Reader Britt Stratton sent this picture of a store sign to her church office as a potential new policy for their children’s ministry in 2006.
So, if you’ve got kids, you might want to keep a close eye on them this Sunday. Otherwise you might end up with a surprise gift and a hyper child!
See ya’ll Monday,
for Carolyn, Nicole, and Janelle
Following up on Wednesday’s post about devotions for middle school children, here is a priceless suggestion from pastor and homiletics professor Mike Bullmore, on how to teach your children to read the Bible.
When each of his children turn eight, Mike buys them a journal. A nice one. Then he tells them, “Tomorrow, we are going to have devotions together and do something that I hope lasts the rest of your life.” The next morning, he has the child begin reading a chapter a day in the Bible, starting in one of the gospels.
To help them meditate on what they’ve read, Mike has them write two simple sentences in their journal. One begins with the word “God” and one starts with the word “I.” Each day, Mike reads what his children wrote, a practice which gives him a unique window into their soul.
Once his children fill up their journal, they go on a special date with Daddy to buy a new one.
What a wonderful way to make a memory with children, as well as instill in them a love for Scripture at an early age! I can’t wait until we can do this with Andrew. In the meantime, I might borrow Mike’s journaling idea for my own quiet times!
Well, week 35 hasn’t seen much action. Although my trip to the doctor this morning confirmed that her head was still down, it also showed that everything else was status quo. I think she’s a happy little camper. Lots of food, warmth, and sleep. Why would she even want to think of leaving all that for the real world?
I’m finally creeping up on that “ready to get the baby out” stage that I’ve heard so much about. There is this one special muscle in my back that, no matter how much I twist and turn, has decided to stay constantly tight. The tiredness level is increasing. This morning I fell asleep sitting up while talking to my mom; I even started dreaming. I’m also growing out of my maternity clothes and my socks are too tight. Fun times!
But, you know, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Each one of these funny little inconveniences is leading up to the arrival of my little girl. Let the aches and pains continue! It’s all worth it. Five more weeks to go…
Yesterday I promised to mention something about yearly planning. For this exercise I head straight to a message by my mom entitled “In Every Season.” In this message, Mom speaks about living intentionally from Ephesians 5:15-17, and provides practical suggestions for taking a personal retreat. In addition, I developed some worksheets straight from the message to use when taking the retreat. You can download the worksheets for your own personal use by clicking here.
Make this happen! Break out that calendar and look for a time to fit this in. It may be only for a day, or you may even be able to swing an overnight. But the key thing is finding a place to have an extended uninterrupted time to seek the Lord and evaluate your priorities.
I’m taking my retreat at the end of this month. How about you?
Hey Everyone, Nicole here. I know, I know, some of you moms are anxiously waiting for my mom to post kid’s quiet time picks. Don’t worry, we’ll still bring you that info. But I’m posting today in order to give Mom a chance to catch up on stuff.
She and Dad spent the weekend with 2500 enthusiastic college students at Grace Community Church’s annual Resolved Conference. Hosted by the very enthusiastic single’s pastor (and Dad’s good friend), Rick Holland, the conference also featured the Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, and Dad and Mom. (Here’s a lovely picture of Mom speaking to the ladies on “True Beauty.”) I’d encourage all singles to check out the Resolved website and sign up to receive the mp3’s when they become available.
But as I was saying, Dad and Mom didn’t arrive home until late Monday night (early Tuesday morning, really), and so Mom still needs another day to re-group after their wonderfully memorable weekend!
In order to allow Mom to sleep in this morning (don’t lose heart all you 5:00 clubbers—she’ll be up at 4:30 tomorrow!), I interviewed Dad for today’s Q&A. He is the one who oversees Chad’s devotions.
At twelve years old, Chad has a quiet time for thirty minutes every morning as part of his daily schedule. Dad does devotions together with him twice a week, and the other days Chad reads his Bible on his own (he’s currently in Proverbs) and works through various materials Dad has assigned him.
As Dad puts it, his primary goal with Chad—apart from helping him develop a disciplined habit of meeting with God—is to provide him with cross-centered content that equips him to discern and weaken sin, grow in godliness, and apply truth to his life.
Dad opens their times in prayer, and they conclude by taking turns praying: for God’s help to apply the material and specific requests to God on each other’s behalf. “I think it’s important for Chad to hear me pray and benefit from my prayers,” Dad says. “Spurgeon was deeply affected by hearing his mother pray and I want to be an example for my son.” Dad also likes to hear Chad pray as it gives him an opportunity to evaluate his heart. In addition to prayer, Dad leads Chad in a discussion, but their times don’t merely include instruction. Dad also seeks to model humility by informing Chad of his own sin, and how he is seeking to attack it, and grow in godliness.
In addition to daily Scripture reading, Dad and Chad have covered a variety of topics over the past six months, using sound theological materials, and beginning with portions from Knowing God by J.I. Packer and The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul.
(Pause. I know some of you may be a tad confused: you thought this was a post about quiet times for middle school children, not adults! It’s true, most of the material Dad is taking Chad through is adult-level reading. However, as Dad says, his goal isn’t exhaustive comprehension of all the material, but sufficient introduction and specific application.)
After time spent in these two classics, Dad had Chad read and then discussed an article entitled “The Cross and Criticism” by Alfred Poirier.
More recently, they’ve spent time studying the conscience. From this study, Dad highly recommends John Macarthur’s message on the conscience from last year’s Resolved conference.
This study was followed by a closer look at the the fifth commandment for children to honor their father and mother. Here they utilized two chapters from two different books: chapter eight on “Respect Authority” in Philip Ryken’s Written in Stone:The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis and chapter five entitled “Parents and Loving Others” from Kent Hughes’s Disciplines of Grace.
On the topic of biblical masculinity, Dad and Chad are about to begin an excellent article from the most recent issue of the Southern Seminary Magazine, “Show Yourself a Man,” by the Executive Director of CBMW, Randy Stinson. (As an aside, Dad would also recommend an article for parents by Al Mohler. It’s called “When Does a Boy Become a Man?,”and it’s also featured in the Winter 2005 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine.)
Finally, Chad recently requested to go through Dad’s book, Humility: True Greatness.
No emails please, asking what to do with girls! All the same stuff applies (except the articles on masculinity of course!). Young women need to study sound doctrine just as much as the boys. Growing up, Mom was the one discipling us in biblical womanhood, but Dad taught his daughters to love theology as much as their mother does!
My husband recently found me on the living room couch in a puddle of tears. Granted, pregnancy had me crying over spilled soup recently, but these tears revealed a little more. As I talked to Mike, it became more and more clear that my tears were over consequences I had experienced because of my neglect of Habit #4, “she sets up regular time for planning.” I had missed an event that I had really wanted to attend, simply because I neglected to keep up on my calendar. Oh, this wasn’t the first time that I had experienced the result of ineffective planning.
You see, I have never considered myself “a planner.” I prefer to let life come at me. I would like to think of myself as “laid back” and “relaxed;” but I have come to see things differently. Through the help of others, I have seen that this “laid back” lifestyle was an excuse for my selfishness. I wanted to be free to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. This selfishness was bearing bad fruit in my life. I was not only missing events that I wanted to attend, but others were suffering from my unfaithfulness to follow through on specific responsibilities.
Yes, drastic action was needed. Habit #4 to the rescue. I already had a set plan in place for yearly scheduling (more on that tomorrow), but that obviously wasn’t enough. My mom encouraged me to implement weekly and daily scheduling.
So Sunday afternoons now find me sitting down (somewhere really comfy with lots of pillows) with my computer and my list of overall priorities and responsibilities. These will look different for everyone, but mine start with the big ones—my marriage, church, relationships, home, work, etc. I take these large priorities and break them down into my daily “to-dos”. How can I care for Mike this week? Is there anyone that I can bless with a phone call or encouragement note? Which nights do I need to cook? When will I do the laundry? Which days am I putting in my hours for work? Have I left enough time for naps? You get the picture. I plug each of these responsibilities into a specific day. This becomes my weekly “road map” and the list that I refer to each morning.
You see, once I’ve done my yearly planning and my weekly planning, then my daily planning is a breeze. This wonderful quote, passed on to me by my wonderful mother, offers some sound advice:
“Follow the 15:4 rule: Spending fifteen minutes thinking about what you are going to do before you start will save four hours of wasted time later on. Any individual who has thought through her workday, set priorities, and organized the day’s tasks is likely to accomplish far more than someone who moves randomly through the day” (Stephanie Winston).
This simple, but “highly effective” practice has made a huge difference in my life. My priorities and responsibilities are receiving regular attention and evaluation. And the living room couch has not seen as many tears of late.
OK, have you got your “Relationship List” in hand and are you ready to proceed with our little exercise? After we’ve thanked God for the blessing of family and friends we are ready to evaluate our relationships in light of Scripture. First of all, let’s consider the following two questions:
- Is there anyone not on this list who should be?
For example, if we’re not cultivating evangelistic relationships (Col. 4:5-6), or seeking to encourage younger women (Titus 2:3), or reaching out to new people (Heb. 13:2), then God would have us make such relationships a priority.
- Is there anyone on this list who should not be?
If, for instance, someone is an ungodly influence, we need to graciously sever that friendship (1 Cor. 15:33). Or if there are an excessive number of friends on our list (Prov. 18:24), then maybe we need to consider focusing our attention on fewer godly relationships.
Priority relationships shouldn’t primarily be based on whom we “click with” or enjoy hanging out with the most, or even those who “need” us the most. Rather, our relationships should spring primarily from a desire to grow in godliness, encourage godliness in others, and share the gospel with the lost. So, after we have the priority people on our list, let’s evaluate these relationships a little more closely by considering two more questions:
- Does our involvement and investment with each person reflect the priority this relationship should be at present?
For wives and mothers: does our investment of time reflect that our husband and children are our greatest priority? (Prov 31:10-31, Titus 2:3-5)
Does our relational network indicate that we place the highest value on friendships in the church? (Gal 6:10)
Do our relational priorities reveal a lifestyle of evangelism? (Col. 4:5-6)
- What specific, practical changes do we need to make in our relationships so that we are involved with and investing in the right people for the right amount of time?
Finally, let me encourage you to show this list to your husband (where applicable) or another godly woman. Let’s not assume we can figure this out on our own! And if you are a mother of a teenage girl, carve out some time to take her through this exercise. Evaluating my relationships on a regular basis, in accordance with God’s Word, has never failed to yield insight. I usually become aware of specific changes that reap God-glorifying results as I put them in place. I pray God will bless you as you seek to bring honor to Him—not only in the way that you walk, but also with whom you walk!
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
This verse could well be the theme verse for our series: “7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman.” It’s not a verse, however, that we might initially connect with Habit #3: “She focuses on right relational priorities for every season.” Relationships. A highly important topic to us as women, is it not? We are, by nature, relational creatures. We thrive on interaction with others and wither apart from it. Our world is often centered on our family and friends. The people in our lives usually consume a majority of our time and thoughts. Yet, we are often more passive and receptive than we are intentional and purposeful in our relationships. We may allow people to drift in and out of our lives. We don’t usually pause to consider our motives for developing a certain friendship or neglecting another. Emotions and feelings sometimes play far too significant a role in why and how we go about relationships. Scripture would call us to “look carefully then how you walk” and whom we walk with! We must prayerfully consider our relational priorities in the light of God’s priorities. Do our relationships—the people we choose to interact with, the time we spend, the content of our interactions—bring glory to God? Over the years, I have used a simple exercise to help me evaluate my own relationships. Approximately twice a year I set aside time for planning and evaluation (we’ll talk more about this when we hit habit #4). Among many other topics, I consider my relationships. It’s pretty straightforward really. I make a list of all the people in my life at present. Beginning with my husband, I list all the members of my family. After family, I write out the names of the people in my small group at church, followed by other friendships, both local and out of town. Finally, I consider and list those people who I am seeking to reach out to for the purpose of evangelism. When I’ve finished my relational catalog, I begin by thanking God for the many people who are such a blessing in my life. I don’t deserve family and friends like this! But thanking God for the blessing of relationships is only the first step. Check back tomorrow, because this little exercise has only just begun!
If you thought the 5 O’Clock Club was only for wives and mothers serving their families, this college student just might change your perspective. She and her friends have several God-glorifying reasons for starting their own 6 O’Clock Club. And their example is provoking others to join as well. Read and be encouraged!
“As a graduate student I am very aware of sleep—the need, desire, and idol it can and often does become during the semester. After reading your post on the 5 O’Clock Club, I was duly encouraged to get up in the morning. Not only was it an encouragement to get up and get things done in the morning, it spurred me on to desire to read my Bible in the morning and made me anxious to prepare myself for my future (God willing) family. In your post, the Lord opened my eyes to show me how beneficial it is to get up early…beneficial to my own soul and to my future husband and children.
I live with four other girls and after we all read this post, we decided to institute our own club for the purpose of change and growth. We formed the 6 O’Clock Club (we decided we didn’t have enough to do if we got up at 5,and 6 seemed insanely early to us as is). For the past 3 days, we have gotten up at 6 am…we all check on each other to make sure we are awake and then proceed to our family room to do our devotions. At the moment, we’ve decided doing our devotions in the same room will serve us to hold us accountable to actually doing them and not falling asleep in the process.
It’s great being able to start the day off with the Word and it is also enjoyable to be with my roommates before school. Not only has my house been transformed with a desire to get up in the morning, other girls from our campus ministry have the same desire. As we get up, we make about 3 phone calls to hold other girls accountable to getting up. We are hoping that the idea of being disciplined in the morning spreads like wildfire—if it does, I think our lives will be transformed in a way that would make us more dependant on the word of God with hearts fixated on the cross.
So, thanks for your post on the 5 O’Clock Club. It has planted a greater thirst for the Word in our soul and has given us a desire to prepare for our future as perhaps a wife and mother. Slowly we are cherishing our mornings, and even though we are groggy at the outset, we look forward to much good fruit as we learn to become disciplined and place a greater importance on Scripture.”
Some of these pics were so good, we just had to extend the “Safety at Work Awards” one more week. Hope they send you into your weekend with a laugh. We’ll be back on Monday with the more “Habits of the Highly Effective Woman.”
(for Carolyn, Kristin, and Janelle)