Living a Godly Legacy—Part 4

In this series I’ve said that how we live every day becomes our legacy, that God instructs us to communicate faith in Him to the next generation, and that He tells us how. We’ve also looked at specific ways to help our kids and grandkids experience and grow in faith by how we bring God and His Word into the family activities we’re already doing day by day.

Here in the series conclusion, I want to encourage you. You can do this! Here are some important reasons why:

God cares about your legacy. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs express general principles, not promises. So this famous proverb isn’t a guarantee, but it does tell us that God cares about your efforts to train your children for Him and that you can expect your efforts to have a good result.

Children of believers are set apart. First Corinthians 7:14 says, “The unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” This isn’t a promise of salvation, but it does indicate some kind of special concern in God’s heart for the children of believers.

God’s Word achieves His purposes. Isaiah 55:11 says, “My word shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Our job is to teach our children the Word. The results aren’t up to us, but the good news is the power and purpose of the Word always succeed.

Small beginnings please God. After seventy years of exile in Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple, but the work was slow and faced much opposition. The prophet Zechariah wrote, “Then another message came to me from the Lord: ‘Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand’” (Zechariah 4:8-10, italics added).

Your efforts to live your legacy and teach your children and grandchildren about God may seem small to you right now, but they are a starting place. Or maybe you need to restart your efforts, or dive in for the very first time. The Lord rejoices with you to see the work begin. So begin, keep going, don’t stop. You CAN do this!

If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 20

Happy Mother’s Day!

The concluding chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians include some now-famous words about love. Then we turn back to the Old Testament and follow Samuel as he becomes both prophet and Israel’s last judge and Saul as he becomes king but loses the kingdom.

Day 1     1 Corinthians 10-12
Day 2     1 Corinthians 13-16
Day 3     1 Samuel 1-3
Day 4     1 Samuel 4-6
Day 5     1 Samuel 7-9
Day 6     1 Samuel 10-12
Day 7     1 Samuel 13-16

The weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

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– Diane

Easing the Pain of Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day both grandmas will watch as our newest grandson is dedicated to the Lord. I’ll be happy, of course! But I’ll also be aware of all the women in the congregation who find Mother’s Day to be as much about sorrow and pain as joy and happiness. Some of them won’t even make it to church.

I wasn’t planning on reposting these thoughts again this year, but here goes …

Mother’s Day can bring a lot of joy . . .

To new moms, first-time moms, moms whose children are succeeding and accomplishing goals, moms with healthy babies, women whose own moms are loving, understanding, and supportive.

But Mother’s Day can bring a lot of pain . . .

To women who can’t conceive, women who’ve miscarried, women with sick babies, women who’ve lost children, women who’ve had abortions, women whose children are prodigals, women whose own moms were not shining examples of motherhood, women in grief.

Mother’s Day is a happy day for me. But along my road as mother and as daughter, I’ve experienced losses of various kinds and had to deal with grief.

One of the worst kinds of grief is disenfranchised grief, when people grieve “without the benefit of social support or others’ recognition of their struggle.” **

God tells us to honor our parents. The honor is due them for their position even if, for some reason, not their behavior.

Churches often recognize moms or dedicate babies on Mother’s Day. I’m not sure why. Yes, we are to honor one another (Romans 13:7), and moms deserve honor and encouragement, and those babies can make for an entertaining morning.

But if the observance doesn’t also acknowledge the real hurt of women who grieve and women who long to be moms but are not … then those who struggle find their grief disenfranchised by those who should be the first to love.

So this is a plea for all of us to be aware.

If your church celebrates Mother’s Day in any way that disenfranchises grief this year … maybe you can help turn things around for next year.

And maybe you know a woman for whom coming to church on Mother’s Day will be a struggle. Maybe you can speak a simple word of acknowledgement, or write a note, or give a hug.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

POM** The quote is from my co-author, counselor Cheryl Savageau, in the chapter on grief in Parents of Missionaries (IVP).

This updated post was first published at ChristianChildrensAuthors.com in 2013.

Photo, iStock

 

 

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– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 19

Chaos reigned during the time of the judges, but in the midst of that, the wonderful story of Ruth took place. We also start 1 Corinthians, another letter from Paul, written to a young church facing serious problems.

Day 1     Judges 17-19
Day 2     Judges 20-21
Day 3     Ruth 1-2
Day 4     Ruth 3-4
Day 5     1 Corinthians 1-3
Day 6     1 Corinthians 4-6
Day 7     1 Corinthians 7-9

The weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

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– Diane

#ReadGoodBooks that #FeedYourSoul—the 2017 ECPA Award Winners

I don’t think I’ve ever spent an entire day in bed sidelined by a cold, but that’s what happened today.

Probably has something to do with taking strong nighttime cold medicine at 9 am, huh?

So the conclusion to my series on living your legacy will go up next week.

But I don’t want to miss an opportunity to add my congratulations to Dandi Daley Mackall and all the other authors whose books have won the 2017 ECPA Christian Book Awards.

From finalists in 11 categories announced in March, judges selected the top book in each category, and the winners were named last night in Colorado Springs and in a Thunderclap of 660,000 social media accounts.

Dandi’s book is part of a four-book series of two-in-one Bible story picture books from Tyndale House, illustrated by Lissy Marlin. Flip the book over to read the story from the perspective of a different character in the event—in this case, Jonah tells his story first, and then we hear the big fish’s side of things.

Four other children’s books had been nominated as finalists for the award:

Christmas Love Letters from GodGlenys Nellist, illlustrated by Rachel Clowes
Zondervan

How Big is Love?Amy Parker, illustrated by Breezy Brookshire, B&H Publishing Group

Spark Story Bible Psalm Book: Prayers and Poems for Kids, edited by Naomi J. Krueger, illustrated by Peter Grosshauser, Sparkhouse Family

Would a Worm Go on a Walk?Hannah C. Hall, illustrated by Bill Bolton, WorthyKids/Ideals

You can see all the books named as finalists in all categories here.

– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 18

The book of Romans finishes up with instructions for living a life of love, and the book of Judges looks at a chaotic time for among the tribes of Israel.

Day 1     Romans 10-12
Day 2     Romans 13-16
Day 3     Judges 1-3
Day 4     Judges 4-6
Day 5     Judges 7-9
Day 6     Judges 10-12
Day 7     Judges 13-16

The weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

– Diane

Living a Godly Legacy—Part 3

You want your children or grandchildren to know that God and faith are important parts of daily life, but sometimes it seems impossible, right? Getting everyone off to school or childcare and getting everyone to bed on time can seem like herding cats. How can you add one more activity to your family’s busy schedule?

The good news is, you don’t have to. Just bring God into the things you are already doing with your family.

Part 1 of this series explores what it means to live the legacy you want to give your children and why that’s important. Part 2 looks at the starting place—our own relationships with God and with our children—and what God’s Word tells us about sharing our faith with the next generation.

Here in Part 3, I’m sharing ways you can begin to live a faith legacy for your children simply by bringing God into more of your family’s activities.

Talk

Help babies, toddlers, and preschoolers begin to connect God with their expanding worlds. For example, at the zoo or the beach or the park, talk about creation and thank God out loud for making what you see. Make it natural—“God gave the giraffe such a long neck!” “Thank you, God, for the birds we hear.” (Yes, we can talk to God without bowed heads or folding hands!)

If a child is afraid of the dark, remind him God is always with him as you give a hug and turn on a night light. With children of all ages, talk about the things you do and why you do them—celebrating holidays, serving others, or going to church, for example.

Form the habit of talking with your children to show them who God is while they are young. Someday you will need to be talking to them about how knowing God relates to drinking and drugs, sex, abortion, evolution, and a host of other issues.

Share the Word

Your children won’t know the Bible is important to you unless they see you reading it. During a crisis one Christmas, a friend’s young daughter grabbed her mother’s Bible and sat down to “read”—although she didn’t know how to read yet. She had seen her mother go to the Word for help and decided help was needed!

Besides the traditional devotional time some families have with their children at bedtime, other parents read the Bible aloud at breakfast with their children, or do their own reading aloud as children play nearby. They won’t understand everything, of course, but you will be surprised by how much they do understand and remember.

What kind of music plays in your home and your car every day? Little ears (big one too) easily absorb God’s Word set to music. Try Scripture Lullabies at bedtime. We also love the CD included in My Sing-Along Bible by Steve Elkins for a musical journey through the Bible especially for kids.

Pray

We all learn to pray by praying, and children learn by hearing you pray and praying with you. So be sure to add prayer to the times you are already with your kids—meals, bedtime, and anytime you’re talking about a problem.

When my daughter Sheila was five or six, a neighbor boy continually pestered her. Finally we told her, “The next time he bothers you, tell him that if he doesn’t stop, you’re going to let hit him back” (and she did). That ended the problem, but at work I heard another mom telling how her first-grade twins were handling a bully at school. Each night, she was praying with her twins for the child who was bothering them.

Why hadn’t I thought to do that? Praying about problems hadn’t become a natural choice for me yet.

Accomplishments, disappointments, illness, pets, your family’s needs and the needs of others—show your children how to bring each day’s experiences to God.

Serve

Involve your children in service with you. If you make a meal for another family, take a child with you when you deliver it. Are you passionate about a cause? Let your children experience why. One of my daughters takes her children when she cares for the children of refugee women while they attend English classes. Her boys are learning to value caring for others who are different from them.

Find Christian community

Show your children that not only their own family has faith in God—others do too. Include friends from church in play dates and social events. If extended family members aren’t believers, look around for those who could be surrogate grandparents or aunts and uncles to your kids and get together with them for holidays and special events.

Sometimes we hear that faith is more caught than taught … but the truth is, it is both. And your example—your choices every day—can model faith and teach it too. Just choose to bring God in to the activities your family is already doing.

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– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 17

The Israelites settle by tribes in the Promised Land in the second half of the book of Joshua. The letters section of the New Testament opens with the book of Romans, written by Paul.

Day 1     Joshua 13-15
Day 2     Joshua 16-18
Day 3     Joshua 19-21
Day 4     Joshua 22-24
Day 5     Romans 1-3
Day 6     Romans 4-6
Day 7     Romans 7-9

small WomansGuideBibleThe weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 16

Happy Easter! He is risen!

In this week’s readings: The apostle Paul arrives in Rome as the book of Acts concludes, and Joshua leads the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan as God directs.

Day 1     Acts 19-21
Day 2     Acts 22-24
Day 3     Acts 25-28
Day 4     Joshua 1-3
Day 5     Joshua 4-6
Day 6     Joshua 7-9
Day 7     Joshua 10-12

small WomansGuideBibleThe weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

– Diane

Living a Godly Legacy—Part 2

mother with her children at the seaside at sunsetIn Part 1 of this series, I talked about living a legacy for our children and grandchildren—realizing that the way we live every day is the legacy we will leave. Is a legacy of faith your goal like it is mine? Then here in Part 2, let’s begin by looking at our own relationship with God, as well as our ties to the young ones we love so much.

Relationship with God

We all need to evaluate ourselves honestly (and periodically too). Do you have a deep, rich connection with God, or if you’re new to faith, are you working on it? How does that show itself day by day? Bottom line, if we want our kids and grandkids to know, love, and obey God—how well do we know and love him, and how well do we obey?

I don’t remember a time I didn’t believe in God or believe Jesus is God’s Son and my Savior, but even years after I formally chose to follow Jesus, I couldn’t truly say that I knew God. Not until 2000, when I was invited to join a group of women who would read through the Bible in a year and meet weekly to talk about what we read, did everything began to change.

If you feel the need to be more connected to the Lord, begin by reading the Word simply with the purpose to know Him better. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (1 Peter 1:3 NIV).

Need a good reading plan? Go here. Want to listen rather than read? Try BibleGateway.com or the YouVersion app. You can find reading plans on those sites too.

Connections with Our Children

Next, ask yourself some questions about your relationship with your children. How well do they feel known by you—seen and heard? Do they feel respected? Do they talk openly with you, bringing you their serious questions? How deep is your heart connection?

In order to guide and teach them, we need to know what children are thinking and feeling and understand their personalities, talents, and quirks. Be the expert on your child. Ask questions that invite conversation, and listen to what they have to say. Model sharing and connecting. Draw them out.

Knowing children—or grandchildren—well makes it easier to pray specifically for them too!

Sometimes, situations from the past interfere with the present. If you’re carrying around baggage you don’t want to be part of your legacy to your children, don’t be afraid to find help from a qualified professional counselor.

What God Says We’re to Do

The Bible is not a rule book. But it does contain instructions for living as God’s people, and those include how to share faith with our children.

Make God a natural part of daily life. “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” —Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NLT

Invite and answer questions. “And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’” —Joshua 4:20-22

Tell the next generation.
“O my people, listen to my instructions.
Open your ears to what I am saying,
for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the LORD,
about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
even the children not yet born—
and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God.” —Psalm 78:1-8 NLT

Love and memorize God’s Word.
“I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
I praise you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
I have recited aloud
all the regulations you have given us.
I have rejoiced in your laws
as much as in riches.
I will study your commandments
and reflect on your ways.
I will delight in your decrees
and not forget your word.” —Psalm 119:11-16 NLT

Teach and instruct about God and His ways.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” (nurture, training, admonition)
“Fathers, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.”
—Ephesians 6:4 NLT; GW

Prepare our children to receive salvation.
“But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” —2 Timothy 3:14-17 NLT

Step Up to the Challenge

Our children’s faith will be severely challenged in our broken world. But we can equip them for the fight. Next week in Part 3, I’ll share some tested ideas you can put to work in your family every day.

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– Diane

Freebie

You CAN Read the Bible in a Year … Here’s How!