Thursday, September 18, 2014

Building A Family Legacy

Excellent resources can be an important tool in the discipleship of our children.  No matter how your family might have begun, you can still finish well.  And it can all start with Building a Family Legacy by Dr. James Dobson, America's trusted expert on the family for nearly 40 years.  As the capstone to his life's work, Dr. Dobson is re-launching the film series Building a Family Legacy

Dr. James Dobson takes us on a journey of the legacy that was set before him and gives us some great insight on what is most important in leaving our own legacy.  The primary focus is getting the gospel of Jesus Christ across to your children.

Start the journey.
Join thousands of others around the world in watching 
'Your Legacy' 
October 1-5, 2014 

Simply sign up for the FREE Simulcast and watch in your home, from laptop anywhere with internet access, with your small group, or use the website find local church that is hosting the event.  It might be the most significant investment of your life.

The Simulcast launches you on the journey into sever other films, Bible studies, and books to build stronger families, and ultimately build a solid legacy. Other films are Bringing Up Boys, Bringing Up Girls, The Strong-Willed Child, Dare to Discipline, Straight Talk to Men, Love For a Lifetime, and Wanting to Believe.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

FREE Resource from the National Center for Biblical Parenting

Photo:  Bugbru
 We all need an inspirational boost from time to time.  And whether we grew up in a Christian home or not, it is helpful to see how others nurture the spiritual growth of their childrenHave Fun Teaching Spiritual Truths, a 30-minute audio presentation by the National Center for Biblical Parenting (NCBP), was just the incentive I needed recently.  Presenters Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller share wisdom gained from their own personal experiences as well as from their understanding of the many families they work with. 

This talk explains that it is the responsibility of the family to pass on spiritual values.  Turansky and Miller cast a vision for how just 20-30 minutes of intentional formal teaching every week can lead to more informal everyday conversations about God.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am an advocate of Family Time Training which is described in Have Fun Teaching Spiritual Truths.

Because I am not a creative person, I especially benefited from the step-by-step walk through specific activities as I listened to the presentation.  I felt equipped to immediately implement them in our own family.  Whether you are the parent of a preschooler or a teenager, examples applicable for your family are shared.  For those who want more support, NCBP has additional resources for you.

 You can benefit from this audio presentation if  you . . .
  • are wondering how to teach your children about God, using the language of children---activity. 
  • wish to pass on spiritual values in a way that is engaging and will create strong memories.
  • want to foster excitement about God wants to teach your children in their own lives.
  • need encouragement in your Christian parenting journey. 
  • hope to show your children that the Bible is exciting and relevant to their lives.
  • seek to capture important "heart moments" for lasting impact.

Use the coupon code AFTST at checkout, and you can download  
Have Fun Teaching Spiritual Truths for FREE.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

D6 Days are happening NOW!

The D6 Conference, which has become the premier conference for family ministry, is generously offering full-length video and audio sessions for FREE beginning today through May 4!   Whether you're a parent or ministry leader, these next four days gives you a chance to unplug and listen to some great content from last year's D6 Conference.  This content can empower your families, homes, and ministries to take generational discipleship to even deeper level.

D6 Days Content
Videos (Main Stage Sessions)
  • Darrin Patrick—Walking in the Spirit From the Inside Out
  • Lydia Randall—Balancing Busyness in Ministry
  • Rob Rienow—A Church Philosophy for the Generations
  • Dave Stone—3 Gifts for Your Kids
  • Leneita Fix—Connecting with the Urban Heart
  • Les and Leslie Parrott--Love Talk Fight Night
MP3s (Breakout/Lab Sessions)
  • Tim Kimmel—A Grace Based Approach
  • Walker Moore—The Orphan Heart
  • John Trent—Where Do I Start? Finding the Plan that Works for You
  • Diana Pendley—What I Wished I Knew My First Few Years in Ministry...25 Years Later
  • Tim Smith—Creating Healthy Habits at Home
  • Bob Davis—The Importance of a Kiss. A Model of a Healthy Marriage

To experience these inspiring free sessions, click here.

Registration is now open for the 2014 D6 Conferences in Louisville, Kentucky, and Dallas, Texas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

MORE Favorite Christian Picture Books

Photo:  Napat Chaichanasiri

Picture books that teach a spiritual lesson or share God's love are a beautiful way to incorporate faith lessons in everyday life.  What child doesn't want "just one more book" read to them at bedtime?  Children who are no longer interested in picture books themselves are usually happy to read them to a younger sibling or friend.  The timeless messages of these books are of benefit regardless of age.  (I found myself being blessed by these stories!)

I've already blogged our favorite Christian-themed picture books.  Since then we've discovered some new favorites that are absolute treasures, and I am excited to share them with you. 

Henry's Song by Kathryn Cave - Henry wakes full of the joy of life, but the other creatures don't like his singing. The Maker asks them to tell Him by the next day what their voices are for.  This is a cute story that illustrates the value God places on each person's talents and the importance of using them for His glory.

The Blessings Jar: A Story About Being Thankful by Colleen Coble - Punky Grace is having a really grumpy morning when Grammy suggests they have an adventure and fill her Blessings Jar to the top.  Punky discovers that God’s blessings are enough to outweigh any bad day.  Recognizing the blessings that God sends us every day makes such a difference.

How Big is God (Harperblessings) - In a heartwarming conversation between mother and son, the nature of God is made understandable to children.  How Big Is God?  Is he invisible?  Is he like a superhero?  Can he fly?  How can he be everywhere all at once?

Small Gifts in God's Hands by Max Lucado - In this re-telling of the miracle of loaves and fishes, a boy is wondering what "big" thing he can do for Jesus.  In the process, he discovers that Jesus can do big things with a small gift.

You Are Special (Tenth Anniversary Limited Edition) (Max Lucado's Wemmicks) by Max Lucado -
 Punchinello believes that he isn't good enough because of what others say about him.  Then he meets the Maker who tells him, "You are special because you are Mine. . . . I made you, and I don't make mistakes."  You Are Special is a beautiful story that reminds us that we are precious to God just the way we are.

Brave Young Knight by Karen Kingsbury - In a competition to determine who will be the price of the land, a boy wins who is not the fastest, strongest, or smartest.  The brave young knight is the winner because he doesn't follow the crowd, instead making decisions based on what is right and true and in accordance with his faith. The moral of the story is that the bravest young boys are those who exhibit the strongest character.  Karen Kingsbury has written a parallel book for girls called The Princess and the Three Knights.

Do you have a favorite Christian picture book?  Please tell us about it in the comments below.  After all, a person can never have too many good books, right?

Photo:  Ambro

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bible Bee's Local Contest Day - A Day of Worship

Photo:  Microsoft Images
 We nearly missed the Bible Bee's end-of-summer celebration.   Honestly, I hesitated to attend because I didn't want my son to feel discouraged.  He had not completed the Bible Bee Sword Study or committed all the verses to memory.  But we went--just hoping that the emphasis would be on what he did know rather than what he didn't know.

The official name for this wonderful event is Local Contest Day, but in my heart it felt like Worship Day.   Indeed, it is a day of worship, prayer, and praise.  It is a day of bringing glory to God.  Yes, someone unobtrusively records points for oral and written test rounds.  But the focus is not on the competition.  Each child is encouraged to proclaim God's word with joy--whether they know only one verse or all of their verses.  The number and the points are not emphasized.  The entire day is about God's Word being lifted up to His ears and bringing Him pleasure.

The oral test round can be a source of anxiety, especially if you aren't sure what to expect.  Let me share our experience of the oral test round.  Our family was led to a private room with a judge and one other Bible Bee volunteer.  They warmly welcomed us and explained the procedures.  Before starting, they prayed a special individualized blessing over my son who was competing.  (Is there anything more heart-warming than someone praying a special blessing over your child?  I was deeply touched.)  Then, it was time to get down to business.  They prompted my son to recite the memory verses that had been provided to us.  The only reaction from the Bible Bee volunteers was praise and encouragement.  They didn't frown or otherwise indicate disapproval when there was a verse he had not memorized.  If he missed any points on the verses he had memorized, we never knew it.  It was a very uplifting experience--very much a celebration of what he had learned.

Local Contest Day was a day of fun, fellowship, and joy.  If you participate in the Bible Bee's summer program, I hope you are able to attend this wonderful event.  It is inspiring to be surrounded by Christian families from different communities, different demographics, different denominations who are all gathered for a common purpose--to bring glory to God and bring up their children to do the same.  God's presence was evident throughout the event.

More Bible Bee posts:
The Bible Bee:  A Family Adventure
Bible Bee:  Transforming Hearts

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bible Bee: Transforming Hearts

The best part of the Bible Bee for us was seeing how God used it to influence the hearts of every member of our family.  The person most impacted was my son who was registered as a contestant.

Let me share some of the heart transformation we experienced as a result of participating in the Bible Bee.  On Day 1 after receiving our box of Bible Bee goodies, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure where to start. I introduced the first memory verse to my son and which was received with . . . (what shall I say?) . . . . resistance.

By the end of that first day, he had gained a vision of the program.  The realization that thousands of children all over the country (and beyond) were participating in the same process gave him a zeal that went deeper than my greatest expectations.  Before the day was finished, he was enthusiastically reciting his memory verse over and over without prompting--quite a contrast from the grudging attitude of that morning!  He proudly announced that he had read the entire book of 2 Timothy (the focus of the 2012 summer Sword Study) on his own and that he couldn't wait to do it again tomorrow.  For weeks, he faithfully dug into his Sword Study first thing upon waking.

At my son's suggestion, we started a new practice that has become a permanent fixture in our home.  He requested that an entire wall of his room be made into a scripture wall, displaying all his memory verses.  We did this by printing them out of nice decorative paper, displaying them, and will create a beautiful binder of his memory verses for him to review any time he wants.  Our family has always valued scripture, but through participating in the Bible Bee, I saw my son reach a new level of treasuring God' Word.

Photo:  Microsoft Images

My youngest child is still too young to officially participate in the Bible Bee, but we did start a scripture memory project with him as a direct result of the Bible Bee's influence on our family.  During the Bible Bee last summer, he began asking when he can learn verses also.  Of course, I can't let a request like this go without acting on it. :)  We hung free Bible verse visuals from Bible Story Printables on his wall, had him recite a verse daily, and then saved them in a keepsake binder.  A true love for scripture was instilled in the hearts of both my children. 

Enthusiasm did ebb and flow throughout the summer.  The local events provided by the Bible Bee probably would have helped with this, but unfortunately our family was unable to attend last year.  At the end of the summer, my son told me that he wants to participate in the Bible Bee every year until he's 18.  He said that he will learn a lot about the Bible through doing the Sword Studies, and he reminded me that "time spent learning scripture is not empty.  It has eternal value, even after this life is finished" (Isaiah 55:11).

More posts about the Bible Bee:
Bible Bee:  A Family Adventure 
Bible Bee's Local Contest Day - A Day of Worship

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Object Lesson: Teaching Children Why Jesus' Sacrifice Was Necessary

Our family loves to use object lessons as a way to teach spiritual truths.  The benefits of activity-based object lessons are described here.

Today's post is a peek into a lesson our family did to learn more about the necessity of Jesus' sacrifice.  It is based on "Mr. Clean" and "A-Cross the Bridge" from Heritage Builders' book An Introduction To Family Nights: Family Nights Tool Chest (a favorite resource!).

We gathered outside and read Exodus 3:1-6 (Moses taking off his shoes to walk on holy ground).  We each took off our shoes and discussed about the meaning of holiness (set apart from anything unclean).  Then I used masking tape to mark a short path on our driveway and filled in the pathway with powder.  The book recommended cornstarch or baby powder, but we used baking soda since the Bible sometimes uses leaven to represent sin.  At the end of the powdered path, I taped a clean sheet of black construction paper. 

In their bare feet, my children tried to traverse the walkway and then place their feet on the construction paper without getting any powder on it.  (I was ready to sweep away powder residue with a hand-held broom so they could try again and again.)  The powder represented life on earth which always includes sin (Romans 3:23).  The black square at the end represented holy ground, being in the presence of God.  It shouldn't have even the tiniest speck of leaven on it.

As my children tried various strategies for going through the powdered path without tracking powder onto the black paper.  They leaped . . . they ran as fast as they possibly could . . . they jumped . . . they tiptoed.  Finally, they determined that there was no way to walk through the powder without tracking it onto the black paper at the end of the path.

After lots of giggles and many failed attempts, we talked about what we learned:
  • Is there any way we can get to the holy ground without making it dirty with sin? 
  • Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins.  He didn't deserve our punishment, but we are so thankful He took it.

Next, I took out two strips I had cut from a cheap plastic tablecloth and tucked out of sight behind a bush.  One strip went vertically down the path and had the word "JESUS" written in large letters.  The other plastic strip went across it to make the shape of a cross.  We tried again to walk the sin-covered pathway and reach God without tracking our sins.  Of course, it was easy to make it to the end since the powder had been covered by the cross.  We were able to reach holy ground without tracking any powder.

We talked again:
  • How is the cross like a bridge?  How is Jesus' death like a bridge for us to reach God?  Can we become holy by ourselves? 
  • Even though we made this plastic cross and can use it to get to the clean area, we can never really make a way to get to God.  We read John 14:6 which states that Jesus is the only way to God.  No matter how hard we try, we will always have a little sin in our lives.  That's why Jesus needed to die to rescue us.

We ended with a prayer of thanks for Christ's sacrifice.  We asked God to make us holy and help us to not sin. Start-to-finish, the lesson took less than 20 minutes, but my children gained a deeper understanding of why Jesus' death was necessary.   This object lesson might become annual tradition for us each spring, the season of redemption.