Raising Kids to be Eternity Focused

The following is an excerpt from Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


When Jessica was about nine, she was holding our cat, Essie. Essie was squirming in her arms, and quietly let out a warning growl. I was cleaning the kitchen while listening to a podcast so I was only mildly paying attention to what was going on.

She has an attitude problem. Not my daughter, the cat. Essie can look at you from across the room and you know what she is thinking—I am going to kill you in your sleep! She’s a grumpy old cat. And our very existence annoys her.

I could tell that Essie’s patience was running thin.

“You’d better put her down,” I said. “She’s gonna scratch you!” Essie let out another soft growl. Jessica ignored my warning and continued kissing her and messing with her face.

“I’m serious, she’s gonna blow!” I pleaded one last time.

Then the last growl ramped up. Three strikes you’re out! All the muscles in Essie’s body tensed and her front paws and legs began to flail violently. The next five seconds were a mess of fur, claws, and growls. Essie swiped at Jessica’s chest and face as her body twisted to get free. Jessica screamed in pain as Essie freed herself and leapt out of her arms landing squarely in the dog’s water bowl.

Jessica stood there with tears in her eyes, blood on her face, chest and arms, and dog slobber water soaking her clothes. It was a sad and pathetic sight. Other than a trail of water on the floor through the foyer, no trace of Essie could be found. But she had left her mark.

As I went to comfort Jessica, I wanted to say, “I told you that was going to happen!” But the words were unnecessary. So I hugged her tight, wiped her tears, and cleaned her up.

Teaching our kids to think beyond the present moment, whether it’s five seconds into the future, five months or five years, is a difficult task. Kids tend to focus on the here and now. They live in the moment.

As followers of Christ, however, we live for eternity. We live for our glorious future in Heaven.

Part of our job as parents is to change the mindset of our kids to an eternal mindset. We encourage a Biblical attitude of focusing on eternity. This means that we must be focused on eternity as well and not be wrapped up in the things of this world. Disciples of Christ are eternity-focused, not culture-focused.

Human beings are eternal, not finite. Our souls live on after our bodies die. Heaven and Hell are real and we all will end up in one or the other someday. This earth will be gone at some point, so we must set our minds on eternity.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2

We must teach our children to think in terms of whether things are temporary and will pass away, or are eternal and will endure. Focusing on the eternal tends to separate easily what is and what is not important in this life.

Our children’s eternal future is the reason passing on our faith is so important.

Beth Moore wrote this eloquently in her Bible study, Entrusted, A Study of 2 Timothy.

What happens now matters then…Every present moment has future implications. This is not about your past. Not just about your present. This is about your future…Because what happens now matters then.[i]

Now I realize that I want to raise my kids to be disciples of Christ more than anything else (we will talk about what this means in Chapter 9). I want them to leave my house with the Great Commission front and center in their lives, and their eternal future on their minds.

[i] Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2016), 148.

Ready to Launch: The Final Countdown

In exactly eleven weeks from today, my daughter graduates from high school. It is the spring of my daughter’s senior year, the final countdown. She turns eighteen on Sunday and she is so ready to launch. The question is, Am I ready to let her? The answer is—no, I’m not. Even though I must, I will never be ready to let her go.

Several months ago, I realized the time of my oldest daughter listening to me had mostly passed. She’s over it. She’s over me. And I have to live with the statistic that says most likely she will walk away from her faith, at least for a time. Ugh!

She is going to a state university, which means she will be surrounded by mostly non Christians. Her roommate isn’t a believer, and while her boyfriend is a great kid, he isn’t a believer either. Strike one, strike, two, strike three! She has stacked the deck against her faith. Is her faith strong enough to stand? I certainly hope so. Only time will tell.

As the clock winds down, the question is, What have I missed?

I am a procrastinator. I have always thought, I’ll have one more trip with her…one more summer with her…one more spring break with her…. And then I woke up one day to realize my last chance had already come and gone. I don’t have one more.

Do I trust God with my child? Do I trust a God who has given her free will?

Of course, I love the concept of free will—when I’m talking about myself or my peers. When it comes to my kids, not so much. However, God has given her, as he has given me, the opportunity to choose him, or not. It is a sobering reality.

When my girls were little, their dad and I held their “free will” in our hands. We decided religion for them. Their “free wills”  were in safe keeping with us until they were old enough. We took them to church, youth group and signed them up for VBS and summer camp. We tried to pack the knowledge of God and His Word into their little heads and hearts.

Eventually, however, the time does come to give them ownership of their free will. As uncomfortable as it is, we must allow them to have it. They must choose who they will live for and what they will believe about the world and truth.

Have I done everything I possibly could to pass on a strong faith in Christ to her in the last eighteen years? Not a chance. As parents, we always come up short. Daily I see things that I have neglected to teach her well enough. Don’t get me wrong—she is a wonderful kid—an awesome kid. No doubt about it. She will grow up to be a good person. But, I am setting the bar higher than raising her to be a “good person.” I want her to love the Lord and follow him.

My best is all I can do for my daughters. Yet, it isn’t enough. I know this. I grieve this reality. The only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

An excerpt from Pouring In . . . . 


Last summer Emily had knee surgery. As they were preparing her for surgery, I gazed at her face. It hadn’t changed since she was four years old. She was my sweet, freckle faced, beautiful girl. My girls are beautiful and precious. It’s hard to believe that I could love anyone as much as I love them.

I held her hand as the nurse secured her IV. Within a few seconds her eyes rolled back in her head and she was making strange sounds with her mouth. Her body convulsed in shock. I thought she was having a seizure. The nurses ran in to attend to her. She turned pale and grabbed her chest. What is happening? I thought! Panic swept through my body as I caressed her forehead and tried to soothe her. It was terrifying. Emily’s body seemed to be fighting something and I couldn’t do anything to help her. Jesus, please help my sweet Emily, I prayed.

The episode was short and she quickly regained consciousness. Color returned to her face as sweat dripped off her brow. Even though the incident was short-lived, and she was fine, those twenty or thirty seconds felt like an eternity.

There is nothing more terrifying to a parent than to see your child unconscious and convulsing. I thought about how much I loved my girls, and how losing either one of them would end me (it wouldn’t—God is good). These girls are my lifeblood. They are my beating heart.

The intense love a parent has for a child is a beautiful part of life. Love makes life worth living. The greatest job I have as a parent is loving my children. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s not.


After loving my firstborn for so long, letting go is hard. It’s like losing an arm or a foot. She is part of me. However, I have to remind myself that she was only on loan to me for a time. She was never really mine, she was always His. She is a child of God. And nobody will ever love her more than He does.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Putting up the Mirror so We Can Pass on Our faith

The following in an excerpt from Kim’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.


I was twenty seven and clueless when I had my firstborn. I was actually amazed they let me leave the hospital with my daughter, Emily. How could they let ME walk out of here with a baby? Are they crazy?

Through the years, my husband and I fumbled around going this way and that, doing the best that we could as young parents. We were tossed to and fro by well-intentioned advice and made many mistakes.

We were typical American, Christian parents. Purposefully or not, we mirrored things in our parenting that we observed from our parents, the media, the culture, our community, the Internet and our church. All of which seemed like a sufficient group of resources.

But were they sufficient? Did they point us in the right direction?

I can tell you what my husband and I, and the affluent community where we lived, were focusing on in regards to raising our children.

We believed things like . . . . .

  • Our kids’ self esteem is so important, they must never feel bad
  • Education is most important in our kids’ lives
  • We must always say ‘yes’ to our kids to produce a positive environment
  • Kids’ happiness should be the focus of parenting
  • We need to teach our kids to love themselves
  • Our kids should have everything that they want 

You might get lucky and raise a good kid with this set of values. He or she might do well in school and seem well adjusted and happy. Or, he or she may end up entitled, self-centered, or at the very least, worldly.

75% of young adults raised in a Christian home leave the church after they leave the home. Think about that—on average, three out of every four kids attending your youth group won’t be attending any church a few years from now.
~www.crossexamine.org

Though the numbers may vary slightly from one study to the next, they all come to the same conclusion—we are losing our kids.

Is there no manual for parenting? Well, there is and there isn’t. Among the many books on Christian parenting, only one is essential. The Bible is the best parenting book there is, because it was written by the first parent that ever was. It sounds like a cliché, but it is absolutely true. It doesn’t contain every possible question or scenario we might encounter in parenting. But, is it sufficient? You betcha!

Why?

Because the key to being a good parent is primarily determined by who you are, not what you do.

It’s who you are that shapes your kids. In fact, it’s challenging to point to a Sticky Faith factor that is more significant than you.
~ Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark, Sticky Faith


If we are to make a dent in the problem of young people leaving the faith, we must be willing to look in the mirror. We, as Christian parents are the first step in the equation of our kids’ faith.

Our character, attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle reflect the status of our faith. Is it alive? Do we live what we believe. Or, is it dead?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.   James 2:17

Our kids will know if our faith is real, or if it isn’t.

Teenagers Young Team Together Cheerful Concept

I want my kids to leave my house as disciples of Christ . . . . not just Christians.  Disciples not only believe, they are students of Christ and they follow Him. Making disciples starts in our homes with our kids. And we have to parent differently if we are going to raise up a generation of disciples.


Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

Pouring into Our Kids in 2018: Game On

God wasn’t our number one for most of our marriage. If you would have asked my husband and I, we would have said that He was. But He wasn’t. We were very much striving for the American Dream.

We were raising our daughters to be good people because we were good people. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing? Wasn’t that enough?

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We taught them to say please and thank you. We taught them to be nice and polite and do what they’re told. We took them to church on Sundays to learn about God. We taught them the importance of a good education and how to be successful in American culture.

As my kids grew up, I started to think about what I really wanted them to be when they left our house.

Happy? Confident? Intelligent? Driven?

To a certain degree, yes, those things are useful. But, they are secondary values. As I pondered these things I began to question the values on which I had been so focused.

I realized that if I want my kids to have a lasting faith and a heart for God, then I needed to shoot for more than raising our kids to be good people.

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When I found myself with teenagers, my thinking started to shift from the day to day issues with my kids, to the adults they would become. As my mind flashed forward, what I saw gave me pause.

My mind didn’t flash to them as hobos living on the street and begging for food. My mind didn’t flash to my daughters being porn stars or drug addicts. My mind flashed to their faith and character.

Who would they become? Would they continue to follow Christ as young adults?

What greater focus could there be this coming year than the spiritual lives of our kids? I challenge you to commit to being intentional about3D cover passing on a personal faith in Christ to your kids this year. Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids will empower you in this noble endeavor.

We go to church, you may say. Isn’t that enough? According to numerous studies, it isn’t.

Did you know somewhere between 60-75% of our kids leave the church when they leave home?

Did you know 85% of youth from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a Christian worldview? (The Last Christian Generation, Josh McDowell, p.14)

2018 is here, and many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight, exercising, and reading the Bible are all noble goals. However, We have the rest of our lives to improve ourselves. How much time do we have left with our kids?

Do you see your kids wrestling with spiritual issues? Are you a regular part of their journey toward discovering the truth? Have you done everything you could this past year to build up faith in Christ in your children? If not, what better resolution could there be?

It’s a new year and anything is possible. You have a clean slate.

Game on.

Man, I saw a lot of the mistakes that I made early on and I see a lot of the things I’m doing well now, and the difference this book would have made for me 28 years ago…I actually had a hard time putting this one down!  —Jim

In this book, you will learn…

  • why a majority of kids leave the church after they leave home
  • why churched kids’ lifestyles often aren’t consistent with their religion
  • the reality of what kids will encounter in college
  • which things actually cause faith to stick to kids
  • how to encourage your kids to depend on God
  • 3 ways to nurture your kids so they will be open to the gospel
  • 5 questions all teenagers must answer as they move into adulthood
  • 11 mistakes Christian parents make that lead kids away from faith in Christ

Pouring in comes out in the next couple months. Pre-order your copy for just $12 today!

Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

 

 

 

The Nature of Truth and Why It Matters to the Faith of Our Kids

No other religion emphasizes the importance of truth like Christianity. God in His infinite wisdom knows the high value of truth and does not hold back from us. Truth holds power and truth is necessary. And as sons and daughter of God, truth is our right.


As I’m wrapping up my manuscript and preparing it for publication, I thought I would post one more excerpt. This is from “Chapter 14: Apologetics and Worldviews” of my upcoming book, Pouring In, Inspiring a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation. (Greg Schrock also contributed to this chapter)


What do our kids need to know to be able to give a reasoned defense for their faith? They need to be able to answer these five questions.

  1. What is truth?
  2. Why do I believe God exists?
  3. Why do I believe Jesus is the Son of God?
  4. Why do I believe the Bible is true?
  5. How does being a Christian affect my life?

 

What is Truth?

Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, claim that “truth is a casualty of our popular culture. And when truth goes, the authority of the gospel is undermined.”[1]

According to dictionary.com, truth is the true or actual state of a matter, or, a proven or verified principle or statement. If truth is proven and verified, it is absolute, not relative.

Think about it: if truth is relative, why should our kids go to school? If they can just decide their own truth, than what is the point of learning math, science, or history? Without objective, absolute, truth, nothing they learn in school is relevant to anyone except the person teaching it.

Our entire civilization is run by the objective truth of numbers. We count on numbers for finances, temperature, speed, time, grades, taxes, etc. If we didn’t agree on a set of objective truths about numbers, our society could not function.

Truth, by its very nature is exclusive. If something is true, it means that contradictory statements are necessarily false. Nobody doubts this when it comes to the hard sciences; people believe that the statement “gravity exists” is objectively true, and that the statement “gravity does not exist” is objectively false. But, when it comes to religion and worldviews, people have no problem saying “Christianity may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

However, truth is objective, meaning, it is attached to the object, and it is therefore unchanging. What people are claiming today is that truth is subjective, meaning, it is attached to the subject. They claim for each individual person, or subject, there may be a different truth.

For example, take the sentence “Doug caught the red ball.” In this sentence, Doug is the subject, and the ball is the object. There is an inherent truth about the ball—the ball is red. It makes no difference what Doug, the subject of the sentence, believes the color of the ball to be. Doug might sincerely believe the ball is blue, but that does not change the fact that the ball is red. The subject’s beliefs are irrelevant to objective truths.

Religion is perceived as something that helps one get through life; and if that indeed is its purpose, then of course each person will have their own religious beliefs that are useful to them. It can be likened to a therapy session; in order to help a patient, the counselor tailors the session to the subject they are counseling.

It is this misperception of religion that has led so many people to believe in the relative truth of religious worldviews, rather than in absolute truth. One of the most critical lessons we need to teach our kids is that absolute truth can be applied to religion as much as it is applied to chemistry, economics, and mathematics.

Religion is not a matter of opinion, convenience, or utility. It is an objective reality of the universe. There is one set of facts about God that is objectively true. Any view of God that doesn’t correspond to these truths is necessarily false.

There is one view of attaining salvation that is objectively true; all other views are false. There is one view of the spiritual world that is objectively true. There is one view of our eternal destiny that is objectively true. All views contrary to these truths are as false as the statement two plus two equals five.

To illustrate, consider common statements that we hear in our culture, and replace key terms with words of a different subject matter. Consider the following statement that I mentioned earlier:

How can you believe that Christianity is the only right way? How close-minded and intolerant!

Now let’s replace Christianity with, say, geography.

How can you believe that seventy-one percent of the earth is covered in water? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try mathematics.

How can you believe that eleven, seventeen, and twenty-nine are prime numbers? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try biology.

How can you believe that the heart pumps blood? How close-minded and intolerant!

These statements suddenly sound so absurd! When you accept that religious truths are just as objective as these other sciences, you realize there must be one true worldview. If there is one objectively true worldview, then all contrary worldviews must be false.

Determining which worldview is true is a different matter.

Which worldview is true? Maybe it is Atheism, which believes there is no God. Maybe it is Hinduism, which believes there are three hundred thirty million gods. Maybe it is Mormonism, which believes that we can become gods. Maybe it is Christianity, which believes that there is a Trinitarian God.

Each person must answer this question, through further study, for themselves to determine which religion is actually true. But first, we need to establish that there are objective truths in religion.

I believe the Bible is the absolute, objective, truth. But don’t take my word for it. Study and discover for yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.

God gave us His Word, so we would know the truth and would not be deceived. Without the existence of objective truth, the Christian faith has no power. Truth is foundational to our faith.

“Two-thirds of Americans now deny there’s any such thing as truth.”[2]—Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith

Our kids must leave our homes with the keen ability to identify and defend truth. Establishing that truth is not relative or subjective, but rather, objective and absolute, is essential to our kids’ faith.

[1] Frank Turek, Norman L. Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 8.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 146.

Feeding Our Kids A Law-Based Faith

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Pouring In; Instilling a Personal, Powerful, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in The Next Generation.


Sam Williamson, who writes for The Noble Heart, said, “It’s virtually one hundred percent predictable that we are converted by one message and then preach another. We are converted by the unbelievable hope of God’s love for the undeserving, but we lecture on behavior.”

I am so glad there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Praise God! There would be no hope for me if it weren’t for grace. I would be hopelessly heading to Hell. And so would you. And, so would our kids. We can’t save ourselves from our humanity. We all need a Savior.

The story of Jesus’ life is about a love so great that we can hardly fathom and a pardon so outrageous that none of us deserve.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

Robin Roberts from the morning show, Good Morning America, recently quoted her mother as saying, “God does not love us because of who we are, God loves us because of who He is.” Wow! Right on Robin’s Mom!

There isn’t anything greater in this world than God’s love and grace we have been freely given in Jesus Christ. The gospel is about God’s love and grace. Grace is everything. Let’s celebrate that in our homes and in our churches.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

It is the foolishness and simplicity of the gospel that makes it irresistible. A man died in my place, and therefore, I live. It’s lunacy! It’s the crazy, radical love that God has for us.

As Christian parents, we seem to focus on what our kids should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the faith. I have fallen into this trap myself. Why? Do we focus on the law in our own relationship with God? I certainly don’t.

It’s natural for parents to lay down the law. That is what we do. We keep our kids from breaking the law, eating themselves to death, and flunking out of school. They have to follow rules, eat in moderation, and study, study, study!

We do this out of love. And we do it because we know what’s best for them. However, when it comes to teaching our kids faith, we have to take a different approach.

A couple years ago, Emily and I were fighting about what she was allowed to wear to school. Yoga pants and leggings have been the bane of my existence since my girls were in middle school! We have struggled and fought with our girls for years about dressing modestly. Modesty is not a popular concept.

Emily was really into hair, makeup, and fashion then. She put a lot of time and energy into her beauty regimen and it concerned me. I didn’t want her to mistakenly think that she was in any way defined by her beauty. Or that her beauty brought her power.

During our devotions one Saturday, I decided to have us study Isaiah 3:16–17.

The Lord says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore, the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald.”

The passage goes on to talk about how vain and seductive women can be. It talks about how women use their beauty as a source of power.

You can imagine how well that went over. It was clear to whom I was directing this teaching. Dumb!! I should have known better.

A couple weeks later, I realized that I was teaching her a law-based faith. I went up to her room and I apologized for focusing on what she was doing wrong.

It’s so hard as parents not to make this mistake. What is parenting for the first decade of our kids’ lives if not teaching them right from wrong?

Obedience to Christ must be taught within the context of extreme love and grace.

Kara Powell, coauthor of Growing Young, discusses a helpful method for teaching kids faith that avoids the behavior-based model. She takes the basic “Guilt—Grace—Gratitude” model of the Heidelberg Catechism from Reformed theology, and adds the topics, God’s Goodness, God’s People and God’s Vision, to make it a complete picture of the gospel. She calls it “grounding moral obedience in the invitation of grace.”

Guilt is only one small part of the gospel story. We must overwhelm our kids with the message of God’s love and grace through the blood of Jesus. And teach them all aspects of the gospel story.

Powell’s method is a great way to teach the gospel to our kids. If we try to keep this progression in mind, they might have a better chance of understanding the true gospel.

All aspects of the faith are important. We must not get stuck on guilt and obedience.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9

We must demonstrate the beauty of grace in our parenting. This is crucial. Just as the king forgave the debt of his servant who owed him money in Matthew 18, we must extend grace to our kids.

Young people won’t be won to Christ by pounding the rules into their heads. Or, by shaming them. It’s our job to teach them about God’s abundant love and grace. We must show them the beauty of the gospel.

3 Ways to Feed the Souls of Teenagers and Emerging Adults

The following is an excerpt from Kim Kurtz’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation.

———

Pouring in is probing. Pouring in is listening. Pouring in is seeking to know our kids at a soul level. It is searching for the child of God that is in each one of our kids.

In addition to being loved, three of the greatest longings of the human soul are to be seen, heard and known. It is no different for our kids, whether they are five, fifteen, or twenty five.

1) The human soul longs to be SEEN. God sees us.

Whether it is in the joys and the celebrations of the soul, or in the difficult times of life, we all long to be seen. This desire makes us human and unites us all.

I recently watched the movie, Hidden Figures, about African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA in 1961. They were “computers” before there were computers. Three in particular were pivotal to the space program, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan.

At the time, however, segregation was still very much a part of American society. What must it have felt like to be these brilliant woman and not be seen? Or, not be recognized for their contributions?

Every human being longs to be seen. God made us that way and He sees us.

Or in the movie, Avatar, the Na’vi people who inhabit the alien world of Pandora, say “I see you” instead of “I love you.” This shows the power of being seen. Being seen is equated with love.

There are many names of God, however, the most beautiful to me is El Roi, The God who Sees.

This is illustrated in the story in Genesis where Sarai couldn’t conceive a child and in desperation, offers, Hagar, her slave, to her husband, Abram.

What ensues is a mess, which is usually what happens when we take matters into our own hands instead of waiting on God.

Sarai mistreats Hagar, so she flees. And God finds her beside a desert spring.

After a conversation with God, Hagar calls Him, El Roi, The God Who sees. She was the only person in scripture to give God a name.

He sees me, and He sees you.

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

We need to make an effort to really see our teenagers and young people in the church and the community. They are beautiful souls made in the image of God.

Young people . . . don’t want to sit passively on the sidelines but are drawn to churches and leaders who help them get in the game.
—Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, Growing Young

 

2) The human soul longs to be HEARD. God hears us.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them.  Psalm 34:17

I was with a friend recently who had just been to at a family reunion. She teared up when she told me that she often spends days with her family without anyone asking her what is going on in her life. She said “Not being heard crushes your soul.”

According to writer and speaker, Steven Argue, who has a PhD from Michigan State University and is the Applied Research Strategist for the Fuller Youth Institute, the three most important words to use with our children and youth in general, are “Tell me more.”

I think we need to remember as parents that the first question isn’t as important as the second or third question. A first question usually comes from our own agenda—we want information, clarity, or context. Second and third questions are responsive questions that emerge from the conversation. They show our kids how well we’re listening and really seeking to understand, rather than just interrogate. . . . Maybe for us, “Tell me more” is more of a posture than a solo question!

We must hear our kids. This means not just listening, but hearing and sometimes probing. We must turn off our devices, or the TV when our kids are talking to us. They deserve our time and undivided attention. This is how we feed their soul.

And young people must be heard in our churches.

3) The human soul longs to be KNOWN. God knows us.

The human soul longs to be known. Known to our bones. We want someone to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of who we are and still love us.

We don’t have to hide with God, because he knows us intimately.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Jeremiah 1:5

Being truly known, loved, and accepted is what we all long for.  —David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Good Faith, Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Being Irrelevant and Extreme

Do we take the time to really know our kids? Do we seek to know our teenagers? Do we desire to know the young people at our churches? Or, do we dismiss them because they are young?


Pouring into our kids requires that we see them. It requires that we hear them. And it requires that we seek to really know them. These are the things that will feed their soul, and cause them to be open to the gospel.

Look for Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation in bookstores this fall.

Passing On Our Faith: The Danger Of Complacency

I was recently talking with a good friend of mine. I wanted to get her thoughts on the issue of passing on our faith to our children. She is a great mom, which is evident if you look at her kids. Not only is she a great mom, but she is a single parent. I have great admiration for people who parent alone, yet still parent well. Parenting is hard enough without having to do it alone.

She comes from a long line of faithful people in her family. Her parents raised her to value her faith. But more importantly, to live her faith. They raised her to treasure scripture and to spend a lot of time on her knees. The legacy passed from generation to generation in her family was a legacy of a strong and active faith.

A couple years ago I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study. The topic of the study had to do with breaking strongholds. One particular section was talking about family legacies and how to break free from them; family legacies that included things like abuse, rage, alcoholism, and unforgiveness.

We were asked to think about what our family legacy was.

Although my family history included some brokenness and dysfunction, it did not include abuse, or problems with drugs/alcohol, or anything quite so extreme. The legacy that my family passed down from generation to generation was a legacy of complacency. Basic faith may have been passed down through the generations in my family, but not a radical surrender to a living God.

Although, not as obviously destructive as some of these other strongholds, complacency is a detestable thing.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

Satan has many tools in his toolbox. Obviously, he is pleased with the abuse, neglect and dysfunction of so many families across the country. However, maybe even more dangerous are the tools that we don’t see or recognize. The ones that lurk just under our radar. Ones like complacency.

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.   Ephesians 5:14

I very much desire to pass on a radical, deep, surrendered faith in Christ to my kids, but have felt woefully unequipped in the past. I had the legacy of complacency in my family of origin. I wasn’t mentored, or encouraged to be a disciple, and I certainly wasn’t shown how to pass on a legacy of passionate faith to my children.

Many of us were not brought up in a passionately faithful family.

Is it possible to change a family legacy? Is it possible for people with my family history to raise kids who radically and passionately seek Christ?

With Christ, there is always hope. With Christ, anything is possible.

There are two aspects of passing on our faith to our kids that we need to address. First, what are we speaking into our kids’ lives? And second, what they are hearing and perceiving?

The following is a student quote from David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me.

I want you to be someone I want to grow up to be like. I want you to step up and live by the Bible’s standards. I want you to be inexplicably generous, unbelievably faithful, Untitled design (28)and radically committed. I want you to be a noticeably better person than my humanist teacher, than my atheist doctor, than my Hindu next-door neighbor. I want you to sell all you have and give it to the poor. I want you to not worry about your health like you’re afraid of dying. I want you to live like you actually believe in the God you preach about. I don’t want you to be like me; I want you to be like Jesus. That’s when I’ll start listening.  -Emma Smith

Doesn’t this quote just say it all? How does such simple truth evade us? She is telling us the very way in which we get our youth to listen to us. And not just listen, we want them to hear the truth.

Will we listen? Will we respond? Will we choose to be. . . .

  • radically committed to Christ?
  • radically generous?
  • radically faithful?
  • radically committed?
  • unconsumed with the worries of this world?

In short, we must be like Jesus if we want to pass on our faith to our kids.

Complacency in our faith is a dangerous thing. We must fight it, if for no other reason than the spiritual fate of our children. And in Christ, we have the power to change our family legacy to one that passionately follows Christ.


This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Pouring In, Instilling A Personal, Passionate, And Permanent Faith In The Next Generation due to come out this fall.

Blasting Off to My Greatest Adventure

This morning I pushed the “red button” to launch and signed a book contract. In the next nine to twelve months, Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation will be on bookstore shelves and on Amazon! Praise God! It’s been a long time coming.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:6

I didn’t make this decision lightly. As I prayed about it for two weeks, I heard God say, “What are you afraid of? I gave you this book.” . . . or, did I? or, Was I just hearing what I wanted to hear God say? or, Was it just the voices in my head?

As I celebrated with family and friends, I could hear the subtle whisper of doubt in my ear.

Although the excitement of signing a book contract is overwhelming, so is the fear. What if no one buys my book? What if I can’t finish it on time? What if I FAIL?!

The fear of failure can be paralyzing.

I was watching William Lane Craig’s Defenders class on YouTube a couple months ago when he said, “Failure might be God’s will for your life.”

God’s will for your life can be that you fail. God can lead you into failure. Because he has things to teach you through failure that you can’t learn through success.  ~WLC

I had to stop and sit with that for a while. That thought has never crossed my mind.

Is it OK if failure is in God’s will for your life or for mine?

Obviously we won’t fail spiritually if we are following Christ. And we won’t fail when it comes to eternity. We have victory in Christ and nothing can change that. Amen!

But, what if it is not in His plan for me to be successful? Ever?! Would I be OK with that?

Again, I sat with it.

Part of me wanted to just jump up and appear holy and righteous by saying, “Whatever Thou willeth I will doeth with joyeth!” But, is that real? Could I really rejoice in that?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that failure and success are a state of mind. They are an attitude not an absolute.

My soul longs to love Jesus Christ and to follow Him with reckless abandon.

If we pursue Jesus as though He is the only thing that we are chasing, nothing else matters. If we surrender our lives to Christ, then success or failure become irrelevant.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter if my book succeeds or fails. All that matters is if it brings glory to God and His Son Jesus Christ. It’s all about Him.

A friend of mine who was about to start fundraising for her new ministry once told me, “don’t chase after the money . . . . chase after the mission, and God will provide.”

As I rest on the threshold of this extraordinary adventure, this is my prayer.

Dear Abba, Father,

Lord, you are so good and so loving. Thank you for your Word and the promise that You will never leave me. You are always by side. Therefore, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Keep my eyes always on You as I venture out into the great unknown. Build my trust day by day, and keep my spirit open to your Word. Help me stay connected to the vine, Lord, because YOU are my lifeblood, YOU are the air I breathe, and YOU are my everything. In Your Son’s precious name. Amen.

To God be the glory!  Here we go!