Here is an excerpt from my newest post on New Year’s Resolutions over at Gospel at Center:
New Year’s resolutions are the annual reminder that we are really bad at sticking to things. Yet in another sense, they are grace, God’s tender mercy revealing to us his long-suffering nature that though we are fickle he is faithful. We are able to stick to him only because he sticks to us.
Read the full article here
In the past several years the word Gospel has become a common term used in church names, book titles, and curriculums. We use the term Gospel but if we don’t understand what we mean by that term the word Gospel alone can become a catchphrase or a catch-all. One of the reasons a few friends of mine started the blog GospelAtCenter.com is because we have a strong belief that the gospel is not something we add to our programming but it is the heart of what we do. It not peripheral but central. The Gospel is the good news of what God has done for us in Christ but that message must not be limited to an Easter altar call. The message of the Bible of God’s redeeming love for mankind should inform shape and transform what we teach how we teach and ultimately why we teach.
Thursday, September 20th we will be hosting a free webinar. We want to invite you to join us in discussing the practical and theological implications of centering your ministry on the gospel. What it means to look at everything we do from volunteer recruitment and leadership development to Bible story delivery through the lens of the Gospel.
Danielle, Jenny, and I will be sharing some of the most important steps we have taken to help lead Gospel-centered ministries, but we also want to answer some of your questions about Gospel-centered kids ministry. The links are provided below and it is all free. Gather your team, share this information with your ministry friends, and let’s focus on what matter most in ministry as we begin this new church year.
The debate over family ministry has been alive and well over the past ten years, and for that I am grateful. One of the things I was not aware of is how Dad’s were removed from being the primary spiritual leaders of their homes through the industrial revolution. Up to that point, there was no separation of duties within the family. The husband and wife were partners in both the economics of their home as well as the more domestic tasks of child-rearing within the home. What’s crazy is the church let it happen.
Teaching kids to say they are sorry is important but it’s only a start. When kids are small they should learn to say sorry. As kids get older we must teach our kids that sorry is good when it leads to repentance. We live in a world that only knows how to say sorry but doesn’t even attempt to turn from the actions that created the need for the apology in the first place. We address the feelings of others “I’m sorry if I made you feel…” we most often fail to mention the very real gap our actions created. The problem with saying sorry is sorry can be used to gloss over sin. Repentance digs deeper to the root of sin.
I know of a very well-known minister who heads a denomination of churches who many years ago wronged another denomination in a very significant way. The breach came through core beliefs of the church. The well-known minister recently said he was sorry to the other denomination without address the gap they had created and still perpetuates through false beliefs that are core to the church. He said sorry when he should have repented.
I don’t want my kids to be sorry saying appeasers, I want them to repent and ask for forgiveness for the gaps they create. Saying sorry is for the other person, to help them feel better, repentance is different it does a work in you. This is how I teach my kids to apologize I tell them to say “Mr./Mrs. ________ I am sorry for ___________ (specifically name what you did) I was wrong. Please forgive me. I won’t do it again. Apologizing in this way addresses what how you affected the other person ask them to forgive you as you were in the wrong and invites God into the process because what you mean by I won’t do it again is by grace and with his help, I won’t do it again.
Every godly parent wants their kids to love Jesus forever. The challenge is how do we do this when we don’t ultimately control this. Getting your kids to eat vegetables is hard enough getting them to embrace a life of devotion to Christ is challenging and at the same time not up to us. If it was up to us and within our control, we would all flip that magic switch and make our kids treasure Christ. It doesn’t work that way. This question is addressed in New City Catechism
Q 20: Who is the Redeemer?
A: The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, in whom God became man and bore the penalty for sin himself.
The only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Parents we have to remind ourselves that Jesus is the only one who redeems. Does that mean you are off the hook? By no means. We water we plant God makes plants grow. We are called as parents and pastors in the life of a child to water and plant but the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Redeemer.
My challenge to parents is threefold.
- Don’t waste your devotion.
- Don’t waste your pain.
- Don’t waste your time.
Don’t waste your devotion is a simple challenge to parents to live their faith in the light of day. We live in an age of specialization and privatization that has spread into our homes and into our faith. We leave public faith to the “religion specialists” at church and we privatize our faith at home to such an extent our kids never see us read our bible on accident or on purpose.
Don’t waste your devotion is a call to public “Personal” prayer and Bible times. Rather than secluded closets and locked bedrooms. Let your kids see you read the bible in the morning and pray payers not so they can think you are something that you are not but that you can model a devoted life. I read my Bible and pray across the table from my kids eating frosted mini-wheats. I don’t do this so my kids think I am holy but rather so they can see where I place my trust every morning.
A devoted life isn’t just public devotions but conversations that point kids back to Christ as our greatest treasure. A devoted life is them seeing you lead someone else closer to Christ as you disciple another believer one-on-one or in a small group.
A devoted life is one where you mention your concern and demonstrate it by praying for world missions. Recently a missionary we support asked for Bibles we discussed this as a family bought the Bibles and prayed over the Bibles as a family. Because I want my kids to see needs of others and to see their need for others that are part of the worldwide body of Christ.
We don’t waste our devotion when we do what the gospel requires of us in front of our kids rather than behind their backs because what many would consider flaunting our faith when it comes to our kids it’s called discipleship.
Parents don’t waste your devotion.