NEW for August
Ideas for Parents to Consider Prayerfully:
Mothers or fathers can read excellent books aloud to the family and then discuss them. These can cover any genre and can be some of the classics. The book is not as important as the time spent together. Every discussion would focus on growing in Christ and obtaining a better understanding of how to walk with Him in our daily lives. The characters actions and thoughts can be evaluated and then their lives become object lessons to impart spiritual truth into our everyday lives.
Family prayer time can be called during times of crises or when the Lord’s specific direction is needed. Praying together and recording the request and the answer will help solidify the reality of Christ to the children. These times will often provide opportunities to explore issues like patience, waiting on God, what happens when God says, “no” to our prayers, etc. All of these are basic discipleship training issues. We teach our children to pray by praying. They will ultimately “catch” what is important to us by what we actually did, not necessarily what we said.
DVD’s or movies can be watched and evaluated from a Biblical perspective. We are not to be naive or unaware of our adversary’s schemes (Ephesians6:11), and we should help our children process the entertainment they watch so they are growing in discernment as they mature (Hebrews 5:14). Every book, movie, and song has an author and they had a reason for writing what they did. These things may be germane in nature, but there is a spiritual side to everything and we must train our little disciples to grow in discernment.
Like any other discipleship relationship, the spending of time together is critical. A great deal of impartation and spiritual life takes place as you spend time doing the normal family activities. What is actually done is not as critical as the fact that a large amount of time is being spent together.
Every parent looks for teachable moments, and the majority of these happen as large chunks of time are spent together. Very few people in nursing homes regret not spending more time at the office yet often regret that they cannot spend more time with their family. We can only spend time once, choose wisely.
(Excerpt taken from Christian Discipleship Ministries)
For Married with Children:
When God blesses a couple with children (through either childbirth or adoption), the discipleship opportunities expand. In addition to what was stated in other discipleship excerpts about the husbands and wives, now there are additional lives involved. The same principles apply whether there are one child or a dozen regarding discipleship opportunities. The more children the greater the possible impact. Regardless of family size, each couple will have to adjust their lifestyle once a child or children arrive. The first requirement for godly parents is to accept the Biblical assignment regarding children:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, The Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be on your forehead between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) Father, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4)
God has delegated the training of the children to the parents. This is a phenomenal sentence if we consider the ramifications of it. God has entered into a partnership with parents and He expects them to fulfill their roles. The Lord has built into every Christian family the opportunity for hands-on discipleship practice. As a unified team, husband and wives begin the process of training a chid in the ways of the Lord. Parents have a tremendous opportunity to install these discipleship principles with their own children. This will help prepare both the parents and the children to reach out to other potential disciples. In addition, if the parents do a good job discipling those in their own homes, the destructive trend of faith rejection can be turned.
We have already mentioned making sure that both the husband and wife are growing spiritually in their own walk with the Lord, and this remains a focus after children arrive. Now the discipleship process needs to be enlarged to include the children).
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, a few of which have already been mentioned in the previous articles First, the family schedule needs to be evaluated to assure that where the time is being spent is the most beneficial place. If it is not, then change must be made and the sooner the better. Second, mealtime offers a wonderful opportunity to bring Christ and the Scripture into the daily lives of each family member. Discussions can be planned or spontaneous, but make sure the Lord is a central figure in the conversations. Depending on ages of the children, topics can range from interpersonal relationship challenges, to character development. The Scripture provides every answer to all questions either directly or in principle. Therefore, we must make sure that the Word of God is the center of our homes and always the ultimate resource for our answers.
Parents can lead devotions around the meal table, in the living room or bedroom. These can be as deep as the level of understanding of the children. Bible stories can be read and discussed. Leading questions can be asked regarding moral choices, or characters actions, and a lively discussion can be achieved. The goal is to provide and atmosphere where Christ is central and the Word of God is valued. In addition, insights can be shared from the daily devotions that each parent or child recently received. The Psalm or Proverb of the day also provides an abundance of material that can be read and discussed. The materials and ideas for a good discussion are only limited by the imagination.
Family worship times can help provide a growing discipleship environment in the home. Time worshipping God/singing praises can be done also. Worship is supposed to be a part of every day and not relegated to Sunday services only and leading our children in worship will help keep Christ as the center of our homes. The children need to see the reality of our walk with Jesus in order to want to follow in our footsteps.
Excerpts from Christian Discipleship Ministries
A wife plays a crucial role in helping her husband grow and mature in the Lord (discipleship). She has the ability to build him up and help him become a strong man of God, or to destroy him. Solomon, who knew a little bit about wives, states it this way: “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1 “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4
Provers also states, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21) and a wise wife will understand that what she says to her husband will help or hinder his maturing. If the wife is older in the Lord, she should encourage her husbands’s growth by gently sharing insights she has learned from the Lord, and encouraging any efforts the husband displays in spiritual leadership. The principle is to fan into flame any spark, not to pour water on it because it is small. The wise wife will praise and encourage her husband when he leads in prayer or Bible study and resist the temptation to comment about how immature or short it may have been. Husbands often have fragile egos and they need their wife’s support not criticism. Men do not like to be “slapped” or put down by their wife’s comments and will often retreat into work, sports, or hobbies when they do not feel respected.
If the wife is younger in the Lord, she should encourage her husband by asking him questions and thus helping him to reinforce his leadership role. Something rises up in a man when he feels like he is fulfilling the role of being the leader, and this will spur additional desire for growth. A wise wife will help her husband become the man of God she desires rather than tear him down verbally. In addition, the wife needs to be careful when discussing her husband with others. She will “bring shame” to him by exposing him to ridicule or by not protecting his reputation. Solomon stated that this will result in “rottenness to the bones,” and this is an apt picture. When a man finds out that his wife is talking about him behind his back to others, he feels undermined and the foundation is attacked. Bones hold the frame of our body up and by shaming her husband, she is causing damage to the structure. If she is complaining about his lack of leadership or perhaps some personal fault, once he knows that he is the subject of the discussion with others, all motivation to change has been lost. Love covers a multitude of sins and so will a wise wife. The husband that trusts in his wife will grow into a much better leader than the one that does not.
If both husband and wife will seek to be mature and to continue to grow in their own discipleship, they will ultimately end up assisting their spouse. The husband and the wife play a major role in the discipleship process to one another, and when a child arrives, the roles even expand.
NEW For July
For Husbands –
Husbands should be helping to sanctify their spouse by making sure she is “washed in the Word of God.” The “in the same way” part of this Scripture passage gives insight for the husband on how to help disciple his wife. This may be intimidating to some men due to the wives being older in the Lord or perhaps not very receptive to the husbands leading, but the command is still there. Men are to learn to die for their wife, just as Christ did for the church, and men are to make sure the Word of God is central in their homes.
Making sure the Lord is center of the home is a daily decision and a never-ending process. What currently dominates your home? The TV, FaceBook, sports, or Christ? Husbands must be men of the Word in order to share the Scripture in their homes – Jesus said that out of the abundance of our hearts our mouths speak (Matthew 12:34), what is coming out of our mouths?
Making changes is not impossible, but must be a willful decision if they are to occur. If most meals are eaten together, (which they should be if they are not) then that time allows the husband to lead in a prayer of thankfulness for the food and for the one that made it. In addition, this time could be used to bring up a discussion about what was read in your private devotions or perhaps what you believe God has shown you during the day. Open-ended questions could be asked about a particular verse of Scripture of some potential problem the two of you are facing. Open ended means a question that cannot simply be answered with yes or no answer. These type questions are more of the “what” or “why” type questions. “Why do you think God allowed this to happen to Joe and Mary?” Or, “What do you think God is trying to tell us in reference to my job situation?”
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or be super creative. Try suggesting reading a book or listening to /watching a Christ-Honoring program together and then discussing it. With the internet, there are unlimited resource available for you to consider if it is your desire to help your spouse grow in spiritual maturity. Biblically, husbands must take the lead in discipleship and God will give you the ideas and grace to do so, if you will ask Him for it.
Another factor to consider is the tremendous power that is related by praying together with your wife. “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on each about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
A husband that leads his wife in consistent prayer will increase her respect for him exponentially. Prayer allows for a deeper level of communication and will help to center the home in Christ. Even if the wife is not comfortable praying aloud, or for that matter the husband either, praying together will help both grow spiritually. It may be awkward at first, but the comfort level will come and the home will change under the husbands’ leadership.
Discipleship may happen by chance but it has a far greater potential to happen with a plan. If you seek the Lord about your responsibility and prayerfully ask Him for direction, He will give it. God brought your spouse into your life for a reason and part of that reason was for you to care for her, nurture her, and help her grow in spiritual maturity.
Excerpt from Christian Discipleship Ministries
- Of all the assignments God will give you during your time on earth, none may be more sacred than the task of raising your children. The Parental Guidance Required study is designed to give you the counsel you need to help prepare your children for the future. Intended for use in personal study or in small groups, Parental Guidance Required is a practical resource that will encourage you to look at the relationships in your children’s lives and ask the important questions.
Here is a link to the study on RightNow Media (contact Ellyn for a free account): https://www.rightnow.org/Content/Series/157534
If you are a single adult, stop and take an inventory of the people in your life. Whom would the Lord have you invest more time in? Is there someone at work/school that is hurting or going through a difficult time? Perhaps other single friends need help or desire to grow spiritually. Would the Lord want you to consider leading a Bible or book study, prayer meeting, or beginning a service project to assist someone in need? Every situation can turn into a discipleship opportunity as you bring Christ into the time spent together with others. As you fill up your spirit with excellent teachings and your private devotional time, the Lord will provide others in your life for you to share with them what you are learning.
One group to consider investing in are those that are younger than you. If you are a single adult, there are most likely younger people that look up to you. Siblings or other young people in your church or social networks often idolize the single adult, and this provides an excellent opportunity to invest in the next generation. Leading a Bible study or simply spending time with younger people can pay tremendous dividends for the Kingdom of God. To realize how important this is, just remember how you felt when your older sibling or perhaps some other older young person reached out you. If that did not happen in your life, remember how you felt because it did not happen! You can make a difference in many people’s life if you invest your time properly. Prayerfully consider these tools and how you could use them in your current relationships, and then marvel at what doors open to you as you seek the Lord!
If you will prepare yourself by study, prayer, and an investment of time, God will open doors for you to serve Him in marvelous ways.