Archive for January, 2008

Guard Your Heart

This is the first in a series of post about parenting. I described my objective for these posts in an earlier introduction.

“Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Whether we realize it or not, there is a battle going on for our hearts. John Eldredge has spoken to this issue so well in many of his top selling books.

Because of this battle for our hearts, we must be vigilant in our attempts to protect our hearts and the hearts of our children. In fact, the Bible is quite clear how important this issue is when it says “above all else”. We’ve got to protect our hearts from the onslaught of influences that can pull us away from the plan and purposes of God.

This is the first verse our kids have memorized. Because they know this verse, when we make a parental decision not to watch a TV program or movie, or other similar decisions, only a simple explanation is needed: “We’re choosing to guard our hearts.”

A practical verse that also teaches us how to do this is Philippians 4:8:

“…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely… if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.”
How do you help your kids guard their hearts? How do you guard your own?

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OK… read my lips: I… am… not… a… parenting… expert! I don’t even play one on TV. (I’m Pastor Phil! HA!)

When it comes to being a dad, I’m a novice. I’ve got a 7 year old and a 3 year old, and Evie and I are doing the best we know how. We have not been at it long enough to have a lot battle scares, but we often feel battle weary. We pray for God’s grace daily as we ‘train up’ our kids.

That being said, as a children’s minister, I’ve been an observer of families for years. I’ve worked with families from the mean streets of NYC, to the suburbs of the South. And in every place, I’ve been privileged to see some of the best parents on the face of this earth. Parents who run to the fight for their family on a daily basis. I’ve also seen the devastating results on a family when parents resolve to fail in seeing the best for their kids.

So, in an effort to help parents in the hardest jobs of our lives, and to start a discussion of what has worked for you, I will do a series of posts here dealing with parenting. These posts will present principles based on wisdom gained from God fearing, Bible believing, seasoned parents. Principles that have immensely helped me and Evie. I’m sure they’ll help others.

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Francis Chan is an amazing communicator. I’ve been challenged by his teaching and inspired by his passion for God and His Word. Last year I posted about his “Lukewarm and Lovin’ It” message and his incredible vision for his church.

Well, Francis has started a video blog that I look forward to viewing. I’m excited to see his raw and unedited journey of faith. Check out his intro:

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Deny Thyself

I’ve been reading Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and he has been rocking my world.

I’m being reminded, quite honestly, how selfish I am. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m a pretty nice guy with an amiable personality. I get along well with others, but I’m selfish. My life includes frequent rationalizations for instant gratification and ruthless self indulgence.

This type of behavior is contrary to Jesus’ invitation to take up our cross. An invitation that often scares me. But Thomas, my new found 15th century friend, reminds me that while taking up this cross may be petrifying, it is so much better than the alternative. He says:

“Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit… There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.

“Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also share His glory.” – Thomas a Kempis

When we accept all of Christ for all that we need… When we walk away from our self-indulging desires… When our need for instant gratification dies… In those moments, we are truly alive!

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K! Magazine

K! MagazineFor all you Children’s Ministry leaders out there, this is a great new resource. Ryan Frank and the folks at KidzMatter just released their inaugural issue of K! Magazine. Now you may be thinking because it’s the first one it may not have a lot of info… well you’d be wrong. This thing’s got over 75 pages chock-full of ideas, encouragements and resources. You won’t regret going on line and getting your copy!

And on a personal note, Ryan included an article I wrote explaining the ONE IDEA process we’ve implemented at GenesisChurch.tv. This is a process I had briefly spelled out on the NCLA blog last year. Thanks for including me Ryan!

And now it’s official! I’ve got a post with 5 links and 2 shameless plugs!

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Blake & Anna Brooke (2)Earlier this week, Blake and I went to Fun Station: a video game haven for young kids similar to Chuck E. Cheese. Our objective for the night, besides male bonding, was to get as many tickets as possible from the carnival type games. So we didn’t waste our precious time or tokens on those regular video games that give you nothing in return.

Well by the end of the night (which means when we ran out of tokens), our tickets totaled out at a whopping 381! A pretty good showing for us. So we proceeded over to the prize area to pick up our bounty of cheap toys.

After a few minutes of looking over all the prizes, and with no prompting from me, Blake said, “I know what I want to get first!” He walked to these plastic princess tiaras and said, “I’m gonna get one of these for Anna Brooke!”

I said, “Wow buddy! That’s a great idea, and this would be an awesome big brother gift.” But knowing the price I said, “Do you realize this will cost 200 of your tickets? If you get that for Anna Brooke, it will leave you with only 181?” This realization caused him to hesitate.

The young lady assisting us realized Blake’s dilemma and jumped in. “I’ll tell you something, if you get this tiara for your little sister,” she said, “I’ll give you a total of 400 tickets, so you’ll still have 200 leftover.”

Blake’s hesitation immediately cleared and he was all in. He picked up the tiara and we thanked the young lady for the extra tickets. She then helped Blake pick out a ‘flashing-light mouthpiece thing’ for 200 tickets. Which he loves!

With our male bonding adventure coming to a close, Blake and I headed to the parking lot. He was a blissfully happy boy and I was an immensely proud dad!

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It seems everyone is talking about personal debt these days, and with good reason. Americans’ credit card debt is reported to be $8400 per household. (To see more stats click here.)

And for those who want help, there is not a lack of information or resources. A simple google search for ‘credit card help’ will reveal a surplus of agencies ready to lend a hand. But I saw something interesting on Alan’s blog today. Good Morning America ran a story on a couple who was $90,000 in debt and turned to their church for help. (To read or view the story click here.)

Hopefully this kind of story will encourage more folks to turn to their churches in search for a Biblically based solution to their financial crisis. Additionally, there should be more churches offering folks sound counsel on how to tackle this pandemic problem.

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