How to Help Your Kids Read the Bible

By Ryan Weber


It was the most intimidating thing in the world to be thrust into a position where I was responsible for teaching kids the Bible. I was 17 years old, had just become a follower of Jesus Christ and wanted to serve Him by serving kids. The pastor told me that I should work with children and I ended up being the leader of a small group of twelve 4th-5th graders and it was my responsibility to take them through a curriculum designed to grow them in their faith.

I thought this was nothing short of impossible. I knew nothing of the Bible, couldn’t quote John 3:16 from memory, had no idea what communion was, and here I was expected to teach a bunch of kids what the Bible says and how to apply it to their lives. I wanted to crawl away.

But I didn’t.

And somehow, God used that situation and my inadequacy and my lack of knowledge to help change the lives of those twelve kiddos and see them become amazing followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

I was so freaked out at the opportunity that I had that, in retrospect, I completely over-prepared for the lessons that I was to teach them every week. I read and I studied and I wrote and I asked questions of my parents and my pastors and my friends. I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of those kids because Wednesday nights always came and Sunday mornings always came and they counted on me to be their friend and work through the Bible with them.

Looking back, knowing nothing was the best thing I could have provided those kids. Because it forced me to figure out what the Bible actually said, it forced me to figure out who Jesus is and who God is.

The best part about all of that preparation for those kids’ Bible study is this: I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BIBLE AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH JESUS CHRIST! I realized that the Bible is incredible and Jesus in unbelievably awesome. The more I read, the more I realized how great He is.

And the more I realized how great He is, the more I wanted to share what I was learning with the kids in my group. It became a partnership. In an odd and ironic way, I grew more in my faith in Jesus Christ by teaching lessons to elementary school kids than I feel like I would learn in a seminary classroom. Because those questions from those kids were real and raw, and I was real and raw.

When you want to teach and help your kids read the Bible, it all comes from you sitting down and making a concerted effort to see your children be trained up in the way of the Lord. I got freaked out that I had to meet with my kids twice a week and the responsibility that entailed.

I cannot imagine how freaked out you must be because you parents have that opportunity EVERY DAY! What a privilege. It’s one that I look forward to having some day when I have kids of my own and I can’t imagine having the opportunity to struggle to find the answers to your kid’s questions about the Bible.

You may not feel like you have the tools to help your kids grow in their faith in Jesus, that it’s something that should be left to the pastors and volunteers at church. But it’s when you feel inadequate and are thrust into a position to teach that God makes you most moldable and teachable yourself.

You have to be willing to step into the pages of the Bible and in front of your kids and tell them how awesome the Bible really is. Because I guarantee that the more time you spend reading it, the more you won’t be able to shut up about it to your kids (and everyone else in your life).

Your kids will catch your fire. That’s the nature of being a parent and that’s the nature of what the Bible does in our lives!

Weekend Preview | Ideal Family Part 4: Family According to Star Wars

By Don Gentry


You are in the middle of the biggest film of your life. You are the main character AND you are writing the script. You get to decide if you are going to be the hero. You have an enemy and it is the dark side. (Aka Satan, selfishness and the deceitfulness of time.)

What you may not know is that “the force” is with you and has actually already won the final battle. Victory is yours! There is a battle plan and play book that has been written to guide you and set up a pattern of ideals that will lead you into many victorious skirmishes all along the way. The dark side is forever going to be luring you.

You get to choose on a regular occasion how you are going to act. If you act according to the battle plan and choose the way your guide has laid out before you, your movie will end victoriously. You may have a few scenes you wish could be deleted, but that is why your guide has chosen to walk with you. To help you recover from those difficult scenes.

The only person in your film that you can write a script for is yourself, and you may have to adjust your script regularly because of outside influences. Every character in the movie gets to write their own script and it often causes us to re-write our own role.

You see, we are all writing our own script, and the movie I am talking about is you and your family. God, through His son Jesus, has provided us a path to victory. He has given us the Holy Spirit as our “force” to walk with us as we choose how we are going to write the script in each scene of our life. Whether every scene works out the way we want it to is not the main point of the movie. The main point is are we learning to listen to the Holy Spirit guide us as we figure out our role in the movie.

Our current series at Journey has been about creating our script for an ideal family. God has provided direction for all of us. He has provided power and victory. He has provided examples, as well as a way, to write a good script. If you are breathing oxygen, then you are a part of a family. If you are drawing breath, you still play a major role in your family, whether that role is child, parent, grand parent, or extended relative. There is great freedom granted to you, but caution is encouraged as you become all that God has intended for you to become.

May the force be with you as you write your story!

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Understand and Accept Their Role

By Ryan Weber


I grew up a huge WWE fan, so much so that I wrote letters to them trying to convince them that hiring a 12 year old, 85 pound runt would be fantastic for their ratings. They never wrote me back, thank God. But one of my favorite wrestlers was The Rock, a behemoth of a man who destroyed nearly everyone he went up against. One of the catchphrases he used that reverberated through the many arenas he visited was this: “Know your role, and shut your mouth!”

Yeah, it was wrestling and it was dramatic, but I can’t help but wonder if we bring this same logic into the realm of our parenting. We want our kids to conform to a certain set of ideals, principles and values, but how many of us verbally communicate what those roles actually are? Or instead, do we silently thrust expectation upon our children and then get upset with them when they do not live up to our unspoken expectations?

I’m not a parent, so please don’t think I’m preaching at you, but I’ve worked with kids for as long as I wanted to work. I supervise teenagers, I’m in student ministry, and I lead organizations that affect thousands of kids every day. I may not know anything about parenting, but here’s what I know about kids: they don’t know a lot of things.

It’s our expectation as adults that our kids know what they’re supposed to do, why they’re supposed to do it, and to top it all off, we want them to do it for the right reasons and with smiles on their faces. That’s what makes us dumb. And frustrated. And wondering what’s wrong with “that” generation.

Your kids don’t know what you do not communicate. Clearly. And OFTEN. I have to reiterate roles, rules and expectations on an almost daily basis with the kids that I interact with. Why? Because they are kids. Forgetting and being selfish is what they do. Heck, that’s what I do, why would I expect more from a child when I can barely expect it from myself?

Helping kids understand their role within your own family dynamic stems from the knowledge that you have a clear understanding of the vision and purpose of your own family. If you are not a purposeful parent, communicating vision and life over your family, you should not expect your children to fall into any grey or undefined roles you have thought very little about.

What is it you want your kids to be?
What kind of son/daughter do you want them to be?
What kind of brother/sister?
What kind of grandson/granddaughter?
What kind of friend?
What kind of husband/wife?
Etc.

Now here is the most important question for your kids: WHY? Kids inevitably expect a “what,” but they want a “why” and rarely ever get an adequate answer. The “why” is what turns stubborn acquiescence into premeditated obedience. The “why” casts vision into your child’s life and speaks life into their future. The “what” produces submission, the “why” produces destiny.

You need to be a proactive participant in the growth of your child’s understanding of their role. You need to speak it to them daily.

There is a passage in Genesis 5 that stuck out to me when I was reading through one of those mind-numbing genealogy sections of the Bible:

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son. He named him Noah and said, ‘He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed’” (Genesis 5:28-29).

It’s easy for us to skip over sections of the Bible like this, we skim because we say, “Ok, this dude had this dude and he lived 500 years and then had this dude who lived… etc… etc…”

But don’t miss what Lamech did. He named his son Noah, which sounds almost exactly like the Hebrew word for comfort. Imagine the connotations brought into Noah’s mind every time his father spoke his name: “Comforter, come here.” “Be nice to your sister, Comforter.” “Why are you building this boat in the middle of the desert, Comforter?”

Every time Lamech spoke his child’s name, he was casting vision into who he wanted his son to be. He spoke to the calling that God had upon his life. He made Noah’s role known to Noah every time he addressed him. You will be a comforter. And he was. He lived through and lead people through the destruction of the world only to start it all over again. I’d say you’d need a PhD in Comfort to pull that off.

In order for our kids to understand and accept their roles, you need to speak it over them. You need to put thought into it and you need to provide practical reasons why adhering to your expectations sets them up for something huge. We are working to provide for the world the next generation of leaders; that deserves our time, effort and overt communication.

How To Talk With Your Students About Love

By Ryan Weber

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)

When I was growing up, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad was head over heels in love with my Mom.  And it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of times he told her that he loved her. Although I heard him say it over and over and over, every time he left the house, every time he hung up the phone, whenever he had opportunity, he told her that he loved her.  But those were just the words, there was a deeper reason why I knew my Dad loved her so much.

It was all the things he did.  The little kisses, the overt flirting, the hand holding, the arm around the shoulder when we were at public places, the gifts he’d buy, the trips he planned, the way he just looked at her.

Granted, when I was growing up, these things repulsed me and I threw up in my mouth a little every time I saw it happen.  But everyone knew that he was crazy about her, and it continues to this day.  I’m incredibly lucky to have a set of parents who have stuck together through thick and thin and are now looking forward to their 35th wedding anniversary this year.

My dad still does all those mushy, gooey things.

Now that I am married, I have a brand new appreciation for the way he demonstrated love for his wife. I saw my dad demonstrate love before I even knew what true love was.  And that’s so important when it comes to the life of your student because I want to get this cat out of the bag:

Your student does not want to talk to you about love.  They would rather talk to the mailman, the dentist, Siri, anyone else other than you about love, dating, sex, etc.  This is an area of their lives that they want to explore and keep private. And that’s ok.  It’s our job to guide our children into adulthood, not dictate their every move.  They will not want to open up and share their feelings with you.

But you are a parent and you should share your feelings with them.  It is your job to talk to your students and make sure they go down a path that will honor themselves, their God, you as their parents and their future spouse.  So you need to engage in a healthy and meaningful conversation with your teens.

The Path is starting a series on Valentine’s Day called, “I Kissed Dating Hello,” and The Garage is beginning a series on February 7th called “The Talk.” Both are going to provide wonderful windows of opportunity for you to engage your child in this conversation.  It will allow you to open up to discuss all of the important elements that your kids are probably already aware of, but it can help you frame their minds to a godly and biblical perspective.

What is the purpose of dating? What kind of person should I look for?  What kind of person am I? How do I ask someone out? How do I fight? How do I break up? Why should I wait until I’m married to have sex? What in the world is sex anyway? Is sex bad or good?

Do you know all the Scriptures that relate to love, dating and marriage?  Do you have a child in your home?  It’s time to start memorizing those verses, and pray through their meaning so you can share a biblical perspective.

How are you going to explain to your daughter that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and she is fearfully and wonderfully made; and no one should take advantage of her (1 Corinthians 6:19; Psalm 139:14)?  How are you going to explain to your son that he needs to make a covenant with his eyes to not look with lust upon a young woman (Job 31:1)?

I would imagine having these conversations with your teens is a lot like bungee jumping.  You stand there for as long as you want to buck up the courage, but eventually you just have to do it. You have to jump and allow the chips to fall where they may. I am praying that the resources that will be provided to you during our Path and Garage series will help you along this journey.

But do not forget, if you’re going to have this conversation with your student (and I pray you have the courage to make that jump), you better be prepared to practice what you preach and love your spouse, kids, coworkers, friends, etc. in the way that Jesus tells us to. That will be infinitely more effective than any awkward conversation you’ll have.

When it comes to talking to your kids about love, demonstration is your best conversation.

Love well, your kids will take notice and listen intently.


Helping Your Kids Make Sense of Sin

By Don Gentry


I often joke that I was saved from a life of horrible sin. Then I say I was saved at the age of three. I still remember the church I went to in Colorado and my Sunday school class. How do I know when I became a follower of Christ, because I had just turned four when we moved from Colorado.

Many adults have challenged me with the question “Do you really think you were saved? Can a child really understand what it means to be a Christian?”

To understand how to be a “Christian” we need our children to understand one simple concept. I do bad things, sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident, but it is called sin. Because of sin God says I need forgiveness and Jesus is the only way to take care of the bad things/sin I do. As we become adults we do develop a deeper understanding of our sin, but the reality is our children understand their bad behavior better than adults.

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Message Follow Up | Making Sense of Sin: Part 1 – What is Sin

By David McNeely



God HATES sin.

Sin WRECKS people, places, and things.

Creation is PAYING THE PRICE for our sin.

Jesus tells us to deal harshly with it. Plucking out eyes and cutting of hands should not be taken literally but rather as a call to grab sin by the throat. The Holy Spirit promises to give us the power to do it. He loves giving that power.

The ultimate reason we are to deal harshly with it is because we want to love what God loves and hate what God hates. That’s the driving force.

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Dealing With the Santa in the Room

By Zack DeBerry


My family is kind of into Christmas.

People think we are nutty sometimes when we tell them we put up eight Christmas trees.  Yes, that was EIGHT, as in ocho or one less than a baseball starting lineup.

I love the Christmas season and all that comes with it.  I love the music, the lights, the tacky sweaters, the red cup at Starbucks, the crazy shopping malls, but most of all I love that it feels different.  It is different than other time of the year and that’s because of the excitement & anticipation that comes with it.

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Calculated Risk vs. Fear-Based Decisions – Part 2

By Don Gentry


Getting Back on the Horse

In Part 1, I told you the story about my daughter and I being thrown from a horse, and the decision we had to make in response.  However, this wasn’t the end of the story . . .

After checking the horse, the saddle, and taking a ride myself, I decide to continue the ride.  I then decided to try to convince those around me that it was safe to continue riding. It took some convincing of others present but we continued on with our day.

You might be asking yourself: Why do I tell you this?

Our children are going to have fears.

You are going to have fears.

Government systems throughout history have used scare tactics and fear based rhetoric to sway people groups for years.  Parents often motivate their children through fear. We create rules of safety to help assure ourselves that if our kids follow the rules it will create an environment of safety and control!

We have the opportunity as parents to help our children overcome their fears. We will never do that if we feed and give into our fears, which in turn often project onto our children.

Take the Risk

As a pastor I have had the opportunity to observe many parenting styles. What I have found is that parents who help their children ask questions of legitimacy and reality of their fears, help their children become far more adjusted in life.

I like to call this the “Calculated Risk Parenting Style.”  I am sure some of you would not be comfortable with my personal calculated risks. I’m ok with that; however, I want to challenge you to see that when we live a life of fear based decision-making, we limit what God can do in our lives and especially what God can do in the lives of our children.

The Bible is full of stories of people responding in fear and missing out on the incredible blessings of God.  On many occasions they not only missed his blessings but they also incurred his wrath. Why?

When we respond in fear we eliminate faith.

I’m not trying to tell you that you need to put your kids on horseback.  What I’m trying to ask is, “Do you live a life of fear?”

Take an honest evaluation of yourself:  Have you made decisions based on fear or calculated risks?

If we are truly honest with ourselves, safety and control are simply illusions. Anything can happen in life, but we go to great lengths to make ourselves feel better, thinking that we have covered as many scenarios as possible.

As a parent or guardian, I challenge you to identify your own fears first, then help your child identify their fears.  Create a plan and then create opportunities to establish how you are going to learn to make decisions without being controlled by fear.

Conclusion

Let’s choose to be intentional about helping our child make decisions based on faith, trust, and calculated risks, rather than illusion, safety, fear, and control.  God’s love, God’s word, & God’s fame would never have been and will cease to be proclaimed if people live in fear.

If you take anything away from these posts, it’s this:

Choose to make decisions with faith and boldness!

(2 Timothy 1:7; I John 4:18; Joshua 1:6-9)

Calculated Risk vs. Fear-Based Decisions – Part 1

By Don Gentry


A Man, His Daughter, & A Horse

My daughter was seven years old and we were at a friend’s house on vacation. They had two horses that were great with kids and we were excited about taking our children horseback riding.

Moments into mounting the horse, the horse began to buck violently. I was holding on to my daughter while we were being tossed too and fro while hearing the owner say his horse has never responded this way.

When I heard him say this, I knew that the saddle was not on correctly because I could feel it slipping beneath me. (I have ridden horses for several years, and while I am not a professional I am certainly not a novice.)

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5 Ways Participation Awards are Destroying America

By Matt Dawson


Participation Awards
Ok, so I might have been a bit extreme with the title.

I’m not exactly sure that we are “destroying America”, but I do believe that we are setting up the next generation for failure, in turn harming our future by NOT setting them up for success.

Let me start with a definition:

Participation Awards – showing up for a sport, activity, or event and receiving an award without merit, achievement, or success of any kind. 

Let me further clarify that there is no spiritual foundation for this post. I’m a Dad, and I do lead a church of some AMAZING kids and teenagers!  So, I care about this issue on a deep level.  Our church believes that we partner with parents to help raise the next generation to love and honor God, so how they are raised matters.

What are we telling the next generation with these awards?  What damage is being done by removing the structure of a reward system (see #3) from a sport, activity, or social event and simply giving it away to anyone who shows up.

I believe we won’t fully know the answers to these questions until it’s too late – and we might already be too late **cue the dramatic music – dun, dun, dahhhh**  –  but the following are 5 ways that I believe these participation awards are harming our kids. Continue reading