Summer Reads

Summer is a great time to grab a book and sit in a hammock and unwind or lie on a beach and get some free vitamin D while getting lost in a great book. This summer was busy at work, so I took the summer off from seminary to focus on some of our most impactful events of the year in kids and youth ministry as well as spend time with family enjoying each other. So a break from seminary means I can catch up on some books that I have gotten behind on. So if you are looking for a new book here are a few I am reading this summer.

 

The Deep Things of God – Fred Sanders
I started this book about three years ago I got about half way in then started Seminary. Such a challenging book as I realized that much of my understanding of God is so often how I perceive him rather than how he reveals himself to me. The background of the gospel is rooted in the Trinity.

 

All that Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor
I have been on a O’Connor kick as of late to see what the fuss is all about. My thoughts so far. 1. She is a massively gifted writer.  2. She is a bit eccentric. 3. She connects her thoughts about God in her writing in unique and very interesting ways.

 

 

Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
I am reading this over the summer with my oldest son. Why we are reading this together? 1. Schools don’t assign classics anymore 2. Stowe was a devout christian with a clearly Christian worldview. 3. I find the fact that Lincoln credited this work as the impetus for the Civil war fascinating.

 

The Hardest Peace – Kara Trippet
I just finished this book. It was both beautiful and challenging. To read of Kara’s peace and God’s grace in the midst of life’s most challenging moments was humbling and difficult. Humbling because of her great faith and difficult because it brough up lots of fears I thought I had dealt with in the midst of my wifes battle with Cancer. Kara’s faith was rooted in a person not a feeling. This book was beautiful.

 

Confessions – St. Augustine translated by Sarah Ruden
This is my second time through Confessions and like most classics once you finished reading it for the first time you are prepared read it again for the first time. Sarah’s translation is extremely accurate and super accessible. I am grateful for the parts she has illumined that I missed the first time through and am also grateful that many more will read Augustine’s masterpiece because of the accessibility of this translation.

 

Love Thy Body – Nancy Pearcey
This fall we will be doing a sermon series in our youth ministry talking about what the bible has to say about many of the topics Pearcey covers in this book. So I will be reading this book to have the proper framework needed for that series.

 

 

Prince Caspian – C.S. Lewis
Just started this book with my oldest daughter. When my kids turn 8 I start reading them the Narnia series. I think I enjoy more than they do. Every time through I see new aspects of Lewis’ genius.

 

 

What books are you reading this summer?

What do Families Need Most? More Fathers.

To best partner with parents we need to encourage and empower fathers.

The debate over family ministry has been alive and well over the past 10 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 duties of child-rearing within the home. What’s crazy is the church let it happen.

Don’t Waste Your Pain

Passing On Faith To Your Kids

Parents don’t waste your pain. There is in every parent the good desire to protect their kids from harm. This should be done diligently this, however, is not the same thing as protecting your kids from all pain. First of all that is not a possibility. You can’t shield your kids from all pain. Second, it isn’t wise. Keeping your kids from all pain does not allow your kids to see life as it is and see Christ as he is.

We waste our pain when we hide it, minimize it and deflect it. Pain is guaranteed in this life. More than any message your kids hear or any message you preach pain preaches a more vivid memory your kids will not soon forget. What causes pain in your life reveals to your kids what you love and where you run when you experience pain shows your kids who you serve. Because who or what you turn to is what you believe has the power to save you.
Your pain isn’t just causing discomfort it is doing something. The Apostle Paul says You can see what it is doing but it producing in you an eternal weight of glory.

Bishop J.C. Ryle says this about pain and suffering.

“It is all working together for your good. It tends to sanctify. It will keep you awake. It will make you humble. It will drive you nearer to the Lord Jesus Christ. It will wean you from the world. It will help to make you pray more. Above all, it will make you long for heaven. It will teach you to say with heart as well as lips, “Come, Lord Jesus. Thy kingdom come.” The warfare of the true child of God is as much a mark of grace as the inward peace which he enjoys. No cross, no crown! No conflict, no saving Christianity! “Blessed are ye,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” If you are never persecuted for religion’s sake, and all men speak well of you, you may well doubt whether you belong to “the Church on the rock.” (Matt. v. 11; Luke vi. 26.)

We must shield our kids from harm but we must not hide our pain or they will never see the sufficiency of Christ. They will never go to hard places and they will never do hard things because they have no categories for what it looks like to walk with God in pain and suffering.
“No cross, no crown! No conflict, no saving Christianity! “Blessed are ye,” said our Lord Jesus Christ” No cross no crown. Our God is not safe but he is good. Help your kids see that. Suffer well so that they will see the beauty of Christ in your brokenness.

Other posts in this series.
Don’t waste your Devotion
Don’t waste your Time

Don’t Waste Your Time

Passing On Faith To Your Kids

Parents my second challenge is not to waste your time. My first challenge was not waste your devotion. Don’t waste your devotion is a simple challenge to parents to live their faith in the light of day.

My challenge to parents is threefold.

  1. Don’t waste your devotion.
  2. Don’t waste your pain.
  3. Don’t waste your time.

Don’t waste your time means that you as a parent understand that your time is limited and that your time is crucial. You understand that our time with our kids goes really fast and your influence huge but diminishes over time. You have to use the time and the influence that you have while you have it because where you spend your time and how you spend your time shows your kids what is valuable to you and important to them.

We love our kids and want what is best for our kids so we take them on the best vacations, throw elaborate birthday parties and drive them all over for sporting event travel teams. Are these wrong? No. Can they give our kids wrong idea about what is most important to us and most valuable to them?  Yes, I think we can. We must invest our kids time in things that are eternal. Take them on great vacations, but walk them through a catechism. Throw them a great birthday party but teach them to be generous with their time and money. Put them in sports but teach them that nothing can replace a community of faith.

How do you intentionally invest your kids time in what matters most?

Family Devotion Resources

Here are the resources that I recommend that will help parents be more intentional about family worship and raising their kids to love and trust Jesus.

Family Worship Bible Guide

Leading and nurturing your family as you seek to glorify God and encourage spiritual growth in your home is both God’s command and your privilege. One of the best and most effective ways to do this is through intentional, worshipful, daily family devotions where the truths of God’s life-changing Word are openly discussed chapter by chapter. Hand in hand with your Bible, this Family Worship Bible Guide presents rich devotional thoughts on all 1,189 chapters in the Bible, including searching questions to promote conversation, to help you with this responsibility. Use this resource every day alongside Scripture to read each chapter’s major takeaways aloud and then discuss them with your family. With the Holy Spirit’s blessing, this book will transform you and your family!

THIS BOOK IS COMPRISED OF FAMILY WORSHIP THOUGHTS EXTRACTED FROM THE REFORMATION HERITAGE STUDY BIBLE.

 

New City Catechism Devotional

In centuries past, the church used catechisms to teach foundational Christian doctrines. In today’s world of shifting beliefs, this communal practice of learning biblical truth via questions and answers is more needed than ever before.

Seeking to restore this ancient method of teaching to the regular life of the church, The New City Catechism Devotional is a gospel-centered, modern-day resource that not only summarizes important Christian beliefs through fifty-two questions and answers but also helps readers be transformed by those doctrines.

Each question features a relevant Scripture reading, a short prayer, and a devotional commentary written by contemporary pastors (including John Piper, Timothy Keller, and Kevin DeYoung) and historical figures (such as Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and many others). Designed for use in a variety of contexts, The New City Catechism Devotional is a valuable resource for helping believers learn and meditate on the doctrines that stand at the heart of the Christian faith.

 

First Step Next Step Cards

Parents need easy first steps and clear next steps. They are busy the world is noisy so it is our job as those who pastor families to not add to the noise but bring clarity in the midst of the storm. One of the things that always amazes me about the story of Jesus asleep on the boat in the middle of the storm was he didn’t wake up and tell the disciples how to sail better He woke up and spoke to the storm. It can be very easy and very tempting for us as pastors to tell parents how to sail better and more effectively when really they need God to speak to their storm. Peace, be still. One way we can do that is to have easy first steps and clear next steps. This is something I am excited about working on for the families in our church.

Here are some of the questions that create storms in families that we are going to try to create simplicity and clarity around.

  1. How do I talk to my kids about sex?
  2. What is the gospel?
  3. Why do bad things happen?
  4. How do I do devotions with my family?
  5. What is a Catechism?
  6. Why do kids need systematic theology?
  7. What Bible should my kids read?
  8. What devotion books should we use?

Parents want to do the right next thing but don’t know what to do. We can’t force them to want to know what to do but we can be prepared for when parents reach out. Have a plan for a simple first step and a clear next step.