Steven and Natalie’s Story

Steven and Natalie were struggling with infertility and asking God why they hadn’t been able to expand their family as they so deeply wanted to do. But through seeking God for answers, and Steven seeing their blessing of extra rooms in their house, they found where their capacity to serve and love others, and the answer to their longing met.

Within just a few months, Steven and Natalie had two foster children filling their extra rooms. And then another call came. There were two more children in an emergency situation needing a home. Their rooms were filled, but God was clear, and the Holy Spirit gave abundant peace. “Yes. Just say yes.”

Through Steven and Natalie’s pain and struggle, God orchestrated a true picture of His love — His love for Steven and Natalie in answering their prayer for children, and His love for children in providing them a safe, caring home. And doing it in a way that was abundantly more than what they asked or imagined — a blessing of four when they thought they only had capacity for two.

Day 8: A Mother of Faith

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it was all you thought about, talked about, and prayed for? Hannah knew that feeling, and she chose to respond with an attitude of humility and a heart full of faith. Hannah was a homemaker, wife, and believer in the Lord. But most of all, Hannah wanted to be a mother.

For years Hannah was not able to have children while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was able to have many. To make matters worse, Peninnah knew how badly Hannah wanted to have a child. She would taunt Hannah cruelly, rubbing it in, and never letting her forget that God had not given her what she wanted. Instead of lashing out or giving up, Hannah would pray fervently for the Lord to give her a son. She continued to worship God and pour out her heart to Him year after year as her family visited the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

One day, as Hannah was weeping and praying, she told God that if He would allow her to conceive a son, she would give him fully back to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). As she prayed and wept, Eli, the priest at the temple, noticed how distraught she was. After speaking with Hannah, Eli asked the Lord to grant her the desire of her heart.

This encouragement fueled Hannah’s faith, and soon after she and her husband returned home, she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy named Samuel. Hannah knew that this child was a gift from the Lord, and in faith, she kept her promise to Him. She took Samuel to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and gave him to Eli so that he could serve the Lord for the rest of his days. There, he grew up in the temple, learning to serve God, hear His voice, and eventually become Israel’s greatest judge. Samuel was the very one that God had prepared from the beginning to lead His people at this time in history.

What can we learn from Hannah as a mother?

God cares about your feelings, too.

Hannah knew that while she was infertile, her lack of self-worth could get the best of her, so she always made sure to confess her feelings to God. No matter what you’re waiting for, you can do the same. God loves you and wants you to know that you can come to Him with any need or desire. Like Hannah, we can pour our hearts out to God and have faith that He will give us His best at just the right time.

Your kids are on “loan.”

Hannah knew from the very beginning, even before Samuel was conceived, that he belonged to God. She understood that her bearing a son meant that she was being “loaned” a child from God to love. This is a game changer as a mom. If we could look at our children through the lens of this truth, it would help us see them for who they truly are: God’s child first, on loan for us to love and train to serve the Lord.

We can see that Samuel’s faith grew to reflect Hannah’s when we read his words in 1 Samuel 12:24, “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflect:

  • What great things has God done for you that you can thank Him for while you wait?
  • Part of God’s plan for Hannah was waiting for child-bearing years. It is easy to look at our outward circumstances, not realizing God needs it to happen this way.
  • What are you struggling to wait for? Pour your heart out to God and tell Him.
  • When Hannah faced opposition in her waiting, she chose a humble response. How will you respond as you wait?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Love Doesn’t Enable

There are times in life when we come alongside others to help them. We do this in love because we see they are sinking, and we want to help them carry the weight of their struggles.

There are also times in which we are tempted to carry people who are perfectly capable of carrying themselves. A prime example of this can be found in parenting.

Pastor Miles recounts a story of his daughter and her homework. Instead of helping her, he empowered her to help herself.

How Can We Help Kids See Answers to Prayer?

As we pray with our kids and they’re getting older, we transition from mere thankfulness to the concept of being cooperative with God.

Think of it this way: the first half of things we ask of God can be answered by gifts He’s already given us – a body, a mind, the earth, the capacity to work, etc. The second half is God doing things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. We cooperate with God to answer prayers; we both do our part.

How Can Single Moms Develop an Atmosphere of Prayer?

The first thing a single mom should do to develop an atmosphere of prayer is to grow her own intimate relationship with her Heavenly Father. This opens the door to her children believing in the possibility for themselves. The next thing she should do is to let her children know she’s praying for them and offer to pray with them together. Engage the mystery of prayer and watch God work.

How Can Kids See Answers to Prayer if They Don’t Get Their Way?

As we pray with our kids and they’re getting older, we transition from mere thankfulness to the concept of being cooperative with God.

Think of it this way: the first half of things we ask of God can be answered by gifts He’s already given us – a body, a mind, the earth, the capacity to work, etc. The second half is God doing things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. We cooperate with God to answer prayers; we both do our part.

How Do I Make Prayer Practical for Young Children?

Children crave routine, and prayer can easily become part of your family’s daily rhythm. Begin with prayers of thanks for food, toys, friends, etc. Progress over time to prayers for God’s help in situations at school or with difficult relationships. Prayer should grow in complexity as children get older. Model for them, through all stages of life, how to pray to their Heavenly Father.

At What Point Do You Practice Tough Love to Your Kids at Home?

The earlier you win the battle of wills, the clearer it becomes for children that they are meant to be in submission to their parents. For some personalities, this gets easier with age. With others, it can be a constant battle. But remember, parenting wasn’t meant to be easy. Draw strength from the Lord, and focus on the end goal: independent, self-led adults.

Should Younger Children Read Every Detail Of The Bible?

Did you know the Bible is NOT rated PG?

That’s right, the Good Book contains a lot of passages that are best described as “for mature audiences only.” Whether it’s Judah and Tamar, Deborah and Sisera, or Abraham and Isaac, there are some passages in the Bible that aren’t appropriate for kids.

So how do you handle those passages as a parent? How do you talk to your kids about some of the more challenging parts of the Bible?

Let’s be honest: the best people to guide your child through the Scriptures is you. You know your child’s level of comprehension and maturity, and you know best how to communicate difficult concepts to him or her. If anyone has the ability to sit down with your son or daughter and discuss what’s in the Bible, it’s you.

Of course, that means you need to be reading the Bible yourself, studying the Word of God so you can correctly handle it when it comes to your children. Don’t shy away from this responsibility; embrace it, because it will only serve to deepen your relationship with your child.

But while your baby girl is still in her Moana jammies and your son still believes he’s Batman, there’s a simple approach to walking your kids through the Bible that PK recommends.

In fact, it’s the approach he took with his children.

First, don’t tell your kids everything you know—teach them what they need to know. As the parent, you are in charge, so leverage that to nurture your child’s faith. Teach them about God’s power, or His faithfulness, or His compassion, or His grace. Help them understand His desire to be in relationship with each one of His children. Show them places where God’s glory was made known to people and it changed their lives for the better.

In fact, until your kids can read, skip the parts of the Bible that kids are emotionally incapable of understanding. You don’t have to read Abraham and Isaac as a bedtime story, nor do you have to bring up Samson and Delilah right off the bat. There are plenty of stories, psalms, and teachings you can read that will help your child begin to understand God’s character.

This isn’t cherry picking – it’s approaching God’s Word as God Himself approaches us: with the progressive revelation of Him in all His goodness.

As your kids get older, you can begin to add in more challenging stories. Bring them along at their own pace, and never be ashamed to rely on your wisdom as a parent. You’ll eventually get tough questions, but never bring up what you can’t answer unless your kids bring it up first, and never answer them above their heads. Answer your child according to his or her comprehension.

Once they are old enough to ask the hard questions, you’ll have built a relationship that encourages them to ask those hard questions to you. And that’s something that every Christian parent should want.

So tonight, as you settle down at bedtime and prepare to read your lovely little one a story from God’s Word, don’t feel bad for skipping over the entire book of The Revelation.

After all, you have your pastor’s permission.

Do Babies And Children Go To Heaven?

At 12Stone we have a saying: “When the Bible is clear, we will be direct. When the Bible gives guidance, then we will guide. When the Bible is silent, then we’ll give an opinion.”

Because Scripture is not specific on the question of what happens to babies and young children when they die, what we’re about to discuss is based on Christian tradition more than the Bible.

As PK said during the Q&A, we believe that everyone is born in sin. This concept is often called Adamic sin, or original sin, or inherited depravity, and it means that every person comes into the world with a sin nature. We are going to do things that separate us from God.

Now, that’s easy to accept when it comes to adults. But when it comes to children?

Kids are innocent. There’s an old saying that no one has to teach a kid how to lie, and that’s true; it’s the sin nature all human beings possess. But what little kids don’t do is make a habit of lying or leverage falsehoods to defraud others. Those are skills acquired over time, as we get older and our hearts grow hardened.

When it comes to children, we believe there is an age of accountability – a point at which every person’s heart becomes aware of their sinfulness and the choice to disobey God. That age is different for every individual; some people reach it as early as kindergarten, while others reach it later.

We believe that until a child hits the age of accountability, the grace and covering of Jesus’ work on the cross covers over them, because the child can’t make a conscious choice about faith.

Always remember that God is more compassionate than we are. He created human beings and designed them to grow up, so He knows where the point of transition is for each one of us and how to mark that. That’s why 12Stone™ as a church is committed to kid’s ministry. We are passionate about helping children at an early age learn the Word of God, the Way of God, and how to walk with God.

But this isn’t just the church’s responsibility. In fact, the burden falls on parents to teach this, because God calls kids early and often to know Him. The more a child resists that calling, the more that child is responsible for how they respond to God.

When parents walk daily with their children, modeling a life lived for Jesus, the greater the chance those children will choose Jesus for themselves. And when that happens, no one should wonder about what will happen in Eternity.

Jesus answered that question once and for all.

The Difference Between Boys and Men

Kevin describes a conversation he had with his 13 year old son about becoming a man.

  • Will = What you choose
  • Emotions = What you feel

A boy will let emotions drive him. A man makes choices regardless of how he feels.

If you want the life you long for you can’t let your emotions make your decisions. Entertainment will overwhelm achievement and life will be a disappointment.

 

Parents: Pray Over Your Kids

We need the power of God to strengthen our families, our kids, their lives, and their future!

Challenge to Parents: As our kids go to school, pray over them each morning before they run out the door, or on the drive that day. All it needs to be is a short and simple 1-minute prayer of blessing over them.

Bonus Week: “The Zax” – Parenting Through Prodigals

Scripture: Proverbs 1:7, 14:8, 14:3, 16:18, 19:3

Develop short-term pain tolerance for long-term purpose.

God understands parental Pain. There’s no one who understands better what it’s like to hurt as a parent than God.

3 Myths:

  1. Perfect parenting makes perfect children.
  2. It’s all my fault.
  3. I can rescue them.

3 Common Warning Signs of a Prodigal:

  1. Become Increasingly Self-Centered
  2. Think They Know all the Answers
  3. Demand Immediate Gratification

How to reach Prodigals:

  1. Unending Patience
  2. Unwavering Prayer
  3. Unconditional Love

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Scripture: Proverbs 3; Proverbs 22:6

The Principle: Success is not a goal; it’s a by-product.

The Priority: Focus on the people they can be, not the places they’ll go.

3 Parenting Focuses:

  1. Focused Time: What we do with our kids is far more important what we do for our kids.
  2. Focused Prayer: You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.
  3. Focused Fear: Our children’s future is connected to our faith. The future you get is in the God you fear.

Lead Your Kids

Scripture: Romans 8

The Truth: As a parent, you have the greatest potential to influence your child.

The Dare: We dare you to lead your kids (maximize your potential).

  • Love Unconditionally
  • Engage Fully
  • Affirm Frequently
  • Discipline & Dream

Action:

Dare: (Grow Your Relationship)

  • Pray Daily
  • Meet One-on-One Weekly

Double Dog Dare: (Grow Your Leadership)

Do Kids Automatically Go To Heaven?

This question can’t be answered by Scripture with full clarity so we offer our guidance and an opinion.  We believe the sacrifice of Jesus covers the original sin of children (and the mentally disabled) until they reach an age of accountability.  This age can vary from person to person, but usually falls within the teen years. It’s a time of life in which a child moves to a place of responsibility and can be accountable for their decision of whether to accept Christ. After that point, the only assurance of heaven is by personal salvation in Jesus Christ.

Home Run Kids – Week 5

Courageous Parenting Decisions

1) Guide your kid’s heart. (Proverbs 4:23) “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

2) Don’t carry your kid’s load. (Galatians 6:2-5)

3) Release your kids from your fear. (Proverbs 28:1) “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”

Reflect: 

  • What is one thing I need to keep doing with my kids?
  • What is one thing I need to start doing with my kids?

Home Run Kids – Week 4

Scripture: Exodus 31:1-6

Self-Worth vs. Work-Worth

  • Self-Worth: Something God gives you and you protect
  • Work-Worth: Something Gods gives you and you pioneer

Raising Competent Kids – Love what you do:

  • Discover what I’m good at (gifting)
  • Advance in my skills (training)
  • Celebrate my achievements with God (honoring)

Reflect:

  • What is one thing I need to keep doing with my kids?
  • What is one thing I need to start doing with my kids?

Home Run Kids – Week 3

Scripture: Matthew 7:7-12
2nd Base: Relationally Capable Kids (Love Others)

  1. Have Respect (value people)
  2. Show Compassion (value people without embracing their values)
  3. Make Friends (big circle & little circle friends)

Three qualities for little circles:

  • Do what you say
  • Give & Take
  • Forgive & Get Better

Reflect: Where are you being casual with relationally critical things?

Home Run Kids – Week 2

Scripture: Galatians 5:13-26

First Base: Character (Love Myself):

  • Ruled by Discipline without Emotion (Inhuman)
  • Ruled by Emotion without Discipline (Immature)
  • Ruled by Self-Control (Emotionally Mature) – rise above the rule of sin, selfish & immature:
    • Honesty (sin is always rooted in a lie)
    • Thankful (selfish is always ungrateful)
    • Pay then Play (immature is always play first)

Reflect:  What rules my life? What rules my kids?

Home Run Kids – Week 1

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Question: What do you want for your kids?

  • Home Plate, Connect – Love God First
  • 1st Base, Character – Love Yourself
  • 2nd Base, Community – Love Others
  • 3rd Base, Competance – Love What You Do

Home Plate: Connect with God (Love God)

  • It takes intentional Time
  • It takes intentional Talk
  • It takes intentional Truth

Consider:

  • What do you want for your kids?
  • What are you doing well?
  • What needs intentional change?