The Word at Work

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by Stephanie Stancel

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his Word I hope …

Psalm 130:5

If we are talking discipleship in the home, herein this verse lies my strategy, mode and means. And while it seems almost laughable to apply the term “discipleship” to the chaos family life generates, we should remind ourselves that a disciple is merely a learner or follower. Every mom who has ever worked to complete some task with a baby on her hip, toddler gripped to her leg and a preschooler positioned at her side has no lack of followers. Every mom who has shuddered to hear her child repeat some unbecoming word or phrase understands the keen perception of her pupils.

All scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness …

2 Timothy 3:16

And by God’s grace I aim to put the Word to work as I struggle to prioritize and practice it in daily life. Instead of lamenting the interruption of yet another quiet time, we have made a habit of reading the Bible together at breakfast each morning. We read the same passages repeatedly. (We have been in 1 John for at least two months now, mostly because it is what I too am studying.) Their (many!) questions challenge me to understand and communicate the meaning of the text. It amazes me how familiar we have all become with the content and the many ways we find to apply it throughout the day. It becomes particularly instrumental as we, a cluster of close-quartered sinners, fail to live up to all that the Word demands. When this happens, I try to resist the temptation to be shocked and shaming over their wrongdoing, though we do name it as the sin it is, whatever it is. Instead I point back to the truth of the gospel: God’s holy and righteous standard is one we can never hope to meet. Thus our need for a Savior, for Jesus.

… Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Romans 10:17

Though I affirm good manners, suitable behavior and obedience, these satisfy not my parental striving. Ultimately, I want my kids to know, trust, and love the Lord. And not just some jolly, sappy characterization rendered to them. Not some graven image god mentally constructed from a Christian subculture. I want them to know the one true God who has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. I pray that, loving the Father and trusting in Jesus, they will then joyfully obey the law that beautifully reflects His character. In short, I am doing all I can to sow the seeds of His Word in the lives of my children, trusting that it will not return empty (Isaiah 55:11) but will “bear much fruit.” (John 15:8).

Parenting, Kind and Helpful

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by Sarah May

Disclaimer: I am far from the perfect parent. Recently I saw a t-shirt that said “To be honest, I’m just winging it. Life, motherhood, my eyeliner, everything.” It’s scary how true that feels at times. There are days where I feel so downright inadequate that I question why God placed these three handsome boys in my possession and has asked us to be open to the possibility of bringing another into our home. Clearly, to me at least, someone else would be able to care for their lives and hearts much better than myself and my husband. I cling to the verse in 1 Peter 4:8 that says Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Please Lord let my love for them, the love you have instilled within me, be enough to cover my screw ups!

Being the perfect parent is impossible. I laughed out loud when I read this quote from Holly Sprink, “As those of you with children know, rational parenting is like the Loch Ness Monster. We all hope it’s out there somewhere, but we don’t know anyone who has actually discovered it (and if we do come across someone who claims to have found it, deep down we think that person is a little off.”

Besides marriage, parenting is the number one thing that forces you to see your own imperfections, your own straight up sin, and therefore see your constant need for changed dispositions living within your heart. As Sue Detweiler said, “Moms are not perfect–we are being perfected” That goes for you as well dads! And it is my children who are the constant vehicle God uses to achieve much of my redeeming. It is a common, almost daily occurrence, that I will stop suddenly during my correction of one of my children as the Spirit reveals how much I need the very words I am sharing with them.

We begin our parenting careers with lots of expectations and goals. If you are alive on this earth it is because you yourself were born and have been parented, whether it was by your natural parents or not, and because of that, probably created two subconscious lists. The first being the ways you want to parent exactly how your parents did and the second being the ways you want to parent the exact opposite of how your parents did. Add those methods to the ones we glean from simply watching those around us, the books we read, and the mentors we have, and in our back pockets we think we have all the secrets.

One of my favorite quotes is from a book written by Ray Blackstone, “We spend vast amounts of time and energy crafting a thesis in our heads of how life should play out then almighty God spends an incredibly brief amount of time blowing our thesis to bits.” And my boys are the cannonballs.

If there was one thing I learned early in parenting, and learned the hard way, it was that I wasn’t going to be able to force my will, every one of my perfect parenting desires, on my children and the lesson came because of a pair of flip flops. At age three my oldest son owned two pairs of flip flops, one pair was red and the other was blue. He, in all his little boyness, was determined to wear one of each everywhere we went because he liked both colors and couldn’t choose. I in all my ‘people are going to think I’m a terrible parent because my child doesn’t match” pridefulness was determined he was not going to do that. I can not even remember the number of times this battle took place, but I do remember that besides my child finally obeying and therefore me “winning”, it did nothing to develop our relationship.

Yes, there are hard battles that must be fought as a parent to help your children trust and obey you and to grow and learn as a human, but y’all flip flops is not one of them. And I would argue there are a whole lot more that are not as well, you can’t die on every hill, it will leave you and your babies exhausted and plenty of relational wreckage.

I am convinced it was God’s gift of Grace that those lessons came so early, because from that time on my heart for parenting began drifting another way, though still very much in process. Instead of a focus on what we did not want them to do, it shifted more towards what DID we want them to do. Yes, at the very deepest root we want them to know they were created uniquely and very much on purpose by an all knowing all loving God, that He gave them Jesus as their Savior, and then that savior left His Spirit on earth to indwell in them as a guide through life. But there are countless outlets in which to be body of Christ and many character qualities that those members of the body portray. Which did we want to instill?

Prayer, search, experience, and discussion led to Ephesians 4:29, “Do no let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Kindness, helpfulness, paying attention so that you can build up others in regards to their specific needs, being an example and benefit to any and everyone listening.

We now have two main words we filter much of our parenting through, Kind and Helpful. These two words come up in our encouragement of them, in our correction of them, and though there are occasional eye rolls when they have to repeat the two words in discussion with us, in their own self correction as they notice that the words and actions they are doing are not kind towards another or helpful to another.

We as believers want to be known by our love, are told in scripture that “we will be known as His disciples by our love.” As parents we want our boys to learn to love by “counting others more significant than themselves,” To be of kind service and helpful words, kind words and helpful service.

These are not the only character qualities beneficial to the Kingdom, nor are they the only ones we discuss in our home, but they are what fits best with our family right now, in the places God has placed us, and are subject to change as God changes us.

Now, I encourage you, if you have never thought about it, to see what character you are already leading your children, or yourself in if God has seen fit to bless you in other ways. Or if there is not any that already come to mind, gather together as a family, or go first to the Lord alone, to pray and see in what ways you want to benefit the Kingdom here on earth. Is it through Strength in times of trouble, is it with Courage to step out in the unknowns, is it to be Gentle in the midst of harsh surroundings?

I pray for you today as you ask, seek, knock, and find not only the ways your inner dispositions need to change in parenting, but that newness will be revealed as God continues His redemptive work.

Watching for the Light

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by Megan Johnson

I’m faced with a conundrum with writing the encouraging word for the newsletter this month. Being that it’s December, it should be Advent and Christmas themed, right? I should give you a list of great things to do, crafts to create, books to read, and ornaments to make with your kids to point you to Jesus, correct? Well, while I could do that, you have likely already checked Pinterest or scrolled Facebook and gotten more ideas than your brain can even remember and made a list for yourself about how to make Christmas great, filled with activities or crafts for each day so that your kids will remember that Advent is about Jesus … and yet, somewhere in the midst of all that, there’s a chance (if you’re like me) that we’ve lost the wonder, awe, and slow gazing upon Jesus that Christmas (and our lives) are all about.

There’s a chance that we will let all those good things become ruling things – crafts, desserts, and activities that captivate our time, and affection, and attention more than Jesus. There’s a chance that we’re comparing ourselves to a multitude of things and people during the Christmas season, and in doing so, miss the simple, beautiful, pure joy of the God who came to be WITH us. If we’re honest, we probably need to say “no” to a lot more things than we say “yes” to this December.

I’m not trying to talk you out of your favorite books, traditions, and activities – by all means, do the things that bring life to you and your family and point you to the wonder, awe, and joy of Jesus. Go to a Christmas party and celebrate because God has given you life and laughter and peace. Make that craft each day because you and your kids love it and look forward to the tradition of it every year. But don’t do these things just because the neighbor is or because you’re looking for your identity in that. Gaze with wonder at Emmanuel and lead your children in doing the same. Point to Him in the lights, the songs, the Bible, the opportunities to give, and the gifts received. Slow down, breath in the wonder and grace of the season, and look to Him who came, be reminded of how that has changed your life forever.

Maybe the simple things we do with our children this season are enough; because Jesus is enough.

These are the questions I’m going to be asking this season, “did we gaze on Jesus today?” and “did we watch for the Light?”

And whether it’s through reading an Advent devotional before bed, baking some slice ’n’ bake cookies, driving around looking at lights, re-reading the Nativity story, making exquisite gingerbread houses, secretly dropping off delicious cookies at our neighbors’ houses, singing Christmas carols and hymns, or staying home in our PJs watching movies by the Christmas tree all day – I hope that the answer is YES, we gazed upon the wonder and hope and beauty that is in Jesus in that seemingly significant or insignificant thing we did today; we watched for Him making all things new.

And if it’s NO, we forgot Him today – guess what?

There’s grace for that. That’s why He came.

Modeling Repentance

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by Emily McAuliff

When our oldest was six months old, Mike and I read Tedd Tripp’s, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, with two other young couples and one wiser, more experienced couple. That book was full of hard lessons for our inexperienced parenting hearts.

The thing that still sticks with me eight years later is how I have to be confronting and confessing my own sin BEFORE I can make any attempt to disciple my girls. I have seen how crucial it is for me to not only confess to my Heavenly Father, but to confess to my girls when I sin against them. And I do sin against them!

But I am so thankful for the grace that leads to repentance. There is such a sweetness that comes when my girls see me modeling repentance, asking forgiveness, and confessing my need for God’s grace and for my Savior.

Another resource we use to help us understand more about who God is and what he requires of us is Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade. This book leads us through the Shorter Catechism with short daily devotions.

Discipleship Through the Painful Seasons

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by Brittany Vallejo

When asked what Discipleship looks like in our home, I couldn’t quite come up with an answer…at least one that made any sort of sense, so I started to dig deep and use my investigative tools (the teacher in me!) to find out. Here’s what I discovered:

Discipleship in our house, looks different every day, every hour and every minute of every hour. One day discipleship for us may be reading a really great devotional, and one day it may be as simple (and complex!) as teaching them how and when to apologize to their sibling. Because as parents it is our role to make disciples, it is a huge responsibility and it takes a great deal of time, energy and PATIENCE. Sometimes it takes thought and intentionality, but my prayer for our family is that it does not take as much effort as it begins to flow naturally through Jorge and I into our kids. I pray that we show Jesus to them in every conversation, every interaction and every difficult situation that we encounter and that as we grow in our relationship with Christ, so do they.

This summer we faced an incredibly painful season as we lost our unborn baby at 10 weeks. One of the things I struggled with most as a mom was how and what to tell my other children. How do I explain to them in the simplest of terms, that God is still good even in the midst of our pain and grief? How would I hold up against the enemy’s lies that God doesn’t want the absolute best for us? This was a huge opportunity for Jorge and me to tangibly speak truth into our children’s lives as we explained to them how God has a plan for our family and we can trust Him at all times, even when we are uncertain. We explained that bad things happen because we live in a broken world, but the very best news is that Jesus is coming back to make all things new! We can have joy in the midst of our pain and cling to that promise because God loves us so much that He sent His Son for us.

One of the books we love to read to our children is, “The Biggest Story” by Kevin DeYoung. The story begins in the Garden and retells the battle between the snake (Satan) and The Snake Crusher (Jesus) who reigns victorious. Our kids love to hear about how the snake is crushed and thrown into the fire at the end.

Another way our family worships together is through music. One resource we really enjoy is Seeds Family Worship where kids memorize scripture that is put to music and paired with hand motions. They really are catchy!

We are blessed to be a part of New City where our children can grow in the truth of the Gospel and learn from so many other leaders what discipleship looks like.

Rejoice and Be Present

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by Megan Pettigrew

When I first heard that the supervisors would be contributing tidbits to the monthly newsletter I thought it was awesome. Oh how I need this wisdom! And then I realized that I would have to contribute too! How could I write to a group of people who are more than likely further along in this parenting journey than I? I was encouraged to just tell people how we incorporate Christ in the every day. So here goes…

Two things have been at the forefront of our lives in 2017…


Since reading the Advent book from NCK last Christmas, our son has adopted “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” as his bedtime song. But instead he calls it “Rejoice!” This is a daily reminder to us that we are to rejoice in whatever the circumstances. Looking at the lyrics, I see that each verse points to Christ bringing victory over death, mourning, and darkness. My son is now singing these words with us each night. He may not know it but he is rejoicing in Christ our Savior with his sweet little voice. Oh, how we have so much to rejoice over!


I heard a story about a young family on the beach. Storm clouds were coming and a mom and dad were rushing to pack up their belongings and wrangling their unhappy toddler and crying baby. The mother was upset about rain during their beach vacation and the difficulty of getting back to their hotel. Near by, an older man and his wife were observing them. He leans over to his wife and says, “Oh, those were the days!” They were wishing they could go back to the days when their children were still in their arms crying for mommy and daddy, or simply in their presence.

As I listened to this story I just started crying. Aren’t these the days I have been dreaming of; being a wife and a mom? How quickly these years pass! I want to be present. I want my kids to know they are far more important than the pictures I scroll through on social media, the mess in the kitchen, or the pile of clean unfolded laundry that sits on the chair in the living room. I want my husband to know I appreciate his hard work and long hours on the football field; providing for us so I can stay home with our children. These relationships are far more important than my list. Relationships will have an eternal impact, whereas my list is fleeting. These are the days; be present!

Here are a few things we do each day to incorporate Christ in our home:

Daily Devotion: We read a story from The Storybook Bible each night and ask simple questions that all lead back to Jesus and the Gospel.

Prayer: We thank God for life today and His provision; we praise God for who He is; we ask that our kids will know Christ deep in their hearts and see Him in us daily; we ask for help for someone who is hurting or in need.

Songs of Praise: “Rejoice” and “I love you Lord” are our favorites.

Spoken Blessings: We verbally remind our kids that Jesus loves them.

Abiding in Christ

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by Megan Johnson

I think one of the hardest and most important things we can do as parents is to ABIDE in Christ. Abiding is trusting that God is working when I don’t see it. Abiding is confessing my sin and seeking forgiveness when I’d rather not. Abiding is admitting my need and weakness and lack of control. Abiding is knowing and resting in the ONE who holds me – and holds my kids – in the palm of his almighty hand.

Abiding is hard work. I dare say it is the work. We can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit in ourselves or in our kids. But, we can remain in HIM, the One who can. It is work to abide in quietness of heart when the well-thought-out plans get messed up. It is work to abide in his rest and presence when the new box of Cheerio’s is spilled, a poopy diaper is removed by the toddler, the baby is crawling towards it, and multiple kids are screaming. It is work to abide and ask the Lord to show me my own sin even when my child’s seems more glaring and in need of correction. Abiding is a good work; cupping those small faces with my hands and responding in peace and love and joy – knowing my response is either pointing them to or from a loving Savior who can handle their every need.

And, THEY are watching my abiding: my kids, my husband, my friends, my neighbors. Not only the people I can see but the angels and the demons. What beauty – to glorify God in my abiding in Him – even when I think no one else sees it! The angels and demons look on in wonder when we choose to glorify God in our response of abiding. Angels cheering us on and demons maddened as we plunder the gates of Hell with our abiding in Christ in our lives and parenting.

Not that we could ever, hear me, ever do it on our own. That ‘being kept’ is by the Lord. Andrew Murray says it well:

“He says ‘Abide IN ME’. He offers Himself, the Keeper of Israel that slumbers not nor sleeps, with all his power and love, as the living home of the soul, where the mighty influences of his grace will be stronger to keep than all their feebleness to lead astray … that word abide is even so the band with which He holds you fast and binds you to Himself. Let the soul take time to listen to the voice of Jesus. ‘In me’, he says, ‘is thy place – in my almighty arms.”

(Andrew Murray, Abide in Me)

I can’t give you a check list for abiding. That’s why it’s hard. But you’ll know it. And it’s worth it. So, stay. Do the hard work of staying, remaining, abiding. He will produce the fruit. He will grow the roots deep and unshakable in the midst of the earthquaking storms of no sleep, spilled Cheerios’, unforeseen diagnoses, depression, slandering words, broken relationships, and yes, even poop on the floor.

Family Discipleship

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by Kelly Shipp

I have a growing awareness that I’m not a very good listener to those who need me to listen the very most – my children.

I read in God’s Word that I am to impress on my children his command to love Him with our whole being. (Deuteronomy 6:7) This speaks of being diligent and even repetitious with an unending conversation about God. We are to speak truth to our children all day long and in every situation. Our children are watching and learning through the words we speak and the decisions we make.

I find myself distracted A LOT! The distractions are the same as yours, and I bet you are feeling the same pulls for your attention as I am. How can I have an unending conversation about God, if I’m not listening to what my children are saying?

Lately, I’ve been asking myself this: Am I the fragrance of Christ in my children’s lives? This is my heart’s desire, my prayer; to have the aroma of Christlikeness in my very being. But how great is our need for the cross! Unless we lose our life to Christ we will never find it. My life, and your life, is found in Him. Through Him we can be the fragrance that witnesses his greatness to our children.

The distractions are NEVER going away. So here are two practical tips that help me say focused on Jesus in their midst:

I get up early to read my Bible. I journal and pray during this time. For me, this simply won’t happen unless it happens before everything else. A cup of coffee is included (;

I am being discipled. In my D-group, I have found trusted accountability, women who speak truth into my life, and an environment that fosters spiritual disciplines like Bible study and prayer.

Deuteronomy 6:7 reminds us that we are our children’s primary discipleship leaders. Beyond the ‘unending conversation’, my family has been working on consistently worshiping together. Here are some things we like to do together:

We read the Bible together. We love The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos.

Now that my kids are a little older, we enjoy taking a verse or two and discussing it as a family. We usually find that this sparks a great discussion!

We pray together. We pray for everything and everyone. My husband and I pray together as well. This shows our children where our help and provision comes from and will hopefully develop into a lifelong discipline in their own lives.

If you don’t know where to start, ask your discipleship leader or another spiritual mentor. They will undoubtedly have some great ideas on how you can get your prayer life kicked off. Just go for it!

Here is my personal exhortation:

MAKE AN EFFORT TO LISTEN TO YOUR CHILDREN! Put down your phone, stop working, look in their eyes, and listen to them speak their heart. (If you can’t do it right that moment, tell your child when you can and then be faithful to commit to that time.) They will carry this love with them for a lifetime. And speak truth right back to them – because when you’ve shown them you listen well, they might just learn to listen well themselves.

Repenting Well

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by Sherry Edwards

In our family, we’re currently struggling together with learning how to repent well.

That’s hard and messy stuff!

What does it look like for me to confess my sin to my kids and show them how Jesus changes me? What does it look like for my son to repent to his sister and show how Jesus is changing him? How does the Holy Spirit move in and through us as we eat, play and fold laundry together?

There is something powerful that happens when we are honest with our kids; when we admit that we have sinned.

Yesterday, I had to apologize to my daughter for snapping at her. I want her to hear the words “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” More than that, I really want her to understand the sorrow of my heart. I also want her to know that I am praying for Jesus to help me speak love and kindness to her.

There is hope that as my children hear me pray, they are learning. By watching me, they are figuring out what it means to follow Jesus.

I get to lead them in baby steps. I cheer them on when they see their sin and confess. I celebrate with them when they are tempted to do the wrong thing but have the self-control not to. I cry and pray with them on the rough days. This is training them up in righteousness. This is discipleship.

The best resource I can give you, is your own discipleship.

I highly encourage you to find a discipleship group! As you join with others to grow in your own faith, your children will benefit. I know your schedule is busy, but I promise this will benefit your whole family. Grow yourself as you grow your children. It’s a beautiful adventure!

Family Worship

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by Megan Johnson

Family Worship.  Discipling your kids.  How to implement these things with your crazy crew of kids can be a daunting challenge that is easily given up on for fear of “doing it wrong”, feeling inadequate, lack of participation from the little people, or likely, simply the pure chaos that can make even the strongest parents utter foul words during Bible time.  Amen?

All that being said, here at New City Kids, we hold in high regard and deeply desire to help you, as parents, disciple your kids; whether they are 16 months or 16 years old.  So, we’re adding this section to the monthly NCK email, designed to help walk alongside you; giving you ideas, encouragement, and resources you can use. 

I think the most important place we can start is by encouraging you to embrace the chaos – whatever that looks like in your house.

When it comes to implementing a family worship time, start with where you are and don’t expect it to look how you think it’s supposed to look.  God is way bigger than that!  His plans for your kids – his kids – are greater than yours and He will work through that one Bible verse, silly song, story in the Jesus Storybook Bible, and prayer you pray with, and over, your kids. 

My encouragement is this: just start.  

Here are just a few ideas – 

  • Grab a great children’s Bible (The Jesus Storybook Bible or The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook are great ones!) and start reading together
  • Say the catechism question and answers around the dinner table (some are always listed in the 2-4’s take home guide)
  • Re-read together, the story that your kids did in NCK that week
  • Work on memorizing a hymn together (there is SO much great depth in hymns that has stood the test of time)
  • Make a family prayer journal where you watch how God answers the prayers you pray
  • Pick a Bible verse to memorize together (NCK has one every month per age group – do it as a family!). 

Whatever you do, keep at it.  Know that the Lord is doing something, however imperfect or messy it feels!


There are SO MANY I want to share, but here’s one my family LOVES:

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New

by Marty Machowski