Walk Carefully

Walk Carefully

I recently went for a walk on some property that my sister and her husband purchased outside of Branson. If you know that terrain, you know it’s hilly, rocky and very full of trees. As our family walked through the land and dreamed of a few years from now when they would build a home, I found myself awestruck at my son’s enjoyment of the woods. You know you live in a city when your son sees a pile of leaves and loses his mind in joy!

He ran and jumped and dove and dug. He was messy and covered in dirt, just like little boys should be. We captured a lot of good photos from that day and made a lot of memories. But one photo that my father captured stole my heart and sealed a lesson into my soul. The picture below is one of my son, following in my footsteps. If you look at the photo closely, you’ll see that he is looking where I’m looking and he is stepping with the same foot I am stepping with, walking the same way that I am walking. The words saturated my soul, “Walk carefully, little feet follow”.  It was true on that mountain side as we walked over leaves, rocks and sticks. But it is even more true in life as my son looks to me to see how to walk through life.

Parents, today watch how you walk. Take careful steps. Make wise decisions. Walk closely with Jesus. Step humbly and run with perseverance; little feet follow.

The Gracious and Generous Gift Giver

The Gracious and Generous Gift Giver

Pastor Ronni recently preached a sermon at Emmaus where he talked about God’s common grace in creation. Each of us experience God’s common grace every day; we eat delicious food that we don’t deserve to enjoy, we feel warm sun that we don’t deserve to feel, we see beautiful colors that we don’t deserve to see, we have relationships that we don’t deserve to have.

Ronni pointed out that if all we as parents tell our children about God is that God will see us if we are bad, that our actions would disappoint God, that we are being disobedient to God, then we are missing the gracious, generous, gift-giving God who saves us.

God generously gifted us with so much pleasure in creation, and despite our rebellion towards him, he graciously continues to gift us with pleasure every day. All of these gracious and generous gifts point to the most gracious and most generous gift he’s ever given, his son, Jesus.

So parents, our challenge for you this week is twofold:

Be gracious and generous gift givers to your children and tell them why: Jesus

“But Joshua, we don’t have much money, I can’t give much”. I understand that. Notice that I didn’t say you had to give extravagant, but gracious and generous. Also notice that this does not merely imply giving things. You can (and should) graciously and generously give your time to your children, give memories to your children, give laughter to your children, give energy to your children, give your listening ear to your children, give you securing hugs to your children.  As you give, remind your children that we give graciously and generously because God gives graciously and generously to us and that the greatest gift he’s given us is Jesus.

Know what your children value, celebrate, and enjoy so you can remind them that it is a gift from God.

If they can’t wait to wake up and eat cereal, remind them that it’s a gift from God. If they love to play with a certain toy, it is a gift from God. If they revel in their mother and fathers attention, it is a gift from God and so on. If you know your children, you know what they love and when you see them loving it, remind them that God is gracious and generous to give them such a wonderful gift to enjoy.

The Reward of Children

The Reward of Children

Psalms 127:3-5 says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

Do you think of your child as a reward? I know that most of you do most of the time, or at least part of the time. But do you see them as a reward all of the time? I’ll admit, there are times when my teen daughter is simply a teen girl or when my son is so defiant (he is a 2 year old after all) that I do not see them as rewards. There are moments I just want a break. I want my son to sleep longer, I want my teen daughter to not be as complicated as teen girls are.

These are just moments. They are ever so small in length of time and they hardly dominate my thinking and feeling. However, there is danger in these moments because in these moments I am not believing what God said about children. In these moments, my feelings and my thoughts have told God that his word about children is wrong and my experience is right. It’s in these moments that I see my sinfulness clear and shining brightly.

I encourage you, parent, to join me in a war for our thoughts about our children. May our thoughts be captivated by the truth of God’s word. May we believe with every thought that we have and every feeling that we feel that our children are a reward, a blessing, a heritage, fruit of the womb, arrows to a warrior and a blessing to our names. I pray that today you would be encouraged to look at your children and to smile at the blessing God has given you in them.

On Intentionality and Consistency

On Intentionality and Consistency

In Tad Thompson’s book, Intentional Parenting, he says, “Discipleship is most effectively accomplished when the practice is integrated into the rhythm of everyday life.”

On January 29th, 2017 I preached a sermon at Emmaus Church on Family Discipleship. In this sermon I landed on Deuteronomy 6 when we are told to teach our children when we sit and when we walk, when we lie down and when we rise. I hope that this verse speaks a word of freedom and hope into the lives of parents that wonder how they will ever raise their children to love Jesus. Deuteronomy makes it simple. It is a two-step process: 1. Love Jesus yourself and 2. Teach your kids to love Jesus as you sit, walk, lie down, and rise. Discipleship isn’t something else that you have to add into your life, it’s living intentionally as you live life. In this particular sermon I encouraged us with ideas of what this could look like, so I will spare you that repetition in this post.

In addition to hoping that this spoke freedom and hope into the lives of parents, I also hope it speaks urgency and intentionality into their lives as well. This is not something to randomly or occasionally consider, but discipleship should intentionally be part of our lives every day.

So today or tomorrow, I ask you to sit down for 10 minutes and to consider how you are being intentional in the discipleship of your children. How have you discipled them in the last month? Then consider how you can disciple them moving forward. Come up with a 4-point plan:

  • The next time I sit with my children I want to talk about __________. Or I will ask the following question to strike up conversation; ____________.
  • The next time I walk (drive, travel) with my children I want to discuss _________ or look for __________ that can help us to talk about the gospel.
  • The next time I put my children to bed, we will read _____________ or I will tell them the story of _______________ (insert Bible story).
  • The next time I help my child get up or we eat breakfast together, we will pray for __________ about __________.

Thompson went on to say, “A consistent time of family worship, for example, is a great discipleship practice, but it is no substitute for a lifestyle of discipleship that encompasses the breakfast table, the car, bedtime, errands, and chores.”

May we be intentional. May we be consistent.

josh hedgerJoshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish, and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor and as a missionary in West Africa.

Introducing “Declare and Display”

Introducing “Declare and Display”

Declare and Display is a new blog series from Emmaus Church. Our pastors and leaders will be spending their energy and time writing articles for two broad purposes:

First, we desire to unite Emmaus as one church when it comes to our missional engagement. Through these posts, we desire to help you be aware of missional opportunities that Emmaus will be offering, bring you in on what God is doing through our missional engagement, and to help us all to know how to pray for and support what God is doing through our church corporately and individually in the area of missional engagement.

Second, we desire to help equip you, through our writing and through sharing posts that others have written, to declare and display the gospel in our city and around the world.

What does this mean for you? Great question! It means 3 things:

 

  • We want you to check out our blog each and every Thursday for a new Declare and Display post. We will promote these through Facebook and Twitter as well, so follow us on social media if you have not already.
  • We want you to share your stories with us! When you have a story of declaring and/or displaying the gospel with someone or when you know of an opportunity that you are going to be a part of and that you would invite others to join in for this purpose then share those with me by emailing them to Joshua@emmauskc.com.
  • If you read a blog post or hear a sermon on missional engagement that stirs your heart, share it with me through the above email. If you want to write your own blog post on missional engagement then please send that to me as well.

 

We are excited to take this journey of missional engagement with you as we further seek to unite Emmaus Church under the mission of declaring and displaying the gospel.

 

 

josh hedgerJoshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish, and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor and as a missionary in West Africa.

Dads, you won’t nail it every time

Dads, you won’t nail it every time

We believe our members have the ability to equip each other in various aspects of gospel living. Therefore, from time to time we will feature blog posts written by our members. Today’s post is written by Gabrial Pech.

“For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. . . For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil. 3:3, 8-11)

Throughout this passage and Glen’s sermon a few weeks ago, I kept asking myself and I’ll ask you too, “Is there an area of my life that I unintentionally put confidence in/boast in as a means of justification before God?” Or, another way of asking it could be, “What are some of the things we do or believe about ourselves that we think make God happy or mad with us?”

The answer to that question for me and thus the reason for this post (because I know I’m not alone) is this: my “dadness.” In my flesh, I think far too often that I nail it as a dad. I know I don’t and the therapy my kids will go through someday will confirm my suspicions.

Still, I look to my dadness as a major way I think God MUST be pleased with me and thus inwardly I boast in it. Here’s how I know though that I’m boasting in my dadness and not in Christ when it comes to parenting – when I don’t nail it, I get angry. That anger is not usually manifested toward myself but toward my kids. So when they aren’t as obedient as I think they should be, I get angry because I believe it’s a reflection on my dadness, which I put above Christ. Thus when that idol is threatened, I’m angry.

What’s the solution? Glen did in fact nail it in his sermon, the gospel of Jesus. I see four steps we must take practically.

First, I must repent of this ugly heart that has turned the God-glorifying gift of fatherhood into a self-glorifying position.

Second, I must go back to the truth that my union with Christ, union that was solely obtained by Christ, makes me as righteous as I will ever be. This means that when I do nail it God is pleased with me, and when I don’t nail it God is still pleased with me. More than that, He loves me.

Third, I must stop relying on my fleshly strength to help me nail it. On top of God loving and being pleased with me is this incredible truth: The power that brought Jesus from death to life is the same power that frees me up and enables me to live a life pleasing to God. Rely on that power, not the flesh’s power.

The fourth and final step looks like repeating steps one through four until I die or Jesus comes back to take us to glory.

Dads (and moms), you won’t nail it every time, but the good news is that you don’t have to. God sent Jesus to live the perfect life that you never could in order to cover the sins of your constant parent fails. By grace, keep trying to nail it, but when you don’t, trust and know that God’s grace covers you.

 

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