Today was the day. My oldest started back to school today and in 4 more days his younger brother will start Kindergarten. Yes, I am feeling it, probably much like you, but this morning was a really good morning for a couple reasons that center around things that I’ve learned from others. Today was a good start because it was an important moment and as parents we want to take advantage of these moments. Here are a few steps I would encourage you to consider as your kids prepare for school.
- Make a special trip to get doughnuts and pray! Every good first day of school needs to start with doughnuts right! Prayer is pretty good too 🙂 No seriously, take the time to pray with and for your kids. Pray for wise decisions. Pray for wise friends. Pray that your kids might be able to point others to Christ. Pray for their teachers and school and pray that they will become life-long learners.
- Remind your kids that learning and working hard are important but their identity is not in a grade book. I can’t say this enough…to myself! I constantly struggle with seeing myself through my accomplishments or lack thereof. Our children need to know that identity comes from God, not accomplishment.
- Choose a particular verse that you are going to remind each other of throughout the year. Today we chose to remember John 15:9 over this year – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”. Those are the words of Jesus to His followers – and I want my child to know that just as God the Father loves His own son, Jesus loves him! What do you want your children to hang on to this year? What anchors do they need?
- Celebrate their growing independence – this one is hard for me. This morning I woke up to my 2nd grader making breakfast for himself and me. That is absolutely amazing, except that before I was awake, he was awake using the toaster oven and the stove. Yeah, that freaked me out a bit, but then I realized and remembered that he and Mom had been working on it. So, I got to celebrate and say thank you. I don’t like the fact that he is getting older, but I don’t have a choice. I need to celebrate it!
These are just a few practices that I’ve found to be meaningful and helpful. They give us a starting point and a jump start for the school year. What works for you?
This past weekend we talked about protecting our hearts by investing time in studying and applying the Bible. I will freely admit that there are times when it’s hard to understand the Bible and even harder to apply it/live it out in my life. But since applying the Bible to my life helps protect me and my heart I’ve decided to work at it. Over the years I have heard and seen great study techniques that help in my personal study, but the best tool that I have found is to ask questions about the text. I came across these 7 questions years ago from a friend and they have really helped me.
- Is there a sin to avoid? – Did the people involved the text that I read do something that caused great trouble in their lives? Is there a specific prohibition? Is there something that would be wise to avoid?
- Is there a warning to heed? – Does this passage have a warning for my relationships? Work? Finances? Children? If so, what do I need to do?
- Is there a command to obey? – Does God says something specific to me or the church that I need to give myself to?
- Is there a promise to believe? – Despite what I am feeling right now or experiencing right now, is there a promise that I truly need to claim and hang on to?
- Is there an example to follow? – Does Joseph’s example with temptation teach me anything? Does Abraham’s example of faith teach me anything? Does Paul’s pursuit of those far from God call me to do anything?
- Is there a principle to practice? – Is it true that saved people serve people? Is it true that found people find people? Is it true that you can’t out-give God? If so what do I need to develop as a practice?
- Is there something to learn about God? – Is he patient? Just? Will he truly judge sin? What can I learn about God?
The asking, answering and acting on the answers to these questions helps me dig into God’s Word. I hope they are helpful to you. Maybe you have different helps. If so…what are they? What works for you?
Have you been watching the Olympics? I have! I love watching the Olympics with my family. My wife loves the gymnastics. My boys love the swimming. I love it all. This week I haven’t been able to watch much, but what I have seen has been phenomenal. Yesterday was no different. I watched Michael Phelps in absolute focus before his prelim swim. That was great TV. I also watched an interview with the American dive duo – Boudia and Johnson. Their statements were absolutely spot on. Their message needs to resound among Christians and all throughout the world. Why, you ask? Because we live in a world with such high pressure and we do life in ways that say: “I am what I accomplish”. David Boudia said something so true and so helpful that I hope you hear it. You can check out the interview here:
“I’ve felt an enormous amount of pressure and it’s just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this (diving) and thinking I’m defined by this then my mind goes crazy. We have to know that our identity is in Christ.”
Did you catch that? An Olympic medalist says that he gets wrapped up in the moment and thinks that he is defined by what he does but then remembers He is defined by Christ. That is so huge! I believe that many of us struggle with our identity. You may think you are defined by your past, by your performance, by your failure or even by others. But if you are in Christ your identity is in Him and there is great peace in that…no matter your performance. I hope that you will remember that and apply that this week.
What about you? Where are you tempted to find your identity?
This past Sunday we began a brand new series called “Planting Trees” and no it’s not really about trees but about long-term investments in things that matter for eternity. When you plant a tree, generally it is for the long term effects like shade, fruit and landscape appeal. The same principle applies to our spiritual lives!
This week we talked about time in a message titled “One Minute At A Time.” While preparing for this message I read several articles and books related to time. One article in particular stood out and I wanted to share it with you.
The article was titled “You Have Just Enough Time” and you can see it in it’s original form here. Here are a few lines that really stood out to me:
Stewarding time is simply hard work. There are helpful tools, but there is no formula. Each person and each calling is unique and it requires our prayerful discernment and the humility of receiving (and seeking) counsel.
What tools seem to work for you? For me it’s best to start and end each day with a review of what I really need to accomplish. Before I go to bed I review what I need to work on tomorrow and each morning I check my list so that I can focus on what needs done and…remember. Yes I struggle with that already. Utilizing google calendars that are synced with my wife’s really helps too.
For a while I’ve been bothered about not being more directly involved in personal discipleship and evangelistic relationships. But I’ve chalked it up to particular leadership and phase-of-life busyness — too easily, I now believe.
These exact thoughts have gone through my head and it’s so easy to make excuses. The fact of the matter is that I do what I prioritize, so I need to stop making excuses.
So let us lay aside the weighty sin of morally lazy busyness (Hebrews 12:1) and resolve to stop using it as a badge of self-importance or as an excuse to avoid what we don’t want to do.
Plain and simple: Busy does not equal better!
Anyway, check out the article – and if you are really interested – check out a book by Kevin DeYoung – Crazy Busy!