Teachable Moments

Midweek Meditation: Follow the Leader

The game Follow The Leader becomes a significant teaching tool when we engage with it through a biblical lens; through play, children can learn what it looks like to follow.  Following Christ then becomes less of an exercise of behavior and becomes instead, a transformation of the heart. One of the ways we are transformed as we follow our Lord is by meditating on His word.  I encourage you to take time today to meditate on what it means for you to be a Christ follower:  

  • What does Philippians 3:7-10 say about following Christ?  
  • What does your life look like as a Christ follower in light of this scripture?  
  • How can we share what we have meditated upon with those around us, including our children?

Last thought for our Midweek Meditation:  Let’s strive to approach following Christ as a joy, not a duty.

May you be blessed abundantly!
Elizabeth

MEDITATION SCRIPTURE 

Phillipians 3:7-10 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

*All Scripture in ESV

Teachable Moments

Follow the Leader

Contemporary Pastor and author, Francis Chan, wrote this about following Christ; “Following Christ isn’t something that can be done half heartedly or on the side. It is not a label we can display when it is useful. It must be central to everything we do and are.” (Crazy Love:  Overwhelmed by a Relentless God)  Following Christ then becomes less of an exercise of behavior and becomes instead, a transformation of the heart.

A Christian Disciple is a Christ-follower, a constant learner from and about their Master.  The Christian Disciple strives not only to know their God, but follow His lead and become like Him as they do.  How do we teach our children to be a Christ-follower?  

Easy – play a game!

Games teach us – intentionally.  When the best designers sit down to create a new game, whether a board game, digital, or interactive, they usually take one aspect of human experience and create an interesting balance of challenge and reward.  Games are intended to make us question our abilities and bring us to our limit. In this, games are some of the best teaching aids around.

Children’s games are no different than adult games in these key characteristics.  While Jeopardy challenges someone’s quick remembrance of trivia, Sword Drills in Sunday School or family devotions challenges how well a child remembers Bible verses.  Jeopardy and Sword Drills are all about memory and content. And while content games have their place, interactive physical play is hands-on learning at its best. Take for example, the game, Follow The Leader.

Follow the Leader requires a number of skills that translate directly into our spiritual walk with Christ.

  • Pay attention to the Leader
  • Watch carefully what the Leader is doing
  • Understand what the Leader is saying
  • Use the Leader as your example of what to do
  • The goal?  
    • To do exactly what the Leader does exactly how they do it and exactly when they do it.

Aren’t the above objectives the key elements of a faithful Christ Follower?

  • Pay attention to the Leader
    • Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.  (Psalm 123:2, NIV)
  • Watch carefully what the Leader is doing
    • “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes”! (1 Samuel 12:16, NIV)
  • Understand what the Leader is saying
    • “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” (Prov. 4:7, NIV)
  • Use the Leader as your example of what to do
    • For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Peter 2:21, NIV)
  • The goal?  
    • To do exactly what the Leader does exactly how they do it and exactly when they do it.
      • “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

Teaching children to be Christ-followers can be as easy as playing the game, Follow the Leader.  As you play this game, remember to have fun with your kids.  Get into the spirit of the game! And while you do so, reinforce the above objectives and then share with them how God’s Word tells us to “play” Follow the Leader with Him.

Dear Reader, if we but stop and think, we can teach a biblical worldview to our children through our everyday activities as play.  Let’s not waste a moment to challenge them and ourselves to Follow Christ Faithfully all the days of our lives.

In Him and For Him Alone!  Blessings to you – Elizabeth

Teachable Moments

Midweek Meditation: Call Your Children To Be Disciples, Not Just Christians

As we approach the weekend, I would encourage you to take a minute to stop. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy pace of our world, but I want to encourage you to choose the gospel pace, the pace that puts the things of Christ before the things of this world. It is not an easy choice, but a deliberate day by day choosing. Take a minute or five today to meditate on the following quote from my last blog, Call Your Children to Become Disciples, Not Just Christians, and verses, then close your time with the Puritan prayer. 

May this time of meditation be sweet and refreshing to your soul, dear reader!
Blessings Abundant, 
Elizabeth

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” 
   Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Romans 12:1 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
    *All verses are in ESV

Devotion – A Puritan Prayer

God of my end, it is my greatest, noblest pleasure to be acquainted with You and with my rational, immortal soul; it is sweet and entertaining to look into my being when all my powers and passions are united and engaged in pursuit of You, when my soul longs and passionately breathes after conformity to You and the full enjoyment of You; no hours pass away with so much pleasure as those spent in communion with You and with my heart.

O how desirable, how profitable to the Christian life is a spirit of holy watchfulness and godly jealousy over myself when my soul is afraid of nothing except grieving and offending You, the blessed God, my Father and friend, whom I then love and long to please, rather than be happy in myself! Knowing, as I do, that this is the pious temper, worthy of the highest ambition, and closest pursuit of intelligent creatures and holy Christians, may my joy derive from glorifying and delighting You. I long to fill all my time for You, whether at home or in the way; to place all my concerns in Your hands; to be entirely at Your disposal, having no will or interest of my own. Help me to live to You for ever, to make You my last and only end, so that I may never more in one instance love my sinful self.
Author and Date Unknown

Teachable Moments

Call Your Children To Be Disciples, Not Just Christians

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”   
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Is there a difference between the terms “disciple” and “Christian” and if so, why does it matter?  

If I were to ask you, “do you want your child to be a disciple or a Christian or both?”, how would you answer?  

While it may seem like we’re splitting hairs, denoting the differences between what it means to be a disciple versus a Christian may help us find clarity in how we view our faith.  And obviously, the clearer we are, the clearer our children will be. Words matter for they define what we believe and what we believe directly influences what we pass on to them and others.

Here are some quick facts to help us distinguish between the words disciple and Christian:

  1.  The word disciple is used in the New Testament gospels while the first use of the word Christian isn’t seen until the book of Acts (Acts 11:26). 
  2. Jesus refers to his followers as disciples, but never as Christians, and New Testament believers called themselves disciples, brothers, or saints.
  3. The word disciple is translated “follower” or “student” while Christian is translated “belonging to Christ”.
  4. Christ clearly lays out the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:28, 33) which is considerable and should be expected.

The difference in terms is somewhat noteworthy when we take the full meanings of the words to heart and consider how to apply them to our everyday lives.  Reflecting on these bits of information, I find two questions come to mind:

  • Do I belong to Christ? (Christian)
    • Here we examine what we believe about God and examine ourselves, “Have I placed my faith in Christ, thus belonging to Him?”
  • Do I follow Christ? (Disciple)
    • Here we examine how we worship God through our lives, “Do I strive to imitate God in word and deed no matter the cost?”

The best of both worlds is when we see and refer to ourselves as Christian Disciples.  We know to whom we belong and in doing so, we are committed to being imitators of Christ, (Ephesians 5:1-2) following in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21) in both word and deed.  This is a Christian Disciple and this is who God wants us to raise our children to become.

How do we encourage our children to be disciples, and not just call themselves “Christians” and call it a day?  Start simple (I suggest the following as a template).

  1.  Ask your children questions. What is a Christian Disciple?
  2. Discuss with them how to define their identity as a Christian Disciple.   Belonging to Christ and choosing to follow Him in all ways.
  3. Look into scripture and create simple points from the scripture you read to help children understand and remember the points:
     Puts Christ first in all things (Mark 8:34-38)
    Shares the gospel of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20)
    Shows one’s love for Christ (Philippians 2:6-8; Galatians 5:22-23)
    Grows in their love for Christ (Matthew 22:37-40)
  4. Pray that God works in their hearts to understand and live out a true and vibrant faith.
  5. Live as a role model so they see you as a Christian Disciple.

Dear Reader, for 2020 – I challenge us all to consider what we mean by “discipleship” and how we are living it out in our homes and churches.  What is the most important thing we can do for our children, for our church, and for all others?  Inspire one another to embrace our identity as Christian Disciples so we bring glory to God and participate in the expansion of His Kingdom.  He is worthy! 

May 2020 be blessed with His presence as you wallow in the joy of belonging to Him and live faithfully as His disciple.

Blessings Abundant – Elizabeth

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Teachable Moments

Praying Like Eliza Spurgeon

Let me tell you a story – a story about Eliza Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon said this about his mother, Eliza: “She was the starting point of all the greatness any of us, by the grace of God, have ever enjoyed.” 

Eliza Spurgeon, mother of well-renowned preacher from the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon, took the responsibility to pray for the souls of her children as a sacred duty of parenting.  Charles noted that his mother prayed earnestly for her children often and throughout their entire lives. 

Remembering one moment as a young boy, Charles never forgot her tearful prayer when she threw her arms around him and cried out to God, “Oh, that my son might live before Thee!”.  Eliza instructed all her children in the scriptures, also using the help of books like Alleine’s Alarm or Richard Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted.  Never shy to get to the point, Eliza would read and ask her children questions about what they understood, usually concluding by asking each child, “how long before (they) would seek the Lord”

Along with Bible reading and meditation with discussion, Eliza prayed often for her children.  Charles recounted hearing her pray: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” Charles’ soul was pierced, and his heart stirred as he considered the witness his mother was bearing before the throne of God on his behalf.  Her prayers had such a profound impact on him when he was young that he wrote many years later, ““How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come?”  The prayers of Eliza Spurgeon were as much a part of and an example for the faith Charles came to call his own as any sermon or study that he did himself.

 A Parent’s Prayers Can Be The Mean to an End

God not only decrees ‘the end’, but ‘the means to the end’, and it is often the prayers of the parents that are the means which lead to salvation for their child’s soul.  No greater responsibility lays before a parent than to pray on behalf of their child. 

 Do you wish to become more like Eliza Spurgeon?  I do!  If so, how should I pray for my children?  Consider using scripture as your prayer.  Eliza often prayed God’s words back to Him and then applied them directly to the child she was praying for.

·       Pray your child’s heart will be open to God and the salvation He offers

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  Ephesians 1:18

·   Pray for the spiritual protection of your child

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but you protect them from the evil one. John 17:15

·   Pray for your child to not fall into temptation.

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Matthew 26:41

·   Pray for their joy, patience and faithfulness to prayer

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

·   Pray for them to run to God when they need help

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18

Dear Reader, are you busy?  Are you too busy to give yourself over to praying on behalf of your child and their soul?  What a temptation to live by the tyranny of the urgent and never get to what is eternally valuable.  May we never, ever be that busy for if we are – we are trading in the temporary for the eternal, the cheap for the priceless.

As we measure our days in light of eternity, may we spend our days doing the most important work any of us could ever do – praying for our children.  May God hear our prayers and grant us grace as we prove to be faithful in our petitions.

 Prayerful blessings to all of you – Elizabeth