Monday, January 30, 2012

Parent Link Invitation and Reminder!

Parents of kids of all ages, don't miss a great opportunity tomorrow night called Parent Link...a Quarterly Parenting Conversation.

Parenting in today's world is one of the most difficult things we are called to do.  If you're anything like me, you have more questions than answers, and "HELP" is the daily (sometimes hourly) cry of your heart.  Parent Link is a new equipping event offering for parents with kids of ALL AGES who want to hear from others in their shoes.  Relevant and current topics will be addressed candidly as we hear from a panel of seasoned parents who have learned much from their past successes and failures.  

Join parents from each of our campuses as we tackle some tough issues and grow together towards loving and leading our kids toward Jesus.  This parenting conversation will be offered quarterly this year, beginning with our first gathering on Tuesday evening, January 31, at 7:00 PM on the Pelham campus.  

Register (and submit your own questions) online at  Don't miss this great opportunity to learn from scripture and from others who have gone before us on this great adventure of raising the next generation.  We encourage you to invite others and bring them with you (other parents, neighbors, friends, folks from work).  There is no charge for this event, but online registration is recommended.
- Ed Sweeny, Pastor of Families

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Is our call greater than Carpe Diem?

Do you find yourself thinking there must be something more?  Are you living in survival mode, doing all you can to manage to get through the day?  We run from school, to work, to this practice or to a lesson, squeezing in dinner and homework here or there.  With demanding schedules driven by outside forces or our own desires for order and pursuit of the well-adjusted child, we can easily loose sight of our purpose and goals.  That raises the question, what is our goal?  Have we set a goal?  Our ultimate purpose as parents is to shape and prepare our children for a relationship with Christ, parenting today for the coming years and for an eternal future.
How can you be more tuned in to the reality of our ultimate destination?  Look for ways to incorporate Jesus into everyday life—and on an everyday basis. Read Deuteronomy 6 and ask God to give you insight into opportunities to point to Him throughout the day, in every opportunity.  Experience and communicate a sense of awe of His power with every sunrise, sunset, or rainstorm you encounter with your kids.  Evaluate if your schedule provides time for you to enjoy the gift of your children.  Use the tools sent home with your children from the weekend and talk about the attributes and principles they are studying during weekend services.  Parent Pages, S'more Cards and bookmarks can be found online at our website. 

Feel the freedom to seek God and do something different, do something intentional.  Be intentional with your choices, your time, and their energy. Arrange your plans around the big-picture goal. If activities start to interfere with what’s really important, reevaluate and rework your family’s schedule. When faith becomes the top priority for your family, it’ll also become the top priority for your children.  It may mean giving up a sport they have played for a couple years.  It may mean giving up one of your hobbies.  It may mean adding new activities to your calendar, intentional time to love, laugh and grow together.  Live it out, mirror His image, and maintain your eternal perspective and sense of awe in our Amazing God and share it with your family.

Are you seeking more encouragement in your journey of intentional parenting?  Join us, Tuesday, January 31st at Parent Link.

- Lee Anne Cavin, Children's Ministry Director

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Your Kids and Baptism

As a father of three children, it is my constant mission to provide for each of them in the very best way that I can.  I am compelled to do everything in my strength and ability to give them all that they need for protection, direction, health, and success in this life.  But one thing I can not do for them is secure their salvation and give them a relationship with Jesus, their Lord and Savior. 

I want to.  I really wish I could.  I have tried.  But I can’t.  This decision...the most important decision our kids will ever make in their theirs alone to make.  My role as a parent is to love them, lead them, pray for them, and live out what God is doing in my life.  But I will never have the power to control or manipulate what only God can do.  Only God can draw my children to Himself, and only God can save them.

Which brings me to baptism.  This coming weekend, we have an opportunity as a church to witness the saving power of our Lord in the baptism of believers.  Baptism services are always amazing.  It is a powerful thing to see and hear stories of how God has used others to point the way to Jesus.  It is powerful as well to see friends and families surround those who have chosen to trust Christ and celebrate with them.  But what is most powerful of all is the fact that God has moved and worked in people’s lives to redeem them.  God has done what was necessary to secure this salvation that each of us was made for.  God alone is mighty to save.  And this weekend, when we witness this powerful act at every service on every campus, God alone should receive the glory and the praise. 

As a parent, with children who are growing and learning and on the journey toward finding lifelong personal faith in Jesus, I have the privilege this weekend to give my kids a window into what God is up to in the lives of people.  When we watch the video testimonies, we learn that it is important to know what God is up and to be able to communicate what He has done.  When we watch each person go under the water, we get to see how important it is that our old self, with all it’s sin and selfishness, must die.  When we release our held breath as we see the splashing water and the rising believer come up, we can point our kids to the truth that though we must die, as believers we are raised up into new life with Christ.  We can watch together in that moment the reality that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now that is something I CAN do as a parent.  I can use the open window of baptism to give my kids a view into what God is really up to.  What a blessing that God gives us baptism as an outward sign of an internal reality that he has done the work sufficient to save us.  Be encouraged as you teach your children the truth that God alone can reach them and redeem them.  You can only point them toward him.

Additional Reading:
        Colossians 2:12
        Matthew 28:19-20

-Ed Sweeny, Pastor of Families

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Your Kids and Communion

We began this new year on a Sunday, January 1.  At Grace, we typically celebrate Communion on the first weekend of every month.  So we began 2012 as a church with the Lord’s Supper, and since there was no elementary programming this past week, many of us had our children with us.  This may have presented you with an opportunity to teach and explain something that has been a vital part of Christianity since Christ’s final days in earth.  If your family is anything like mine, then you have lots more questions than answers, so I thought I’d stir the pot a bit on how to approach communion with your growing kids.

Communion is an ordinance (a public ceremony) instituted by Christ to serve as a continual remembrance of his saving death and as a means to draw us into fellowship and communion with him.  By taking the elements, we remember Jesus’ perfect, sinless life (the bread) and his redemptive sacrifice and blood (the grape juice) that paid the price for our sins.  These elements are symbols of the real truth that Jesus had to die in our place and was sufficient to do so.  If there is anything that we need to be intentional to teach our kids, this is it.  That all of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and that the price of our sin is death (Romans 6:23).  It is only as our children begin to understand this tragic truth that they can begin to understand and receive the great news of the Gospel...that their sins have been paid for by Christ’s death on the cross and that by his grace, we are redeemed and restored forever in the relationship we were made to have with him. 

As a parent, it is ultimately your responsibility to discern for each of your children when communion is appropriate for them and when it is not.  At Grace, we celebrate with an “open table”.  This means that anyone who has a personal relationship with Christ, those who have confessed and believed that Christ’s work on the cross was for their sin, can partake in Communion.  Believing children are welcome at the open table. Those who have not personally and publicly identified with Christ as their Savior should not be allowed to partake.  If this produces tension or questions from your child, then take advantage of this perfect opportunity to explain the Gospel to your kids.  This may be the moment that God uses to reveal himself personally to your child.  What a gift to get to be a part of his work in their life!

How good of God to give our church and our families a fresh start to this new year by allowing us to observe and remember the new life we have been given through his necessary death in our place.  Blessings to all of you parents as you probe the depths of our mysterious and amazing God with your growing and teachable children.  Let’s not miss any opportunity that he gives us to proclaim the truth of who he is and our deep need for him.

Ed Sweeny, Grace Church Pastor to Families