If I had a job title at home, it would be either Light Turner-Offer or Dog Feeder-Walker. Sadly, these are responsibilities that should be handled by other family members. For the record, I was the only one who really didn’t want a dog, so it’s strange that I am the primary caregiver for the fur ball. What would your job titles be? Meal Maker? Dish Washer? Toy Picker-Upper? House Cleaner, Bed Maker, Clothes Washer, Toilet Flusher, or Pooper-Scooper?
I know there are very structured families where every child has their daily, weekly, and monthly list of chores they faithfully do. Maybe you are one of those families. My wife and I tried to implement a dozen different systems over the years and could never reach that ideal. To be fair, our oldest is now in college and is handling his responsibilities there well. My middle child has developed into a very responsible high school student. I’d rather not mention my youngest right now, though I have high hopes for him.
It turns out I am not alone in my hope that my children grow up to be responsible members of society. A recent Pew Research study showed that, out of 12 important values, “responsibility is viewed as the single most important value to teach children.”
This month, my church's children’s ministry will be focusing on the environment of Responsibility. Based on Michelle Anthony’s book, “Spiritual Parenting,” we will be reinforcing this truth: “God has entrusted me with the things and people He created around me.”
Most people immediately associate responsibility with the burdens and chores in our lives, like cleaning the toilet. However, the responsibilities God charges us with are also exciting and life-giving! God has created each of us with gifts and abilities and there is great joy when we use these to make a difference in the world. Sometimes we don’t see the impact we’ve had until many years later.
We can help our children experience the joy that comes when we take ownership of our lives, talents, and the resources God has given us. The Holy Spirit can use this environment of Responsibility to show our family that God has entrusted His world to us. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us the Parable of the Talents. In the story, the master says to the servant who put his gifts to work, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
As a family, what has God given you to advance His Kingdom? As you explore the various facets of Christ-centered responsibility, my prayer is that you would experience God in ways that will lead you to celebrate the responsibilities He has given you.
But for now, I need to go. The dog is whining for a walk.
I wonder how I became such a huge sports fan. For many kids, they become fans of a team because a parent or influential adult was a big fan. Now I understand that there are fair-weather-fans that jump on the bandwagon when a team starts winning. But what about Cubs fans? Their bandwagon seems to be pulled by a cursed Billy goat? Still, I know lots of great kids who are huge Cubs fans. That obviously did not happen because the Cubs are a good team, but because a Cubs fan has been good to them. Fandom gets passed down to each generation by those that have the most influence. But that is not my story.
Since I grew up without a father, maybe I just looked to the local sports stars as male role models. For the most part, my favorite players not only excelled on the field, but were also solid community citizens. We still have these positive role models in sports today, they are just becoming a little harder to find. As parents, we can certainly hope that our kids find great role models on the sports field, but what about the role models they find in our homes?
This month, our church's children’s ministry will be focusing on the environment of Modeling. Based on Michelle Anthony’s book “Spiritual Parenting,” we will be reinforcing the truth that, “I see Christ in others, and they can see him in me.” While we all want our kids to see Christ in everything we say and do, we all fall far short of that ideal. Our kids not only witness our best days, but unfortunately our worst days too. But our failures do not disqualify us from modeling Christianity for our family. In fact, how we handle mistakes may become our strongest witness for Christ. Children need to see faith put into action and that means praising God on the good days and repenting on the bad days. Every day, we can point our children to our perfect role model – Jesus Christ. Paul encourages us in Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT) to, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”
As we get ready to watch and cheer for the teams in the Super Bowl, let's be aware that our kids are watching. There is nothing wrong with being a huge sports fan. I just don't want my kids to only grow up to follow my favorite sports team; I want them to grow up and follow Jesus!
I just returned from a long family road trip and was reminded of the infamous “recalculating” declaration that GPS devices make after you make a wrong turn. Now I don’t need a GPS device because I have a wife. By the way, she doesn’t say, “recalculating”. Whenever families spend lots of time together (especially jammed together in a vehicle), our imperfections are highlighted. Whether it is our poor navigation skills on the road or something more detrimental, we all need help moving forward after a mistake. As we begin a new year, we should all be thankful that God gladly offers us Course Correction. It is written in 1 John 1:9 (NLT), “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
The Bible provides ample evidence that there are no perfect parents. Father Abraham tried to kill his son Isaac. King David’s son Absalom tried to kill him. Jacob favored his son Joseph and this caused the rest of his sons to throw him in a pit to die. You may think your kids fight too much, but Adam and Eve’s children fought to the death. To be fair, Mary and Joseph seemed to do a good job raising Jesus, but he was God in human flesh, so I don’t feel that counts. The bottom-line is all families are deeply flawed. I make this point because we tend to focus on our family’s issues while believing that every other family is picture perfect. I believe looking to God is much more profitable.
This month, my church's children’s ministry will be focusing on the environment of Course Correction. Based on Michelle Anthony’s book “Spiritual Parenting,” we will be reinforcing the truth that, “When I get off track, God offers me a path of healing.” Yes, the consequences of our mistakes can be very painful, but God uses our wrong turns to shape us and grow us. As parents, isn’t that what we do when we discipline our children? The goal as parents is not to punish our children, but to discipline them so that they learn from their mistakes and grow wiser.
Last year was full of mistakes we all regret. However, as we start the new year, be encouraged that God looks forward and wants to be your family’s guide. My prayer is that your family will follow God through every turn and roadblock so that you will experience all he has planned for you in 2015. Paul gives us excellent advice in Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT). It says, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Christmas and children go together like a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, that comparison is trite, but you know what I mean. When you think of Christmas, your first images probably involve children – whether it’s the Christ child resting peacefully in the manger or your children fighting over who gets to put the angel on top of your Christmas tree. Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without children. As my children grow older, I have to admit I miss the craziness that characterized our Christmases years ago. I believe there can be magic in the messiness of Christmas.
The first Christmas, after all, was extremely messy! There were barn animals. There was hay. There were barn animal droppings in the hay. As bad as our house looked after Christmas morning, it never looked or smelled like that first Christmas. And to think that Jesus chose to enter into all that mess and made it his home. Could it be that Jesus still wants to enter our mess this Christmas? I believe Jesus is just at home in a crazy Christmas as he is in the peaceful scenes we see on Christmas cards. Isn’t this good news for us? As we prepare our homes and our hearts for the advent—or arrival—of Christ, we don’t need to stress out over our imperfection.
When angels appeared to the shepherds on that first Christmas, their first reaction was stress and fear. That is understandable when the imperfect comes face-to-face with the holy. However, the angel reassured them that fear is not the correct response. Luke 2:10-11 (NLT) records that glorious message. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Christmas is about the coming of perfect love. Maybe our response this Christmas should be like the shepherds, who ran to Jesus and his perfect love.
In December, my church's children’s ministry will be focusing on the environment of Faith Community. This environment, from Michelle Anthony’s Spiritual Parenting book, highlights that God’s family cares for each other and worships God together. God designed us to live in community and to experience Him in ways that can only happen when we gather together. Children are a huge part of my Faith Community and we celebrate all the craziness they bring to our lives.
To help you prepare for the celebration of Advent check out the latest edition of HomeFront Monthly Magazine which is filled with activities for your family. The challenge is not to allow these ideas to overwhelm you with more things to do, but to simply pick and choose a few things that your family would enjoy. The goal is not to create the perfect Christmas – for there never has been one – but to create memories and moments that invite Jesus into your mess.
All of us at Tadpole Tails wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! As you celebrate with your children I am sure you will have your share of craziness and messiness. In the midst of all this, I pray that you will also experience the peace, joy, and hope Jesus offers us. Let the prayer of the Apostle Paul, recorded in Romans 15:13 (NLT), become your prayer this Christmas: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
As a children's pastor, I have been a big fan of VeggieTales. I love their commitment to share God's truth in fun and memorable ways. I am very thankful that this tradition is being carried on even in the absence of founder Phil Vischer. I had the chance to preview the new Netflix VeggieTales in the House series that will premiere on November 26th and loved it! You can watch the trailer here. Theses fresh new episodes teach Christian values in a fast and fun style that is sure to be a hit with today’s kids. I highly recommend it to the families that attend my church. Here are what other leaders have said...
"The truths in VeggieTales impact all ages - tune into brand new episodes of VeggieTales In The House this Thanksgiving on Netflix." - Ron Luce, President, Teen Mania and Host of Acquire the Fire
"I am pleased to recommend VeggieTales In The House to children and parents alike. the programs are fun, engaging and helpful in teaching your children biblical values and principles." - Pastor Jeff Schreve, Lead Pastor, From His Heart Ministries
"I have six kids. For twenty-five years, we have been a VeggieTales family. I feel like Larry and Bob are friends of mine. Welcome back! Thank you Netflix. And mozel tov on your 20th anniversary!"- Richard Glickstein, President, National Bible Association
"We are so excited about VeggieTales in the House, we need more faith centered children's content. It's cute, it's healthy, fun and holy!" -Kristin Thompson, Director of Kids Quest, McLean Bible Church
"The VeggieTales ministry has made such a positive impact on children, and it's great to see this expansion into the much-used venue of Netflix - what a strategic way to reach more children with the Good News. I am happy to help promote the series through my resources here at NRB. Thank you for letting NRB be a part of this outreach." - Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D., President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)
"Wow! What a fun biblical teaching tool for young children…. Fun faith-based entertainment that kids will enjoy watching over and over." - Mitch Irion, President, WingClips.com
"I love to watch VeggieTales with my grandchildren! This laugh-out-loud comedy series weaves positive moral values into every episode in a fun, exciting way for Veggie lovers of all ages. And now they're available on Netflix? For me, this is the best reason to order Netflix!"- Al Menconi, Founder, Al Menconi Ministries