How Babies Grow Up To SOAR Like Eagles!

If you follow me, you know, we've been preaching a series at First Christian about Family Discipleship, based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God's plan for raising faith-filled kids in a culture that does not know or love God.


NOTE:  If you do not have kids, or if they are grown--if you belong to a church family, you are PART of the FAMILY OF GOD and you have a role to play in loving the next generation into faith.  AND--I PROMISE as you read this THE HOLY SPIRIT will point out plenty of application for your life.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God gives us THREE DIRECTIVES that show us how to disciple the next generation (our children) in the faith.

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DIRECTIVE ONE:  Make the personal decision to LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART!
Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (NIV)
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts."

You can't pass to others what you don't personally possess!  This is NOT about being religious, or attending religious services.  This is about loving and being devoted to God.

DIRECTIVE TWO:  Intentionally pass your faith on to your children
Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV)
"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

I.e. You don't have to ADD ANYTHING NEW to your schedule.  Simple include God in the schedule you're already living.  Include Him in the conversations and rituals you're already having with your kids, as you wake, drive, eat, chill, get ready for bed.  Prayerfully invite God to be part of all of that--so that you acknowledge Him n prayer... allow His Holy Spirit to remind you of verses from His Word as you encounter moments of stress, joy, blessing, fear, etc. through the day--and as you go to bed--say your prayers--thank God for His blessings... if you child is little tell them a story that includes Bible truths... just make God part of your life.

DIRECTIVE THREE: Live your life for God--and you WILL be a witness for Him.
Deuteronomy 6:8-9 (NIV)
"Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

Allow God's Word to guide all of your thoughts (bind it on your forehead) and to direct all that you do (bind it on your hands).  Posting God's Word on your doorframe says to all who enter--"This is a home of faith--we love and followChrist!"  And posting God's Word on your "gate" is a reminder for you as you leave home each day that you are entering the world as an Ambassador for Christ!

As families LIVE and raise their kids like this --- FAITH IS PASSED ON!

TODAY I want to challenge you to lovingly lead your kids toward NEXT (age-appropriate) STEPS.

As children become teens, then young adults--part of growing in Christ--includes growing in service and responsibility.  As kids grow up, they naturally want more "freedom"... this is where they have to learn that freedom ALWAYS comes hand-in-hand with RESPONSIBILITY.  If you want a phone, you pay for it and you use it honorably and responsibly.  If you want a privilege, you do your chores, homework, etc. When you graduate from High School you either pursue work, training for a trade college, or something productive.  I.e. you prayerfully form a plan and work it--you don't lay on the couch and play video games all day and expect a free ride.  

PARENTS, it's our responsibility to help our kids navigate these steps from childhood, to teen, to adulthood, successfully---with Jesus at the CENTER of every step.

I'm going to close this out with an illustration about a mamma-eagle and her babies and "How she HELPS them grow up."  As you read it, think about how God does this with us, and how we as parents are called to do this for our kids.

When a mother eagle builds her nest she starts with thorns, broken branches, sharp rocks, and a number of other items that seem entirely unsuitable for the project. But then she lines the nest with a thick padding of wool, feathers, and fur from animals she has killed, making it soft and comfortable for the eggs.  

By the time the growing birds reach flying age, the comfort of the nest and the luxury of free meals makes them quite reluctant to leave. 

That's when the mother eagle begins stirring up the nest. With her strong talons she begins pulling up the thick carpet of fur and feathers, bringing the sharp rocks and thorns to the surface. As more of the bedding gets plucked up, the nest becomes more uncomfortable for the young eagles. 

Eventually, this and other urgings prompt the growing eagles to leave their once-comfortable abode and move on to more mature behavior.

80s Christian Metal Blessings,
pb

http://pastorbradrocks.net/

Passing The Torch of Faith!

Hey Christian Metal Brothers and Sisters, Pastor Brad here with another thought from God’s Word to Rock You Up for Jesus! 

We're currently preaching a series of messages from Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  This passage lays out God's plan for passing the torch of faith from one generation to the next---IN A CULTURE THAT DOES NOT SHARE THAT FAITH!

That's so huge for Christian living in twenty-first-century America!

You know we live in a POST-CHRISTIAN culture, right?

A generation or so ago, the morals and values of our culture were somewhat aligned with what was taught in church.  I'm NOT saying everyone was Christian---but our sense of what was considered "right" and "wrong" was somewhat reflective of the Judeo-Christian worldview.

Those day are gone.

Following Christ today. Believing and embracing the teachings of Scripture today--that is one-hundred-percent OUT OF SYNC with mainstream culture.  As Christians, we just need to own that and say, "Okay, world, you can live however you chose.  But I (and my home and brothers and sisters in Jesus) are going to live for Christ, period.

With all of that as background, our church has decided to scrap the traditional "kid's ministry model" of having a couple "programs" at our building per week.  We are diving into FAMILY MINISTRY---exhorting and equipping parents to be the PRIMARY "disciplers" in their kids lives---which is exactly what Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is all about.

IF YOU ARE A SINGLE or an EMPTY NESTER (no kids at home) DO NOT blow this off!

DO THIS:  When ever you read the words "parents (or mom/dad)...  and "kids/children" -- replace it with YOU, and your circle of influence... If you do that, I think you'll receive a powerful message!

OK, LET'S GET INTO THE MEAT OF THIS...


In Deuteronomy, Israel has been wandering around in the wilderness for forty years!  They are camped just east of the Jordan River, right on the verge of stepping into Canaan--to begin the conquest and settlement of the Promised Land. 

Moses wrote Deuteronomy to REMIND Israel of all of the most important things they needed to keep front and center as they settled into their new homeland. ONE of those “SUPER IMPORTANT THINGS” was PASSING RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD--on to each generation.  

It’s awesome to share your faith with neighbors, friends, co-workers.  We are called to do that, but the FIRST EVANGELISTIC PRIORITY for the Body of Christ is to raise their children in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4)  In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God lays out exactly HOW TO DO THIS. 

Here’s what God called parents to do in Deuteronomy 6:4-7.

Verses 4-6:  "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts." 

Everything begins with and depends upon--MOM & DAD loving God with their whole being!  You can’t pass on to your kids what you don’t personally POSSESS.  Our FIRST priority as Believers is to cultivate and nurture our PERSONAL commitment to and love for God! 

Verse 7: "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." 

THIS IS MASSIVE!!!  

Do you see what God is, & IS NOT saying here?  

He is NOT saying, “Parents, you need to MAKE TIME in your already busy schedule to sit down and TEACH your kids about me.”  

Nope… Not even close. 

What HE IS SAYING is this:

“Make all of life your classroom.  As you wake up, do breakfast, sit around the family room, drive in the car, get ready for bed, etc. weave ME into your conversations with your kids!” 

This is why verses 4-6 are so important.  If you don’t possess a personal, ever-growing relationship with God & His Word---the notion of discipling your kids in the general flow of life will feel awkward and contrived, but if your life already revolves 24/7 around your relationship with Him, then this will be a very natural extension of your walk with God.  Life will present endless opportunities to weave Christ and His Word into conversations.  Think about it---every week your child will experience times of fear, doubt, discouragement, joy, victory, defeat, and on and on.  

Does God speak to those experiences in His Word?

ABSOLUTELY!  

God is simply instructing parents to INTEGRATE Him/His Word into our daily lives and routines, not in a religious, Bible-Thumper--kind of way, but genuinely.  

In moments of fear--"You know, I live Joshua 1:9. 'Have I not commanded you,' declares the Lord, 'Be strong and courageous!  Do not be discouraged.  Do not be terrified!  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.'"  

When you've been let down by someone and you're bummed out.  "Dude, I'm so thankful for Jesus in times like this.  His promise in Hebres 13:5 is awsome, 'I will never leave you or forsake you.'"

Thoughts... reminders... mini-testimonies like that sprinkled into spontaneous, every day conversations are MASSIVELY powerful and influential!

Deutueronomy 6:8-9 goes on to talk about how we engage with and witness to the world outside of the home, but verses 4-7 are the HEART of God’s plan for passing our faith onto the next generation. 

So decide today to love the Lord with all of your being and allow His presence in your life to be part of all your routines and conversations and you'll be amazed how He will use that to reach your kids (and/or friends) for Christ!

80s Christian Metal Blessings,
pb

THIS MEANS WAR!

Metal Blessings! 

Hey guys, Pastor Brad here.  You do know we're at war, right?

 I define CULTURE this way: the values, morals and mindset of a people group.  

This is what Paul is referring to in Romans 12:2 (NIV)  when he says, “Do not conform to the pattern (the culture: values, morals and mindset) of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

WE LIVE IN WORLDLY CUTURE—SO WE NEED DAILY INJECTIONS OF GOD CULTURE! 

This is what Paul means by “be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  

Literally, set your mind on things above, on God, on His Word--daily and allow His values, morals and mindset to transform you (your thinking/perspective on life)--from the inside out, so that you are made LIKE JESUS!  Your mind is "transformed" FROM worldly---to godly! 

The home is one of the primary places this battle takes place.  The culture we live in does not honor marriage as sacred or holy.  God created marriage to be the centerpiece of society and CULTURE.  As a man and a woman, commit their lives to Jesus as Lord first, then to one another in selfless, Christ-like, covenant love—they establish a home, procreate and bring children into the world.  Those children are raised in a context of godly love and discipline.  They learn God's Truth, boundaries, and the blessings of discipline. They grow up with a mindset that “does unto others as we would have them do unto us…” … that loves God and walks with integrity… Children raised in this kind of home know who they are (loved children of their parents and their Heavenly Father)… they know where they come from (knit together by God in their mother’s womb), and where they are going---as Children of God—they live as grace-covered—redeemed—Holy Spirit-empowered ambassadors for the Kingdom of God in the here and now, knowing that when death comes—it is GAIN!

When a culture pushes God and His ways out of a culture, degrading marriage and sex and destroying God’s model for the home and parenting---ALL OF THE ABOVE GOES AWAY.  Kids grow up with ZERO sense of where they come from, who they are, or where they are going.  They literally become a product of the world’s culture (values, morals and mindset) and the result?  Look around, we live in it. 

THE FAMILY IS UNDER ATTACK—IT’S TIME FOR THE CHURCH TO WAKE UP! 

At First Christian Church—we are shifting our focus.  We are pouring our hearts into a vision for FAMILY MINISTRY.  Instead of JUST doing children’s programs—where we have kid’s classes and events (we’ll continue to do some of that)—but we are calling moms and dads (& extended family) to wake up to the reality that THEY are the PRIMARY disciplers of their children.  Moms and dads—need to RECAPTURE THE HIGH CALLING OF CHRISTIAN HOMELIFE---Where Jesus and His Word are worked into every conversation: at breakfast, in the car, at dinner time, bedtime, etc. 

This is EXACTLY what the Great Commission of the Old Testament – Deuteronomy 6:4-9 teaches. 

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” 

Pray together in the morning.  When you talk about daily issues, include Jesus in the conversation.  What would His thoughts be on the issue?  Make decisions about your weekly schedule that demonstrate that Jesus is Lord.  Have God time before bed--a story and prayer, works great!  I.e. RECLAIM your home and your kids ON PURPOSE—for Jesus! 

I totally get that you might not be a parent, or your kids might be grown, etc. But this is a message the WHOLE CHURCH needs to embrace.  Singles, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Church Family--all of us can serve as exteneded family to the children in our world!  

It's time to drive a stake and declare, "Christ, not our world’s culture, IS KING, and we are going to conduct our lives as such!"

WHEN YOU FILL YOUR MIND WITH GOD CULTURE—YOU WILL KNOW HIS WILL
 
Dude---if you fail to fill your life with God time—in His Word, personally and with His People (the church) in worship, study, prayer, fellowship, service, etc.  Your mindset will consist of NOTHING except WORLDLY  thoughts, values & morals---period.  If you chose to live this way, please don’t blame God when your life is filled with confusion, fear, anxiety, anger, etc.  – these are the fruit of a worldly life. BUT—if you fill your life with God, His Word and His Ways---you will experience the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23).  And Paul says in Romans 12:2 that you will be able to discern (test & approve) what God’s will is--His good, pleaseing and perfect will! 

We’re in a fight, that’s for sure!  But, we have the ultimate secret weapon---JESUS.  He kind of created the universe, so I think we’re in good hands.  I’ve read the end of the book and guess what?  We win!  Press into Him today my friend!

80s Christian Metal Blessings,
pb

My Favorite Down &Dirty Jesus Story!

80s Christian Metal Blessings!

I’m stoked to share my favorite DOWN & DIRTY Jesus story with you today! 

It’s found in John 9:1-6. Check this out… In verses 1-3 Jesus passes a man who had been blind since birth.  His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’

His disciples didn’t quite understand that SIN  brought BROKENNESS into the whole world system (even creation is cursed by sin (Romans 8:20ff)--to the degrees that BAD things happen even to GOOD people--Billy Graham didn’t get Parkinson’s disease because he sinned.  He got it because he lived in this broken, sin-cursed world. 

Anyway---on with the story…. 

Jesus answered his disciples, saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him…”

I.e. “God’s about ready to do something awesome!”

John 9:6-7 (NIV) “After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva 

This is how I KNOW Jesus wasn’t married 😊   My wife would NEVER let me do this!

...and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’… So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.” 

Isn’t that a super cool story!?

Here’s the BIG IDEA: “Jesus can use ANYTHING, even plain old dirt, to open our eyes to what He has for us.” 

In the Old Testament, God used a ROCK to provide water for Israel in the dessert. 

Dude---there were nearly 3 MILLION ISRAELITES --- PLUS their livestock!  The averages human requires about one gallon of water per day… you do the math.  That’s a lot of water to get from a rock!

When God called Moses to be the deliverer of Israel, He did it through a BUSH!

When God delivered Jericho (a massively fortified city) into Israel’s hands--do you remember the battle plan He gave them?  He told them to walk around the city! -- They were to all around Jericho once each day for six days, then on the seventh day they were to walk around the city seven times and then shout!

DUDE--God used a stroll and a shout to defeat a city!

One year in a community in the hills of southern Virginia, on a Sunday morning, there was a bad ice-storm.  All of the churches canceled services except one.  This one Pastor had invited a very special guest speaker--and He just couldn’t cancel.  So they put the word out and told people to use their own discretion and be safe, but they were going to have services.  Very few people attended, but the service was still great!  At the end, the pastor stood up and share about a vision God had laid on his heart to plant a new church in a community in the next county over.  Everything was in place, except for a venue for the church to meet in. 

After the service, an elderly gentleman approached the pastor and said, “My name is such and such.  I’m pastor at the such and such church in the next county over.  I’m close to retirement and we’re planning on selling our building!” Long story short, he made him an amazing offer and GOD USED AN ICE STORM to connect two preachers and broker a deal to launch a new congregation!

God used a DIO concert to get my attention and call me out of darkness and into His grace!  It was 1986, Ronnie James Dio brought His “Last In Line Tour” to Indianapolis.  I was really enjoying the concert when they broke into the song “Heaven And Hell” (a Black Sabbath classic).  In the middle of the song, the band broke things down and did this little bass/drum groove thing and Dio started telling a story over it.  It was a story about GOOD (represented by a white ship) & EVIL (represented by a black ship) and how both were speaking to Him, trying to pull Him in their direction. At one point, as Dio spoke about the white ship, the lights grew white and the music became celestial and heavenly sounding.  Dio said, “The little white ship said to me, ‘Come with me cause I know just what to do.’ But I said, (as the vibe of the lighting and music turned dark and evil)  ‘GO AWAY!  I’M GONNA BURN IN HELL WITH ALL OF YOU & YOU & YOU’ (As He pointed at each section of the arena) and the crowd erupted with wild cheering!

Everyone, but ME. 

I WAS STUNNED. 

All I could mutter was, “Unt-uh… not me dude.” 

It was a jarring, eye-opening experience.

I didn’t surrender to Jesus as Lord right then and there, but that moment definitely set the wheels in motion.  Within the year I was on my knees, giving my whole heart to Jesus!

There’s so much to be said about this… but for the sake of time… let’s just cut to the chase. In 1 Corinthians 1:18a, the Apostle Paul wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing…”

Many n our world who do not know or follow Jesus view faith in Him as a fairy-tale, a crutch for weak people.  A narrow-minded feeble religion for losers.  I.e.  Just like Paul said, “They see the message of the cross as foolishness.

But then---look what he also went on to say in the next line…

1 Corinthians 1:18b “…but to us who are being saved”

...to those who know God can use ANYTHING---to get our attention.... He can us spit & dirt to restore our sight… an Ice storm to grow His Church...  a rock to provide water for His people in the desert... or a rock Concert to call a preacher!   And if He can do that, He can certainly use His Son’s precious perfect, sinless blood willing and sacrificially poured out on a cross to purchase forgiveness for you & me!

...to those who believe and are being saved... the message of the cross “is the power of God.” 

Which camp are you in today?

80s Christian Metal Blessings!
pb
http://pastorbradrocks.net/

The Up-There-Down-Here Life



80s Christian Metal Blessings!


In stead of front-loading our Encouraging Word form God's Word--with UPDATES, this week I'm just going to dive right in.  BUT DEFINITELY take a second to look over the UPDATES below--God is working!  Kingdom stuff is happening!

Okay, onward to THE WORD...

Living THE UP-THERE-DOWN-HERE LIFE

As Christians, we live IN this world, AS CITIZENS OF HEAVEN.  If that makes you feel slightly out of sorts---good, it should!  We do not FIT here.  We’ve been born again, into a new family--The Family of God.  God is our Father, Jesus (in addition to being our awesome Lord and Savior) is our elder brother.  And God’s Word is our standard.

So, while we are still on this planet, we are in a season of CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT.  God is transforming us from the inside-out into the likeness of His Son (Rom. 8:28-29).

We are called continually in His Word to live an UP-THERE-DOWN-HERE life---living down here for up there.

Jesus modeled this life for us and taught us how to live it.

In Matthew 6:10 (as part of “The Lord’s Prayer”) Jesus taught us to pray THE UP THERE DOWN HERE PRAYER--it goes like this, “…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

HERE’S THE BIG IDEA: “Praying up there down here prayers opens our eyes to the reality that we are citizens of and participants in God’s Kingdom right here and right now -- as we walk with our King through life.”

Mt. 6:10 “Your kingdom come… Your will be done...” ... this is how Jesus prayed… Every prayer Jesus prayed was centered around a desire to honor the Father and advance His Kingdom agenda. The ultimate example of this is Luke 22:42 (NIV).  In this moment, Judas is leading a band of religious leaders and Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus.  Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying.  Here’s what he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

I.e. “Okay Father, this is what I, Jesus the human part wants… I would love to avoid all of this pain---and I KNOW YOU CAN MAKE THAT HAPPEN if it’s your will.  BUT, in the end, I don’t want MY WILL.  I want YOUR WILL to be done.  I want YOUR KINGDOM plan to be advanced.  I want YOUR WILL to be done right here on earth… in my life… right here and now… just as it is done in Heaven.” That’s the kind of prayer, lifestyle, and mindset Jesus lived with, and calls us as His Disciples to live with.

Here are 5 Kingdom Prayers I challenge you to pray today:
NOTE, as you pray each line--ponder and allow the Holy Spirit to show you HOW the Father’s will can be DONE in that area of your life.

1) Father, your will be done in my private life.
2) Father, your will be done in my family life.
3) Father, your will be done in my work life.
4) Father, your will be done in my social life.
5) Father, your will be done in my church life.

Is God speaking to you in any of those areas?   I encourage you to obey Him today!

80s Christian Metal Blessings,
pb
http://pastorbradrocks.net/