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Raising Disciples

As a parent, God has entrusted you with a tremendous privilege and responsibility. The Bible speaks frequently to parents offering encouragement, wisdom and instruction. Before Shannon and I had kids I remember having a conversation about how we would be different than our friends who were letting their kids drive the family’s schedule and priorities. We vowed to be different, that was until we actually had our first kid.

Click to tweet: Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home and not a kid-centered home. @mattyblackwell @verge_family

We realized very quickly that there is an inertia that drives parents towards having a kid-centered home. Their noise, needs, desires, activities, homework, etc. require parents to diligently avoid being consumed by the tyranny of the urgent.

Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home and not a kid-centered home, because a kid-centered home produces self-centered adults. Parents have to constantly strive to take their kids out of the center of the family and remind them that Christ is the center.

Mom and dad, you are the leaders in your home and as such you are uniquely positioned to keep your eyes fixed on God and your finger on the pulse of the family. The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. And as their mom and dad you have the privilege, joy and responsibility to lead them.

Click to tweet: The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. @mattyblackwell @verge_family

Check out what the bible tells parents in Deuteronomy 6:5-9,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Here are a few observations about disciple making for parents from these verses:

 Step 1 – “On your hearts”

Let the Word of God and the love of God be on your heart. The best discipler is a disciple. The best leader is first a follower. Your primary call as a disciple maker is to know the Word, love it, and live it. How are you doing in the areas of prayer, sharing your faith, and reading your Bible? If you don’t have a Bible reading plan click here for a free online bible reading plan. As a parent your first step in making disciples of your kids is to be a disciple.

Click to tweet: As a parent your first step in making disciples of your kids is to be a disciple. @mattyblackwell @verge_family

Step 2 – “Impress them on your children”

Parents can impress the things of God on their children through discipline and delight.

Discipline

The greatest context for teaching kids comes through consistent discipline. One of the things that I’ve realized is that while I waver in my consistency in leading family devotions, our kids never waver in their need to be disciplined. The bible speaks of disciplining kids often:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13–14

The purpose of discipline is to gain a hearing. Most of the time our kids are running around so fast that they don’t stop long enough to really hear what we are saying. The goal of discipline isn’t just behavioral modification but heart transformation. Through discipline we slow them down and create the opportunity to teach them the truths of repentance, grace, forgiveness, and kindness.

Click to tweet: The goal of discipline isn’t just behavioral modification but heart transformation. @mattyblackwell @verge_family

A parent’s role, especially a Father, is not to crush his children but to cultivate them. Through discipline, parents should seek to cultivate their kids so that they become self-disciplined and not continually need a wooden spoon or a timeout or jail cell to have them live rightly.

Delight

Our role as leaders in the home is to equally delight and discipline. It is not loving to delight in your kids without correcting them, just as it is not loving to discipline them without delighting in them. The bible reminds us of the joy of having kids:

“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:24–25 “…the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11–12 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the childrenof one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Psalm 127:3-5

Parents, you are to rejoice in and delight in the blessing of your kids today, not in some future version of them. Before any parent disciplines their children, they are commanded to delight in them. This means that most of your time is spent enjoying your children, encouraging them, laughing with them, being affectionate with them, and enjoying them so that there is a deep bond of love and joy between your children and their mom and their dad. The backdrop of your discipline is delight.

Click to tweet: The backdrop of your discipline is delight. @mattyblackwell @verge_family

Step 3 – “talk about them…”

Finally mom and dad, make disciples as you go. Look for opportunities as you drive to practice, play at the park, or put the kids down to bed. Don’t let discipleship be isolated to Sundays, but let it be a natural part of your day. It’s not weird for your kids to hear you talk about what you love and are passionate about. So talk about what God is teaching you and ask them what God is teaching them.

You can’t delegate discipleship. You take the lead and look for opportunities to “talk about these things” as you go. Try to create places where your kids ask questions. Use family devotion times, serving together, going to church together and asking them what they learned as ways to have some conversations. And be patient, because most of those conversations will be short and fruitless, but there will be one every so often that is powerful and transformative.

This is the way of discipleship: patient obedience over the course of years builds a firmly rooted disciple who will bear much fruit. And that is what we are praying that our kids to become. Mom and dad, keep your heart engaged in the Word of God, delight in your kids, correct them when necessary, and look for opportunities to have fruitful conversations that lead them to Jesus.

Ten Facts Men Should Consider About Their Wife

Ten Facts Men Should Consider About Their Wife

#1 – Before she was your wife she was God’s daughter…and He is VERY concerned about how someone treats His girl!

#2 – Women are responders, so if there is friction/conflict in the relationship she is most likely responding to something that is off center…and it is going to take an actual conversation where you use words to figure out what it is.

#3 – If a man will not lead his family then satan will!  (See Genesis 3!)

#4 – One of the biggest questions that a woman is always asking of her husband is, “can I trust you with my heart?”  And the answer to this question is not simply declared but rather demonstrated over time.

#5 – Every word you speak has meaning to your wife…and HOW you say those words carry even more meaning.

#6 – No woman responds well to condemnation…and if we are supposed to love our wives like Christ loves the church, and there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1) then we MUST watch our words carefully.

#7 – It is a spiritual impossibility for an angry husband to love his wife like Jesus loves the church.

#8 – Your wife LOVES to know you are thinking about her during the day.

#9 – Surfing the internet or playing games on your smart phone while she is sitting next to you on the couch is NOT romantic.

#10 – Pursuit must be intentional!  You did not accidentally fall in love…and you will not accidently stay in love!

See the original post at http://perrynoble.com/blog/ten-facts-men-should-consider-about-their-wife

 

What Little Girls Wish Daddies Knew

Girl holding hand sepia2I’m spending the morning waiting for my car in the repair shop. Four men in flannel (I missed the flannel memo) and I sit around smelling tires and inhaling exhaust fumes while an enchanting little fairy is in constant motion around her daddy. She climbs on him, giggles, turns around, and then she’s back to twirling on the tile.

She’s bouncing and spinning around in her pink frilly skirt. Her black cable knit tights are sagging around her tiny knees, and her puffy coat makes her arms stand out further than is natural. To top off the ensemble is a shiny crystal tiara. It’s been tacked down to her head with what appears to be about 60 haphazard bobby pins.

She’s probably four years old. So little, so vulnerable. She doesn’t seem concerned about it as she sings about teapots and ladybugs in her black Mary Janes. I feel myself tear up as I watch her. I tear up as I watch him watch her. She could not possibly know at four what impact this man, his character, or his words will have on her for years to come. And, maybe he doesn’t know either.

So, to all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you, here is what we wish you knew:

1. How you love me is how I will love myself.

2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer, I need to know you value me before I can understand my true value.

3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to her or not.

4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.

5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.

6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality of men.

7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.

8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.

9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about my own.

10. How you handle my heart, is how I will allow it to be handled by others.

11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.

12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard myself from men who are not.

13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more than dress size.

14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having a strong voice is acceptable to you.

15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is wrong with it.

16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.

17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you if you do.

18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.

19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a boy can do.

20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.

21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than does just about anything else.

22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.

23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I need it so much to understand healthy touch.

24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.

25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.

See the original post at  http://tarahedman.com/blog/

8 Things That Reveal A Woman’s Character

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8 THINGS THAT REVEAL A WOMAN’S CHARACTER

See the original post @ http://marshill.com/2013/07/19/8-things-that-reveal-a-womans-character?

BY Deacon Jen Smidt

 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)

Men, when it comes to dating and attraction with women, “cute” is a fine starting point. I understand that God made men and women to be physically attracted to each other, and I would never encourage a brother to marry a gal he was not at least somewhat attracted to. But “hot” is not a good ending point either—kinda like “hell” isn’t a good ending point.

There is so much about a woman to know as a man contemplates whether or not to pursue her beyond friendship. A common mistake men make before asking a woman out is they make snap judgments about her based on looks and don’t take the time to observe her in action to get an idea of her character.

I’m not saying that you’ve got to see if this woman can pass a comprehensive character evaluation before you go out for a cup of coffee, but I am saying to spend some time in prayer and pay attention to how she speaks to her friends and carries herself around other guys. What drives her? Whom does she love? How does she talk about the people she loves? Things like this will reveal far more about her than her exterior will.

DOWN TO THE CORE

Just as I’ve told the ladies, it is crucial for men to know that character is the undergirding of a woman, the nature of who she is. At her core, she must be a woman of character to get your attention.

Over her lifetime, a woman’s waist and chest size will fluctuate, her hair color will fade, and her interests, passions, and ideas will develop. She might change her mind a dozen times (possibly even in the same hour) and she will keep you guessing for a lifetime. (One of the many mysterious traits about our gender.)

What will remain consistent is her character. To be sure, she will mature and, by God’s grace strengthen, her character over time. But the essential qualities must be in place at the get-go.

A godly man will have complete confidence in her character before he says “I do.” I am not saying she must have reached perfection or even live up to your standards (which, by the way, may be completely unrealistic). I am saying you want to find a woman of godly character (read Proverbs 31).

8 ESSENTIALS

Do you know the answers to these essential questions about her character:

1. IS SHE A WOMAN OF GOD?

If you clearly see evidence of Christ having regenerated her heart, ultimately it is him you have confidence in, not her. He has promised to complete the work in her and you can trust the Holy Spirit who lives in her to refine her heart.

2. WHO INFLUENCES HER LIFE THE MOST?

If it’s Oprah, the gal at the Clinique counter, or her tarot card reader, we may have a problem. A woman of character will surround herself with godly influences—her Bible, her church, and others who love Jesus. She will have friends who don’t know Christ, but she will be influencing them.

3. IS SHE SOFT?

I’m not talking hair, skin, or around the middle. I am also not talking weak, mousy, or a pushover. You want to observe her having a tender heart toward God and others—especially when she is wrong.

4. WHO KNOWS HER WELL?

I get it, the mysterious woman persona is intriguing, but she can’t be a mystery to everyone. If she is not known deeply by someone, chances are she’s hiding something—maybe pain, loneliness, sin, shame—but her character is shrouded. She needs to let the redeeming light of the gospel of Jesus shine in her darkness.

5. IS SHE TEACHABLE?

Humility transforms a woman’s heart. You want her to always be learning more about God first, as well as health, food, art, music, or whatever. A teachable woman will always be growing, changing, maturing, and interesting.

6. IS SHE RULED BY TRUTH OR BY EMOTION?

A woman of character will understand the balance between truth and feeling. She will not be an impenetrable stoic, nor will she be a drama queen. She may lean one way or the other but will ultimately let the truth of Christ control, define, and settle her.

7. IS SHE FEARFUL?

Fear of man can be debilitating in the life of a woman; fearing God is the path to life and freedom for a woman. Marry a woman who, as Peter describes, “[does] not fear anything that is frightening.” You will need her by your side, not cowering in the corner, when life gets tough.

8. IS SHE WISE WITH HER WORDS?

Women talk. It’s science. They have thousands more words to expend in a day than you do. Women of character use their words to build up, speaking love and honor. They do not gossip, tear down, or dishonor with their words. What words does she use that reveal her character?

“Cute” is a good start, but character is the measuring stick of a woman worthy of your time and pursuit. Be intentional about building your own character and diligent in your search to find a woman whose character resembles Christ’s.

How To Lead Young Men

Biblical Model of How to Lead Young Men

How to Lead Young Men

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:6–8

The decisions that young Christian men make will ultimately lead to either much fruit or much destruction. The first step toward fruitfulness in a young man’s life is that he needs to realize that he is not meant to live life for himself, but for God. Bringing young men to that place needs to be a priority in church, especially when the world preaches the opposite message. Here are some insights on how to lead young men toward being selfless lovers of God (Eph. 5:1–2).

1. YOU HAVE TO CARE Here is an important truth I’ve learned: If a young man truly believes that you care more about him personally than about what he does for you, he will go into battle with you. On the the flip side, if he think you mostly care about what he does for you, then you will lose him, it is just a matter of when. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 1 Thess. 2:8 Young men are not as tough as they would like to appear. They are starving for affirmation from men they respect. This could be rooted in a unloving or absent father, or in that they simply don’t know how to grow up without guidance. And if you don’t actually care, pray that you will. You can’t fake it, and if you are faking it, you are probably doing more harm than good and should not be leading (Phil. 2:3–5; John 13:34).

2. INVITE THEM INTO YOUR LIFE If you want to make an impact on a young man, don’t just have a “work relationship.” Invite them into your life to show them you value them, while demonstrating what the next stage of life looks like: how you love your wife, how you love your kids, how you bring faith into the home. These are life-changing lessons, especially for those who have never seen it before. Modeling is very important, many of them had poor models, so model at every opportunity. Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Lead young men to repentance3. DEMONSTRATE REPENTANCE If you are a man worth following, you got there through repentance, which is simply saying to God, “You were right, I was wrong. Your ways lead to life, and my ways to destruction. Thank you for forgiving me, reconciling with me, and saving me from myself” (Is. 55:8–9; Prov. 14:12). There was a time in my life as a single guy that it became clear to me that everything in my life was in some way always about me. Growth and maturity only started to come as I repented of my selfishness and recognized that God’s call on my life was to put others first. I still have to constantly repent of this and have a long way to go. Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8 Sharing these kinds of things with those you lead goes a long way. Young men will start to follow you because of where you currently are, but they will continue to follow you by you humbly demonstrating how you got there, i.e. through constant repentance. Transformation begins by acknowledging that Christ is on the throne, and you are not, and acknowledging God’s way over your own, but it is not a singular event, it is lifestyle of repentance. This is not common in leadership today; it will likely distinguish you from every other leader they’ve known, an utterly unique and a tangible demonstration of being a secure enough person to humbly repent, which is what they want in their insecurity. It will not be encouraging for them to think you are faultless as they wrestle through their sin. Foster a “we are all in this together” mindset among your team, and be patient, so they won’t be afraid to share their fears and fails.

4. CALL THEM TO A PURPOSE, BUT NOT THEIR PURPOSE Every guy wants to be something special, a hero, a man among men. In my experience, I have noticed a similar pattern when young men set out on their own. First, they pursue happiness, pleasure, and fun. Often this leads to partying, adventure, or a lazy pursuit of comfort in things like video games. When that dries out, they pursue meaning, usually in relationships, achievements, or causes. They let the meaning of their life rest on people and situations that will ultimately fail them. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 The point is, man’s purposes are vapid, shallow, and fleeting (Ps. 39:5; Prov. 16:2) Often times leaving a lot of destruction in their wake (1 Tim. 6:9). Man was made for the purposes of God, and this desire is etched in our souls (Gen. 1:26–28). In the words of Pink Floyd, man would rather have a walk-on part in a war than a lead role in a cage. The war is the story of the kingdom of God, from creation to new creation, and it requires sacrifice for God’s glory, not ambition for our own. Invite them into the bigger story of God reconciling all things to himself (Eph. 1:7–10; 2 Cor. 5:11–21).

5. EXPECT A LOT, AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT Young men need to be challenged, not coddled. They respond to conviction, and desire the same fire in the gut as the men they choose to follow. Call them up to be the men they hoped they would magically turn into. Moreover, call them to be the men whom God created them to be (1 Cor. 16:13–14). Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13–14 God gave the law to show men their need for a Savior, and clear the way for grace (Rom. 3:20–24). In the same way, when men are stretched, the result is every idol that is in front of Christ is exposed, creating opportunities gracious correction by walking them through what it looks like to repent, fight pride and selfishness, and remember that Christ is on the throne, they are not (Ecc. 5:2). These are lessons they will take with them their entire life, especially as they transition into marriage and fatherhood.

6. LIVE IN THE LIGHT Living a double life is exhausting. There is a better way, living in the light and embracing the gift of repentance that leads to joy, freedom, and connection with God and his people (Acts 11:18). That is a pattern that needs to be established in the life of every young man. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. John 12:36 When sin in brought into the light, it is disarmed (John 3:19–21). Kept in the dark, it is powerful. If you are leading a young man, establish early that secrets are the enemy of growth and have no place in this relationship (John 1:5–10; Eph. 5:8–14).

7. DON’T SUGARCOAT Young men want a straight answer with conviction. In this day and age, there is more information and ideas than ever before. Young men are being assailed by the world trying to “sell” them some idea of truth that appeals to their innate selfishness. Advertising, marketing, politics, and culture all promoting worldviews that teach men that they deserve what their flesh desires. The truth unfiltered cuts through the noise for those whom God wants to hear it (Is. 55:11). Call sin sin. Call lies lies. Call lust lust. Call repentance repentance. Most importantly, paint a vivid picture of the magnitude of God’s love and grace, and an accurate picture of the frailty of man. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Psalm 32:5 Additionally, always ask direct questions that require direct answers: “When is the last time you looked at porn?” “Did you touch your girlfriend inappropriately?” “Where is your money going?” “How much did you have to drink?” Catch them of guard if possible, which usually results in a more truthful answer or transparent lie. This isn’t to berate them or humiliate them, but without honesty there can’t be real, transformative repentance. If they aren’t transparent, you can keep pushing, but when they respond repentantly with conviction, give them grace and remind them what Jesus has done for them.

Big shoes to fill when you lead young men

8. BE SOMEONE WORTH FOLLOWING First, a caveat: No one is ever worth following all the time. We are all sinners saved by grace (Eph. 2:1–10). Lead from a place of transparency and as already noted in #3, and model repentance. Often. I heard of a study once that men decide in the first 90 seconds on whether or not they will attend a church based upon if they see the pastor as a man worth following. This is particularly true for young men. If they do not see you as someone they respect and admire, it doesn’t really matter what you say. To some degree, they need to see in you what they want to aspire to, or simply what kind of person they want to be. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17 To start, young men often gravitate toward the superficial, everything from how you dress, how you carry yourself, your family, your interests, and your “gravitas.” Don’t overemphasize these outward qualities—but more importantly, don’t ignore the fact that those will open some doors. What ultimately matters is to be a man of character, conviction, love for God, and an unwavering identity rooted in Christ. If you reflect God well as his image, a young man will see that. In leadership, there always has to be a err of “I want to be like him.” Then you point them toward the him that is Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

THE CALL The church desperately needs more Godly older men pouring into younger men. It is unbelievable how many young men have never guided by a man with a life worth emulating. If you are a man worth following, it means someone has already poured into you, been patient with you, served you, and now it’s time for you to do likewise just like Jesus has done for you. If you are a man worth following, it will be evident to others, your growth will not have happened in a vacuum. If you are a man worth following, please pray that God would use you to impact legacies. Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:2–5

By Brandon Andersen (originally posted on www.theresurgence.com)


Do You Lead Young Men?

If you’re actively involved in God’s church, chances are you’ll  find yourself  in a position where you need to lead young men in some capacity. Hopefully this article provides new insights you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of!

As men, we seek – sometimes crave – recognition and affirmation from older, wiser men. The flip side, of course, is that if you’re older than other men in your church – well guess what? You have the opportunity to speak life, encouragement and affirmation to your younger brothers. Try to give specific praise points (“I really respect how you handled that difficult situation with John”) rather than broad, sweeping statements (“You’re really tops!”).

If you are living a life as described in the article above, your sincere word of encouragement will carry that much more weight to your brother.

Actually, here’s another way you could help to lead young men in your life – refer them to this website!

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