family

Why Christmas? New Devotional for Families

Are you looking for a simple devotional to do with your family in the weeks leading up to Christmas?  Barbara Reaoch's Why Christmas? is a helpful devotional to point your kids to Jesus with colorful illustrations and good discussion questions. I just started reading it with my 3 kids (ages 10, 8, and 4) and all of them really like it.  The devotional also comes with Christmas carols that correspond with each of the stories.  It's a fun way to end the night before tucking them into bed!

I also recommend Why Easter? by the same author.

Raising Kids in a Prosperous Culture

Jonathan Dodson with a good post on how we can teach our kids to be devoted to the one true God in a culture that beckons them to be devoted to other things. You may also like:

 

Maximize Your Summer

The Prince's Poison Cup

Are you looking for a creative way to teach the truth of the gospel to your kids this summer? I would highly recommend The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul. My whole family watched the DVD last night and it prompted a lot of good discussion. Even my four-year old boy was captivated with the story and listened intently. Take a look at this intro video below and buy the DVD and/or book.

Family Advent Devotions

Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth.  I encourage you to set aside some time with your family to focus on Jesus in these weeks leading up to Christmas.  Here are some ideas: Christ the King Presbyterian Church has developed two Advent devotionals you can download here and here.

Jared Kennedy posted some great ideas for families to celebrate the Advent season.

The Resurgence also has an excellent series of posts onLearning to Advent together.

Justin Taylor points to a new Advent Narrative Book that looks really good.

Tony Kummer highlights some Advent Lessons for Kids that teach through the nativity.

One thing we do in our home is sing Christmas songs together (I can still manage to play a few on the guitar!) and talk about the words to these songs.  I’ve found that some of them are rich in theology (i.e. Joy to the World). Whatever you do, make it simple and fun for your kids!

This is My Brother's World

For those of you who don't know, my twin brother, Mark Wolter, is a missionary in Kyoto, Japan. Check out this video below to see a bit of his world. I got the opportunity to visit Kyoto back when Mark and Maki got married. It was amazing to see my brother speak the language and interact so well with the people. I'll never forget him going through a drive-thru at a Japanese burger joint and ordering our food in Japanese. It was pretty crazy! Please pray for him and his wife, Maki, and two sons, Noah and Taka. I miss these guys!

A New Chapter in Our Lives

It is with sadness in my heart that my time at LaGrange Baptist Church is coming to an end. Last weekend, Oak Hill Baptist Church, in Humboldt (pronounced HUM-BOLT), Iowa, called me to be their Senior Pastor. After talking and praying with my wife, my kids, and close friends, we believe God is leading us to this new chapter in our lives. God has burdened my heart to preach the gospel, and I can’t not do what he’s called me to do. Though I feel a real sense of grief in leaving, I feel an equally strong sense of excitement and calling to be a part of what God is doing in Humboldt, Iowa, and beyond. Eight years ago, I started serving at LBC. I was 27 years old with so much to learn. And the people of LBC taught me. They taught me way more than I could’ve taught them. They loved me. They prayed for me. They gave me patience to grow as a husband, father, and pastor. They supported me and sincerely cared for my wife and my kids. They celebrated with us and cried with us. They served alongside us and sacrificed their time to reach kids & families for Christ. They even let me spread my wings with new ideas and dreams. Some that worked and others that didn’t. Through it all, they have shown me what it means to be a church family.

We have loved serving at LaGrange. I never once thought of my position as a stepping stone. Pastoring the children and students and families has been a tremendous privilege … and I’m thankful that the vision to reach the next generation will continue when I’m gone.

My last day at LaGrange Baptist will be Sunday, November 6. We are hoping to move to Iowa and start at Oak Hill as soon as we can. Please pray for our house to sell and for our entire family during this emotional time of transition. God is at work, and we greatly appreciate your prayers as he turns the pages and begins this new chapter in our lives.

With you for the kingdom, Doug and Jaime (Emie, Lily, & Luke)

What it Means to Honor our Parents as Adults

James MacDonald:

If we take the Bible seriously (you do, right?), then we know that finding a way to honor our parents, no matter who they have been, no matter what they have done, is a very significant action. I’m serious. The Bible is filled with stories of people who honored their parents and succeeded and of those who did not honor their parents and failed. If you’re alive, you’ve got parents (even if they are no longer living)—and God’s command is to honor them (see Exodus 20:12).

Now you may think, “If this guy thinks for a moment that I’m going to honor my old man, he has got another thing coming!” Well, let me try to get by your resistance. Honoring our parents does not mean several things.

First, honoring our parents does not mean to go back groveling and seeking their approval (again). Children need to get freed from my-parents’-approval bondage.

Secondly, it does not mean to make yourself vulnerable to their hurtful behavior. Sometimes appropriate boundaries between children and abusive parents are necessary. But the need for that boundary does not free us from the obligation of honoring our parents.

Thirdly, honoring our parents does not mean ignoring or denying the past.

Here is what honoring does mean. It means choosing to place great value upon our relationship with them. It means not kidding myself into thinking that my parents don’t matter to me. It involves taking the initiative to improve the relationship whatever its current condition. And it means recognizing what they have done right. You say, “They haven’t done a lot right.” They have done something right, even if it’s little more than giving you life (that’s big). So, express that recognition. Acknowledge the sacrifices that they have made for you. Honoring includes seeing them as Christ does, with compassion and mercy. It means forgiving them as Christ has forgiven you.

Read the rest.

(HT: Zach Nielsen)

Family Ministry is No Substitute for the Gospel

Brian Haynes:

The family ministry movement in our day is an awakening for sure. I believe it is a gracious move of God in our country to bring us back to His way of living. We, as churches, should implement effective strategies to equip families and minister to them in their brokenness. Never should this effort become an obstacle or an idol that hinders the Gospel. Family ministry done well will propagate the  Gospel throughout the generations and it will reach out to hurting and broken people at their deepest point of need. Give people the Gospel they are crying out for and use family ministry as one strategy to do just that.

  • Listen to Brian's interview with Tony Kummer about the topic of family ministry

Desert-Sized Jesus

A good word here from Jonathan Dodson:

Many of us practice our faith like it’s a cafeteria food tray, with all the different compartments for the entrée, veggies, the roll, and dessert. When we do this, we restrict Jesus to just one of the compartments, the dessert section, or if we are really spiritual, maybe the entrée. Christ is not permitted in the other sections of our lives. Jesus isn’t allowed into work ethic, family dynamics, or our entertainment. We worship him on Sundays, but treat our families or free time without a thought of Christ.

Dessert-Sized Jesus at the Family Table

Men, in particular, need to rearrange their view of Christ. Are you feeding your family a dessert-sized Jesus? Your wife and kids don’t see you connecting Jesus to everyday life. You don’t pray with your spouse or kids, you don’t apply the gospel to your use of movies, TV, computers, video games, sports. You don’t lead your family in any kind of regular Bible reading or prayer. Hec, you think highly of yourself if you happen to read the Bible for yourself. You don’t serve your wife. You don’t have a clue the last time you bought her flowers and told her why you love her. You don’t lift a finger to cook or clean. You come home, plop down on the couch, flip on the TV or computer, and eat your little dessert Jesus, watching your stupid little TV shows while your wife lingers in loneliness and bitterness and your children run around like crazy.

What if Jesus is the Tray? (or holds it together)

Why? Because you have a desert-sized Jesus. Jesus doesn’t fit in the dessert tray, or even the entree section. He is the tray! He is Lord of all, holding everything together, calling us to worship him in every aspect of life. What if you resolved to follow the real Jesus, the one who holds your whole life together? How would that change your family, your work, your free time?

Adapted from sermon on Ezra 6 The Temple and the Cafeteria Tray Jesus

While I'm in Iowa ... a Few Guest Bloggers!

In a couple hours I’ll be heading back to the heartland of Iowa for a little vacation with my family. While I’m gone I’ve asked a few of my friends to do some guest blogging. I greatly respect each of these guys and their walk with the Lord. They have modeled for me a genuine love for Jesus, his church, and this world. You will be blessed and challenged by their words.

Ben Reaoch serves as Pastor of Three Rivers Grace Church in Pittsburgh, PA. www.3riversgrace.org. He and wife Stacy have been married for 11 years, and they have three wonderful children (ages 8, 5, 3).

Stephen Cavness is the Pastor of Cave City Baptist Church in Cave City, Kentucky. He has been in ministry for over 10 yrs., serving in Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky. He has written Bible Studies and articles on Christianity and Culture for numerous national publications. He also authors the lowercase, a blog devoted to discussing Christianity, the Church, and Culture. Stephen and his wife, Christi, have a son, Charlie, and a daughter, Piper.

Mark Wolter is my twin brother and serves as a missionary in Kyoto, Japan. His wife’s name is Maki and they have two boys, Noah and Taka. I admire Mark’s love for God’s glory and his heart to reach the Japanese people for Christ. Mark has served 10+ years among the people of Japan as an elementary school teacher and leader at his church. Check out Mark's blog here.

Everyday Moments are Gospel Moments

I got home late last night and my oldest daughter was still awake. She's been having trouble sleeping at night and honestly, it's been pretty frustrating. But she was waiting up for me and just had to tell me something. Thankfully, God gave me patience to listen. She said that her little brother couldn't fall asleep and so she laid in bed with him for awhile. She told him that she understood how hard it is to go to sleep and what she does when she can't sleep. She said to her brother, "When I can't sleep, I remember some verses from the Bible. I remember that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ... that he can help me do all things, even go to sleep." Then she shared another verse, "Come to Me and I will give you rest." She told him that we can ask Jesus for rest and he will give it to us. After that she prayed with her brother for God to give him rest. I was smiling as she looked up at me and said, "Daddy, in about one minute, he was already sleeping."

Isn't that sweet? I told my daughter how much I appreciated her and how I see God's grace working in her. I was thrilled that she tried to understand her little brother's situation by comparing it to her own and then went right to the Bible for help. It's cool how God gave her a glimpse of His grace in using her to help her little brother go to sleep.

As I reflected a little more on this moment last night it made me deeply grateful for the gospel. It reminded me that everyday moments are gospel moments -- moments where the simple message of Christ can be communicated by an 8 year old sister to a 3 year old brother who can't get to sleep. Without knowing it, my daughter had lived out 2 Cor. 1:4. In her struggle to go to sleep, she found comfort in Christ's words and wanted to share that comfort with her little brother. Now I know that not every moment will end like this one did. But either way I'm learning that every moment is a gospel moment. It's an opportunity for us parents to point our kids to Christ so they can in turn do the same.