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

It’s Time!

Time is nearly impossible to manage.  C. S. Lewis wrote quite a bit about it, musing on how we complain that it goes too slow, goes too fast, we have too much, or we don’t have enough.  Time is the environment we live in and it is sprinkled throughout most of our conversations and yet – we are never comfortable within it.

Helping our children learn to manage time is one of the key life skills parents will teach their children and whether we think we are teaching them or not, we are.  How we talk about time, how we use our time, how we waste our time are all messages we are giving that are shaping our child’s perception of time.

My husband has recently been preaching on being a disciple focused on the mission of expanding the Kingdom of God.  Pastor Brian wisely wrote,

Jesus said to greet no one on the way. In other words, keep focused on the main goal and don’t get sidetracked or waste time. Of course, in our context of being embedded missionaries, stopping and talking is the mission (not the distraction). 

How do we manage our time well, passing on these necessary skills as we parent the next generation of embedded missionaries (our children)?  The world wants to steal their time through social media and video games; their inner desire to entertain themselves can spend hours on Netflix or Youtube and our third enemy, the demonic realm, will do anything to distract our attention away from God’s mission that he has for us.  Again, I’ll turn to Pastor Brian’s recent article and share with you what he learned from a perusal of an old but helpful time management resource.

  • Eternal Perspective –  Charles Darwin said, “A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” Of course this is true for a man who doesn’t believe in eternity, but how much more should this be true for we who believe we will live for eternity in light of what we did with our few short years during this life?
  • Can I schedule this goal on my calendar? – The super successful people don’t just burn hour after hour trying to cross more items off their task list. No, they have already thought through their priorities and have scheduled a time for them. And then, enough is enough. Decide on all your priorities, schedule them, and let the rest go. Replace your to-do list with your calendar. 
  • Energy Management – Important items should be scheduled as early in the day as possible. Manage your priorities around your ever-depleting energy.  
  • Always carry a notebook – Write everything down. (I am learning to use my voice recorder app as an idea capturing device). Capture everything. Sort it out. Prioritize. Schedule.
  • Have the courage to say no – Everyone has a wonderful plan for your life, but only you know your priorities.  Don’t forget – we need to say no to more non-essentials and yes to more Kingdom building opportunities.
  • Evaluate what your 20% is. – 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results. Evaluate what that 80% is that is eating up all your time… kill it.
  • Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin – touch your snail mail, email, and voicemail once… not multiple times.

Dear Friend – want to know a secret about this blog?  Managing time is not a solitary event – we tend to make better choices and can get more done when we partner together.  Your spouse, your best friend and yes, even your kids – all of our significant relationships can help us manage our time and accomplish the Kingdom work God has for each one of us.  I put this principle in action in this blog by “stealing” my husband’s work (with his permission, of course). Don’t waste your time trying to do it all, all by yourself.

Spending my time thinking of you, dear reader, and praying God expands your time and energy and blesses the Kingdom work you do is one of my favorite ways to spend my time.  Thanks for thinking life through with me and grabbing every Teachable Moment we can.

Fondly yours for all time, Elizabeth

PS – Here’s a Bonus List of questions and tips that can help maximize your Time Management, courtesy of Pastor Brian.  (Thanks honey for helping me maximize my time)

Bonus List
DROP: What items can I drop? 
DELEGATE: What items can I delegate to someone else?
REDESIGN: What do I need to continue doing, but do it in a new time-efficient way ?
LIFESTYLE:  Get enough sleep  and remember what Mark Twain said , “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Teachable Moments

What Puts The GRAND In Grandparenting?

“If I knew Grandparenting was so great, I would have been a grandparent FIRST!”  My Mom told me this after she had spent a delightful day playing at the park, having a picnic, and reading books with my preschool children and when they needed reigning in, she brought them to me; she had the fun, and I got to parent.  Grandparents often get the joys of being with the kiddos without all the hassle and worry. This doesn’t mean Grandparents don’t work when they are on child-duty, but it does mean that they don’t have ultimate responsibility.

Grandparents are in a unique role as there are benefits to their stage of life that they didn’t have when they were younger.  Now, of course this doesn’t apply to every Grandparent, but for many gone are the days of early alarm clocks, a 5-day work week, and evenings filled with soccer practices, piano lessons, and play dates.  Time can be considered more at the discretion of the Grandparent with a freedom of choice they haven’t previously enjoyed. Finances don’t have to be designated for orthodontic braces, prom dresses, college fees, or wedding receptions.  With these responsibilities behind them, Grandparents have a choice they can spend on their adult children and their growing families.

How best can Grandparents make the most of these precious years with their grandchildren?  How can the former generation influence the future generation?  It’s not a matter of making a “to do” list, but rather a “to be” list.  

  1. G – Get your wisdom from God.   Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4, NIV)  God has gotten you this far, He can be there to help give you the strength and wisdom you’ll need to influence the next generation.  Ask God to give you the opportunities you need to have those teachable moments with your Grandchildren that they will carry with them the rest of their lives.
  2. R – Remember those funny, fun and frantic life stories.  A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. (Proverbs 17:22, MSG) My Grandmother told me stories of having a goat-cart to get around town, putting rouge on her knees when she went out dancing the Charleston in the 1920s, listening around the radio to “The Shadow” in the 1930s, and remembering the first movie she ever saw (1915, “The Champion” with Charlie Chaplin).  What fun it was to hear about “ the good ole’ days” and how encouraging to know that the God that sustained my Grandparents would also see me through.
  3. A – Answer questions and Ask just as many.  Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4, NIV) Take the time to engage in conversation.  Don’t let those teachable moments slide by!  Also, if you have a Grandchild who tends not to initiate conversation, take the time to seek them out and ask about their lives – what they are experiencing, what they think and what decisions they are  making.
  4. N – Never miss a moment to be an “encourager”. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV) Parents and children face many challenges on a day-to-day basis.  As a grandparent, look for the silver lining and the positive. You never know how your words of encouragement can build up relationships, help navigate conflict and encourage perseverance through tough times.
  5. D – Disciple the next generation.  A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35, NIV) Your best gift to your grandchildren is loving them well.  Never miss out on giving a hug, speaking about your devotion to Jesus and showing appreciation for what makes them special.  Loving family relationships built on Christ is a strong witness to the world and a blessing that your Grandchildren will carry with them the rest of their lives.

Dear Reader, what a privilege it is to be a Grandparent.  Your relationship is a powerful opportunity to influence the next generation in significant ways. You’ve lived a lifetime – it’s now time to pass on all you’ve learned and invest in these young lives.  Look and cultivate all the Teachable Moments you can find – you’ll be glad you did and so will your grandchildren.

Fond blessings to you!  As always, Elizabeth

PS – do you know a Grandparent who may find this article helpful? Could you kindly consider passing this blog post on to them?  I’d appreciate it and I bet they would too. Let’s make every Teachable Moment count!