Posts Tagged ‘How to raise kids’

My daughters first bike was not put together when it came in the box from the store. So as a father who was rarely handy with tools, I was a little nervous that I might put her surprise bicycle together poorly. The morning of her birthday I decided to ride the bike myself in my neighborhood to “test” it out. I imagine my neighbors thought I was crazy as they were looking out their window at a thirty year old man riding a five year old’s bike. I rode that little girl’s pink bike down my street and back, making sure the handle bars were steady and the brakes were sufficient.

When Jesus brought kingdom vision to the earth, He was amazing in showing the power of God’s love in miracles to the earth. Had Jesus stopped there by only doing the miracles Himself, the kingdom would not have advanced forward so we could enjoy it today. Jesus had kingdom vision of the future of His disciples doing greater things than Him. Did you know Jesus had you in mind as the “joy” set before Him to endure the cross? Jesus always had vision for the future that drove Him to love. Jesus sent his disciples out two by two to minister the kingdom on earth as He had showed them to do Himself. Kingdom vision always has a plan to invest in the next generation to do greater things than them.

Without daily Kingdom vision, contentment is elusive and our life will be a breeding ground for anxiety. Did you know that I received greater joy watching my daughter ride her bike for the first time than riding my bike for the first time myself? Can you imagine if I never let my daughter ride her bike but chose to ride it myself? There are grown adults that are spiritually responsible to disciple no one. Just riding their own bike, isolated by themselves (or worse a children’s bike), and wondering why they are anxious in life. Kingdom vision takes the last thing Jesus told us before ascending into Heaven to heart, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, (Matthew 28:19)”

But what if you didn’t have a father to teach you to ride a bike? Can we be real? This is where so many Christians in the faith were not discipled by the generation before them so they repeat the insecurity pattern of holding tightly their spiritual gifts. Insecurity struggles to rejoice when the young people are discovering their gifts because maybe they never received a time of parental rejoicing for themselves. A generational curse of poor fathering and mothering can either be our identity or we can look to Jesus who became our curse and receive kingdom vision lessons from Him. Jesus is always supplying vision for those hungry to receive!

John 14:12-14 NKJ12 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

Remember when baseball home run records were seemingly being broken weekly? Then to only find out that most of our favorite athletes in that era were taking some kind of illegal substance (performance enhancing drugs). The side effects were destructive to the players and the game of baseball, but it’s amazing how sports can mirror the every day Christian life.


There is an illegal substance in the Kingdom of God, Paul addressed it in Galatians 3, but today in this blog let’s modernize it a little, let’s call it the performance enhancing gospel drug (P.E.G.)

P.E.G– The lie that God’s love and His favor can be earned by our performance. (Which every religion in the world believes about their god, but Christianity)

The side effects: bipolar Christianity which always asks and wonders “He loves me… He loves me not”- the performance roller coaster allows highs of self righteousness and lows of unworthiness based on performance.

Remember the first time you heard the pure gospel? You believed that God loved you, right there in your moment of life, when you were still a sinner and God sent His son Jesus to die and become sin for you, so that you could have a right relationship with God.  You were excited because not once in your whole life was your performance good enough for God. But then you accepted Jesus as your Lord, to take your sins and save you, and you really felt loved!

Fast forward a few years and for some of us, we may have been exposed to an illegal substance (P.E.G.). It may have been offered from a friend or even a pulpit. Once we receive this drug, our performance appears instantly better, possibly because we are comparing ourselves to our friends and leaders at home, church or at work. Our words seem much more controlled, because we don’t want God mad at us, unless we are talking with our wife or kids. And now we may even point other people to our performance and behavior for the blessings and favor of God upon our life. We may not consciously be trying to earn Gods love with our performance, but we do have a seven step method to modify and improve our friend’s behavior, because our view of God’s favor is performance based.

A few questions to ask people when offered this drug…..

What if God is not this angry old man that takes His presence or His love away from His children because of their failures? What if He really did place all our success and failures and nail them to the cross in exchange for Jesus’ success? Because even our successful performance is like filthy rags compared to His righteousness. What if God based His favor and relationship toward us on Christ alone? What if He knew that the only way for us to have great fruit (performance) and experience freedom was to abide in Jesus? What if God doesn’t want us so self performance conscious, but Christ conscious? What if the effects of a performance enhanced gospel results in a bipolar Christian, but the effects of the pure gospel is a child confident in their Father’s love based on the performance of Jesus Christ? What if for all eternity we need the grace of Jesus Christ, because without Him we can do nothing? What if there was someone that could believe this today?

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Brandon and Dana 2
Have you ever been a leader in your local church struggling with making time for your marriage? I nearly lost my marriage as a church volunteer. It is only because of the grace of Jesus that my marriage is strong today and such a priority in my life! My passion is to help marriages in the local church be all that Christ wants them to be. Marriage should be a reflection of the love affair between Jesus and His people. Unconsciously, many leaders make the local church a top priority in their life, often followed by their children as the next in priority and then, if there is time left over, the wife is given the left overs of his time. Paul wrote in Ephesians 5. “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” not “Husbands lay down your wife for the church”. What does give yourself up for her mean for us as husbands today?

Men, what if the Holy Spirit knew it would be a sacrifice to make our wives a priority more than our children, or the local church? Maybe that’s why He knew we needed to lay our lives (priorities) down. Every church leader would say their marriage is a priority but I often say, “Where your time is, there your priority/heart is also.” Time is a treasure and worth much more than the American dollar, because it goes up in value. So men, let me encourage you to prioritize your wife and lay down your life by making a decision today to invest in them by putting them on the calendar.

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My wife and I teach our children to embrace that moment in sports, life or school when a difficulty becomes an obstacle to overcome! Deep inside we know that it is through life’s process of hardships that develops them into mentally strong adults. If you have kept up with my blogs in the past, then you probably know that I’m going to ask, “How does God treat us as His children?”. It’s easier to teach our kids if we know how God teaches us. The goal for every trial in your life is for God to reveal a new revelation of Himself. He wants to reveal who He is for you that you would have never known or asked, except for the trial you are facing.  Not every trial is from God, it might be consequences of actions or living in a fallen world, but every trial can reveal who God wants to be for you. For all eternity we will discover who Christ is for us and all eternity our identity is found in Him! Eternity started the day you received Christ.

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Just so happens to be my birthday this month and I realized there are some people who only celebrate their birthday one day a year, so I thought I would share my cunningness to milk the celebration of my birth to an entire month and not just one day. This is inexcusable for my family and friends to celebrate only one day a year the birth of such a humble guy, so if you too have the humility that I obviously possess (which is why you clicked the link to this blog), enjoy these gems!

1. Never plan your birthday fun the day of your birthday, if possible take a week vacation sometime in the month of your birthday. (Tip: invite your parents, even if they don’t pay for you, they can’t not pay for things and they buy their grand kids toys and they make great babysitters).

2.  Ask your 5 closest friends to join you for one on one lunch that week to celebrate your birthday. Each day of the week you should have your lunch paid for  (depending on the closeness of friendship). The more “close” friends you have the more weeks you can celebrate.

3. Start a birthday celebration at the end of the month at your job for those who have a birthday within that month. This works best when you have only 5 co-workers and none of them share your birth month

4. Every day of your birthday month that you are eating out, announce that you are celebrating your birthday. You will be surprised how many restaurants want to celebrate with  you and why rob the world of celebration and joy!

5. This last one is difficult, especially if your grandparents are older or have passed away, but make an appointment for them to celebrate you as well. Sure the nursing home cake doesn’t taste as good as the restaurants, but it is free and it is worth seeing the joy of the elderly, dancing to music all because of the day you were born!

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imageDid you know there are two types of ministries we can offer to our family, according to Paul in 2 Corinthians. One ministry is the kind you can learn and study just about anywhere, in any religion, and they all agree that it comes down to being a good person on this earth so we can love God with all our strength and love people. Sounds doable, right? Then there is another ministry that points to Jesus loving us so much, becoming sin and believers becoming righteous, regardless their behavior, to eternally be connected with God. One ministry points to fruit and the other points to the root ( the vine where fruit is produced). Both ministries have glory but only one is permanent and unchanging.

One ministry (which I like to call bi-polar Christianity) is called condemnation and always points to self behavior. Paul also calls this ministry the “ministry of death” or the Ten Commandments, which Jesus lived under while on the earth and He fulfilled. The other ministry is righteousness and points to who we already are in Christ Jesus. How do we know if we are living in the ministry of condemnation or righteousness in our home? The fruit of freedom is in a family’s home ministering in righteousness. Your spouse and children will be overflowing in joy and freedom. The law will always point families to self-help behavior to earn favor with God and the fruit of that ministry is self-righteousness. I heard a family say once that “the teaching of righteousness in Christ is for baby believers and that it’s the very beginning salvation process” but my response was, “not only is righteousness in Christ the foundation, but according to Paul, it is the spiritual meat to be devoured by the spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:13).”

I am learning as a husband and a father not to mix these two ministries of condemnation and righteousness in my home. The main thing is to seek first His righteousness, because I can only give in power what I myself have received from Jesus!

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One of the most powerful and effective witnessing tool to the world can be the Christian’s marriage and family life. Marriage for the believer is a mirror of the love affair between Christ and the church. Christian parenting can be a reflection of the unconditional love and forgiveness the Father has for His children. Of course it is incredibly difficult to love our spouse and children if we don’t take the time to receive the love that Jesus has for us. Jesus said those that have been forgiven little, love little (Luke 7:46-48) and I used to think that I had a very little to be forgiven since I had received salvation at such an early age. The truth is, we have all have fallen short of the glory of God. We all have been forgiven exactly the same, because if you break one commandment then you are guilty of breaking them all. As Christians we don’t all meditate on exactly what was paid by Jesus for us and because of that, we don’t all love the same. We all were born into a kingdom of darkness and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) was our father. Once we were saved, we were completely forgiven and given the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). By the way, gifts never require payments in this new family and will not be returned. How can a Father be this loving? When we meditate on this kind of forgiveness and unconditional love, then we begin to receive it for ourselves and can’t help but overflow to our spouse and children.  Yes, the first recipients of our ministry begins in the home but you can only give (in power) what you have received from Jesus (Mathew 10:8). Meditate on the cross and how much you have been forgiven and paid for, because your family needs that kind of unconditional love!

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A couple of weeks ago, sitting in my mom’s kitchen with my awesome and not too distant family members, a true story was told of paying off an enormous debt to the IRS. Five years it took this family member to finally pay off the debt that wasn’t even his fault. The debt caused by an employee/ traitor in his business , ultimately became his responsibility as the owner of the business. He was forced to pay the IRS three times the amount of his house payment every month and was left with little to nothing to live on each month. So of course when he announced to the family it was finally paid off, our entire family rejoiced with him, right there in the kitchen!

Now here is the most interesting part, once the IRS bill was paid for, the next month they still sent him a death threat/ bill saying he owed! He immediately called his contact person there and asked what was up! She explained that it takes a long time for them to get it into their computer system and they will continue to send bills out to him but just know to ignore them.  The funny thing was when she was about to hang up, she said, “Sir…. uhm….., you actually overpaid, turns out we owe you!”

What does this have to do with your kids or even you?  Well, often the enemy pretends to be God’s voice and tells you and your kids that you have to work harder and owe God for His favor, that more works have to be done in order to receive His favor. But I have good news my friends, Jesus overpaid with His work on the cross so that we can receive God’s undeserved favor apart from our works! It turns out the enemy may be sending you death letters (condemnation) and threats but the truth is God overpaid  for  you and your children’s behalf! Receive what Christ has done for you and your family and throw away the condemnation today!

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When I was a kid I loved the puppet show in children’s church. Kids today aren’t easily impressed with puppets but amazingly there still is a ventriloquist in the church today!  Last week I had a long conversation with my ten-year old son, we were talking about how the enemy loves to imitate the voice of God! Proverbs 19:12 says, “A kings rage is like the roaring of a lion” and most people know that 1 Peter 5:8 says “the enemy goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour”. What children need to know is the devil is imitating the voice of God’s anger. Even adult Christians and sometimes leaders of churches believe the lie that God is angry with disobedient children. Every religion in the world believes their god rewards obedience and is angry with disobedience, but Jesus tells the story of a prodigal son who was extremely disobedient and then only because he was hungry decided to return to His father. All was forgiven in the story without the child even asking (yes sons and daughters have this incredible favor). The wrath of God was poured out on His son Jesus on the cross and Jesus was forsaken so that His children would never be forsaken. Can’t believe in this kind of undeserved favor? Neither could the brother in the story of the prodigal son. The brother wouldn’t enter the house of his father to join in the party because he had worked so hard at being obedient and never saw this kind of favor! But then again, he never asked! Am I for my children being disobedient to God? Absolutely not, but I understand receiving God’s love and redemption gives them power against disobedience! Relationship is greater than the law in God’s eyes and He fulfilled the law through the cross. When He speaks, God always reminds His children who they are in Christ Jesus and their destiny, not their past.

How did Jesus empower the women caught in adultery to sin no more? He spoke no condemnation and then said go sin no more. Our children will never hear condemnation from God because they are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). They will however hear the enemy giving their best God impersonation and it is our job as parents to call a dummy a dummy!

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It happens often in many homes and I didn’t realize I was speaking a different language until the Lord opened my eyes to what I was doing.  How does a parent speak a different language than their own child, you might wonder? Gary Smalley, author of “The language of love“, says that there are five love languages a person or child receives love from. When I read the book nearly fifteen years ago, I was preparing to be married and wanted to be the best husband I could be and never dreamed of having to apply the languages to future children. If you haven’t heard of different love languages, I highly recommend reading Gary’s books. Here are the five that I still have to remember to speak on a daily basis:

Quality time is a love language that Gary touches first and actually is my number one love language. My oldest son, Graceson, shares this language with me and after hours of playing together outside, we can just walk back in the house and my son ask, “Dad let’s do something together”.

Encouraging words is the love language that my youngest son Zeal speaks. I purposely wrestle with him alone and tell him that not even the Incredible Hulk could break free from my hold. I make sure that he frees himself and during this, I pour out words of praise for his strength and determination! Also when I see him doing something noble or kind, I make sure to lift him up in front of his siblings.

Physical touch and closeness is my wife’s love language and includes things like hugs that are non-sexual, holding  hands and gentleness (all things I really struggled learning early in marriage).

Gift Giving is my daughter’s language. I often times will bring home a gift for Jocelyn that is small but greatly appreciated (Normally I will take her away from her brothers and make her feel it is our secret). At Christmas time she makes sure everyone she knows has some kind of gift from her (usually a homemade craft) and I know to make sure she receives more gifts (usually smaller) than her brothers!

Acts of Service is probably my wife’s second language (yes it is possible). Just washing the dishes or her car can make me a hero in her eyes!

One last thing, if you don’t know your child’s love language, then you probably are speaking your own. Are you constantly chasing your child down to give them hugs they do not want to receive? Are you constantly praising your child and get the “whatever” look? Are you never there to play but bring home gifts galore and the child is not happy? The bible says to “train up a child in the way that they (individually) should go” Proverbs 22:6. Every child is different and wonderfully made by God! Are you speaking the same language or a different love language than your child receives?

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