Monday, November 30, 2009

Seeking God with $10

I've been trying to figure out how to redeem our family's time and money during this Christmas season. Plus, God has recently shown me that I have not led and shepherded our children well in a few areas, particularly in the areas of prayer and money. So, last week I came up with a way to combine all this into one "project."

I explained to our older 2 kids (Hannah, 8, and Elijah, almost 6) that I was going to give each of them $10, and they could use it on whatever they wanted. If they wanted to save it, or spend it on themselves, or give, or buy something for someone else, that is fine. I did not want them to do anything based on what they thought I wanted them to do. The only thing they had to do was consider what God wanted them to do. Normally, they feel so much pressure from me to "do the right thing" and "be good kids," but they need to learn that they should seek to please our Lord. Before anything else, we need to seek Him and His will.

Hannah immediately said that she was going to buy a gift for her best friend. Elijah said that he was going to give it away. I asked them if that's what God wanted them to do. They were confused, since those were "good deeds." I explained that those were good choices, but they may not be want God wants at this time.

Soon, Elijah asked, "But can I ask you for advice?" What a great question! Of course he can, but only after he learns to ask God. Within 10 years, I will no longer be a primarily authority figure in his life; I will be in a role of delegating responsibility, and later we will be in partnership. This project is a great opportunity to sow nuggets of truth as I seek to disciple my kids according to Deuteronomy 6:7 - "Repeat [these commands] again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."

What I hope my children will learn through this endeavor:
  • Whatever we do with what God has given us can be an act of worship. That could mean sharing, saving, or even enjoying His blessings.
  • Just because something is good does not necessarily mean that God wants you to do it.
  • I will always love them, no matter what choices they make.
-- Joey Espinosa

edit: See the final results here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Readings

The pastors at Grace Church are putting together some readings for the Advent season. Here are links to the main concept and the Week 1 readings. The idea is not necessarily to have specific readings for every day over the next four weeks, but we want to give you some a general outline of some ideas, in a way that makes it easy for you to adapt to your family time. Be sure to check back weekly, and Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Big Group Songs

Does your child enjoy the songs we sing in our Big Group time? We've recently updated our iMix's for both our Preschool and Camp Grace programming. You can buy one or more songs through our website.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Importance of Gender

Don't forget to check out our Pastor's Blog. The most recent post is a summary from last weekend's High School retreat at Grace Church. The topic of gender is relevant, especially on the heels of our recent Future Men event.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas: Worship Fully

The sermon from this past weekend hit me pretty good. The teaching presented a call to consider how we will spend the next 40 days, until Christmas. It seems like it just comes and goes so fast every year. For me, I realized that I've been so PROUD in how we don't go overboard with gift-buying every year. (I have been like the Pharisee in Luke 18, thanking God "that I am not a sinner like everyone else." Ouch.) But God showed me that along with saying "no" to overabundance, I need to say "yes" to being diligent and intentional with my time with Him and with family. This is how I'm going to be different this year at this season.

Here is an article from a staff member at The Village Church. It is great reading for parents, not giving commands or mandates, but only things to consider. For example:
  • "Have we become caught up in a cultural swarm that has separated us from our convictions and our better judgment?"
  • "[As a child who received lots of gifts,] what did I learn about Christ on Christmas? Is it possible that my struggle with materialism as an adult was fed there when I was a child?"
  • "As the parent, you may need to have difficult conversations with [family members who buy excessively for your children]. . . Make it clear to your family that you are trying to teach your child, not punish them."
  • "There are ways to allow your children to experience the excitement of the Santa tradition without lying to them. It is important for your children to know that they can trust you -- that you are honest with them."
  • "Are you going into debt to celebrate the birth of Christ?"
What are you going to do different about Christmas this year?

-- Joey Espinosa

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gospel: The Key to Parenting

In this article, Tim Challies interviews Bill Farley, the author of "Gospel-Powered Parenting." Farley helps to define the Gospel, and explain why it is relevant to everyday life, especially for parents. Enjoy!

-- Joey Espinosa

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Men & Women

Here's a excerpt from Bruce Ware's book "Big Truths for Young Hearts" (p. 91):

"To be faithful to the Bible's teaching, then, means accepting two very important ideas: 1) men and women are completely equal in their common human natures, both being made in the image of God, but 2) God gives men and women different roles in the home and in the church. The woman should accept the God-given authority in God-honoring ways. We are equal and yet different at the same time, and in this we reflect something of how the Persons of the Trinity relate. The Father, Son, and Spirit are equally God, yet they have different roles to play marked by lines of authority and submission in their relationships. So God created men and women in his image fully equal in their human nature, but different in certain roles in which they also have differences in authority and submission. This is part of the beauty of male-female relationships as God has designed them. What a privilege to reflect God's own ways of relating in our human relationships."

This book is helpful for any parent who needs a little insight and encouragement on how to teach their children about basic theology and a Biblical worldview. It was the most popular sell at our recent Future Men event, with 28 people buying this book. You can get a copy for yourself on our website, along with a number of other helpful books.

Also, you can watch an excerpt from a recent sermon on gender and the image of God on the Grace Church YouTube channel.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Future Men Audio Available!

The audio for our Future Men event is now available online for free. You can get it off our teaching resources page on our main website (look under "Equipping Events"), or on the parents page of our Children's Ministry website (along with information about other useful resources).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pastors Blog

Did you catch that Grace Church has a new Pastors Blog? A few times a week, different pastors from Grace will share their thoughts on ministry, theology, handy resources, and more. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Shepherding" Chapter 19: Teenagers - Training Procedures

Every Christian parent wants their children to have their own dynamic faith in Christ. This requires, most of all, the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. But it also requires parents to labor intensely, and to have a hope in the power of the Gospel. Parenting is not easy, but I think that God desires it to be that way, so that we will be driven to depend on Him.

Having a shepherding relationship with teenagers necessitates that you have successfully navigated the first two stages of the child's life (authority is established, character is developed). A key thing to recognize is that over time parental authority decreases and parental influence increases. What does that look like? Here are some key areas and thoughts:
  • Shepherd your children through their doubts. Help them get resources, share your own experiences of doubting your faith, and expose them to other Christians who are living out their faith.
  • Give them positive interaction. We must allow them to fail and deal with consequences, but we must never belittle them with destructive speech. "Pleasant words promote instruction" (Proverbs 16:21; see also verse 24).
  • Be sensitive to timing. When they are ready to talk, we must be prepared to engage them.
  • Allow room for disagreement. We need to differentiate between Scriptural instruction and personal taste.
Ultimately, we must entrust our children to God. "God intends for parenting to be a temporary task." Our Lord loves our children more than we can ever love them, and He proved that by sending His Son to die for and redeem us from our sin. While we must labor with a hope in the Gospel, we also need to cry out for God's mercy.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Family Identity

One of my favorite sermons during the recent "One" series at Grace Church was on the topic of Adventure (you can find the podcasts on our website). Bill White emphasized the need for young families to create a culture of service. As a follow up, Matt Williams and Bill White answered the question about what it looks like to have a family identity or vision. You can see a 6 minute video response on our Grace Church YouTube channel.

-- Joey Espinosa

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Future Men

We had a great turnout for our Future Men event on Friday, October 30th. There were 392 parents, grandparents, and leaders who came to hear a language, theology, and practical applications of what it looks like to raise up the next generation of men.

We will post more information about this and other upcoming events, but in case you missed it, here's a video showing how NOT to raise future men.