sending out an album for sent reasons!!!

ABNORMAL by the Dukes Band

So excited to share with you about my son and daughter and their two older cousins releasing an album with 12 original songs. It is available on iTunes. All money from the sales will be given to the Belize Boys School with which FBC Booneville, MS partners (where Caleb and I went last May).

I think you will really dig it, whether jamming in the car or working out or dancing a jig, but of course I am a little biased.

Hope you enjoy!!!

CLICK HERE TO GET IT ON ITUNES.

husband. wife. dad. mom. “LOVE LIKE THAT.”

To love as Jesus has loved us. That becomes the desire of every follower of Jesus who is grateful for the grace and forgiveness given to us, because that is the “new command” He gave and grows in us (John 13:34-35). But how difficult this is for the husband and wife, for the mom and dad!

We are more relaxed in relationship to those with whom we are most familiar. Our relaxation often translates into a low awareness of self-absorption, and consequently results in a lack of denial of self. Therefore, we become less patient and more frustrated, less gracious and more critical, less generous and more cautious.

Paul challenges this relaxation and self-absorption in his letter to the church of Ephesus. In fact, he practically applies it in two specific relationships – marriage at the end of Ephesians 5 and parenting at the beginning of Ephesians 6.

May we beg Jesus daily to help us as husbands and wives and as moms and dads to love one another and to love our children like Jesus has loved us. May we ask Jesus to grow us daily to discover more and more how Jesus loves us.

May Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:1-2, as translated below by Eugene Peterson, become the heartbeat of our marriages and our parenting, because it is crucial in order to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel:

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.
~Ephesians 5:1-2, the Message

Husbands – ask Jesus to help you love your wife like that.

Wives – ask Jesus to help you love your husband like that.

Parents – ask Jesus to help you love your children like that.

What is it in our minds, our hearts, our past, our present, our schedules, and our priorities that keeps us from loving like this? 

 

3 foundational thoughts on teaching our kids to deny themselves…

Ok. We are back. Trying to settle in. Sorry for the hiatus for those two or three folks that even pay attention to the blog 🙂 We have been on transition as a family moving, and we have moved. Well, at least our stuff is out of our old house and in storage in another town. Within about two or three weeks it will be in our new home. We are excited about making a new home and loving on new neighbors together!

For today and Friday, I thought we would share a little on cultivating into our kids the discipline to deny self. We don’t do it well. But we are trying. And the reason we are trying is because it is one of the only personal disciplines Jesus ever spoke of.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
(Luke 9:23 HCSB)

Deny self to follow Jesus. I don’t think it is a stretch to paraphrase that verse in this way – deny self and live fully. Live for self and self-destruct. Verse 24 (the next verse in Luke 9) expands on the thought.

So here is the deal. How are we as parents cultivating for this discipline in one another as well as in our kids? They will learn it best by seeing it in us. But they also need the practice themselves while they are in an environment, the home, where not denying themselves won’t completely destroy them.

Pause for a second, though, for a distinction. Trying to get kids to behave well may include denying self, but it may not. Moralism actually tends to include a focus on self – self-improvement. So behaving well that does not flow from a denial of self is no denial of self at all. We must be cautious of this. Denying self is an act of surrender more than an act of behavior. The behavior that results is then shaped by the One to whom we surrender. Make sense?

So, here are three foundational thoughts all humans think, including our kids (at least at some point):

Who am I?
Why do I exist?
What should I do?

Who is the focus of these questions? Me, myself, and I. Self.

Soooo, are there some alternative questions we can encourage in order to cultivate into our kids hearts and minds that deny self? This is important, because denial of self is a precursor to following Jesus, according to Jesus Himself.

What about this.

What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “who am I,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHOSE AM I?

What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “why do I exist,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHY DID JESUS EXIST?

What if instead of parenting in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to “what should I do,” we parent in such a way that encourages our kids to discover the answer to: WHAT IS JESUS DOING?

Whatcha think? We might have to deny self and deny our typical parenting habits and deny our common cultural parenting stigmas in order to cultivate for these three foundational questions in our kids.

May we keep learning to grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel.

Part 3 of three essentials of disciple making that should characterize how we are making disciples, even at home.

Today, this week’s theme of “essentials of disciple making” continues with part two of three from a chapter in the book Live Sent on disciple making. Thought it might be helpful as we pray for the Lord to sharpen us as parents to make disciples who make disciples as SENT kids. Hope it encourages you!
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The third essential of making disciples I would suggest is release. I believe it is safe to say that for the most part, church culture has made discipleship more about retention than release. People are encouraged to stay in discipleship programs rather than being released to actually make disciples. Church gurus stress our need to grow the church, and what they mean is more people in gathering and in small groups.

I would suggest that Jesus wants to grow His church out there among the harvest, not in here among those already harvested. The disciple of Jesus grows most making disciples of Jesus with others, both already believers as well as not yet believing. The church grows through the harvest out there. . .

Discipling is more than some class once a week that we market and hope for high attendance. It is learning and living all week. It is eating together. It is praying together. It is having fun together. It is doing things of interest together. It is serving together. It is doing life together.

That is the model of discipling that we were given by Jesus, but to make it easier on ourselves, we boiled it down to a formula and program and said, “Go through this class, and you will be disciples.” That is about as rational as saying, “Take Quantum Physics and you can build a time machine.”

It’s not that classes aren’t important. It’s not that gathering together in classes or for collective worship is not important. It’s not that we don’t need to have Bible study together. These are important, but these can’t be the extent of our discipling. They are merely encouraging and equipping support.

On the first night our church family gathered as a core group, we shared four statements with those who gathered. One of them was this—we will not busy you with church activities, but rather we will equip and release you to be the church within your daily and weekly activities. This is a must if we hope for followers of Jesus to actually engage culture and see others begin to follow Jesus. . . .

Let’s surrender our programs and enter into this relational releasing process known as discipling and see what happens. Let’s live sent daily and be discipling. If we will, then we will be intentionally delivering a message, learning and living the ways of the Author, and giving other people the opportunity to see the Author in our ways. Then, they will learn and begin to live His ways too. And make disciples as they go. Then, those who believe will make disciples as they go. And so on.

That is making disciples.

[ and that should be the hope of our parenting. May we make disciples even among our kids and send them to do the same. ]

What I am not suggesting with this week’s suggestion.

Here’s what I am not suggesting with this week’s suggestion (if you missed them, go back to peruse the last two posts if you want this one to make sense).

1 _ never correct your kids
This one is obviously not what we are suggesting. But before you dismiss it, consider that we as parents tend to either over-correct or under-correct, not graciously correct.

Over-correcting looks like lecturing, and then lecturing some more. It makes the child feel like all they ever do is wrong. The parent-child relationship is tense because boundaries are not clearly defined because everything is a boundary.

Under-correcting looks like letting the child get away with anything with either no correction at all or a “kids these days” sigh and a careless, “Oh honey.” It makes the child feel like they are not cared for enough to even warrant a good talking-to. The parent-child relationship is distant because the parent is unsure how to relate and the child is unsure the parent wants to relate with them.

Gracious-correcting looks like love-you-forever confrontation and we-want-more-than-anything confession and we-all-need-to-ask-God-for-help prayer and what-would-be-appropriate-consequence learning and we-are-right-beside-you living.

We try to include prayer in our discipline because we want our kids to learn to ask for help rather than pretending like they can fix their selfishness. Jen and I can’t do that. Why should we expect them to.

2 _ don’t hold your kids accountable
This is certainly not what we are suggesting. To not be willing to put the energy and effort into relating with our kids in an accountable way would mean that we do not love them. We need each other, even as parent and child. Some parents are too prideful to admit how much God might use their kids to teach them, and some are too lazy to relate to their kids as learners with Jesus who are holding each other accountable as disciples of Christ. Discipline at its core is about learning, and a willingness to learn with others presumes that we have more to learn and grow together in.

Parents – why would you want to miss this beautiful journey of learning and living the ways of Jesus with your kids? Hold them accountable, and even invite them to respectfully do the same with you. Go back and read Ephesians 5:21 and then the beginning of chapter 6 if you disagree.

3 _ have a home that devalues authority
No way. Not suggesting this. But listen. People often think of authority as linked to position. Jesus modeled authority as centered in relationship. If anything, parental authority is strengthened when we grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel, because relationships are required to do so. Families actually teach godly authority and godly submission when we parent sent kids.

THE BOTTOM LINE _ we as parents need not be afraid of confession and repentance before our kids. We encourage sharpening of one another when we do that before them. And we model relational authority in such a way that they go off to college better understanding how to pray to the Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

Jesus, we pray for kids who are disciple-makers not diligent moralists. We pray for children who ask you for help rather than pretend they don’t need help. And we pray for college student one day who learn that you welcome confession when they fail, and you long for them to stand in Your Gospel and grace every day of their lives.

Amen.

Parent in an environment that welcomes confession and offers restoration rather than an environment of demanding expectation and exasperating correction.

[ sorry for the day delay on this post. was traveling with family yesterday and had forgotten to schedule the post. ]

What made David a man after God’s heart? It wasn’t his stone-slinging accuracy. It wasn’t his rugged good looks. It wasn’t his song-writing ability. It wasn’t his passion to build a worship house for God. And it certainly wasn’t his charming seduction skills or cunning deception activity. So what was it?

It was how quickly he would admit he was wrong. It was how humbly he would agree with God that He was right. That is called confession. And it emerges from a contrite heart.

I asked some of my French-speaking fellow pastors from Montreal one time how to say “contrite” en Francais. They had no idea. It was a great example of how rare that characteristic is in people. And a great example of how essential it is that we cultivate for it in the hearts of our children.

I would suggest that it is absolutely crucial that our homes be environments where confession is welcomed and forgiveness is free and restoration is expedited.

Demanding expectations are heavy weights for a child to carry. What makes it worse is our demanding expectations stifle expectancy in parent-child relationships, which is the picture of exasperation. It typically leads to exasperating correction methods and parents spending an enormous amount of energy correcting their behavior rather than an intentional amount of energy shepherding their hearts.

The presence of confession and reconciliation and restoration is a clear evidence of the Gospel alive among us (2nd Corinthians 5). And isn’t that what we want in our homes? Isn’t that what we want our parenting based upon? Isn’t that what we want our kids to learn and experience and live and give away most?

May our homes be Gospel environments where confession and reconciliation and restoration and growth reside.

Parenting for “church members” versus parenting for “disciple makers” (a few extra thoughts on this week’s suggestion).

Keeping in line with this week’s suggestion for parenting SENT kids (you can read Monday’s post by clicking here), here is an important question to consider:

Are you parenting your children to be church members or disciple makers?

Is there a difference in simply being a “church member” versus actually being a disciple maker? I would suggest there is. When “finding a church” is the goal, too often personal development and preferential appeasement result. Another result tends to be close friendships with people who are only like us – other church members. This inhibits and sometimes prohibits the making of disciples, mainly because it inhibits and too often prohibits family-like relationships with those who have yet to believe in the One who was sent (Jesus).

[ SIDE NOTE _ in order to best understand where I am writing from here, let’s define terms. “Discipleship” is typically defined as curriculum and classes that help Christians learn more about God and development their personal holiness. Church members are very often involved in discipleship. “Making disciples” is learning and living the ways of Jesus in ongoing relationships with a few other followers of Jesus but also with people who have yet to follow Him. Disciple makers tend to learn about God and grow in His holiness while they are also making other disciples. Like Jesus did. ]

This last week during Exponential, my friend Larry McCrary and I led a breakout entitled “Don’t Plant a Church, Send One.” The premise was that if you plant a church, you won’t always make disciples of Jesus. However, if you make disciples of Jesus, you will end up with a church emerging from those disciples. Why? Because that is who the church is – sent ones sent TOGETHER by the Sent One.

In the breakout, I offered a few contrasts between simply being a church that makes members rather than a church that makes disciples:

:: Members tend to only live FOR God, while disciple makers live WITH God.

:: Members are often only taught the Gospel in a crowd, while disciple makers learn the Gospel in community.

:: Members are described in a good way or a bad way depending upon whether they are IN CHURCH, while disciple makers are described whether a good day or a bad day as IN CHRIST.

:: Members commonly grow toward being moralists, while disciple makers grow toward making more disciples.

:: Members typically are encouraged to make Gospel presentations, while disciple makers typically share the Gospel in the midst of relational presence.

:: Local churches that make members almost always teach what matters to Jesus, while local churches that make disciples almost always emphasize what matters to Jesus in all they teach AND all they do.

:: Members gather to have a worship experience, while disciple makers gather to encourage one another and be equipped and leave to live sent.

:: Members tend to invite friends TO church events, while disciple makers tend to invite friends ALONG with them to learn Jesus.

:: Members are prone to spend time only with other members extracting themselves out of their community and culture into a very busy schedule of church activities with little margin for friendship with the lost, while disciple makers are prone to spend purposeful and intentional time with other disciple makers engaging together their community and culture in family-like relationship that welcomes the lost like they are already family, too.

So, for which one are you parenting? Which one are you modeling?

May we cultivate into our kids that they may become disciple makers. It is who a follower of Jesus is. And just in case you wonder whether this is my opinion only or a scripturally-supported notion:

“Follow Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.”
-Jesus, Mark 1:17