I have been challenged these past few weeks about what I am doing as a mum to help Connie grow in her relationship with God, now she may only be 3, but it is important that she knows and loves God. So what can we do as a family to help our children?
1. Pray often
1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
What routines do you have at home for praying? Connie prays before she sleeps so that means at midday and at 8pm, we pray together. I don’t think Connie knows what ‘praying’ is yet, but she does know how to speak to Jesus - and she loves it. We are now in a routine of repeating after me, followed by us repeating after her. Her prayers 90% of the time consist solely of “thank you for mummy and daddy, Amen” however there are days where others get a mention...family, Hamish, Rachel, the plants, her toys etc. What is she doing though? She is thinking about her day and then talking to Jesus about it. She wants Jesus to hear her. I encourage you to find a time to pray with your children, but encourage them to pray on their own too, fan that desire in them to want to speak to God.
2. Give thanks
Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
I remember when I was pregnant with Connie and going along to the Mums’ community group - we were discussing thankfulness and Hannah said that she just thanks God all the time so the boys hear it and know to thank God - she gave some funny examples and we ate cake but it has stuck with me. I try to thank God out loud as much as possible with Connie, as I want her to know that we have what we have because of Him. So we thank God for the flowers we are growing, for the rain and sun that they need to grow. We thank God for our food, for her toys, for the bugs in the garden, for healing her ‘booboos’ (thank you American YouTube videos)...
How else can you thank God as a whole family? Could you create something - a piece of art or music? Maybe you can show your thanks in action - could you DO something for other people?
3. Fill with praise
Psalm 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
I love praise time in Kidzone and Kidz Klub because it is truly wonderful to watch children unashamedly dancing and singing in the name of Jesus. However, this doesn’t need to stop on a Friday/Sunday. Playing worship songs in the house/car is a great way for the whole family to praise God. It doesn’t have to be ‘kids’ worship songs but I would challenge you that the words in kids songs make it real and understandable for children - He is their superhero, best friend, great big God. It doesn’t just have to be music - how can we just be speaking praise in the house? Creative ways to praise God.
4. Share Truth
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Read the bible, tell bible stories and share testimonies of how amazing God is. This can be through reading a story, orally re-telling/acting it out or through online videos but make it a priority that they know the bible, even from a young age. Connie knows that God kept three men safe from a fire, that he created the world, that Jesus did amazing things and that he looks after people - she already knows of God's truth. She loves a book called God Knows All About Me - it is teaching her bible truth - no matter what she is doing or how she is feeling, God knows all about her. I want her to know that truth.
To grow in their faith, our children need you. They need you to pray with them, thank God with them, praise God with them and share the truth with them.
A lot of you reading have a lot more experience of helping building faith at home so please add in the comments with any tips that could help others.
(For families looking for resources, there are videos, resources and devotionals that you can use at home on the Kidzone page on the church website - this gets updated weekly).
Our Living Hope
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.
All around us the world is asking,” Why is this happening? Why must it end like this?”
As people are losing loved ones or are afraid this virus will come to them and their family, the Psalmist reminds us, “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
We can put our trust in the government, the medical scientists and the NHS as they do their utmost to protect us and bring this situation under control and we should pray for them as they give everything to do so at this time.
However, we are reminded in this wonderful psalm that we cannot be saved by human beings or princes or governments as when their souls depart from this world, their plans will come to nothing.
With all the best effort and intentions, we cannot save ourselves which is why we are called to put our trust and hope in the Lord our God, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Even before this pandemic that we now face, people would wonder about prevailing darkness and evil, suicides, rising violence, increasing poverty, injustice and disease. Where is the world heading? Does it all end with this?
As followers of Christ we are stewards of the only message on the planet than can ease the aching hearts of lost people, what their hearts need most, which is a message of hope.
Hope that prayers will be answered, that sickness will be healed, that doors of opportunity will be opened, that wars will cease, rifts healed, relationships restored and lives saved.
It is a message of hope that we must live out and hold up for the world to see and in doing so show them that life doesn’t have to end like this – there is hope, hope for all who believe.
Will we be the beacon of light and hope that the world is looking for? When the world around us is hopeless will we show them hope? Will we show them the way to a forever faithful God who promises a different ending? A promise of eternal life and hope in the face of despair.
Perhaps meditate daily on this wonderful psalm, Psalm 146, and as we go about our business in these difficult times, whether at work, in the supermarket, online or on the phone, live in the hope promised us by our faithful, loving God and allow others to see a glimpse of what life can be like with our wonderful Saviour – a life full of hope and empty of fear.
Themed worship suggestions:
Our Living Hope - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l7lIisdyMk
God I look to You - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEubLmNPxwg
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people
both now and for evermore.
Someone called the songs of ascent a “road trip soundtrack”. It’s your Spotify list for the journey of faith!
These ancient believers sang as they journeyed. Surrounded by hills and mountains as they walked together up to Jerusalem to their festivals of worship.
One of the things I like to do is cook and put on my favourite radio show and listen to the music as I go.
Music and food and conversation lift my spirits!
These songs of ascent are for us during this time – they are our soundtrack of faith to lift our spirits and to help us negotiate our way through these mountains!
The truth we reminded ourselves of this week is that we are surrounded by God!
I am surrounded
By the arms of the father
By songs of deliverance
Psalm 125 tells us, we cannot be shaken, we are safe and secure, we are surrounded by the LORD and his presence.
“You are my hiding place, you shall preserve me from trouble, you shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)
Let’s spend a little less time listening to the daily grind of 24-7 “news” and conjecture, and change the soundtrack. Let’s listen to the Lord’s songs of deliverance.
Put your hands up! You are surrounded!
What are some of the songs and words of scripture that are encouraging you during this season?
So, the last time we spoke I was on the edge of resignation- pleading for redeployment and deploying humour to mask anxiety, lack of control, and questioning- why were things happening ‘this way’? The nun thing was a nun starter- and I was full of self-doubt and found it hard to bear the weight of responsibility for myself, my children and the avalanche of new tech and new ways of having to work.
So, to magpie Geoff’s metaphor, I felt like I was drowning… But God proved Himself to be as He always says He is -He rescued me. He brought me to sit at His feet, to rest and learn from Him. A place of Peace. Hope. Love. Which lasted for about a week... Ok-days... Maybe a day?
Or until Easter chocolate ran out, boredom kicked in, bedrooms became wastelands, pants were left on stairways, dishes accrued quicker than I could wash them, home schooling advanced like trench warfare with small victories and heavy defeats…
It suddenly all got difficult again. And exhausting. And busy.
And I found myself closing my eyes and confessing that I wasn’t really doing any of ‘this’ because my faith was strong and I was good- but because I was full of disbelief and doubt and just ‘doing’ a desperate anything rather than a defeated nothing.
But what about when Simon Peter was fishing all night? You know the story- go look at it again…
Immediately God spoke to me (little doubter, full of disbelief) and I had learnt enough to listen- although some habits take longer to form…
And this is what I heard: Jesus always does it in His way.
So in John 21, the disciples are trying to make sense of circumstances that are beyond belief (sound familiar?) Jesus had been crucified and resurrected- and yet His way of victory was still beyond their understanding- how did Jesus leaving them spell victory? How could they trust that His leaving was the best way for them?
And Simon Peter’s response to these shifting circumstances is to go fishing. He goes back to doing what he had done BC- before Christ- maybe because it felt familiar, safe; maybe because doing something felt like moving… maybe because Simon Peter, just like me, couldn’t yet be still and trust and wait… And the disciples follow his lead, ‘we are coming with you’. And that night they catch nothing. These expert, experienced fishermen catch nothing. Another defeat. Another blow. They work all night with nothing to prove their efforts.
Now I am not a fisherman- but I have been a mum for 13 years, a teacher for 20, was baptised at 15- I should be pretty expert, right? Have some expertise to draw upon in these times? Be able to be still and trust and wait?
So why do I still feel like I must do something? And yet the doing still leaves me feeling like I’ve worked all night and caught nothing? My nets are empty. I have nothing to prove for my efforts…
Now the disciples know Jesus: He has been with them, in the night, in the storm, in the boat- He has proven Himself as the One who even the winds and waves obey; He has walked upon the water, in supernatural power with ability to rescue and save. Immediately. Do it that way again Jesus!
But Jesus does it in His way. He waited until morning was breaking and asks them if they've caught any fish. And they admit, no. So simply stood on the shore, He says, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find some’…
Jesus-resurrected, powerful, mighty to save, asks them to do ‘it’ again, one more time.
But with one difference.
And the difference is not really the side of the boat. The difference is that He asks them to do it His way. So, they ‘cast their nets and they were not able to haul it in because of the great catch of fish’. And doing it Jesus’ way-obediently, yields for us in this time, not fish, but peace and prosperity (Psalm 37) and a greater revelation of who Jesus is… ‘it is the Lord!’.
So what if Jesus has always been stood, waiting for us to stop doing things our way (trying to keep control, getting busy and distracted, working it all out in our own strength) and waiting for us to do it His way?
But what is His way? Come and have breakfast…And Jesus took the bread and gave it to them and likewise the fish. It is the way He has always been with us. Jesus our servant King waits to wait upon us, to provide for us, to serve us and to simply be with us. To love us.
So, today- I’m not drowning in these circumstances, I’m throwing myself into the sea and swimming to the shore- Jesus is waiting.
Remember Rudyard Kipling’s poem?
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise….
If is such a small word that makes such a big difference…..
A lot of things can hinge on an “If”
Here the Song says:
If the LORD had not been on our side….
We would have been swallowed up alive…
The flood would have engulfed us
The raging waters would have swept us away
We would have stayed trapped
The inference – the statement of faith and fact – is that God is indeed with us…. And that changes everything!
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
The Songs of Ascent that we are studying together on Sundays are such encouraging psalms of faith and hope and endurance and security.
We are reminding ourselves in our weekly rhythm of the goodness and the faithfulness and the trustworthiness of God.
Remember that many waters cannot quench God’s love, rivers cannot overflow it!
Remember Peter who started to sink beneath the waves and who cried out:“Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
Remember Isaiah’s promise: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you”.
Remember the Psalmists’ declaration: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam…”
Remember this week: God is the best buoyancy aid ever!
You won’t go under. The waters won’t overwhelm you. The torrents won’t sweep you away…..
If God hadn’t been on our side….
But he is.
He is on your side.
Your help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
To all those trying to homeschool...
Liz, the manager of Roundabout Nursery, wrote this post for the families of the nursery however we love the practical advice about un-schooling in preparation to home school.
I have read some interesting articles over the last couple of weeks about home schooling and the impact that working from home and schools being closed has had on families.At the weekend I read about the concept of 'Un-Schooling' children. That often, when a family chooses to start home schooling they would go through this process. i.e forget routines and expectations and just 'be'. Then, after a few weeks, when the child is ready, they will begin to seek out routines and learning of their own accord.I am a great believer in routines. I have three children of my own. They are now 17, 15 and 13. When they were little I used to draw routines for them and stick them onto cupboards, even in the holidays. We still have routines, albeit slightly looser these days. We sit round the table for dinner in the evenings. We have a TV dinner on a Saturday, church on Sunday, clubs during the week.But during these last few weeks we have 'un-schooled' the children (and ourselves, my husband is a teacher too!). We have just existed together, and we have enjoyed it.....well most of the time. We have worked when we have wanted to or needed to, but other than that we have just enjoyed slowing down. But now we are ready for a bit of structure to our day. Whilst we are still allowed to, we are taking our daily exercise, we are beginning to insist on set sleeping and waking patterns, we are sharing the jobs out, and encouraging hobbies.I recognise that for those of you with little ones, your routines will look very different. And I know that there have been mixed opinions on whether we should be creating routines for our children at this time or not. It has been great to slow down and not feel so rushed, but children really do benefit from routine and structure. Don't overdo it, but if you haven't already, perhaps take some time to think about how you could structure your day.At Roundabout we are influenced by The Curiosity Approach. They have recently published an article about routine and how to create one in these new times we are experiencing. You can read it here www.thecuriosityapproach.com/blog/routines-and-rhythms-at-home.
Our ladies' ministry "Brave" have been posting regular messages of encouragement on their facebook page, in the form of short videos. Today Kay Bunt, a long standing member of our church, gave a great word of hope that we thought we would share with you all - men included!
Please leave your comments and ladies, follow Brave's Facebook page if you haven't already.
During lockdown, one of my new found loves is to go for a run (*jog) because I love what it offers me...freedom. Free to be out of the house, free to be without a toddler, free to worship, free to pray and free to listen to God’s voice. One day, as I was running, I felt God reminding me that I can still choose. Choose to believe who He is. Choose to be thankful for what He has done for me. Choose to pray. Choose to worship.
To keep the blog short, I decided on three things that we can choose to believe about God but I wanted this to be a blog that you can share as a whole family, so gather them together now and read/discuss together. If you are on your own, please know that as a church we are doing this together, so your family are doing this with you too. I have kept the language simple and encourage you to read it as a whole family, no matter how old or young!
God says: I am here - always. I am listening to you. When you want someone to talk to about your latest lego creation/piece of art, or your favourite book, or you want to thank him for your family or you want to ask him to help someone - He is listening. God never ever goes to sleep - wow - he is just always there and He absolutely loves it when you talk to Him.
God says: I am the provider. For lots of us, things are changing. We are maybe not going to school anymore or someone at home isn’t going to work anymore. In some families, they are worried they don’t have enough money or enough food. That is really sad and scary for some people. But God tells us in the bible that he will provide for all our needs because he is a great big God. Take a moment and pray for different people, that they will not worry and that God will give them what they need.
God says: I am your comfort. When you are feeling scared or worried, God can help you feel better. Imagine God giving you a great big hug. I love that idea. Give someone a hug now, hold on tight for a while and tell them that God loves them. Send someone a virtual hug - send a photo, a video or just a few words - reminding them that they are loved by God.
Today is Good Friday and I am choosing Jesus. I first chose Jesus when I was twelve years old, after hearing about what he had done for me, and I have chosen him many many many times since.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We have hope in God so I want you to all do something...find an upbeat worship song that you all love and can dance to and get up. Yes, I mean physically get up and dance - with no shame or embarrassment! Dance and smile and know that Jesus died for you because God loves you so very much! He has you in your hands.
As we continue in this period of lockdown due to the global pandemic, we are presented with a wonderful opportunity to reflect on who our neighbour is and the type of neighbour that we would like to be.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus explains that anyone that we come across that we find in need is our neighbour, and that to be a good neighbour we should love them as we would love ourselves.
There are many people in need at the moment: the homeless, the poor, the isolated, the vulnerable, the aged and the poorly. Many of you are already involved with supporting your neighbours and friends – thank you so much for your efforts and sacrifice.
With the current lockdown and economic downturn affecting so many, we, the church, are presented with a great opportunity to love our neighbours and we would love to do just that.
To that end, as well as underwriting our soup run due to lack of donations, we will be running a “Love Thy Neighbour” campaign through which we will aim to help both our local neighbours in the Cattedown area, and the more vulnerable members of our congregation.
We are in touch with the local primary school who are already making referrals to us for families who are struggling at the moment and these needs have already been met by kind donations from our church family. We are also expecting referrals from our nursery here at church as well as from our Pastoral team.
What we are asking for is either food or financial donations that we can collect centrally and then distribute where and when the need arises.
To that end, from next week, the church will be open from 6-8pm on a Monday and 11am – 1pm on a Friday for people to drop off foodstuffs where you can be assured that strict social distancing will be observed.
For further details, please follow this link:
Alternatively, if you can’t come into church but would like and are able to contribute specifically to this campaign, over and above your regular tithes and offerings, you could do so by bank transfer using the reference “Love Thy Neighbour”:
Account details Please use these details to set up a standing order or BACS: Account Name: EFGA RE PLYMOUTH Account Number: 18533302 / Sort Code: 60 05 16
Cheque You can send a cheque to Plymouth Christian Centre, Embankment Rd, Plymouth PL4 9HP. (On the back please write “Love Thy Neighbour”)
Gift Aid it!
Don’t forget, if you are a UK Taxpayer, for every £1 you contribute, the fund will get an extra 25p!
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Right. That’s it. I have had enough of the C-word. I am all blogged out.
24 hour news. Online media. Blogs. Podcasts. Daily updates.
I’ve got nothing new to say.
So I thought I would pray. For you.
Problem is, I am finding it hard to pray. To concentrate. To focus. I know - I am a pastor. It is in my job description to pray.
I am just being honest.
But I was greatly helped this week as I read the Bible and Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6 along with a commentary by Frederick Dale Bruner. I found it really freeing.
This is what Jesus said:
“when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
There is no need for show prayers. Religious prayers. Impressive prayers. God is not impressed. God sees. Just go somewhere private and talk to God. Straightforwardly. Simply. From the heart.
“and your Father who is watching there in secret, oh! Will he reward you!”
There is not much needed – God knows. He knows what you need before you ask him.
You don’t need to be long-winded or repetitious.
Just keep it simple and honest.
Arrow prayers. From the heart.
Rubbish prayer that I am – I can do this.
I have been keeping it short. Keeping it real. Keeping it simple. And keeping it from the heart.
And I have been using Jesus’ model – the Lord’s prayer.
Every time I wash my hands – I pray the Lord’s prayer. Slowly and rhythmically and intentionally. And sometimes I pray for two or three people who come to mind as well.
And I write some of my prayers down in a journal. It helps me to think and be clear.
And I have been keeping it daily.
Give us today our daily bread.
Give us the strength and the peace we need for today.
Forgive me today.
Lead me not into temptation. Today.
Deliver us from the evil one. Today.
I can pray. A day at a time.
It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be clever.
We can do this one day at a time.
That is all Jesus says.
Don’t worry about tomorrow.
Pray for today.
So today, I am praying for you.
God bless you! And keep you! And make his face shine on you! And be gracious to you! May he smile on you! And give you PEACE!
Everything you need for today.