Family prayer journals

A family prayer journal is a great way to chronicle your journey together. All you need is a blank book and a pen. Everyone can add to the book as needed. Keep track of prayers and answers, keep pictures and drawings of things on your heart, and things your learn about prayer. Keep it as a sort of spiritual scrapbook for your family. Since it’s all together in one journal instead of each having their own journal–or in addition to your own–you have a great snapshot of your lives during a particular time. It would be especially good for important milestones, like an illness, loss of a job, a new addition to the family or other life changing event.

Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.     Deut. 4:9 The Message

God says we are to remember His deeds and tell them to our children. What better way than in a journal?

My valentine gift to you

Do you have any idea how much God loves you? He is crazy about you. You are always on His mind. He wrote you a valentine–His Word. God is for you. He is in love with you as His child. Drink it in

For this Valentine’s Day I thought I would offer you a little printable reminder of God’s love. Do you know all the things God’s love does for you? This list comes two on a page so you can print out a few and put them all over: the fridge, the mirror, your Bible. You may even want to mail one to a friend.

What God’s Love Does for Me (re-uploading soon)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Where our allegiance lies

This blog is not known to be particularly involved in current events and other potentially controversial things. However I heard a bishop say something last week that convicted me.  On the radio show Janet Parshall’s America last week Bishop E.W. Jackson was on talking about his ministry and taking calls from listeners. One caller offered the idea that Jesus got down with the people and was basically okay with them being in sin. This got Bishop Jackson discussing the idea that Jesus came to love, but He didn’t come to be everyone’s friend. He came to divide (Matt. 10:34). He said the following challenging statement:

Christians have got to learn there is no way getting around the potential for persecution and people not liking what you have to say when you stand up for Jesus Christ…We owe our first loyalty to Him. He is our savior and our Lord and it is Him we are trying to please.         (emphasis mine)

Well said, Bishop Jackson.

What would He has me do? What would He have me say? Where would He have me go? I owe my first loyalty to Him, not to my ego or my  friends or even my family. Pleasing Him should be my only concern.

In this new age of “tolerance” it seems that the only point of view that is not tolerated is God’s. I can say I am too often intimidated by the potential backlash, so I refrain from speaking strongly for Christ and His principles. That will change as of today. I encourage you to make the decision this year to care less about what people think and more about what Jesus would want you to do. Speak the truth in love and let God receive all the glory. It is Him alone we strive to please.

Spirit-led lessons

My most exciting times as a home educator have come under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Without the help of the Holy Spirit my lessons become dry and frankly pretty boring. I thought I would share some thoughts concerning this.

If you are a Christian teaching your children at home, you probably already have experienced spirit-led lessons, even if you didn’t know it or call it that.

When you are teaching multiple grades together you can relax. Just as happens in a church full of individuals, the Holy Spirit has a wonderful way of tailoring the lesson to fit the needs of the hearer. I never cease to be amazed that a room full of people can hear the same sermon, the same words and scripture, and get something intimately personal from it. Only God’s living Word can do that.

The Holy Spirit is here for, among other things, education.  John 14:26 Jesus says that when He left the Holy Spirit would come and “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” “All things” there means in the Greek just that–all things. So rejoice that the Holy Spirit is there to teach you, to teach your kids, and to teach you to teach your kids all things.

If you are struggling in an area such as math or history or even how to schedule your day or deal with a difficult character issue, help is a prayer away. God gives wisdom liberally if we will only ask (James 1:5). And when we don’t even know what we need the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:26) and Jesus (Rom. 8:34) both are praying God’s will on our behalf. Praise God! If you are weak in an area let God show Himself strong. I can tell you from experience those are the most exciting lessons of all because I cannot do that in my own ability. (2 Cor 12:9)

I encourage you to be careful not to put your lessons in a box and think there will be amazing revelations every day in every subject. That won’t happen. Many days will be pretty average. But that’s what makes the special times so special. And God’s grace is in the every day, speaking in quiet whispers through His Word in every subject.

With the Biblical Principle Approach that places God’s Word at the center of every subject, you can’t help but have Holy Spirit inspired lessons each time you pick up your Bible and read His life-giving words to your family. It’s rhema.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.   

Hebrews 4:12

praying for our kids

As parents we are to lift our children up in prayer daily. (Sometimes hourly!) But in the business at times I found myself struggling to focus my mind, so I kept praying the same basic things every day. Then someone gave me a new tool to make my prayer time more effective.

I have had this prayer calendar for a long time and thought I’d pass it along.  It will help you pray for your children about something different each day.

Praying for Our Children Calendar

If you would like to, please leave a note about how you pray for your children. Also see my previous posts on prayer. I did a series a while back on family prayer.

Hope for the guilty heart

It’s so easy as a home educator to “feel guilty.” There’s no shortage of stuff to feel guilty about concerning our kids (whether the guilt is deserved or not): too much free time, not enough social time with friends, not enough rigorous academics, too much sugar, too late getting to bed, too little spiritual discussion/application, too little fun and games, too much yelling…

The Holy Spirit reminded me of a scripture today and I wanted to share it here, just in case a reader may struggle with feelings of guilt and/or condemnation.

18 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. 19 This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.20 It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 21 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! 22 We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him.                  1 John 3:18-22 The Message

It is so comforting to know that God knows our hearts (Jer 17:9, 10) and He is greater. With God’s grace we can be free of guilt, whether it is appropriate or not. Guilt keeps us focused on ourselves. Self-criticism keeps us swirling in our own thoughts and actions. Our worried hearts keep us from resting, physically and mentally.

What is the key to freedom from guilt? L-O-V-E. This passage says to practice real love and that it will “shut down debilitating self-criticism.” Mature love (God’s kind of love) is the key to many things, like:

freedom from fear–

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!        1 John 4:18 AMP

stability–

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.             Eph. 3:17-19 KJV
God is love (1 Jn 4:8). All you need is wrapped up in Him (Eph 1:23). He sent Jesus to us (John 3:16) and He continues to love us as He always has (Eph 2:4-8).

So we are free from guilt because of the work of Christ. If He, as the only one who has a right, does not condemn us, we should not do so ourselves (Rom 8:31-34). Rom 8:31-39 is blessed confirmation of God’s commitment to love us:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rejoice that you are set free, even from your own worried, self-criticising heart. Nothing you have done, or have yet to do, can separate you from Him and His love, His love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). Now you can walk free in boldness and get busy living for Christ. Praise God!

Reasoning with young children (part 3)

In the final part of this series I wanted to end with some practical application, because that’s what I enjoy.

Imagine the classical music playing in the background as you gather your little chicks for a day of lessons. As you finish your opening prayer your little cherub-faced angel is looking up at you longingly for some words of inspiration. You pontificate as your child sits at your feet, enraptured by your wisdom. Yea, right. Let’s get real…

Reasoning with young children is a little like swimming for the first time. It’s scary but you can’t wait to do it again. You don’t have all the answers (who does??) and you don’t feel fully prepared (you probably never will, honey). The phone rings, the littlest ones get into stuff they shouldn’t and you sometimes have a bad day. How do you manage to carve out some time to reason with your kids?

Reasoning takes place anywhere, anytime. It can be with a simple discussion about grasshoppers or a memory verse from church. Next time your little one asks you a question, I challenge you to ask them some questions back. See if they can answer their own question, at a basic level.

Also you must pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you instant in season and out of season. Kids come up with conversations at the strangest times and you would hate to miss out on a wonderful opportunity.

Build time to reason into your daily plans. Don’t fill up with facts and activities and leave no time to ponder things. Give them time to respond with their own thoughts, even if they must take a day to do it. Let them think and get back to you. But don’t forget to get back to it!

Get rid of notebooks with fill-in-the-blank answers. They will never learn to reason that way. Ask your own open-ended questions. When they are young it is very easy to do.

Take time, as you can, to prepare beforehand. I know this can be a struggle sometimes but when you read the lesson ahead and write some points out to reason together it will boost your confidence and you will be more productive.

Keep your Bible and 1828 dictionary close. They will be invaluable to your family as you reason together.

Reasoning with young children (part 2)

Another benefit of reasoning from God’s Word with young children is that it really takes the pressure off me. I have one job to do, and it is up to God and my child to do the rest.

Mustard_tree

My job is simply that of planting seeds. I am to make sure my children have the rudiments, the seeds of every subject. It is not my job to freak out about how they will ever learn all they need to know to “make it in the real world.” No child, no matter how “well educated,” learns everything before they reach the magic age of 18. That’s what living is for, to continue learning and growing.

This quote may help you, as it has me:

When we teach the principles of God’s Word, the rudiments or “bare grain” of any subject, we do not know how the individual will mature or how the body of wisdom and knowledge implanted will be expressed by future generations. But, we are assured if we teach whole, complete principles, and “sow” them in the good ground of a diligent student, that these seeds—will produce fruit after their own kind, and God will give them a body—and identity and individuality—that pleases Him. Careful sowing, watering and weeding cultivated the Truth sown. (A Guide to American Christian Education p. 127)

I do not know what my children will need when they are grown. I don’t even know what I will need tomorrow. But with prayerful preparation, diligence and faithfulness I know I can prepare my children as God would have me to. And that preparation includes reasoning with them from the time they are very young.

It is important to allow your children to reason. These are their property, their own thoughts that they have discovered. When they discover that ability your school time will never be the same. When my children are able to reason, however simple it is, I make a point to remind then that that thought belongs to them. I didn’t give it to them, they did it on their own. Intellectual property is a powerful force. Any insight they gain through reasoning for themselves can never be taken from them. This will strengthen their faith and their ability to reason effectively with others as they grow up.

When He cometh

And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Malachi 3:17

When He Cometh

When He cometh, when He cometh

To make up His jewels,

All His jewels, precious jewels,

His loved and His own.

Refrain
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,

Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gather

The gems for His kingdom:

All the pure ones, all the bright ones,

His loved and His own.

Refrain
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

Little children, little children,

Who love their Redeemer,

Are the jewels, precious jewels,

His loved and His own.

Refrain
Like the stars of the morning,
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

Words by William O. Cushing

Music by George F. Root

Principles of family prayer (part 7)

Be Intercessory

This one can be a challenge for children, who (hopefully unlike their parents) are pretty ego-centric. It is nice to form habits early that include prayer for others.  It is scriptural and also practical.

We should always be mindful of the lost around us. We should also be quick to pray for anyone at any time, even in the store or in our neighborhood. If you encounter someone with urgent needs, I encourage you to stop and pray right then. It is very rare that someone will not accept an offer for prayer.

You can encourage your children to intercede on behalf of others by offering them opportunities. Things like prayer lists and bulletin boards can keep children mindful of the needs of others. And it helps even more when your first answer to a need they bring to you is to pray about it. Even a simple two sentence prayer can move mountains. Putting the needs of others before your own will develop children who are giving and loving. They will also see the scripture in Matthew played out in their lives, when Jesus said not to take care for your own needs, but to seek His kingdom first. They will see God’s blessing on their lives and it will increase their faith all the more.

Gal 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 

Jam 5:16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Mar 13:33  Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.Luk 10:2  Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.