How many of us believe that eating healthy and working out is the best thing for our bodies? Great! So what did you eat for dinner last night?
Point being, who cares what we believe about things, unless we are found living as though they are true.
Jesus rarely used the words to believe, but when He did, He used it in the context of faith (being found living as though something is true).
We can teach our kids Bible verses and do devotionals until we are all blue in the face, or we can practice living out Jesus’ principles all week long. My daughter wants to play the guitar, but until she puts her wants into action, she will never learn. The same is true with followers of Jesus.
At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus said “Whoever hears my words and puts them into practice all week long is wise, and if you don’t, then…well it’s just foolish” (4 Timothy paraphrase).
How do we break our kids out of the monotony of hearing devotionals and invite them into walking with Jesus and putting His invitations into practice all week long?
1. Remind Kids Who They Are in Jesus.
There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Generally 80 of those minutes are spent with us in a church gathering of some sort. What a beautiful thing that we get to gather together in the name, power and authority of Jesus.
But that leaves 10,000 other minutes during our week until we gather again.
Most of my life, I have pointed people to and focused my attention on the 80 minute gathering as if that’s where Jesus’ best work was done, and have somewhat neglected the other 10,000 minutes.
My son recently asked me if we were going to church that morning. I replied with, “No buddy. It’s Biblically impossible for us to GO TO CHURCH.
Church isn’t a place we go or a thing we do. It’s who we are, gathered and scattered, all in the name, power and authority of Jesus… all week long!”
Let’s remind our kids who they are. They are the Church all week long. They have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead in and through them today in the cafeteria line, on the playground, when they go to bed, etc. Keep their identity in Jesus in front of them as much as possible.
2. Help shape kids’ hearts from the inside out!
Before we start just doing more things FOR Jesus, we must start with who we are IN Jesus. Then and only then can we help each other walk WITH Jesus.
Every week, my family and the 10000MINUTES.com community are putting Jesus’ invitations into practice. For example, one week would be on practicing Jesus’ invitation not to worry.
When we break it down, it’s actually pretty simple. We can practice worry all week long or we can practice trust.
You ever think of it like that? It’s crazy. Practice worry or practice trusting that Jesus knows what He’s doing in and through our circumstances.
The problem comes, when we start our practice from a place of striving to not worry. There’s a core reason why we worry. Either we don’t trust that Jesus is good, or we don’t believe that He is working for our good.
There is always a core issue to our belief system that drives how we actually live out our day to day. When we don’t believe that we are loved NO MATTER WHAT we do, say or think, we are prone to take matters into our own hands and try to earn favor from God.
When our kids are dealing with something, let’s push past the issues on the surface and dig down to their core beliefs about God and who they are in light of Him.
3. Live like you are loved by God NO MATTER WHAT!
This earning addiction runs deep with us. We are always earning favor from people around us through doing more, being funny enough, smart enough, strong enough, dedicated enough, etc. We earn a living by what we do.
We earn good grades by how we much we study. We earn our parents favor by doing and being good. It’s everywhere! So how can we help our kids know the UNEARNABLE Love of Jesus for themselves?
I know I am supposed to have the answer to this, but I just wanted to pose this to you as something to wrestle with and ask Jesus about.
We can’t give our kids what we don’t actually believe or live as though it’s true. Do you actually live as if you are loved by God NO MATTER WHAT? This stuff must start with us!
Yes, the more we practice and help our kids practice Jesus’ principles, we will start becoming more like Jesus. AND if we don’t ever do another thing for Jesus, He loves us and He loves our kids with an unending love NO MATTER WHAT!
Find a way to help your kids practice being loved by God no matter what!
4. Remember revival in our homes starts in us.
This is going to be a duh statement, but please don’t just pass through this! Our kids’ understanding of God has so much to do with our understanding of God and how we then live Him out all week long.
Yes, that seems like a ton of weight and can quickly send us into a place of shame and guilt, but I believe this is more of an invitation than an indictment.
Jesus wants our hearts, not what you can do for Him. Jesus doesn’t want shame to shape our hearts; He wants His love to shape our hearts which then leads into our actions.
There was a song on the radio a few years ago by this dorky bald guy named Tim Timmons called “Starts With Me.”
The point of it was how we often pray for a revival to break out in our cities and even in our homes, but that’s not where it starts. Revival starts in me. The more that I am hanging out with Jesus and aware of Him all day long, the more my family starts to notice.
Once our homes start walking with Jesus and there’s fruit or evidence of His Spirit in us, then our neighbors start to get curious and so on. Jesus, start a revival in our hearts first!
5. Focus on growing deep roots.
Stick with one scripture verse or passage for a week or for a month. As an adult, reading a new thought/devotional everyday is overwhelming and at times too much for me to ever get a grasp of and put into my daily rhythms.
Now think about our kids’ attention span. How much new information are they getting every minute of every day? How can we help them simplify their brain and heart capacities and narrow it down to one thing for a season?
For example, help them learn through John 15 for a month. Work in a garden with them. Help them see the Vine (Jesus) and branches (Us) and how much the Gardener (God the Father) cares for His garden. Help them poke holes in the scripture as they try to make sense of what Jesus was saying.
Like what does it mean to abide? What is fruit? Who makes the fruit grow? The longer we sit and meditate our lives on one section, the deeper its roots will dig into the soil of their hearts.
6. Share your daily journey with Jesus.
How often can we use the old and tired question of, “How was your day son/daughter?” And the answer is summed up by, “fine”.
Every week, on 10000MINUTES.com we are practicing a Jesus principle as a family. Something that has been super helpful for me has been honestly sharing what I learned through seeing Jesus throughout my day. The successes and failures of my day; what Jesus taught me through it all.
Then, I love asking them at some point during the week, what they think about the practice or if they’ve tried it, etc. Part of the beauty of showing them my weekly journey with Jesus is reminding them that we can’t earn God’s love—but through these practices, we begin to look more like Him.
One of our weekly practices was on praying for our enemies. My son had had some kid calling him “Fatty” at school, and I was ready to go unleash on this kid and his parents and their cat if they had one J. Here’s what I told him:
Son, I want to tell you to go punch that kid in the mouth the next time he calls you that, but buddy, what are we practicing this week? We are committing to praying for our enemies. Jesus knew what He was talking about, because this is going to change your heart—and it’s gonna change my heart towards this kid. His heart may not change at all, but ours will!
Sure enough, my son and I prayed for that kid every day and still do some days. Good news, my son and I have hearts that look more like Jesus now, than we did back then.
We could have done a Bible study craft about praying for our enemy and then left it in the trash, but instead, we put Jesus into action. Invite, inspire, and equip your kids to practice Jesus all week long!
7. Ask heart shaping questions.
Look for heart shaping moments and walk your kids through them. If I were to ask you, what things, people, and experiences have shaped your heart throughout your life – what would you say?
Some have shaped your heart in beautiful ways and some have scarred you, and you’re still living out of those wounds.
Hilary (my babe wife) and I have been asking Jesus to help us see beneath the surface with our kids. Parenting is not for the faint of heart!! Can I get an amen?!
So when one of our 4 kids melts down about the dumbest possible thing, I quickly go to trying to fix that surface issue and fail most every time.
The problem is, there is generally something deeper going on. Duh! But practicing this posture, especially when we are in the heat of a kid battle is another story.
One of my kids was scared last night before bed, and Hilary kept asking heart shaping questions that got him to share about a time that obviously shaped his little heart and drives him to worry.
It was so revealing and helpful. Be mindful of heart shaping moments and help them see Jesus in the midst of it all!
8. Use Jesus’ name as much as possible.
My dad really blew my mind when he told me that Christ was not Jesus’ last name. Christ is a title, not a personal name.
In fact, Jesus actually said that there would be many christs that would come behind Him with the intent to deceive. No one is saved or healed in the name of Christ, but only by the most powerful of names, Yeshua…JESUS.
I am not dismissing the powerful title that Jesus holds as THE Christ or THE Messiah, but just wanting to help us point our kids to the intimate and personal Jesus!
There is something so intimate about the name of Jesus. Use Jesus’ name as much as possible.
9. Allow your kids to question God.
This is a really hard one for me. My oldest daughter has some pretty profound questions for a ten-year-old regarding God. Who is the real God?
She has friends that represent many different faiths who all say that their god is right, and she is confused and questioning it all right now. AT TEN? NOOOOO!
Questioning God was modeled really well for me by my parents, and I am so grateful for the way they allowed me to seek Truth.
Because they didn’t throw a Bible at me and shame me for my questioning, I was free to investigate in a safe environment.
As hard as it is for us to let our kids think on their own, we must help them “own” their own response to Jesus. What a privilege we have to help shape their hearts and trust Jesus that He is at work in their stories. Jesus lead on…
10. Use your failure to show Jesus’ goodness.
Perfect example…As I’m writing this post, my kids have tested my patience. Or in more real language, they are driving me crazy! I just went up to their rooms and lost my cool with them. Well done dad J. Ever been there?
I blow it all the time as a dad, and my kids hearts are being shaped by me in good and bad ways. But I will say this for my parenting; I am very open with dishing out apologies and sharing where I went wrong.
I get to use my weaknesses to show them grace and forgiveness. I get to tell them how Jesus is shaping my heart and teaching me things through hard times. I am not perfect and they are not perfect and that’s okay.
Be okay with using your failures to show off Jesus’ goodness.