10 ways we keep pushing for the development of Christ in your Children!

Galatians 4:19 (NLT)

19Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.

I will never forget the experience of being there during the delivery of my children. The words that ring in my head even today are the ones our doctor would say to my wife…. “push,push,push”.  It was with this quiet, deliberate, crescendo of intensity  that all three of our children came into the world. I have to admit I thought there would be more  uncontrolled screaming. There was some of that. But what I remember most (perhaps not my wife)  is this confident  rhythm that the Doctor would set with his calm but intense words push,push, push.

Well that’s over now our kids out, alive and healthy. But my wife and I try very hard to bring about spiritual birth in our children before we push, push, push them out the door into the real world. We are not trying to get decisions we are working toward formation. The formation of Christ in our home as a whole and in their individual lives.  I wanted to share with you how we are doing this on a weekly basis. If you have any things that you would like to share I would love to hear them.

  1. The Lords Prayer… It is like the theological hub of our family wheel. We have memorized it. We say it together every night. When problems or issues arise there is nothing that it does not address to help us out as a family.

  2. Singing before dinner… We sing The Doxology before every meal. It is very helpful because when we are having a hard day we still have to sing and it usually brings a smile to our faces.

  3. Dinner together… My wife has made our dinner time together a delight. We usually solve a riddle, ask each other how are days have been and work through situational school house ethics.

  4. Music… This is a big one for our family. At least four times a week we sing together before bed. The guitar, a hymnbook and some dancing usually brings about good discussion about God at least once a week.

  5. Responsibilities… our kids have daily responsibilities and one of them is alone time with God. We don’t micro manage. We just ask them to go of and spend time with God in their own way.

  6. Everyday before school… We sing a short song together or pray together before they get out of the car to run to class.

  7. Movie night… Every week we watch movies, and bring it’s main idea or theme back to the person and work of Jesus. The kids are pretty good at this and they surprise me sometimes.

  8. Catechism… These are  summaries of principles  in the form of questions and answers, used for instruction. Our Evangelical heritage has produced some pretty beautiful ones. We talk about whatever topic is being addressed in the lesson in a kind of free form way. I don’t always agree with whats being said. We do not like or promote the use of Catechisms in an indoctrinating way but in an engaging and critical way. Our kids are constantly reminded that believing whatever we think is wrong. And thinking about what we believe is right.

  9. The Ruler… We work hard to remind our kids that we are to love the Ruler first not His rules. We bring our children first to the forgiving and loving heart of God (the catalyst of our life) as revealed to us in Jesus Christ then show them what pleases Him. This is important to us because as a Christian family our kids could grow up thinking that because they “know the rules” that they are somehow better than others who do not. So in any way we can we bring up the fact that good works flow out of a gospel of grace based relationship with God. I love what G.C. Berkouwer said… “Grace is the essence of theology; gratitude is the essence of ethics.”

  10. Church… The place where we love, and learn about God together with our Christian family. Here we are able to minister to our Church family with our gifts and be ministered to by all the gifted ones in our body.

    So there you go these are some of the things we do. Now what about you? How do you work toward the spiritual formation of Christ in your children? We started out with very little and simple steps and it has grown and will continue to grow into the fabric of who we are.


What is the Christian claim?

In John Stott’s popular little book Basic Christianity he says  “The Christian claim is that we can find God in Jesus Christ.” I love this statement. Based on my experience however, this wonderful statement is not as simple as it seems.

Here are the top five things from my Christian experience that seem to make this “claim”  somewhat obscure.

  1. Christian Subculture (for many this is simply called church where the word “Jesus” can mean many things based on whether or not you are a conservative, liberal, Calvinist, fundamentalist, redneck, white collar, blue collar, Etc. )

    • Is the Christian claim… that we can find God in Christian subculture?
  2. Christless Judgement (judging others like Christ as if you have not been, are not being and will not be judged by Christ)

    • Is the Christian claim… that we can find God through our highly perfected form of  “fruit checking”, “sin policing”, and “meddling”? {I remember the nickname given to me  by a couple of the locals in one of the communities I pastored  was “The Sin Buster”}
  3. Standards (they seem to give a false sense of purpose after your relationship with Christ dies. After our love for Christ has been replace with the love of standards we begin to impose our love for standards on as many unsuspecting victims as possible)

    • Is the Christian claim…  that we can find God through standards?
  4. Leadership (You need leadership to tell you what to think and believe)

    • Is the Christian claim…  that we can find God through our perfect Christian leadership?
  5. Programs and Systems (Having a problem? We have a solution.)

    • Is the Christian claim…  that we can find God through our programs and systems?

None of these things are bad in and of themselves in my opinion. Subculture, Judgement, Standards, Leadership, Programs and Systems all have their place of course. Wherever God’s image bearers are you can expect to find these nesting things. They are just things that I have found being prescribed by us to broken people as a means to redemption long before they encounter the real Jesus.

Lets work on that.

If we can let the truth that Jesus  is a person and not an “idea up for grabs” we should be able to find comfort in “The Christian claim… that we can find God in Jesus Christ”. Lets allow the lost to find and be found by the real Jesus first then what grows out of that will be of much better use for His kingdom. 

Homosexuality and Scripture

Excellent presentation by a very well respected scholar! Thank you Ben Witherington.

I am in complete agreement with what Witherington presents here from scripture but i do have some questions and a small rant that has been rolling around in my mind for awhile now concerning homosexuality and the Christian response…

1. In light of the Gospel (The person and work of Jesus The Christ) why do we sound like moralists concerning this issue but not on many other sin issues? [By moralists I mean a people who follow a system of moral principles]

2. Why does behavioral modification seem to be a means of grace for homosexuals and not everyone else? (It seems like we are picking and choosing based on the “yucky factor”)

3. Is repent simply an evangelical synonym for behavioral modification?

4.  If our response to hearing the Good News is to turn and follow. What exactly does this look like?

Who doesn’t  hate the thought of being audited come tax season.  I remember talking with an acquaintance about taxes and after I told him how stressful it was he pulled his cigarette out of his mouth and looked at me for a minute with all seriousness and said… “really do you have something to hide? Is that why your worried?”  I remember walking off and thinking to my self  “you @$%!@#& jerk, NO! I’m stressed because taxes are complicated and I am afraid I could have made a mistake… were you born on another planet?… Mr. Perfect Man?

Anyways… when issues like homosexuality come up for some reason some pretty understanding, peaceful, loving and kind Christian’s begin to look (in my opinion) a lot like tax accountants and their churches must look a lot like the department of the IRS or CRA. Full of people who smoke just ready to try to figure out what you have done wrong.  I could imagine being a fall ridden (Rom 3:23), law broken (2 Cor 3:6) sexually confused person (which every honest person is as a result of the fall and the law) looking for grace and being really confused by some “Christians” who seem to have this whole “tax thing” figured out and love to make people feel unconformable who don’t.

Some people ACT like they will hold up well come audit day. Those people might laugh, mock or over simplify the complexities of this fallen world full of fallen people doing and thinking fallen things but in the end I won’t be putting my money on behavior modification when I stand before the great tax agent in the sky… I will be thankful for his Son Jesus just like I am thankful for H&R Block (well that is until H&R Block messes up, LOL).

Ten things you need to know when talking with an evangelical. Number One: How to respond to the question: “How are you doing?”

First of all I probably don’t know what I’m talking about. If you are an evangelical you might read this and say something along the lines of “I don’t sound like that!” or “you have a chip on your shoulder.”… and you may be right… who am I to judge?  I can only speak from my experience as an evangelical learning the language with all its subtle cultural nuances. I want to share 10 things I have learned that help me understand, communicate and even discern the sometimes complex community language of evangelicalism. The first thing I want to address is how to answer the question “How are you doing?” when asked by an evangelical.

1. How are you doing?” Perhaps In many other cultures and clubs this phrase generally means “I care and would like to actually understand how you are doing.” however, in many evangelical circles when you are asked this question it is similar to a pitching coach asking a struggling pitcher during a mound visit “hey, how are you feeling?” after he has given up a grand slam and walked ten batters in a row.  What I have learned is that if I am asked this question by certain kinds of evangelicals it really means something like this… “I see your struggling, I am not, so I figured I would come and see if you are really one of us”.

(At this point I feel compelled to add that if you can identify with me so far you will understand the rest of what I am about to say but if you are not following me up to this point the following will probably bother you… and you should stop reading now and follow this link to hone your skills.)

How are you doing?

Now, let me take a moment and bring the analogy of the struggling baseball pitcher up again. When approached by the coach and asked “how are you doing?” what he really means is “I see you are struggling we have a guy warming up who isn’t struggling should we replace you… loser?” At this point a real competitor is forced to lie to the coach and lying is acceptable in baseball, deception is actually a part of the rules. This poses a problem however to the evangelical when a religiously well armed stronger believer asks you “how are you doing?” you know that you need to play your next move with great wisdom. You may need to lie (which is a sin) in order to avoid the smiling moral and behavioral shtick you are probably going to receive from one of God’s own scripturally certified behavioral emissaries.

 What I am trying to say? You really only have one of two responses to the question “How are you doing?”

1. If you say the truth “I am not doing well.” you will probably be forced to hear one of the many thousands of scriptures that they have memorized just for times like these. We as evangelicals have been well trained like emergency room technicians to diagnose and treat any issue with pithy sayings, scripture or aphorisms all before you can even explain why you are not doing well. Things like empathy or sympathy generally get in the way of our commission to restore you to faith and spiritual health. You see in my experience many of my evangelical brothers and sisters don’t actually hear a person  say “I am not doing well.” What they really hear is “Help! I don’t have enough faith”, or “Help! I don’t understand all of God’s promises”, or “Help! I don’t know a relevant scripture passage”, or “Help! I don’t understand the concept that right thinking leads to right actions.”

2. You can lie. “I am wonderful! Hey thanks for asking.” The response you will probably hear from us will be something like “Great! keep it up… by the way would you like to become more involved in church ministry?”

Well that’s all for today. I hope this helps you on your journey in the world of evangelicalism. I won’t lie sometimes it’s hard but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. You might think this rant sounds as if I have a chip on my shoulder. At least that’s what my wife just told me after I read it to her. She told me to wait a couple of days before I send it off. I appreciate that advice and it is probably wise but on the other hand evangelicals have many “chips on their shoulders” it’s just usually not with themselves (in a corporate sense) it’s almost always others. I have acted and will probably act again as one of  “God’s own scripturally certified behavioral emissaries.” and I hate that but I am happy that at this stage in my spiritual growth my own hypocrisy is far more real to me than others.  I love being an evangelical it’s real, it’s my family and we’re all growing.

By the way “how are you doing”?