How far must we go in following Jesus?
How far must we go in following Jesus? I need to do whatever it takes. Nothing is more important than the child-like faith in Jesus. Nothing. Not a thing.
Isn’t what Jesus is saying extreme? No, Jesus means it. Nothing can get in the way of honestly following Jesus. We may have to sacrifice a lot to be the servant of Jesus. Jesus challenges us to get rid of anything that gets in the way. This is one of the great themes of Jesus and his manifesto. God is God. Period.
What is the consequence of not taking Jesus seriously? This isn’t pleasant, but Jesus is clear. My lack of sacrifice will lead me to the fire of Hell. I don’t think Jesus is using a metaphor here. Jesus is clear and Jesus is serious. Am I?
Here is some great insight from our good friends at The Domain for Truth.
Establish the need: What is your greatest priority for your kids? What do you desire the most for your kids? Is it for them to have a good job, take care of you when you are older, contribute to society or be independent? These are not wrong in of themselves, but what should your greatest priority for your kids should be?
Melissa Lee has been overseeing CTCI’s children’s ministry for 26 years. Find out how Jesus is working in children’s lives during our Train to Reign Program.
Train to Reign
Family is the most vital relationship and the one under the most pressure and attack.
Throughout the year, we welcome individuals, couples, and families from around the world who are seeking to strengthen their relationships – with God, within their own families, and with their fellow believers. Every session, individuals, couples, and families from around the world are transformed, healed, and renewed. Barriers to forgiveness, personal growth, and hope are overcome in a supportive and intimate environment. Join us in this safe and holy place where painful and complex situations can be worked through – a place of hope and healing.
Learn more here.
Teaching topics include:
- The Plan of God for Family
- Duty vs Intimacy
- Resolving Conflict
- Defeating Parenting Fears
- …and more!
Here is a great article by Jennifer DeFrates. The source is: Are You Contending for Your Children’s Faith? ~ Heaven not Harvard
Contending for your children’s faith can sound daunting. If you’re a Christian parent, you want to raise your children to know and love the Lord, but there is no one sure-fired 100% way to parent that brings kids to Jesus.
With 161 million search results on Christian parenting, it’s hard to know where to begin. We want to be the kind of parents who lead our children to Jesus, but how to do that is more complicated than just taking them to church anymore.
First, we can’t make our children love God.
We can’t force them to have a real relationship with Jesus. God has to call them and direct them and build a desire in them to seek Him. All we can do is point the way.
But we can’t point somewhere we’re not going.
“A leader leads from in front, by the power of example.” Edward Abbey
If you want to lead them in faith, you need to be walking in faith in front of them. Make sure they see you reading your Bible. Show them how you use Godly wisdom to make decisions and deal with your own sin. Teach them how to study the Bible and what a relationship with God looks like.
Yesterday, my daughter and I read James 1 together. We talked about how James thought his brother Jesus was crazy, but following the crucifixion became an ardent follower after seeing Him alive, even calling himself a bondservant or slave of Christ. We read a few different translations and talked about not reading tricky verses alone, but making sure we read in context.
How it fed my heart to have those moments with her. But I know I can’t secure her salvation, only God can.
But there are some ways you can be contending for your children’s faith.
Be constant in prayer. Praying for your children with intentionality and focus is probably the most crucial step you can take that requires no special knowledge or training. Just pray.
If you need some practical ideas about how to pray, what to pray, how to remember to pray, I have this resource for you.
Pray with your children for their futures. Pray with your spouse. Ask friends and family to join you in prayer for your children.
Give them a firm foundation in the faith.
A few years ago, someone close to me came out of the closet as an atheist. After listening to logical, well-reasoned arguments against Christianity, I went through a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure what was true.
That crisis led me to discover apologetics for myself.
Apologetics might sound like some mysteriously difficult subject, but really just means to give a defense for what we believe.
I had to know – is there evidence for our faith or is the Bible full of fairy tales, myths, and legends?
I got tears in my eyes as I listened to J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity and Gary Habermas’s Minimal Facts Approach.
And, I want my daughter to have the kind of faith I do now, only better. I don’t want her to face the years of doubt and fear that I did.
I want my daughter to have the faith I do now. ‘Blind faith is easy to lose. Faith grounded in evidence is harder to walk away from.’ Hillary Morgan Ferrer #MamaBearApologetics #ROARlikeaMother #Apologetics
Now, I’m constantly studying apologetics and believe more and more strongly that there is powerful evidence for a creator and for the resurrection of Christ, but there is so much to know and learn. You can focus on evangelizing Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. or study the cosmological arguments for creation by God or the historicity of the scripture, etc.
But there is so much information, it’s hard to know where to begin. You need a basic grasp of a lot of ideas, a firm understanding of God’s views, and the way the world is trying to twist reality, and how to combat those false narratives as a Christian while being able to defend your Biblical worldview.
Does that sound crazy intimidating?? It doesn’t have to be!
I have found an excellent resource for all Christians, Mama Bear Apologetics. While the title is directed at moms, the book itself is such a great resource any Christian (every Christian) should read it to know what we believe and why. They also have a podcast and website to further equip Christian parents.
If you want to raise children with a firm foundation for their faith, START here! It’s still on sale and is the #1 New Release in Christian Apologetics!
This book is a cheat sheet to defending the Christian faith. (read my full review here*)
Mama Bear Apologetics was written by a group of talented women with conversational writing styles. The authors have organized and fleshed out all the important apologetics ideas in ways that are easy to digest and discuss.
They start with ‘why care about apologetics’ when my kid has a cheerio up his nose. Because let’s face it, we’re busy. Adding one more thing isn’t going to happen. But, then they follow up with why it matters so much, the youth exodus.
“Most studies indicate between 45-88% of youth leave the Christian faith after their freshman year in college and never return.” – Julie Loos
We can’t make them believe, but we can help our children build a faith that lasts on the foundation of truth.
Mama Bear Apologetics is Really a MUST-READ for all Christian parents in this post-truth culture!
There are so many great resources that I couldn’t possibly list them all. But if you want to get serious about contending for your children’s faith, Mama Bear Apologetics is a great place to start.
By chapter 4, you’ll be wondering why you hadn’t found it sooner, even if you’ve never considered apologetics before. I thought it was a few simple facts about creation. I had no idea how much better I understand the character of God and the Bible because I’ve learned how to read and study it.
Contending for the faith of our children has never been more difficult or more important. Are you prepared to meet the challenge and give them a faith planted on a firm foundation? #Apologetics #RoarLikeaMother #MamaBearApologetics
For younger kids, JD Camorlinga’s series about James and Ruth are excellent. They are picture books that deal with the three main arguments against Christianity and the back of the book has a cheat sheet for parents to explain the concepts in greater complexity.
Contending for the faith of our children has never been more difficult or more important. Our culture tells them there is no truth, do what feels good, there is no right and wrong.
We have to help them learn how to think for themselves. We need to understand the fundamental concepts that erode a Biblical worldview without being intellectually honest.
Are you ready to answer the call to fight and start contending for your children’s faith?
Here is a great article from Mark Altrogge. He has been senior pastor of Saving Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have five children and five grandchildren.
Jesus gave us “The Lord’s Prayer,” as it has been called, not simply to pray as a standalone prayer, but as a pattern for prayer.
It is a great pattern to use when praying for yourself, your children, grandchildren and all your descendants. I use this pattern almost every day to pray for my family.
Here’s the Lord’s prayer in Matthew:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. MT 6.9-13
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Here is how I incorporate this prayer when praying for my family. I really like this pattern because it keeps me focused. And I can pray through the various sections in a short time.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. (9)
Before we begin asking God for things for ourselves it is so wonderful and important to focus on his glory and holiness. “Hallowed be thy name.” Or, “Holy be your name.” Take a few moments to worship Him: It can be something as simple as, “Father, I praise you, for you are holy and good and loving. Praise you for your steadfast love and your mercies that are new every morning.”
Psalm 100:4 says:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
So before I begin to ask God to bless my family, I usually try to begin by giving thanks to him. Most days I take a few minutes to write 1 page in a moleskine to the Lord of things I’m thankful for. Focusing on God’s holiness reminds us of whom we are approaching – the infinitely glorious One. And beginning with thanks helps us not forget all the ways he has blessed us already, before we ask him to bless us again. It also strengthens our faith in how generous and gracious our heavenly Father is. Next Jesus tells us to pray:
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. (10)
Before we pray for our interests, we should pray for God’s interests. God’s kingdom is his rule. So I pray that the Lord would bring his rule into the world. That he would save multitudes in every nation, and our nation. But then I pray he would bring his rule into the lives of my family – me, Kristi and my children, every one of our grandchildren, and every single descendant until Jesus returns. I pray that he would save every one who is not yet saved, and that each and every one of us would follow Jesus wholeheartedly as disciples as long as we live. That Jesus would be the king of our whole family.
Give us this day our daily bread, (11)
I ask our heavenly Father to bless and provide for me and Kristi, and each one of our children and their families.
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. (12)
The Greek word for “debt” means: “a debt, offense, sin.” (Thayer’s Greek lexicon). By “debts” Jesus meant “tresspasses,” for 2 verses later he says:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (14-15).
But didn’t Jesus pay for all our sins on the cross? Yes, but we should still ask God’s forgiveness whenever we sin. As he says in 1 JN 2.1:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
And in 1 JN 1:8-9
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So I pray something along these lines:
“Father please forgive me and Kristi our tresspasses. And please forgive each of our children and grandchildren for their sins.” Even when we aren’t aware of any sins, we all fail in numerous ways all the time. We may not have actively committed sins; but we all fail to perfectly obey him every day. We should ask God to forgive our children who are saved, but especially those who Jesus has yet to save.
as we also have forgiven our debtors. (12)
I don’t always remember to pray this, but I will often ask the Lord to help us and our children forgive anyone who has sinned against us.
And lead us not into temptation (13a)
This is a big one, which I think we often fail to think about. But I have seen so many Christians, even those who have followed Jesus for years, often Christian leaders, fall into sin. I want to fear God. I want to finish well. I don’t want to bring shame on the name of Jesus. So I pray this first and foremost for myself, then for Kristi and our children, grandchildren and descendants.
“Father, please, deliver me, deliver us and our children and grandchildren from temptation and sin. Please keep us pure and holy. Please help us to fear you. Please keep us from falling into sin. I also ask that you would deliver us and all our descendants from false doctrine.” I pray this because in our culture and in the church, so many pastors and churches are buying into the spirit of the age in so many areas.
but deliver us from evil. (13b)
I ask the Lord every day to deliver me and Kristi, our kids and grandkids from all evil. I know the Bible says that every Christian will suffer various kinds of affliction, but we are still supposed to ask our heavenly Father to deliver us from evil. Sickness is evil. Depression and anxiety are evil. I pray that the Lord protect us from physical harm and sickness and if it would be his will give me and Kristi and each of our children and grandchildren and all our descendants long, healthy lives.
Health is a gift from God. So I am going to ask our Father for that gift for our family. My wife and a couple of my kids suffer daily from health issues. I have a grandchild with heart issues. I don’t understand why the Lord allows these kinds of things to continue, but I trust that our heavenly Father is good and wise and loving. And I’m still going to keep asking him for the gift of healing and health for my family because he tells me to. Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! MT 7.7-11
Our heavenly Father loves to give good things to those who ask. Just like me – I would give my kids anything good that I could. Our Father is infinitely more generous and kind to us than we are to our children. So I’m going to keep asking him for good gifts for my family, especially the gift of health. If it doesn’t come in my timing or my way, I’m still going to keep asking him.
So that’s how I use the Lord’s prayer to pray for my family. I make plenty of other requests for my children and descendants. But I try to pray through the Lord’s prayer pattern on a daily basis if I can.
I have been so blessed these past twenty plus years to work with children of all ages and from different nations, here at The Inn. I have worked with children in one way or another since I stopped being a child myself! I want to share with you over the course of the next weeks some tips that I believe will help as you work with children. So, here you go. Three tips for today! These are not in any particular order, nor are they by any means exclusive.
3 TIPS FOR SPEAKING TO CHILDREN
1.BE AS VISUAL AS YOU CAN BE:
Don’t just stand there and talk! Use as many visual illustrations as you can. Children love visual aids and will remember much better what you are talking about if you use them.