Family Friday Links 6.15.18

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Here's what we've been reading online this past week:

Jeff Beckley had a post on The Middle Years site on the balancing family and ministry. He wrote, "Just like in rock stacking, the key in ministry life is balance." He goes on to list different ideas that can help achieve this.

I almost feel like I'm cheating for these last 2 because they are both by Scott Kedersha

First,  he had a post about love and how actions can (and should) lead to feelings. He says, "Through either sin like infidelity and pornography or through a passive drift toward marital isolation, many couples don’t feel like pursuing each other like they used to." He goes on with how to properly view this and how to change it.

Secondly, he had a great post on the topic of parenting and technology. It reads, "We’re the first generation of parents who have to work through the challenges of kids and smartphones." His wisdom here is helpful, check it out.

What have you been reading (or writing) online lately? Leave us a link in the comment section to check out.

An encouragement for those who serve in children's ministry

If you want big-souled, large-hearted men or women, look for them among those who are much engaged among the young, bearing with their follies, and sympathizing with their weaknesses for Jesus’ sake.
— Charles Spurgeon

Children’s ministry is unique in the life of the church. It is simultaneously one of the most challenging and rewarding ministries. There are few ministries in the life of a church that can leave you exhausted and refreshed quite like working with kids. On any given week, children’s ministry leaders and servants can be found running, crawling, jumping, shouting, whispering, laughing, crying, smiling, and frowning.

Leaders in children’s ministry are caretakers, teachers, playmates, mediators, parental figures, and role models. These roles, when fulfilled, produce tired bodies and full souls. Ministering to kids is exhausting. Yet, there is nothing so satisfying as seeing kids learn deep biblical truths for the first time, begin to trust Christ, and grow in intimacy with him.

But the labors of children’s ministry often go unnoticed and volunteers can feel unappreciated. It is tempting to feel like serving in children’s ministry is nothing more than a glorified babysitting service so the rest of the congregation can do real ministry. This couldn't be further from the truth. Children’s ministry is foundational in the spiritual, theological, and worldview formation of a person. As Paul encouraged Timothy:

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:14-15).

John Calvin agreed. He believed the teaching of children was fundamental to the future of the church. He once wrote, "Believe me, the Church of God will never be preserved without catechesis," that is, the teaching of basic bible doctrine to children. Likewise, Puritan Thomas Watson once said, "To preach and not to catechize [teach] is to build without foundation."

If you lead or serve in children’s ministry, Lord knows you aren’t in it for personal glory.

If you serve in children’s ministry, know that your work is most valuable not only for the spiritual formation of the kids you teach, but also for the future of the church. You are not just a babysitter. For some kids, you are a trusted and invaluable partner with their parents as they disciple. For other kids, you may just be the only source of love, grace, and truth they will ever see. Your labors will, for better or worse, shape the way children view the Bible, God, and the church for many years to come. Not many of us forget our teachers.

If you lead or serve in children’s ministry, Lord knows you aren't in it for personal glory. But never forget that you are in children's ministry for glory. Children's ministers and servants are laboring for the glory of the Lord in the little hearts and minds of boys and girls. We are praying, teaching, loving, and leading children for the praise of the glory of the grace of God in Christ.

So, I pray my fellow children's ministry leaders and servants find deep satisfaction in our often difficult and thankless work. I pray we find satisfaction in presenting the gospel to kids. I pray we find satisfaction in teaching small kids big truths to blow their minds and ground their feet. In a culture that is constantly shifting, I pray we resolve to continue teach children the immovable truth of the gospel even if we don't see any results in our time with them. As Charles Spurgeon wrote said, "Oh, that the Spirit of God may help us to do this! The more the young are taught the better; it will keep them from being misled" (Come Ye Children: Practical Help Telling Children About Jesus, pp. 10-11).

Family Friday Links 6.8.18

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Foster The Family Blog, had an encouraging piece, called A Love Letter to Single Foster + Adoptive Moms, written by Jamie C. Jamie writes, "Maybe you are surrounded by people who carry and support you. You are blessed to have them. But, also, they are blessed to have you--a shining example of what it means to lay down your life for someone else, a bright example of sacrificial love. Your family and friends are better because you are in their lives, living and loving this journey in front of them." Who is someone you can encourage today? 

A friend of mine shared a blog that challenges our concept of success in ministry. The blog is from Feeding on Christ by Nick Batzig Many times we compare our ministries to that of others. One of the difficulties with comparing is that we don't always see what God is doing. We especially don't get to see what God is doing in ministry to the next generation. There are often years before we see fruit. Nick writes in his blog entitled, God’s Metrics, "The fruitfulness of a Gospel ministry is never observed in total in the here and now. The one who waters the seed of God’s word in men and women’s lives may see the increase, while the one who sowed the seed may not. The one who planted and the one who watered may never see the increase, but a future generation may see it." Don't give up hope! 

Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra for the Gospel Coalition wrote a post entitled, Study: America’s Greatest Gospel Opportunity Lives in Your House. Sarah writes," So how can we pull families into engaging more in transmitting their faith? There’s nothing wrong with dropping the kids off at youth group for an hour on Friday night, but that’s insufficient. We must call parents and children to be on mission together. We want to encourage the church to lead families into a corporate mission with Jesus." It is vital we are helping families to engage their faith! 

The Babylon Bee this week had a helpful article on how a church took a new approach to training their VBS workers. The article entitled, Church Uses ‘Hunger Games’ Footage As VBS Volunteer Training Video. One of the trainers says, “See how Katniss finds a safe place in a tree and hides from the roaming bands of bloodthirsty kids? That’ll be you a few weeks from now,” a children’s ministry worker said as she pointed out the various elements of the protagonist’s survival skills that helped her to win the fictional battle royale. “You can’t get too attached to your fellow workers or kids, or you won’t be ready to do what is necessary to make it out alive.” 

What are you reading these days? Please share in the comments. 

Book Review: Fierce Marriage by Ryan and Selena Frederick

I try to read a book on marriage or parenting at least once each year. This year, the book I've chosen is Fierce Marriage: Radically Pursuing Each Other in Light of Christ's Relentless Love by Ryan and Selena Frederick (fiercemarriage.com). I’ve been encouraged and challenged by this book, and I was happy to be a part of their social media launch team. Overall, I'll tell you that this husband and wife duo will positively impact your marriage. Here's my thoughts on the book.

What I Loved

This book tackled many of the same topics most good Christian marriage books do. The difference in my opinion is that the Fredericks gave a more balanced perspective on those topics by writing together. Upwards of forty percent of the book is dedicated to telling stories. While I know this is helpful for some, this isn't my preference. By the midway point of the book, I found myself simply skimming the stories. Having said this, the meat of the book easily overcomes this weakness. The Frederick's use of Scripture was spot on, and their explanations are easy to understand and readily applicable. Chapter 6, the chapter on communication, was worth the price of the book. This chapter pointed repeatedly to the truth that communication problems are first and foremost matters of the heart, that is issues of pride. Then, the Fredericks went on to give very practical application points for fighting pride in the midst of regular marital communication. Most importantly, Fierce Marriage consistently points the reader back to their need to focus on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The book shows us our need for this individually and as a couple.

How I Plan on Using This Book

I plan on recommending this book to newly married couples, couples who may or may not have had pre-marital counseling, but may be struggling to grow in their relationship. This book is another faithful guide for marriage, one of life’s most pivotal decisions, since it addresses everything from expectations to handling conflict while staying focused on the gospel.

I recommend this book to you as well. Whether you’ve been married six months or more than sixty years, this book will help you love your Lord and spouse better. Get it as soon as possible and be edified.