Posted: March 2nd, 2013 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | 1 Comment »
Here’s my question for you: Are you a parent who just happens to be a Christian, or are you a Christian who just happens to be a parent? A Christian family doesn’t magically and instantly appear because we wish it into existence. We have to be serious about the task of passing on our faith, about living the way God calls us to live-not just when others are looking, but all day, every day.
If you’re like me, you’re probably uncomfortably aware of inconsistencies in your parenting and pockets of hypocrisy in your personal life. You can’t undo past mistakes; it’s impossible to unscramble eggs. But remember Romans 8:1: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
God is more concerned with your direction than He is your perfection.
He’s looking for consistency and integrity. Not pretend religion but genuine faith and trust.
So if you’re feeling the strain of your own imperfections, confess to God your inconsistencies, those moments of phoniness that have sent the wrong message to your children. Ask God to help you become authentic and genuinely sold out to Him. The world doesn’t need chameleon parents who simply blend in with their surroundings. Your kids need to see you living what you believe.
None of us is perfect- far from it. But we can be genuine and maturing in our relationship with God. We can live our faith with integrity and authenticity. And we can pass that faith on to the next generation.
We can be people who love the Lord and live like it, no matter who is watching.
Posted: January 29th, 2013 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
The single biggest “sticky” factor for faith taking root in children is the experience of serving alongside their parents. It may be baking cookies for a neighbor, a spring break mission trip with “The Fam,” or canvassing your neighborhood and picking up trash.
What you choose to do isn’t important.
Who you do it with is.
Why? Because serving gets you out of your comfort zone, and it can be quite humbling. Getting your hands dirty removes the layers of pretension and pride which so many spectator Christians have.
When you serve, you start to look like Jesus. The king of the universe left heaven and came to Earth to wash feet and touch lepers. It’s a riches-to-rags story if there ever was one. In an effort to model the way for His disciples, Jesus washed their feet. He said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Some of my greatest memories with my family revolve around service. Together we worked on a Habitat for Humanity home. We served Thanksgiving meals for three days in a parking lot following Hurricane Katrina. With my two youngest, we shared food with a group of homeless people with whom we’d eat, laugh, and pray.
Every act of service your family does together will bear fruit in your offspring. Any time you step out of the spotlight and focus on meeting the needs around you, you are modeling for your kids true Christianity.
Posted: September 5th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: guest blog, Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | 2 Comments »
“Boy, he loves kicking his legs in the water. Do I see an Olympic swimmer in the future?”
“He sure has long fingers, maybe we will finally have a piano player in the family.”
“Wow, you love to jump, jump, jump. Are you going to be a hurdler like your Aunt?”
“His laugh is contagious. He is going to grow up and be a comedian! Funny just like his grandpa.”
“You sure are an active little guy. Won’t be long, you will be speeding around the bases or running into the end zone for a touchdown!”
I have made and heard these casual comments about my little 8-month-old boy. All parents hear similar phrases about their children. Some may share them with others over casual chitchat or with doting ladies in the grocery aisle. These sweet and harmless comments make me dream of the future. Will I be cheering from the fence as he crosses the finish line? Will he look up at me in the stands before hitting a home run? Will he try his new jokes on our family before heading onto the stage?
The days to come will be so wonderful; we can’t wait to see how he grows and what he becomes. But as we plot and plan, dream and contemplate, how does our Father view our comments?
Is He watching your energetic child excited about their potential success in a sport? Possibly. Is He seeing a future politician or speaker as your girl engages a crowd and commands attention? Perhaps. Is He frustrated watching us dream of athletic talent and worldly success, disappointed as we limit our child’s talents to that of this world? Probably.
In my dad’s book, Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord, he writes:
“Make no mistake, your sons and daughters will follow your lead and live up to your expectations. If through your parenting you imply that the aim of adulthood is a high-paying job or an expensive house, your children are likely to pursue those goals with more vigor than they pursue their faith. There’s nothing wrong with having a college degree or a nice house, of course. Those things aren’t sinful- they’re just things. And like all things, they must be secondary to loving the Lord. Everything else pales in comparison to a personal relationship with Christ.”
The melodies of a pianist and the speed of an athlete are both talents God uses and gives to some. But they are never given to an individual to feed their pride and boost their ego. God gifts His children for Kingdom-platform purposes only.
When I see my son making people laugh… may I pray that God would use his joy to shine His light in front of others.
When I watch his energetic spirit, may I encourage him to run with that same energy to those in need.
And when he swims and kicks, may I give him a dream of the Olympics, not for a medal but for a larger platform to share the name of Christ.
They may be young and oblivious to the harshness of this world, but may our children grow to utilize the unique DNA they have been given to stand and proclaim Christ. That’s all that matters.
(Dave Stone’s oldest daughter, Savannah, lives in Dallas with her husband, Patrick, and son,
John Ryman as they serve in ministry at Compass Christian Church.)
Posted: August 6th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
When parents are fleshing out their faith and living out their days with joy and honesty, their children will be attracted to it. Children want something that is real; they want to follow someone who is genuine. Your example- in victories and challenges, in successes and sins, in forgiveness and accountability- can lead them toward an authentic relationship with the Lord.
But your faith must be both a noun and a verb. It can’t be all talk. It’s who you are and how you conduct yourself, consistently, daily. It’s how your actions grow out of your identity in Christ.
It’s the way you act when you are miles away from your family on a business trip. it’s how you respond when you are the object of advances from a coworker. It’s what you say when a neighbor gossips or a boss pressures you to fudge on the budget.
Character is who you are when no one’s watching.
But count on it, your kids will watch. They’ll pick up a wandering eye or little white lies. They’ll sense deception if you try to paint a rosy picture of your marriage when it’s more thorns than flowers. They see how you are in private and in public. When you live under the same roof, it’s hard to hide the glaring inconsistencies.
I’ve heard it a thousand times. A child takes an unwise detour in high school or college, and the parents come to me saying, “We don’t understand. We raised him in the church.”
And I want to ask, “But what did you model for him in the home?”
Chris Dewelt, professor of missions at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, put it like this:
I am to be the same person whether I am holding a communion tray in my hand or a remote control. I am to be the same person whether I am in a hotel room five hundred miles from home or in the family room with my kids. I am to be the same person when I am reading my Bible or browsing through a bookstore. I am to be the same person whether I am on break at work or if I am walking through the sanctuary of my church. For what matters is my integrity, my purity, and my faithfulness.
“Praise the LORD, all you nations; Extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.” Praise the Lord. Psalm 117
Posted: July 30th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
“Dave, who do you think the baby looks like?”
An awkward silence follows. You might call it a pregnant pause.
Now I have a few talents: Ping-Pong, juggling, golf, and standing on my head for two minutes. But if I show up in the maternity ward, please don’t ask me to determine who your baby looks like.
If I say, “He looks like his mother,” everyone in the room will chuckle, and my wife will quickly say, “Look again, He’s got his daddy’s chin.” At that moment I’m thinking to myself, Their chins look nothing alike. His dad Steve has a goatee.
Winston Churchill had it right when he said, “All babies look like me.”
But not forever. Time passes, little Jackson goes through his growth spurt, and fills out, and years later it’s a different story. He walks across the room, turns to his friend and smiles, and suddenly it’s all there. The eyes, the smile, the chin- he’s the spittin’ image of his father.
It’s an odd choice of words, isn’t it? ”The spittin’ image.”
Some sources claim that the phrase refers to a child displaying both the internal qualities of the parents (the spit) and the physical likeness (the image). Others believe the expression is a corruption of “spirit and image”- a child is identified as the “spirit and image” of the father or mother.
Either way, it’s a spiritual goal worthy of our effort- to reflect the qualities and likeness of our heavenly Father to pass that “spirit and image” on to our children.
But that raises the question: how closely do you resemble your heavenly Father? Is the similarity obvious to those around you? As a parent, you have been handed a position and privilege that allows you to shape your child’s view of God. If your life doesn’t reflect the character of the Lord you claim to follow, then don’t bet the farm that your kids’ will.
But if the image of God is evident in you, it’ll be easier for your kids to follow in your footsteps of faith.
Posted: July 17th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
A long-term, extensive study was conducted of numerous students to determine who was likely to stay in a faith community as they move from adolescence into adulthood. It’s no surprise that the more deeply the teens were woven into the fabric of the congregation through activities and involvement, the more likely they were to continue ont hat path in the adult years.
The results were summarized in The Journal of Youth Ministry:
Those who want to help young people develop a rigorous, meaningful faith life should involve them in meaningful service…. Treating teenagers as partners in ministry rather than objects of ministry is an important and empowering distinction for developing new generations of spiritual leaders.
There is no better way to have students serve than with their family. The single biggest “sticky” factor for faith taking root in children is the experience of serving alongside their parents. It may be baking cookies for a neighbor, a spring-break mission trip with “The Fam,” or canvassing your neighborhood and picking up trash. What are some service projects your family has done together? Or if you have never done any, what are some you can add to your calendar? Is your church offering any upcoming service projects or even a mission trip?
What you choose to do isn’t important.
Who you do it with is.
Why? Because serving gets you out of your comfort zone, and it can be quite humbling. Getting your hands dirty removes the layers of pretension and pride which so many spectator Christians have. When you serve, you start to look like Jesus.
Mark 10: 45
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Posted: July 9th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | 1 Comment »
Recently I did an informal survey of around one hundred young parents, and one of the questions I asked was “Looking back at your upbringing, what do you wish your parents had done differently to help you build a strong spiritual foundation?”
The top response surprised me: “I wish I had seen my parents reading the Bible.”
Now, typically my devotional time isn’t done at the house. I go to the office and read God’s Word to start my day. But I realized, hearing the responses to that survey, that I need to be more intentional about letting my family see my love for Scripture. My kids shouldn’t just know that I’m in God’s Word; they need to see me reading it, too.
And start early, for your kids’ sake because their little eyes are always watching. At an early age, they pick up a cell phone or toy and put it straight to their ear, mimicking our many talks on the phone. But are we in prayer or the Word enough that our children learn to imitate our study of Scripture?
Some parents postpone such an emphasis, rationalizing that there will be plenty of time later to emphasize the reading, study, and memorization of God’s Word. Imagine what impact a constant connection to the Bible might have on their lives. Early in adolescence, children establish habits that will stay with them the rest of their lives. Begin early to expose your children and teens to God’s Word. The Lord promises that there will be a return on that investment.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25
Do you read the Word each day… Have you taught your children the value of memorizing Scripture? Why not start today?
Posted: June 21st, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
Most Americans are addicted to self-sufficiency. We’ll wander forty years in the wilderness rather than stop and ask for directions. We’ll push ourselves until we drop rather than admit that we can’t do it all. Underneath the business suit, the tool belt, the judge’s robe, the jeans and sweatshirt, we’re all wearing a cape and tight and pretending to be Super-Somebody, savior of the world.
As parents, we coast along, buy into that self-sufficient attitude, and think to ourselves, “I can figure this out on my own.” But by the time we wake up, swallow our pride, and ask for divine intervention, our kids are teenager, and the die has been cast.
Vance Havner was right when he said, “The situation is desperate, but we are not desperate.”
Why pray? Because prayer communicates our dependence on God, our comprehension that we are, indeed, desperate for God’s presence and help. Prayer can’t simply be a fleeting sentence or two thrown heavenward when we’re struggling as parents. It’s a privilege, and it is to be a priority. It’s also a recognition that we are in over our heads.
Need wisdom for the tough challenges of being a parent? I’ve got good news for you.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).
Our dependence on God in prayer gives Him an open door to come in and change things. To change us.
Tap into that power. Fill up your tank. The task of raising godly kids is too big- and we are too small- for us to start anywhere except on our knees.
Posted: May 13th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
Forest Witcraft, administrator for the Boy Scouts, gave us this word of wisdom about priorities:
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
Those words, written on a small plaque beside our kitchen sink, had a profound impact on the love of my life and her love of our kids. On difficult days that quotation served as a reminder for Beth that motherhood was a marathon and not a sprint. Its message stands in stark contrast to what society teaches, and helps keep things in perspective.
What the heart is to the body, the mother is to the home. You are pumping spiritual lifeblood into your kids every single day with your love, your discipline, and your example of Christlikeness.
The world does not always value the time and energy you invest in your children. But whatever the world may say, motherhood is more than a list of chores or a distraction from the “real” work of a career. It is a high and holy calling, the most important job you’ll ever have. It is, in the words of Linda Weber, “a complex, beautiful challenge worthy of everything Mom can give to it.”
Happy Mothers Day! And a special thank you to the moms who are committed to raising your kids to love the Lord… you will have an impact for all of eternity.
Posted: May 12th, 2012 | Author: dave | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord | No Comments »
We all know that motherhood includes an almost endless list of chores. But the real substance happens in between washing dishes and folding clothes. A mother is there when the child needs a listening ear, a comforting word, a stern glance, a reassuring hug, or heartfelt prayer.
At least we hope she is.
The mother of entertainer Barbra Streisand passed away several years ago. Their relationship had long been strained. When Barbra had her big comeback concert at Madison Square Garden, her mother was eighty-five years old. Barbra greeted her mother in the second row and asked, “Are you proud of me now, Mama?”
Some of you can probably relate to their strife firsthand. Like Barbra Streisand, you are still waiting and wishing for a blessing from your mom. Some word of affirmation. Any word.
Make the choice. Break the cycle. Don’t withhold that gift from your children. We can live in the past, or we can learn from the past. There’s no wisdom in repeating the sins of previous generations.
The year I turned sixteen was an awkward time in my life. I grew seven inches in twelve months, and despite my dad’s attempts to save money and put off buying me new pants, I didn’t believe him when he told me that knickers were coming back in style.
Like most sixteen-year-olds, I struggled with my self-image. I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to run for senior class president of my school. My mom realized that this campaign was a vulnerable risk for a kid to take.
The day of the election, I came home to find an enormous sign on the front door of the house. It said, “Win or lose- we love you!”
With those simple words, my mother communicated an important message to an awkward adolescent: Regardless of what others may think of you, within these four walls you will always be a winner. As a result, I didn’t have to go through life wondering to myself, Are you proud of me now, Mama?
And yes, I won. But the outcome didn’t matter half as much as knowing I was loved unconditionally. Whether I won or lost, my mom would always choose me.
Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord