Do Your Children Believe // Terence Chatmon

Read the Bible.

Go to church.

Pray.

Some pretty standard answers that are given when asked what we should do to grow in our relationship with God. All are pretty good indicators that we are moving in the right direction and are generally accepted as steps all followers of Jesus should be taking.

In the opening pages of his book Do Your Children Believe?, author Terence Chatmon shares this statistic:

“. . . the hard truth remains that fewer than 10 percent of Christian families ever really engage with one another for the express purpose of encouraging or informing their growing faith. And not 1 percent could show you any kind of written plan that even briefly describes the spiritual direction they’re praying for and working together toward.”

So while we know we should read the Bible and pray, it seems that the majority of families do not practice those things together.  Into that gap of knowing verses doing (especially in the context of the family), Chatmon offers his insights.

Now normally the emotion that is associated with Bible reading and prayer seems to be guilt.  Guilt that we don’t read enough.  Guilt that we don’t pray enough.  Guilt that we aren’t consistent in either arena. Chatmon doesn’t pile onto that feeling of inadequacy.  Instead he shares his journey of how this became a priority in his life, even admitting that for a number of years he was not actively involved in doing what he writes about. He mentions multiple times that he doesn’t have it all figured out nor is he an expert. He confesses that he is not a Biblical scholar, but has in recent years taken seriously the role of leading his family.  From that experience and obvious passion he offers his thoughts.

In the chapters of the book the author offers ideas on identifying each family’s values, crafting a vision and a mission along with other steps to help families achieve a written plan for family faith development.

One of the things I appreciated as I read the book was that while Chatmon offered direction and shared many personal stories, he didn’t give too many specifics on what his family put together.  He didn’t want someone to fall into the trap of simply adopting what his family did.  He stressed the importance of each family identifying their own values, their own mission, their own prayer focus, ultimately making their plan their own.

While he shared some good insights and clear steps, there were a couple of phrases I highlighted that I considered memorable.

Near the end of the book Chatmon was expressing a long view of his family’s faith development plan.  He painted this picture:

“The thought of my kid sitting around a table with their kids, teaching and training them how to sit around with their kids – my great-grandkids – learning and living the ways of the Lord . . . I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

His vision reaches beyond even his own lifetime.  The generational impact could move far beyond his own years on this earth.  A pretty powerful picture.

In the final chapter he concludes the book by underscoring why he is passionate about families developing a written plan:

” . . . my most direct route to fulfilling this enormous calling of mine (and ours) is to live it and share it and instill it within those who are closest to me:  my family. They are the essential starting point where any hope of my being effective, any hope of becoming my very best for the kingdom, must begin.”

Chatmon offers practical tools to help families (especially fathers) to become intentional about a faith development plan and create specific steps to leave a spiritual legacy.

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House Build Trip is Two Weeks Away

Two weeks from today our group will be on our way to Mexico. Monday will be a travel day and we will spend the next three days building a house with 1MISSION. Hard to believe that we are closing in on our departure date. Our team has met a couple of times and we are getting ready to go.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this trip through prayers, financial gifts, donations to our concessions during our Upward basketball season and just inquiring about the trip. We can’t wait to share what we experience while there.

Please be in prayer for the family we will be serving, 1MISSION as they continue the work they are doing and for our team as we travel and work together.

See You At The Pole 15 #syatp

This week was See You At The Pole. It is a nationwide prayer event that we encourage our students to be a part of each year. Due to the timing of some of our schools’ events, I was able to be at a portion of two different schools gatherings. Each year when you walk on to the campus, you can sense both the excitement and nervousness as students gather. While we don’t have official number of participants from each year, this year seemed to have a higher number of students present than in years past.

I’m grateful for the students who make it a point to participate in the event and make it a proority to get to school early to pray. I’m thankful for the adults (parents, teachers, church leaders) who encourage the students by their presence at the event. While SYATP started with high school students, it has trickled down to the elementary school level.

There have been many pictures shared on Facebook of the various events. Here’s a brief video of pictures from our local schools.

9 Years Ago

NineI got a text from my son today reminding me of an anniversary. It’s one that we remember, but don’t really celebrate in the way you might celebrate a wedding anniversary or a birthday. Nine years ago this month Joe had a stroke which affected the right side of his body. When you look at him now, you wouldn’t really believe it. In fact, as I think back to that event, it seems a bit surreal.

We were at our junior high camp out and he wasn’t acting himself. We ended up at the hospital, came home, then went back to hospital. He ended up at Dayton Children’s Hospital, but made a relatively quick recovery. We found out over time how many people were praying for Joe during this time and know those prayers made a huge difference.

A lot has transpired in the past nine years and as always we’ve hit a few bumps in the road. God continues to bring good out of bad situations. Looking back, the stroke seems like a lifetime ago. I’m looking forward to the future God has for Joe and what He will continue to do with him.

Draw the Circle

draw tge circleI was pretty excited when I saw that Draw the Circle was an available book in the BookSneeze list. I’ve read all of Mark Batterson’s previous books and appreciate his writing style. Several months ago I was able to purchase multiple copies of The Circle Maker to make available to some of our leaders here. Draw the Circle is a continuation of that book.

In this offering, Batterson builds on the principles of The Circle Maker, but also includes stories and testimonies he has received from people who have read his book. He designed this book to be a 40 day devotional and it came at a good time for me as I was just finishing up a Bible reading plan.

I have found Batterson to be quite quotable and my Kindle version of the book has a list of highlights from various chapters. While Batterson is a proponent of believers spending time in prayer, he doesn’t see prayer (or drawing prayer circles) as a way to get God to do what we want Him to do. In one chapter of the book, Batterson writes: “Sometimes the purpose of prayer is to get us out of circumstances, but more often than not, the purpose of prayer is to get us through them.”

Just a few pages later, Batterson makes this statement: “If we’re being completely honest, most of our prayers have as their chief objective our own personal comfort rather than God’s glory.”

Draw the Circle is a good resource for those looking to grow in the discipline of prayer. I found both Batterson’s words and the stories he shared to be both helpful and challenging.

90 Day Challenge – Week Three

GOYOWe are done with week three of our 90 Day Challenge. Yesterday was day #21 and we are beginning week four today. If you are taking the challenge, stop for a moment and give yourself a hand (go ahead, I’ll wait)…

I do think it is important to celebrate our progress along the way. Maybe for some of us, this has been the most consistent we’ve been or even the longest we’ve stayed with a reading plan. Even if you have fallen behind, don’t get discouraged. Remember – our goal is to develop the habit of spending time regularly with God. The 90 Day Challenge is just a tool to do that.

One thing that has grabbed my attention as we have gone through the Gospel of Luke is Jesus’ teaching on prayer. In Luke 11 the disciples ask Him to teach them to pray. He gives the model prayer and then tells a story about a neighbor who comes at midnight and knocks on the door asking for bread. In Luke 18 we hear the Parable of the Persistent Widow. In both stories, the point seems to be that a request is granted because the person was persistent in asking.

In Luke 11, the NIV uses this phrase to describe the request: “shameless audacity.” In Luke 18, the judge grants the widow’s request because she “keeps bothering” him.

Jesus characterizes God as a Father who cares about His children and loves to give good gifts to them. So, rather than seeing God as a judge to be bothered or a neighbor to be woken up, we should see God as a Father who wants us to ask. The takeaway from these two teachings for me has been that I should ask God for the things on my heart. As I look at the decisions that need to be made in the coming months, I should ask God for His direction. I guess the question I could ask myself is this: have I brought my requests to God with “shameless audacity?”

Praying Circles Around Your Children

I’ve read several of Mark Batterson’s books including In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy DayWild Goose Chase and The Circle Maker.  Praying Circles Around Your Children is a shorter book based on the principles and scriptures found in The Circle Maker.  I read the entire book in two sittings, but it could easily be read through in 60 – 90 minutes.  Batterson does a good job of building on what he wrote about in The Circle Maker and made it applicable to parents.

He shares stories not only from his own experience of raising three children, but also from parents he has met through his various speaking engagements. He also receives emails from people who have read his book and take time to share their stories.

I was challenged by this book to be in regular prayer for my children.  Batterson emphasizes the importance of not giving up when it comes to praying for various things.  One quote from the books states it well:  “We need a paradigm shift.  We need to start praying ALAT prayers – as long as it takes.”  He shares stories from people who prayed on a regular basis – some for several years – for their children before answers came.

Many times when you read books like this and you have older children, you get the feeling it is too late.  Batterson addresses that as well.  He writes specifically to those who have teenage students.  “When they enter middle school or high school or college, we need to intercede for our children.  Pray that they will make the right friends and the right choices.  Pray that their conscience will keep them on the straight and narrow.  Pray that they won’t just survive; pray that they will thrive.”

Praying Circles Around Your Children not only encourages parents to pray, but offers practical ideas on how to do that.  If you are a parent, this book will be an encouragement to you.