year for some of the ideas. You can also listen to the message from Sunday here. I want to remind dads and moms to rise up to this challenge this week. A great place to start is with the Homefront page sent home in our Route 66 Kidz Ministry. Or maybe read Psalm 1 together today. Songs from Sunday that would be great are, “Made New” or “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”. You can do this! Each day I’ll post a reminder and a couple of suggestions.
My suggestion for today is actually from my wife! Expect kids to be kids and don’t get uptight about the time. What great advice. In our worship times, sometimes one blurts out how hungry they are, or something in the verses just strikes them as silly and they laugh and laugh and laugh. Maybe we have to make sure light sabers are put away and we have to repeat things several times (doesn’t God to that for us!) Make the time fun and reverent at the same time. We expect wiggles to happen and kids may end up in different places than where we started as they act out stories, or scramble to look at pictures. If I expect my kids to sit like perfect little angels with their hands folded the whole time, I not only will be disappointed, but I am communicating something about loving time with God that I don’t want to communicate. Dads and moms, you haven’t failed if your kids blurt out things or stand up. Teach, persist, and enjoy the time. You can do this!
I wanted to re-post an article (Men, Bear the Burden Day After Day) by Pastor Peter Jones. I came across it this week and it captures my heart for men as they grow in Christ-likeness from degree to degree. It also kicked me in the tail end to make sure I’m acting like a man. I hope it annoys you and challenges much of how you view family, work, and responsibilities! Give it a read and then continue here.
Last night at community group we were discussing the current cultural shift to see idleness, entertainment, “me-time”, and even family leisure time as a right that responsibilities and work simply interfere with. The complaints of, “we didn’t get to go to the beach today”, or “I had to work a little extra so I couldn’t . . .” are often used to express the idol of comfort and leisure. Work and responsibilities were given BEFORE the fall and are part of the purpose God has given us as men. The are ways we contribute to society and lead our families. It is seeing what needs to be done then standing up and doing it!
Even in families, we forget that our children need to see us work hard and fulfill our responsibilities. Those actions communicate a work ethic that must be passed on to every generation as it does not come naturally! When my kids see me work and minister, I am passing on the truth that life is not about me, but loving God and others by contributing to God’s kingdom and the lives of those around me through work. This is absolutely essential to raising kids that are others-focused rather than self-focused. It tears at my heart when I’m leaving for work and my kids are hugging and saying, “Please don’t go to work today daddy.” But that is a phenomenal teaching moment to share why we work, how important it is and how we are called by God to serve others. Ok, my wife also asks them if they like to eat and live in a house!
Can diligence at work go to far? Absolutely! Many have made work on idol and profoundly damaged their family by neglecting them. However, this does not make work the enemy that we grudgingly do, put in as few hours as possible and then compartmentalize away from the rest of life. That too is not a biblical theology of work. (I’m reading through the Gospel at Work and look forward to reviewing it here with more ideas on a theology of work.) Work cannot be our idol, but making idleness (leisure) an idol also damages the family. Men, we need to hear the overwhelming wisdom from the generation before us that is concerned about our ability to work hard and diligently. For the sake of your kids, work hard AND spend great time with them. As Paul says in 1 Cor 16:13, “Act Like Men!”
Take a read of the post by Pastor Jones here based on Elisabeth Elliot’s book, The Mark of a Man.
In the theme of family worship, here is a post from Donald Whitney summarizing 5 reasons to prioritize family worship. It’s a good read and a good motivator! Praying for you men this week that you are able to spend some time with your family reading, praying, and singing!