Posts tagged ‘Walking with God’

June 21, 2014

Doing it in God’s Strength

by Belinda Letchford

flowers ID-100146673 (1)There are many situations that we face that are hard. Be it our living situation, our lifestyle, relationship challenges, parenting issues or specific tasks we have to face. The challenge is to trust God and rely on him. This morning as I tussle with a ‘hard’ thing I want to share some of the verses that are going through my head; words that are rallying my heart.

All Scripture is breathed out by God (inspired by God) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16

How often I have reflected on that scripture and reminded myself that God’s word has what I need for the teaching and training of my children. But it also has what I need for myself to grow and mature for every good work that God has for me .

Can I face the challenges of my day, my week and trust them to my God?
Can I rely on Him to strengthen me when I feel week?
Can I rely on Him to give me wisdom when I am at my wit’s end?

Regardless of what is happening in my life, or in your life, these are the questions that we ask.

Here are some verses that have refreshed my heart this morning:

I worship a strong and mighty God: Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

And though I know this my heart fails, I get anxious, I look for ways to be a solution, where I need to remember that God is my strength. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7

I need to remember … God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1:7 And then I realised… Anxiety is a lack of self-control; anxiety is focusing on the fear, the unknown, the hard, not on Jesus.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

So my encouragement to myself this morning is: God is my strength – not my own wisdom, abilities or reputation. And I trust that this is a timely reminder for you as well. We all face different challenges and yet, we worship the same God – a God who is

Omnipotent – all powerful
Omnipresent – all places – everywhere
Omniscient – all knowing

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

 

 

Originally published as a weekly newsletterLive Life with your Kids, Newsletter.

May 18, 2014

Teaching our Children a Faith

by Belinda Letchford

teaching our children a faith

One of the biggest issues that Paul faced in his day (of the early Church) and we continue to face today is that of good works. Human nature grabs hold of rules and to-do lists and we find comfort in knowing we’ve done all we can do. But being a Christian cuts through all that – we are not saved because of the good stuff we do, we are saved through our faith in Jesus Christ. I wonder though if we, as parents, have attached “teach our children faith” to that to-do list. Is teaching our children faith going to be the mark of us being good Christians?

Don’t get me wrong – we do need to introduce our children to Jesus – but it needs to be an overflow of our own faith, not a good works we set out to do. This changes any list of how-to we may seek out as a parent.

One of the things that I have been challenged with as a parent, especially as I see my role as one who disciples my children, is that they are the same as any person that I meet. Jesus has called me to go and make disciples, baptise them, teach them to observe (keep/practice) all that Jesus taught. (Matthew 28:19-20). In the Christian community we are comfortable with the idea that when we meet an unsaved person, we introduce them to Jesus, they seek to understand and accept Him. When they do accept all that he has done for them, we baptise them, and we help them to continue to grow in their faith (which is discipleship). This is the same sequence we should consider when talking about parenting our kids.

  • Introduce our kids to Jesus
  • Help them understand God’s Word
  • Be there when they decide to believe in Jesus
  • Baptise them
  • Help them grow and mature as disciples of Christ

The one thing that is different when we talk about our children compared with other people, is that they live with us. We have 24/7 opportunity to introduce them to Jesus.

What Jesus are we going to introduce them to? The Jesus of religion that has us doing stuff, or the Jesus of my saviour, friend, and brother?

This is tricky, because as a Christian myself there are certain things I want to do: I want to read God’s word daily, I want to gather with God’s people to be encouraged and to encourage, I want to help others, I want to reflect Jesus wherever I go. But if my kids aren’t Christians then I need to be careful that I don’t portray these actions as the definition of faith. Their faith in Jesus Christ as their saviour has to come first – it is the first lesson. Then as Christians they too can choose to do the things that I do, as they mature in their walk with Jesus.

This is tricky because the things I do, are what our family does. It is a catch-22: If I don’t involve my kids in my life as a Christian, they don’t see real. If I do involve them in my life as a Christian I run the risk of telling them (inadvertently, through my actions) this is what being a Christian is about – which will be perceived, especially as they get older, as good works!

We must be clear then, in our own mind first, that our job is to introduce our kids to Jesus as a person. Secondly we are to show and tell them the cost of following Jesus – which will be the lifestyle that flows out of obeying Jesus. They are two different issues. We must be careful not to blur the lines.

So how to introduce Jesus to our kids?

  • First you show, by your life, that Jesus is a real person. Jesus is a person you talk to and listen to. Jesus is a person who you respect and obey; he influences your life.
  • You talk about Him, who he is, what he has done, what he believes and says. (We know these things by reading the Bible, His word)
  • You answer their questions and invite them to come to His place (God’s presence)
  • You let them know that He influences the decisions you make, not because he makes you to, but because you love him and you want to show him that love

I want to teach my kids that being a Christian is a relationship with Jesus – it isn’t about doing stuff. It isn’t about going to church, it isn’t about having a daily devotion, it isn’t about serving in programmes or charities. It is about trusting, talking, listening, obeying Jesus. I want to make sure that I show my kids that I have such a relationship with Jesus.

It is much easier, much less personally revealing, or confronting if we just do things that good Christian families do – and trust that by doing those things, that having that lifestyle, will teach our kids how to be a good Christian. But that is certainly missing the mark.

The only way I can be a good Christian, the only way my kids can be good Christians, is to stand righteous before God, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what He’s done (what Jesus has done). This is what I need to be teaching my kids, this is what I need to be portraying as the truth of the matter in all I say and do.

Who is Jesus?
Who am I?
How can we connect?

And then once they’ve become a child of God (through Jesus), then we need to be there beside them, helping them to grow from babies to mature Christians ( Once they decide to accept Jesus for who He says he is – the son of God, the saviour of the world, forgiving our sins – then they too can choose to obey Him.

 

Originally published as a weekly newsletter, Live Life with your Kids, Newsletter.

January 28, 2014

Why I’m Still Teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool)

by Belinda Letchford

Why I'm still teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool)

 

Helping our children grow in their knowledge and relationship with God is one of our primary goals as a parent.  We want our children to know God and to know him personally.  To that end we have not only tried to model a life where Jesus is central, but we have also tried to show and teach our children the importance of reading God’s word, the Bible.

  • We have encouraged our children, once they could read, to have personal quiet time where they read the Bible, think, memorise, and pray each day.
  • During the primary school years we had family devotions at the beginning of our day, during this time we learnt to read, think and pray as a group, and it was a part of our family to think about the same Bible passage together.
  • We also had Bible study as a part of our homeschool day, where we studied the Bible, both as a text and as the living word for our hearts.

So now that my kids are in highschool what happens now?

  • Each of my kids – regardless of whether they are homeschooled or not – are responsible for having their personal quiet times.  This is their issue, not mine, their relationship and though I remind them of the importance of this as a discipline (because sometimes it is hard to do), I leave it up to them and their desire to grow closer to Jesus.
  • We don’t have family devotions – sometimes I wish we did – but it is too hard to find times when everyone can come together on a daily basis.  But the word of God is central to our conversations all through the day and regularly at evening meal times.
  • We also like to join with others in studying God’s word:  our kids have joined in with a mid-week, evening Bible study held in our home, Jess helps lead a young girls Bible study, which Naomi goes to (and Daniel hopes a young boys Bible study is going to start this year).
  • And we still have Bible study as a part of our homeschool day, 1 hour 3x week.

Even in though our two homeschool students are in highschool years, I am still teaching Bible study.  Though they are independent in their other studies, this is the one subject that I maintain as a subject that I teach.  Studying the Bible is more than a school subject; it is a book that will shape our children’s hearts (tweet this).  It will shape their belief system, their Why I’m Still Teaching Bible (and homeschooling highschool) character, their will, their emotions and passions.   Reading the Bible and knowing its contents will not change your life, it is as you respond to the truths that you are learning about that you will be changed.  This is why I want to work through this with my kids – not leave them on their own.  It is more than a school subject. 

One of the verses that is a constant thread in our parenting is the ‘great commission’, Matthew 28:19, 20b – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  Our children are our first disciples – they are the first people that I am responsible towards to teach them all that Jesus has commanded, and to teach them to obey his words.

To teach someone to obey Jesus isn’t like being in an army and learning to obey the drill sergeant.  Jesus wants us to choose to follow him, to love him and out of that love to obey him.  This means our role as one who makes disciples is to help our disciple-ees love and desire to obey Jesus.  We tend to have this mindset with young converts outside of our family and leave our own kids to grow on osmosis.  This is not right!  Our kids are those God has given us to disciple.

This is why I teach Bible.  It is a discipleship subject and though you can grow by reading books on various subjects and by studying the Bible by yourself, having a real life older-in-the-faith person walking along side you is so much better.  This is what I want to be for my children.

What to teach:

Primary school years tended to be about the Bible story – what the Bible had to say and how it applied to them.  We focused on their heart, in recognising that they were sinners, and needed a saviour.  We taught how to respond to life in a way that brings glory to God.   There was a mix between knowledge and heart response.

In the highschool years though, they know the story, they know the sequence of events, the key players, the outcomes, the lessons to be learnt.  Not to say they know it all, but they have a general understanding.  So our focus is on how to study God’s word and what tools we can use.  We dig deeper into topics that are of interest to them, or we find answers to the questions that they have.  We look at being able to defend our faith, and seeing how our belief in Jesus affects every area of life – not just as a child, but it also affects every area of adult life they are about to walk into.

I don’t have a set curriculum planned out for Bible study, though I carefully choose resources that are going to help me serve my objectives for my family at any given time.  Though I use a book or lesson plan as the basis of our lessons it is important to be prepared enough so that I can speak into the subject matter from my own heart, from my own perspective.  It is helpful for the kids to see that what we are learning about has been true in my life – or if it hasn’t been true, I am working on it.  This is what it means to disciple someone – you share your love for Jesus with someone else.

When my kids were younger my goal was always to at least get our family devotions done – if interruptions happened after that then I knew we had done the important thing.  These days, with the changes that happen with an older family my heart is still the same:  I want to protect our Bible Study time – regardless of what else happens.

May 12, 2013

Sharing Links

by Belinda Letchford

 

Here are a few places I’ve been online over the last week or so.

Students are Speed Geeking  I asked myself the question – what could my kids teach me?

Listen with your Eyes  Do you multi-task with God?

I’ve got to dig into this some more … DIY Challenges (good ideas for Daniel’s productive time)

Top 10 Charlotte Mason Sites

O.T. Mom Learning Activities

Family Time

March 21, 2013

Easter Lessons for Big Kids

by Belinda Letchford

 

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ www.freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit to: Lamnee @ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

It is coming up to Easter and I’m starting to see lots of cute ideas for learning activities and lesson plans based to teach young kids about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But what to do with older kids – they are a bit beyond making a tomb garden, they know about the wordless book, and they’ve made Easter/Resurrection Lapbooks .

The search starts with knowing what your purpose is.  When the kids were little I wanted to use this time in our calendar to focus on the truths that Jesus did indeed come to earth, was without sin, and he then died on the cross and rose from the dead in order to restore our ongoing relationship with God.  There are so many resources and ideas available to teach young kids these important truths.  And it works repeating it year after year, maybe with a slight twist or expansion because the kids are being grounded in Bible knowledge and understanding.

But what about when they get older?  I’m not saying my kids know it all, but when you’ve studied the same things for many many years, it is hard to stay focused and really ‘learn’ anything.  What is my purpose for doing “Easter” studies with my older kids?  Some years I’ve not been able to articulate a purpose and our studies have flundered.  This year I have a purpose – want to make the knowledge of the story – the history – personal, to make it about ‘me’ (for each of my children and for Peter and myself as well.)

Here are the resources that I’ve chosen to use this year:

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us.  All because he loves us - and chose us.

15 chapters (one a day) as we look at the gift of the cross and all that Jesus did for us. All because he loves us – and chose us.

 

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind--love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

Based on knowledge of ancient Jewish holidays and customs, this DVD probes the true depth of the Easter story as it begins 2,000 years earlier with a simple promise between a man called Abraham and Almighty God. God’s keeping of that promise reveals a beautifully intricate masterpiece of love for human kind–love fully realized centuries later in Jesus’ resurrection and his gift of eternal life.

It's a story that's captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus' life became clear...and the travellers' sadness turned to great joy.

It’s a story that’s captivated the imagination of many generations. Mourning the death of Jesus, two first-century travellers were joined by a mysterious stranger. Over the next few hours, the stranger revealed many mysteries that lay hidden in the ancient Scriptures. Soon, the purpose of Jesus’ life became clear…and the travellers’ sadness turned to great joy.

 

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about.  Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

This is a contemporary worship music cd – we are familiar with some of the songs – we will have a few lessons where we take a song and read/study the words, and make sure we know what we are singing about. Lessons aside it will be good to have the house full of music that makes us reflect on Jesus.

 

We will read “He Chose You” after dinner most nights.  With the DVDs and CD we will watch/listen to a segment each of our study days and discuss what we learn and record it in someway – probably a notebook page or blog post.    We may well not get through all these resources before Resurrection Sunday– but that doesn’t matter – we are simply using the corporate celebration and time of worship as a reminder to focus on the foundations of our faith – we will continue with this study until we’re done.

Read about Activities we’ve done other years (big and little kids) on my website:  Lifestyle Homeschool – Easter / Resurrection Sunday

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