Have you ever thought about what you were taught as a kid?
From learning the basics of reading, writing, addition and subtraction, to everyday life responsibilities like tying your shoes, someone played a part in teaching you these things. Whether it was a parent or another person, they taught you what you know and carry with you today.
What if we choose to teach our kids the basics of life, but also the ways of the Lord? What if we choose to take heart the privilege and responsibility to teach them who God is and what He has accomplished and now wants for them?
What we teach our kids today will literally impact them for their rest of their lives. And not only that, it will impact the generations to come. If we choose to teach them only the basics, then we are missing something. While the basics of life are important, the most important things we should teach are the ways of the Lord.
When we impart the ways of the Lord upon our children, give them a desire to know God and love him, and to make him known. As followers of Jesus, don’t we want our kids to have relationship with him?
So, what do we teach our kids about the Lord?
We teach them the nature of God and the characteristics of God. We teach them about his majesty and splendor. We teach them about his holiness and righteousness. We teach them theology—the study of God.
We teach it to them so, in turn, they can teach it to their children (Deut. 6).
Over the course of the last three years, the Lord has taken me on a journey to see a primary text in the life of a believer—Deuteronomy 6. He has exposed his truth of gifting parents with a unique task of raising children for his renown and glory. Parents exist to (1) have a relationship with Jesus, and (2) to point their children to Jesus and allow him to determine their steps.
With this task, parents have not only the obligation but also the distinct privilege of parenting their children for God. Another way of putting it:
I have never thought of it like that. But in reality, this is exactly what the Scriptures tell those who are in Christ—those who have trusted Christ alone for their salvation—are to do with their children. Raise them, not to merely be successful, but raise them to seek God’s glory and renown among all the peoples of the world.
As sheep need a shepherd to lead, guide, and direct them, our children need us as parents to lead, guide, and direct. However, we do not do so by worldly standards. We do so with a gaze set towards Christ Jesus. We do so with our aim being Jesus and his global fame among the nations of the world.
With that in mind, and following the promoting of the Holy Spirit, I began work on Foundations: A Christ-Centered Parenting Journey that takes the framework developed my Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin in their book Family Discipleship, and built a 16–session study on building a foundation for parents being the primary disciple-makers in the lives of their children.
Foundations is strategically titled like this so that parents see that this is just the beginning. The course helps parents begin to build a culture of disciple-making in their homes with the goal of not outsourcing it to the local church or someone else. Pastor-Author Daniel Im wrote a book called No Silver Bullets that helped show there is no one way for doing ministry. In the same light, Foundations is not a silver bullet to help parents parent better, or give them a one-stop shop for discipleship in their homes, but a challenge, exposed by the Scriptures, to live up to their God-given responsibilities.
While the journey is never over, parents in the United States have a finite amount of time to impact their children—both in a positive and negative way. We are parents need to view this time as something special, given to us by God, to be used for Him in the life of our children.
Foundations provides a starting point for parents and families. Through careful exposition of God’s Word, parents will see they “why”. They will see why it is so vitally important to impact their children on a daily basis for the Lord Jesus. They will see why the task is so important, and why ultimately the Great Commission rests upon our shoulders.
We are living in a pandemic that has swept across the entire globe. From lockdowns to quarantines, the COVID–19 virus has captured our attention and changed the way we do life. From state to state, even from city to city or county to county, normal is no longer normal. Everything has changed. Even as I write this article I am not sitting in my office as I normally would. I am writing from our makeshift office that my wife and I share. Normal isn’t normal anymore.
So where do we go from here? Do we long for normalcy? Do we long for life to get back to the way things were prior to COVID–19? Or are we longing for something else that we have disguised as normal?
It seems we find ourselves at a crossroads. Longing for the past but embracing the future.
Why do we long for the past?
Whether we like to admit it or not (I am one of those who do not like to admit it), we all have a sense of longing for the past in some regards. We long for the things of yesterday—conversations, interactions, relationships, and even material goods—and desire to hold them close. The things of yesterday may bring with them familiarity, comfort, and security. As human beings we desire these things whether right or wrong.
Why are we nervous for the future?
Future. The word itself stirs emotions and causes the mind to race at a rapid pace. Our fear of the unknown seems to rise to the top of the emotional chart. Why? Embracing the future and a new normal requires faith. It requires us to let go of the reigns of familiarity, comfort, and even security.
Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence is someone or something. Embracing a new normal requires each of us to have faith in someone or something. Ultimately the only One who holds our faith is Christ. Embracing the future requires us to put our hope and trust in the One who holds the entire universe in His hands; the One who placed the stars in the sky and knows their names; the One who created the world at the sound of His voice; the One who created you and me—every person on the planet—in the very image of Himself. Embracing the future spurs us to put our hope in Jesus.
While things may never go back to the way they were, let us hold fast to the confession of faith that is found in Christ. May we embrace this new day and new normal with expectation and excitement. Let us live with passion and boldness and not in fear or insecurity.
As we approach Easter Sunday, I want to give you some encouragement during this Holy Week. My family and I are entering our ninth resurrection Sunday at New Friendship. Needless to say, we have seen hundreds of people, if not into the thousands of people come through the doors of New Friendship on Easter Sunday. Oh how glorious!
On the eve of Easter weekend, I want to encourage our faith family, or any faith family to do a couple of things as we gather this Sunday:
Be a 300-person greet team. No matter what age or stage in life you find yourself, let’s collectively engage every person as they step onto our campus this Easter weekend. Be a smiling face, a warm welcome, a people ready to meet new people. We all know what it’s like to have entered a new place for the first time. We understand that feeling. Let’s kick that feeling right out the door and welcome people into family. Actively search out people you don’t know and go an introduce yourself to them. And for goodness sake, don’t ask someone to “get out of your seat.” Go find a new one! People resonate with people. People resonate with stories. Be friendly this Easter weekend. We need all hands on deck this Easter.
4,052 – At the time of this blog post, this is how many people our Easter invite has reached on Facebook, not to mention the intentional inviting by each of you. We will have people on our campus who have never been in church before. We will have people who will experience the gospel for the first time this weekend. Let’s welcome them with open arms!
Worship your heart out. This weekend as we gather, we are celebrating the greatest story ever told. We are celebrating the fact that Jesus is alive and the tomb is empty. We are celebrating the story of redemption. We are celebrating the story of hope. We are celebrating the story of life. Worship your heart out. Clap your hands, lift up holy hands, sing at the top of your lungs, shout in the name of the Lord. Guys, the tomb is empty. We have life in the resurrected Christ. Let’s worship with everything we have, because He alone is worthy of all worship; He alone receives all the glory; and He alone can bring salvation to the nations because of the worship of His people. Let’s enthusiastically worship the resurrected King.
Audibly respond during the Preaching. As Pastor Barry begins to preach, if something resonates with your heart, how about shouting our a hearty “amen!” or clapping your hands. Not only does it help him out, but it also shows guests that the Word is alive and has manifested itself within us. Be engaged during the preaching time. Every time the Word is proclaimed, it requires us to respond in some way. This isn’t a new approach to the Scriptures, but a biblical approach. When we hear the Word taught, we have one of two choices – we either a) choose to accept the good news of the gospel, or b) we reject the good news of the gospel. This gospel is the life-changing truth of the resurrected King. So, this Sunday, let’s be fully engaged as we sit under the preaching and teaching of the Word.
Let’s Pray. As await the gathering of God’s people, let’s commit to praying for this weekend. We should do this every week, but specifically this weekend. Let’s pray for those who will be attending one of our services. Let’s pray that their hearts would be open to the gospel, and that they might receive the free gift of salvation from our God. Let’s’ pray for their families. Let’s pray for each other. Let’s pray for our Pastor as he puts the final touches on his Easter sermon. Let’s pray for our own hearts. Let’s pray that the Lord would reveal sin in our hearts, and that we would repent and believe. Let’s pray for our community, our nation, and the nations. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who are gathering all over the world to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who are having to meet in secret during this Easter season. Let’s pray that we would see a massive movement of God throughout the world this weekend. As we approach Easter, let’s be a praying people.
Be encouraged this Easter weekend. Know that our staff is praying for you as you celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave. We look forward to gathering with you and celebrating together.
Yes, that sentence is correct. I literally saw my senior pastor pulling weeds out of the flower bed that surrounds the front entrance of our church. As he was doing so, in the moment, I asked myself, “Why is my pastor pulling weeds out of the flower bed?” And with that question, my heart was revealed.
As the senior pastor of a 400-person church, with multiple staff members, teams and committees galore, he shouldn’t be pulling weeds out of the flower bed, right?
in the hierarchy of leadership, the CEO wouldn’t pull out weeds, yet in the model of a servant leader – the model that Christ displayed for all of us – sometimes we must roll up our sleeves and pull the weeds. As leaders, no matter what role you have or how many people you have serving underneath you, we must remain grounded. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve (Mat 20:28).
As a leader, I must comprehend that my duty is to serve those in whom God has entrusted to my leadership. I must be willing to pull weeds. I must be willing to clean the bathrooms. I must be willing to do the work of ministry alongside those in whom I am equipping to do so. Effective leadership isn’t a top-down model, but a bottom-up.
So what did I learn from this simple yet profound action? I must pull weeds sometimes. I must not think to highly of myself and my position. I must be willing to do the dirty work for the sake of the Kingdom. I must be willing to lead from a bottom-up model, and serve people for the advancement of the Kingdom.
Imagine with me for a moment what it will be like around the throne of Christ, worshiping with believers from every nation, every tribe, and every tongue. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to that day. And I hope you do as well.
Christ has called every person on the planet who know Him and have a relationship with Him to make His name known. Every person. From the oldest to the youngest. Our job is to declare His glory among the nations. We do so because He is infinitely worthy of worship. We do so not out of obligation but out of inexpressible joy for what Christ has accomplished. We do so because He is worth it all.
For the nations, we should go.
For the nations, we should live.
For the nations, we should die.
Christ has not called us to a life of comfort an ease. The American dream has diluted the reality of what Christ has called each of His follower to do. He has called us to put others first, to live in Him, and if need be, to die for His glory. He has called us to a life of joy which is found in Him and Him alone. He has called us to be a people who bring the light into the darkness. He has called us to be a people who are willing to do whatever it takes, to risk it all, to spread the fame of Jesus from the highest mountain peaks to the deepest valleys.
Will you choose to do whatever it takes for the glory of Christ. Will you choose to lay your family, your life, your career on the table and boldly say, “Lord, it is all Yours. Do with me/us as You please. Send is wherever You desire us to go for the fame of Your Great Name”?
May we be a people who are willing to do so. May we be found faithful to the call of Christ. And may we hasten His return.
The KNOWN revival gatherings are just a few days away, and needless to say, the anticipation is becoming ramped. From logistical meetings to prayer meetings, from band rehearsals to community choir rehearsals, from set list outlines to sermon outlines, the pace in which KNOWN is coming seems daunting.
So, I humbly ask that you would take some time over the next two weeks to pray. And I would ask that you pray in this way:
Pray for Dr. Kevin Smith who is preaching the KNOWN gatherings.
Pray for the band and choir and worship leaders who are leading our gatherings.
Pray for each other as we seek to:
Own our faith
Make Him Known
Pray for strength clarity of the KNOWN revival leadership team.
Pray for a unifying spirit to move through us as we gather together.
Pray for your involvement in KNOWN.
Finally, pray that as we gather as many different local faith families, that we would see that we are ONE church, under ONE name.
I hope that you will join us for KNOWN, and I look forward to worshiping with each of you!
For His Glory and Renown,
KNOWN Revival Gatherings
6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Russellville (277 S. Main St.)
This past weekend, we gathered as the Church. We gathered as a part of the bigger, global church, under the name of Jesus. We gathered as the church to worship the One who defeated death, conquered the grave, and crushed the enemy once and for all. We gathered to worship the resurrected King,
I had a special guest lead with me this year… a two-year old, who loves music just as much, if not more than I do. It was an honor to lead with Jude, and I look forward to leading with him again and again! It is my prayer that Jude would grow in the Gospel as he grows, and that he would be willing to give his life to seeing the Kingdom of God advance to the ends of the earth all for the glory of Christ.
Such an honor to lead with so many different people! Eternally grateful for the willingness of this group to use their gifts and talents to lead people in worship!