Tell Them Your Story

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by Kelly Shipp

My 15 year old daughter, Emma, and I were talking this morning about a heart-heavy situation, and I reminded her to take her worries and fears to the Lord. God was faithful in that moment. He gave me the words to point her back to Him.

After our brief conversation, the kids and I headed to school. On the way there, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw her head bowed and her eyes closed. My heart swelled. I know what you’re thinking- she could have been getting a few more minutes of shut eye before heading to class – but that’s not Emma. She usually is very awake and aware of all that God has called her to for that day. So my heart was hopeful that she listened to me and took her heavy heart to the Lord.

I tell you this story to remind you of something that the Lord is teaching me right now in parenting: He has called us to this role, with our specific children, not because we are faithful and always loving to them, but because He is.

He also wants us to tell them our story, because our story points back to his love and faithfulness.

Psalm 100:5 says “The Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever; and his faithfulness to all generations.”

I surrendered my life to Jesus at 19, but when I was Emma’s age, I was on the run from the Lord. In my mind, He was irrelevant, unresponsive, and heartless. I had heard about his love, I just did not want it at all.

Don’t you think Emma needs to hear about my wayward heart as a teen and how I rejected the King? Should she hear that I was lost, scared, hurting, and enthroning idols in my heart? Absolutely! She needs to know about my great rescue by a powerful Deliverer. She needs to hear that I believe nothing could have made my dead heart alive other than the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Well my child does NOT need to hear my whole story. It’s a bit much.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have anything to say, really, I’ve known Jesus from my earliest memories.”

The truth is, you and I carry the legacy of faith by sharing the story of how God has advanced his Kingdom in our lives. This is Kingdom-building work you and I are doing when we share our story with our kids.

Do you know how much your kids long to know who you were before they were?

Tell them your story again and again. It’s vital that as they grow, you build on the story of God’s redemptive work in your life. Sing your favorite hymns over your infant. Tell your 3 year old that Jesus loves her, and that you know that Jesus loves you. Tell your 5 year old that he can go to Jesus in prayer when he is scared, and that you have to do that when you’re scared. Then show him how you pray and read your favorite Bible stories together with him. Tell your school-age child about who Jesus was to your family of origin, what your church experience was like, if you made poor choices and the consequences of those choices. Remind her that you give her consequences because you love her (that always goes over really well, but nevertheless, it’s important to say). Tell your middle schooler about God’s provision and protection for you when you were his age, and remind him that when you’re not there, the Lord is. Help him remember God’s Word by putting Scripture to memory, and share your favorite verses with him. Tell your high schooler about God’s grace that never runs out, and that true repentance always brings forgiveness. Tell her about the messy, awful things you’ve done for which you have been forgiven. God’s story is intimately weaved through your story, and while your kids are under your roof, they need to see it.

Emma’s a covenant kid. She’s grown up in the Church. There’s a lot we’ve probably taken for granted because she’s technically been taught the gospel and sound theology every Sunday. But I can’t forget that I’ve been given stewardship of her and my role is to continually point her to Jesus. It is foolish to expect her relationship with Him to thrive because we make it to church every week.

I’m praying for you as you share your story. It’s a good one, because God is good. Tell it to your kids. You’re weaving a legacy of faith into your children’s lives, and you’re building God’s Kingdom.

Cheetos Stains & Lego Pains: Entrusting Our Kids to the Savior

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by Mike McAuliff

I’ve got a pocket full of one-liners and among those my family hear on the regular is, “with blessings come complications”. It’s a truism that shows up in work, in ministry, and in the family. The blessings of a job bring the complications of workload and ethics. The blessing of living and serving in a church community bring the complications of interpersonal dynamics and dealing with brokenness. The blessings of family and children bring the complications of disciplining kids and equipping them to know and love God.

It also brings the complication of things I couldn’t have fathomed in the years before fathering two girls. You know. Things like being stabbed by Legos in the middle of the night or realizing we can’t have light-colored furniture anymore because … Cheetos. Like any dad, I wouldn’t trade the complications — big or small— for anything in the world. I love these daughters and pray there’s never a day they don’t know and love the name of Jesus. But I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I also pray for them to have REALLY boring testimonies. Honestly. I don’t want them to have epic struggles or addictions to overcome, I want them to have calm and boring lives in Christ.

Of course what is true is that I am not my kids’ savior and I can’t protect them from harm or trials. My wife and I have walked through a difficult season with our girls this year; one that has reminded us that we cannot rescue our kids from the difficulty of life. We’ve been reminded on the flip side of these complications what a blessing it is to know that a truer and better Father loves and cares for them. The birth certificate may assert that a child is legally yours, but they belong first and foremost to the God who dreamed them up and knit them together.

Does their belongingness to God mean we abdicate our roles? By no means. We are the stewards and the hands and feet of Jesus to love and nurture the children he entrusts to us. But the bigger picture of God’s hand over our children is a blessing.

Consider one father in the scripture – Jairus.

In Mark 5:21-42, we Jairus, a prominent figure in the community and father of a very sick little girl. He falls at Jesus’ feet and pleads with Jesus to come because Jairus’ daughter is dying. He begs that Jesus would come and lay hands on the girl, so that she would be healed. To Jairus’ relief, Jesus comes with him. Time is of the essence here and, as parents, we can feel the urgency. If a life hangs in the balance, we expect God would respond immediately. But look what happens while they are on their way: a woman who has been suffering for twelve years, bleeding constantly, seeks out Jesus and reaches for his robes. She interrupts this mission. As she touches his robes, Jesus knows that power had gone out from him and he stops to seek out the woman who’d been healed. He stops!

Do you see it? The agony of this delay?

In the middle of a great and urgent mission to heal Jairus’ daughter, Jesus stops. If you were Jairus, what would your reaction be? “Are you kidding me, Jesus? This woman is bleeding – this is not a life-threatening issue — but my daughter is DYING.” If Jesus was a doctor, he’d be sued for malpractice. But Jesus would not be hurried. And as Jesus is still talking with the woman who was healed, Jairus receives word that his daughter has died.

Can you imagine what Jairus thinks of Jesus now? What are you thinking when you hear Jesus’ response? I knew it. I knew You couldn’t do it. I give my child to Jesus and this is what happens.

How does Jesus respond? TRUST ME. I’m still coming.

You may know the story: Jesus returns to Jairus’ house, greets the mourners with a stunning, hope-filled rebuke (“She is only sleeping!”) and then speaks gently to the little girl, bringing her back to life. Jairus went to Jesus for a healing and instead, he got a resurrection!

Of course, this is not a proof text that Jesus always heals or resurrects. We know this isn’t a formula, but an expression of his compassion and power in the lives of our children. This story is a reminder that God is infinitely more concerned for our children than we are, that he meets us in our grief, that his kindness corrects us, and that he himself is the hope and rescue our children need. Whatever the complication of the circumstance or heartache or trial, the promise of Jesus’ presence is the blessing we get to embrace.

This past year, there were so many days I was frustrated, angry, and wished that we could go back to “normal” (whatever normal is). But I wouldn’t change this story, because in the middle of our circumstances, God has been faithful and he has revealed to us that (in one of my daughter’s words) she is “grasping the gospel now” because of this circumstance.

There’s nothing I can do or my wife can do or will to change a heartache or fix something broken and hurtful for our girls. So when we see in this story of Jairus that God is the only one who can change the narrative, who do something about it — we can be ENCOURAGED in the presence and provision of God over our kids. We still love and equip and walk with our kids, but we trust the saving to Jesus.

The same Savior who saved us can save our kids and this is the hope we walk in.

The Way of Love

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by Rob Bridges

The hardest part about being the worst parent in the universe is all the apologizing. I mean, I don’t wake up with the goal of being a jerk to my kids but it occasionally happens and it feels horrible. It builds throughout the day and usually comes to a head somewhere between bath time and bedtime. Smiling sighs of grace and love give way to grimaced anger and yelling. I hate it. I’m embarrassed by it. Each time it happens, I find myself pleading for the very grace I was withholding from my kids just ten minutes earlier. Even now, as I write this, I want to justify it by blaming it on the “unprecedented times” of the last 14 months – but the truth is, it was happening before as well; maybe not as frequently, but it was there.

Knowing that I refuse to suffer any backtalk when my kids are being disciplined, my 9-year-old daughter, Rylan, has resorted to writing notes and placing them on my pillow for me to find when I go to bed. Usually, she’s pleading her case, blaming it all on little brother Reese, or begging to have whatever toy has been taken away. But one recent note was very different and hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Love. That is the most important thing now. Dad doesn’t have a job and we’re halfway to being poor. Love is more important than anything.”

Sigh … Yeah … I know, right?

“Love is more important than anything.” Rylan basically summarized 1 Corinthians 13 and dropped the mic. The Apostle Paul actually ends the chapter with, “…the greatest of these is love.” He says love is greater than things like wisdom, mountain-moving faith, and generosity. He then goes on to point out that all of the things I was subjecting my kids to (impatience, pride, anger) were NOT love, and that all of the things I was withholding (love, protection, hope, grace) are love. UGH! I’m horrible!!

* See worst parent in the universe reference above.

Let me warn you: having your child quote Scripture to you post-chastisement with a pillow note sounds wonderful – but it is devastating when she’s pointing out your failures as a dad. Consequences were appropriate for whatever she did, but I was not prepared for her to so effectively bring to my attention that I was not acting from a place of love. I was proud of her and ashamed of myself; which is never a good place for a parent to be. It’s explicitly clear throughout Scripture that discipline and love are intimately entwined. Not just discipline, love is everything. If love is not the impetus for how we move as believers throughout all of our relationships, we are ineffectual at best, and heretical at worst.

Parenting (as rewarding as it is sometimes) is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that. The problem comes when I forget my own sin and how desperate I am for a Savior. Whether my kids are blowing me away with their loving kindness and intelligence, or acting like complete idiots with no sense of decency, love compels me to be thankful for God’s unmerited favor. Rylan and Paul were right: Love is more important than anything; and when I/we mess up as parents, it’s important that we remember to extend the grace to our kids that we’ve so desperately needed ourselves.

Chief Encourager

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by Patrick Choi

Two months into my journey of fatherhood, I made one of the bigger mistakes in my marriage. I came home and said, “Erica, the house is pretty messy!” She stared into my soul, and I knew I had made an enormous blunder. This is just one of many examples of how I am slow to encourage those I care most about in my life. A thought crossed my mind that, “If I’m not even encouraging my wife well, I am probably not encouraging others well.”

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:13

This verse is humbling because it calls us to encourage others daily. That seems like a daunting task. Yet encouraging others allows us to not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Pastor Ryan once told me that his goal as Lead Pastor of New City is to be the “Chief Encourager” of the church. I know he tries his best because I will do something as simple as sending out an email and I invariably get a reply from Ryan saying, “Great email, bro!”

Something so small and simple can go a long way. I appreciate those tiny encouragements because it validates my work, and I feel acknowledged for the things I am doing.

What would it look like for us to be the Chief Encouragers of our households?

  1. Spouses – Acknowledge the work that each of you accomplishes. Whether at home, in the office, at school, or in the community – encourage each other in the roles that God has called you to.
  2. Parents – Let your kids know how proud you are of them. Whether it’s in school, extracurricular sports or activities, or their willingness to pick up a toy they left out, be sure your kids understand that you are always in their corner.
  3. Set goals – Set daily (or weekly) goals for encouraging others. It doesn’t have to be huge; simply making a daily effort to point out one amazing thing that each person in your family has done can have profound affects.
  4. Fight against making small jabs – This kind of discouragement can chip away at others, leading them to believe lies about themselves and their worth.

We live in a world (and a culture) where it’s easier to tear each other down rather than lift each other up. But our true home is in the upside-down Kingdom of Jesus Christ who perfectly showed us how to put others before ourselves and love them well. We have to set the precedent, as believers, to be the salt and light of the world. I truly believe that it starts in the way we love and encourage each other in the household.

Church, I encourage you to strive to be the Chief Encouragers of your home!

Listening and Reflecting

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by Kelly Shipp

“Finish strong.”

I have repeated this to myself a lot over the past few weeks.

As the school year, discipleship group, MC, and other extracurriculars wrap up and summer approaches, my natural inclination is to hastily move on to the next thing. Or just quit prematurely.

I’m tired. I’ll admit it, there is nothing strong about my fleshly response to the end of a season.

Finishing strong isn’t easy.

I’m reminded, in the book of Esther, that the Lord has uniquely prepared each of us for the work he has called us to today. We are called to the place we are, right now, for such a time as this. (Esther 4:14) All that we do is important and vital to his Kingdom.

Finishing strong requires listening. This means we have to slow down and create the space in our mind and heart to listen to Him through his word and through prayer. King David says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Finishing strong requires reflection; which means giving serious thought or consideration. Here’s how I like to reflect. In my quiet time with the Lord, I ask Him:

“Am I listening to and trusting in You, Lord?”

“Am I waiting on your timing?”

“Am I believing You are good?”

“Am I believing You are enough?”

If I’m honest, reflecting leads to repentance as I confess my unbelief. I have to turn and walk in new obedience.

This year, I have asked myself specific and practical questions, like:

“Who are the people I need to thank today for caring deeply for my kids this school year?”

“What have I learned about God through my discipleship study and devotional times this year?”

“What conversations do I need to have to encourage/equip those whom I’m leading?”

“Where do I want to grow?”

As I take time to listen to the Lord and reflect on the year, I am reassured that the Lord is in every part of my life and the work I’m doing. I am reminded that the peace and love of Christ are mine today. He has great plans for his children that will not fail. When I remember this, instead of telling myself to finish strong, I can say, “Lord, help me finish strong. My hope is in You. To You be the glory.”

Marriage and Parenting

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by Megan Johnson

Parenting is hard. It is a most sanctifying thing for us to see our idols exposed, our fears realized, and our sin habits confronted. Thankfully, many of us have a partner in this gift of parenting! And yet, that in itself is a conflicting mess that is hard, sanctifying, beautiful, and joy-inducing as well!

I love this photo. As I determined to share this as my family photo (even though it’s a little silly) it revealed what I wanted to share with you – prioritizing marriage in the midst of parenting. This photo does not display an anomaly in our house; rather, it is typical. We love that our kids are consistently grossed out by scenes like this. The opposite would be far worse for them!

Disclaimer: We’re not perfect, we don’t always get this right, and you could probably help us too! However, we feel really strongly about prioritizing our marriage above everything else except Jesus – which we see pretty clearly in scripture: “… husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church … ”; we are called the “bride of Christ”; we are told that the “two become one flesh”; and more. Our marriage literally points to the ways in which Jesus relates to us – his Church. As scripture says that the two become one, we know it is both in an instant and it is over a lifetime.

Our children learn about God through our relationship to each other – how to serve, forgive, and love deeply. They learn how to be vulnerable and how to rest securely in being known and loved.

At the risk of being legalistic … Can I share with you some things that we do? Maybe these will spur some ideas in you. Pick one you’re not doing (or you’ve forgotten about since having children) and implement it once this week. For us, these are simple, yet routine, habits that have strengthened our marriage significantly. (I’m not even going to share the intimate stuff!)

  • We look at our calendars and ask, “Are we prioritizing each other? Are there spots carved out for just the two of us each week?”
  • We go to bed together. This is a really big deal and it is worth it! It sometimes requires compromise on both parties, but as a regular habit it definitely changes everything. Enough said!
  • We regularly get away over night (or for a week!!) together. Ryan prioritized making this a habit. You may ask, is it hard to figure out and does it cost us something? Yes! Absolutely, but every choice we make costs us something; the reward has always been much greater than the so-called cost.
  • We go on dates (at home or out). Sometimes we have to get creative. For example, one of us might sneak out to get our favorite take-out while the other finishes putting the kids to bed. Then we hide in our room (to eat something that I didn’t have to cook) and watch a movie or talk.
  • We communicate daily. This sounds simple, right? But is it really? This has to be more than communicating about ministry (work), scheduling, the to-do list, and kid-behavior; it must be a real “seeing” of each other (even if it’s only for ten minutes). This looks like fun texts back and forth throughout the day, kissing and saying goodbye when we leave each other, and debriefing (specifically about thoughts and feelings) about our day in the evening.
  • We build each other up. This is being specific in our encouragement, praise, and adoration of each other. We try to be creative and not just say the same old thing over and over.

Lastly, Ryan and I were at a Ministry & Marriage Cohort a couple of weeks ago. We did two new things that were pivotal. I highly recommend these to you as well.

  • We made a Oneness Timeline. We each picked four or five events (from the day we were married until now) that we each felt contributed strongly to our becoming more “one”. These events ranged from big to the seemingly inconsequential but they were “events” where we died more to self, felt loved and known, and joyfully became more whole together. And we got to know each other better through the process of making the timeline!
  • We made appreciation lists. We each made a list of 25+ things we appreciated about the other person and then read it aloud to them, looking them in the eyes. As we wrote, things came out that we had never expressed to one another before. It. was. POWERFUL!

Marriage requires vulnerability and many of the ideas listed above can be scary. We can offer our vulnerability (and meet our spouse’s vulnerability with our own) and build intimacy. Or we can tear intimacy apart, little by little (over minutes, days, weeks and then years), by our response, lack of response, or lack of intentionality. Your kids need (and want) you to have a healthy, beautiful, gross-them-out kind of marriage even though they won’t tell you that now.

Get vulnerable. Get intentional. Build something together, by God’s grace, that will last beyond these little kid parenting years.

Trusting God

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by Morolape Odumade

Often in the past year I’ve asked myself, “Do I trust God?”

The answer is usually a quick, “Yes, of course!” What’s not to trust? I mean, it’s God, right? So yes, I trust Him. Off the top of my head, without even thinking about it, the response to the question of trusting God is unequivocally, yes!

Yes, I trust God, but the next question silences me. “Do I trust God?”

To this I don’t have a quick answer because it opens a world of other questions like:

  • If I trust God then why am I so impatient?
  • Why does it seem impossible for me to wait for his timing?
  • Why do I lay something at his feet only to turn around in the next breath and pick it back up?

Sometimes I think it will be better (and maybe even quicker) if I handle my problems on my own. Why is it so hard for me to trust God? Is it that God is not trustworthy? No, far from it. This is another quick answer. If there’s anything I’m sure of, it is that God is faithful. He is just and trustworthy. He can never lie or go back on his word. He is perfect, holy, blameless, and pure. He is everything that faithful defines and He’s so much more.

If God is so faithful, then why can’t I trust Him? I know I trust Him for my salvation (and that of my family) but do I trust Him for my day-to-day living issues? My today, and tomorrow, and next week? And oh –I don’t know– this pandemic we find ourselves in? Where did that come from? How do I know it’s not going to get worse from here? I know in the books of Matthew and Revelation, the Bible says it will get worse before it gets better, but that seems far away; I feel like we would be prepared for that. Right?

My issue in one word is: fear. I am so afraid of my daily life crumbling without notice. I can trust God for the big things (like salvation, and life after death, and such) but knowing that the world around us can change completely in an instant is frightening and paralyzing. I ask myself, “What if we weren’t already a homeschooling family when the pandemic started? What if my husband couldn’t work from home? What if I worked outside the home and lost my job? What if I had no idea how to help my children with their education? What if? What if? What if?”

On the one hand, I know I don’t have to worry about these things because we are indeed a homeschooling family and my husband is very much able to work from home, for which we are grateful, and I’m also able to work at home. (I’m very much aware that many families have had difficulty figuring out the answers to these questions and I’m not at all making light of that.) But on the other hand, we were going on with our daily lives and, out of nowhere, a pandemic upends our world and changes everything. Completely.

How do we cope with that? What else is coming? In my household, we have dodged this one so far; we are in quarantine and we’ve been ok. But what happens when the other shoe drops? As I write this, I’m realizing that I’m letting my worries get the better of me. The solution is simple and can be found in the Word of God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us that we should trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lay all our decisions before Him and He will direct our paths. Psalm 139 lays out a host of evidence that shows us that we can put our trust completely in God. (He knew us even before we were conceived. Can you imagine that?!) In Hebrews 13:5, we get a clear picture of the thoughts of God concerning us and Jeremiah 29:11-13 drives the point home. Verse after verse in the Bible reminds us of our Father’s unfailing love and his unwavering protection over us. But is it enough for us to read and memorize these bible verses? How do we get to the point where the truths in these verses resonate with our hearts?

I think the answer lies in obedience. We need to not only read the verses but we need to obey what they say. Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34 that we shouldn’t worry about anything and our response to this should be to not worry. Simple, right? Yes, it is. We have heard that there is a “do not fear” in the Bible for every single day. We can wake up each day and remind ourselves about the words of Jesus. It is only through obediently trusting in the words of Scripture that we will experience the truth of them.

There is one more thing. Faith. How can we obey without faith? The book of Hebrews tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. While we may be unsure of our today and tomorrow, we can put all of our faith and trust in the God who cares for us, who knows all things and is in control of all things.

To sum it all up, the prophet Habakkuk says:

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like the deer’s feet and He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

These are the truths my family and I rest on each day. We may not know what’s coming or how our world will change even further but we can put our faith and trust in God.

Cultivating Scripture in the Hearts of Your Children and Grandchildren

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by Julie Anderson

I have recently been studying the importance of God’s Word and the importance of memorizing Scripture. His Word is refreshment to our souls and daily nourishment for our lives. I have been learning that feeding on God’s Word is what helps us keep his commandments, encourages us with his promises, and convicts us of our sin. God’s Word shows us where we need to grow and change to become more like Christ. Psalm 19 tells us,

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

I love God’s Word because it is truth.

As grandparents, we have a unique place in our grandchildren’s lives. We want to be able to influence their young hearts and minds to love Jesus and it starts with learning God’s Word when they are very young. A couple of years ago, we moved to Georgia to be able to have that influence and to be part of our grandchildren’s upbringing. We feel blessed to be a part of their lives and want to make the moments we have together count for Christ’s Kingdom.

When I was a parent to three girls, I played Scripture songs as a way to teach them God’s Word and to have fun singing at the same time. This was a great way for them to memorize Scripture and to get God’s Word into their hearts. Psalm 119:9-11 says,

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word. With my whole heart I seek you; Let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

When I was babysitting for my granddaughter this past year, I began teaching her the same Scripture songs I taught my children. The album is called “Hide ‘em in your heart: Bible Memory Melodies” by Steve Green. Maybe some of you are familiar with these songs. They are fun and have catchy tunes. I find myself singing them all the time. You can even find them on Pandora or Spotify. My granddaughter is not even two yet, and she knows many of these songs already. Many of them are God’s commandments or promises, but her little heart and mind is learning these Scripture songs and has already memorized many of them. It brings me joy as her grandma to know she is learning God’s Word at such a young age.

I am also thankful for the New City Kids program where God’s Word is central to all they do. They come alongside parents, encouraging them in their role as their children’s main discipleship leaders. I have seen this first hand with my daughter and son in-law as they are teaching my granddaughter stories about Jesus and review what she learned in class on Sunday morning.

Children are never too young to learn about the love of Jesus and what is in his Word. Psalm 119 is so rich with verses about God’s Word and the importance of knowing it and believing it. If we love God’s Word, our children and grandchildren will learn to love God’s Word as well. Children learn by example and look up to their parents and grandparents. It is up to us to instill these values at an early age. Psalm 119:33 says,

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes and I will keep it to the end.

You can start them, when they are young, on the path of loving God’s Word. 1 Timothy 3:16 says

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for teaching in righteousness.

Scripture songs are a perfect place to start to teach your children God’s Word. Before you know it, you will be singing these songs throughout the day as well. I promise you will be encouraged by them and you will have that much more of God’s Word in your heart as well.


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by Cara Dury

As a parent, fear has been a persistent companion- at times an unwelcome tag-along and other times a paralyzing beast. When dreaming of my life as a mother, I did not envision a lengthened shadow. It was early on my path of parenting that I caught its sight, though.

Fear seemed easy to manage as a mom of littles. I know now it was (at least in part) because I was in control of so many aspects of their lives- their physical environment, food options, even who was able to interact with them. We know that parenting is a long process of letting go. And, so, over time the number of variables within my control has decreased and the number outside my control has increased – so, also, has fear’s size.

Fear’s presence in my life started affecting my parenting decisions. It impacted my view of others. It made the world seem big and scary.

Of course, this is not what God wants for us. He does not want our lives to be run by fear. He tells us directly He has not given us a Spirit of fear but one of POWER, love and self-discipline. These aspects of His Presence allow us to parent in peace- not fear.

God is a perfect Father. He knows our needs precisely and provides to meet them- even bringing us desperately to the end of our selfish and misguided attempts to find peace. He IS Peace. Tim Keller says, “The peace of God is not the absence of fear. It is, in fact, in his presence.”

Jesus spoke peace to the disciples in John 14:1: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send you in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave you. My peace I give to you.”

We have the Spirit of God living in us. Peace is with us. We do not have to be overcome by fear of all the outcomes we imagine for our kids or the real and present difficulties they face.

This fight against fear is not one I have mastered. It is one in which I am presently engaged and often feel I am losing. Thankfully, we have a loving Father who welcomes us at every turn of repentance, who strengthens us in our innermost being and who loves out kids more than we do.

That last bit- about God loving my kids more than me- often irritates me. When people say it, maybe the timing isn’t particularly helpful. I know it’s true, though. That allows me to trust in His goodness and His good plans for them.

I can trust that everything they encounter is a purposeful part of His sovereign plan for their lives. Even the ways my own weaknesses might hurt my kids is part of the story He is writing to make them the people He designed them to be. When we think we are ruining our kids, we can be encouraged by the words of a mentor of mine, “You are not that powerful.” God’s story for their lives has room for all of the hardship – every mean word spoken to them, every disappointment, every injury, every lost opportunity.

What do we have to fear when it comes to our kids? Nothing. Fear is a liar. Fear will kill your joy, steal your sleep and destroy your peace. We know we have a good Father caring for us and for our children. We know we have a High King whose rule will not be thwarted. We know that great stories have messy middles. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Long Term Discipleship

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by Sherry Edwards

I recently got together with a friend who I was in a discipleship group with 13 years ago. As we sat together, I was blessed by the discipleship that is still going on. We asked each other great heart questions. The Gospel was a part of our conversation. The Spirit was moving.

It’s had me thinking about how discipleship is much more than the year we commit to in a D-group. When you pour your life into another, it doesn’t stop in May.

What does that look like at New City Kids? It is the teachers that pour into our kids. It is the friendships that grow and mature and point one another to Jesus. It is the gift of community.

As my children’s primary disciple leader, I want my kids to grow up with teachers who have invested in them and ask probing heart questions. I want them to have friends who graciously lead them to Jesus.

This is a long term investment. Whether your kids are in the nursery, or growing up too quickly, let us go deep in community. Let us build relationships that last. Let us disciple one another’s children. Let us pursue a heart of discipleship. Let us love one another well for the long haul.