Three Ways Going P.R.O. Helps Kids Grow Spiritually

helping kids go pro

To really grow, we have to let God work inside of us. I mean, we can try to do it on our own, and we can try with all our might, but in reality, it must be God who moves and works in us to bring about change.

To help kids to learn to rely on Jesus to help them grow spiritually rather than striving to “be good” on their own, teach them to go “PRO” by using these three simple concepts based on the acronym PRO.

1) Pray—Begin by asking God to seek your heart and show you where He wants to work. As He reveals any areas that may need to change, confess them to Him and . . .

2) Repent—More than just changing our actions, repentance involves a change of mind trusting God’s way over ours. True repentance is the action that shows a change of our hearts and minds from our way to God’s way which means we will. . .

3) Obey—We want our kids to learn that in order to grow we have to obey God’s will and follow His Spirit and His ways. Spiritual growth will come when as our hearts learn that obedience is a gift of love and should be the first choice of those who belong to Jesus.

We all know that few of our students will go pro in their favorite sport, but by using a phrase they already relate to, we can help them learn through prayer, repentance and obedience how to go pro in their spiritual growth with the Lord.

Prayer Time Shouldn’t Be a Rare Time—Helping Kids Grow in Their Prayer Life through Prayer Posters

prayer photo
This month HiSKidZ at our church are learning about prayer. It seems that while we pray a lot, we haven’t done the best job of teaching about prayer, and since even the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, it’s something we should be giving some thought to as we disciple our children in their faith walks with God.

We are loosely using Discpletown’s How to Pray curriculum and tweaking it to fit our own format and structure. Each week this month we are looking at different aspects of prayer connected to the word pray—Praise, Repentance, Asking and Yielding. It’s nothing new, but it’s definitely worth bringing out to a new generation to help them grow in their conversations with the Lord.

This week, HiSKidZ in our Discovery/Sunday School hour will be making these prayer posters to help them understand each of the 4 aspects of prayer that we are teaching.

The idea is so simple.

All you need is four envelopes, a piece of poster board, some tape, some markers or crayons, a hole punch and a piece of yarn.

Tape the envelopes to the poster board. On each one write one of the aspects of prayer. Punch holes in the top corners and string some yarn through them so they can hang their poster up at home.

The idea is that children and their family can write out prayers and put them in the envelopes. Writing out prayers, even simple prayers helps us to focus and think about things like praise, repentance, what we are asking for and yielding to what God is asking us to do.

Dawn Farris is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

The Land of Uz–Word Up Wednesday

Land of Us

Long before Oz, there was Uz. And in this land there was a great man–“The greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3b) He was wise like an owl, and had a great understanding of God. I love to read his story, and I never get past the first two sentences before it hits me. Every time. Right between the eyes.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Job 1:1

There’s the blog post for today. It’s just that simple. I can’t get past those lines without being reminded by God what it is He asks of me. God tucks these little snippets of oh-so-important words throughout Scripture. It’s verses like this one, and Micah 6:8, and Colossians 3:14 which remind me what it is God has called me to in my relationship with Him.

–To be blameless and upright
–To fear God
–To shun evil
–To act justly
–To love mercy
–To walk humbly with God
–And above all else, put on love.

And in those things, I’m brought back to the two greatest commandments.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

Love God, Love Others.

How do you do that? See above. Repeat daily.

Word Up.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

Leftovers–Taste and See Sunday


There’s a lesson in leftovers. In our home there are two ways to serve leftovers. One is like today, planned. Knowing that we have some things left over from the week’s previous meals, we select the best of our favorites from what has already been served, and we feast. After all, we don’t want to be wasteful and although it may not be the best, it’s good enough! Today was chili bratwurst dogs!

The other is way we serve leftovers is a little more unplanned. Those are the days where things get away from me. The great meal I planned to bless my dear husband with gets shoved aside for an extra meeting, lunch with a friend, or unexpected phone calls. So I dig and scrounge through the fridge and cabinets in order to find something to throw together and call supper. It’s probably not the freshest or the best, it’s just what it is–good enough.

My husband is a pretty understanding guy, and I have never once heard him complain about either method of serving leftovers. (Although he calls them “scraps”) But it doesn’t take long for me to be on the lookout for how often those kinds of days are occurring. Because I have learned that when I am regularly serving Tim the “scrounge around food” leftovers, I may also be serving him time leftovers, listening leftovers, and love leftovers. What that means to me is that things are out of balance and I’m not giving the man I love what he is worthy of.

But it’s more than just what I serve my husband, because Tim isn’t the only one who can wind up getting what’s left over from me.

If I’m not careful I can wind up doing what Francis Chan calls, “Serving leftovers to a holy God.” I need to be aware of my priorities, my time, my choices, my offerings and ultimately my heart in order to keep the main things the main things and to be sure that God retains his 1st place status, and that I am offering Him all that He is worthy of and not just “good enough”.

In Malachi God calls those who offer these inadequate offerings cheats. Cheats! And He asks where the respect is in the offerings brought to Him.

“When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:13-14

We can be guilty of the same thing, excusing our behavior as an accident or backsliding or opportunity or a busy schedule or we might not even realize we are doing it. But if we are indeed offering God what is leftover, it’s imperative that we recognize, repent, and reprioritize so that God can restore us and resume 1st place again. When God is truly 1st place, the things we offer Him will be worthy of the God He is because of our love for Him.

So today is again, for me, one of those days when I take stock of what I’ve been offering God to make sure that He is getting the best all the time, and not just what is leftover. It is clear that what is “good enough” for Jehovah God is always what is best.

Don’t Bother Me, I’m Busy Resting–Take a Seat Saturday


Oh! I make myself laugh sometimes at the silly things I say. Take for example the words in the title above. “I’m busy resting.” Even though it sounds like a giant contradiction in terms, I really think that for some of us, being “busy resting” may be one of the only ways we rest. Well, until we drop from complete exhaustion!

No matter how much I want to fight the truth. I need to rest. I need to slow down sometimes, and I don’t need to feel guilty about it. So I have learned that it helps to schedule in some times of rest. In order to stay sane productive, I schedule most of my week with certain days and certain times to get certain things done. I am much more likely to get the necessary things done when I schedule them in. I can then easily and honestly say “no” to some good things so that I can get the better and best things accomplished. And so it goes with rest.

When I schedule in times of rest, even small times, I am much more likely to actually rest. With rest time scheduled in, I am free to say “no” (yeah, that’s a word we can all say) to the same good things that keep me from this better thing.

I’ve also found that I have different kinds of rest needs. Sometimes I need to rest my body. Sometimes it’s my brain that needs a break–I can tend to over think sometimes. Depending on what’s going on, my emotions may need a break, and certainly my spirit needs time to slow down and rest in God.

By scheduling these times in, and by doing my best to keep those scheduled times, I am much more likely to keep my both my physical and my spiritual heart healthy, as well as my spiritual fruit growing, my purpose clear before me, and my joy overflowing. My relationships are better, my ministry is better, and my outlook and attitude are better. Things are just better when rest is part of the picture.

If fact, I think I’m going to grab a few minutes of rest now, so if anyone asks, I’m busy . . . resting.

Vitamin D-ilemma

This morning at church one of our elders, who happens to be a doctor, gave us a little free medical advice. We need to be getting our Vitamin D. The point of our free medical advice was this: if you aren’t getting your sunshine, then you need to be taking yourself a supplement, because we need this Sunshine Vitamin to grow strong and be healthy. I take one of those little pills, every day. No sunshine? No worries–take a pill. It’s the remedy to our deficiency. Now, there may have been more on this, but I missed it when we dismissed for our Junior Worship session and I was busy lowering a cardboard cutout of my son down from the roof in order to teach HiSKidZ that friends work together to bring other friends to Jesus. Anyway. . . .

The application on this one is pretty easy. We need the SON! Not only are there problems in the U.S. because we aren’t getting enough sun, we are also facing some pretty big issues because of our lack of exposure to the SON. Even though the sun is still shining every day, there are things (like sunscreen, work or too much time spent indoors) that block our exposure to it. The same is true with Christ. He is still shining every day. But “things” block our exposure to Him. And it’s causing some pretty big problems. Individuals, families, and truth are being compromised. Fear is on the rise, and hope is in a downward spiral, and people are spiritually dying. We need to get back into the SON because there is no pill that is going to take the place of Jesus. He is the remedy to our deficiency. So if you are finding yourself suffering some of the effects of a lack of SON SHINE, today is the perfect day to spend sometime soaking Him in.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And that’s my free advice for you for today!

Do You Know Your A,B,C’s

This past weekend, I had a great opportunity to share with some young women from a nearby church for their girls’ retreat. The topic was simply the book of Esther, and we spent some time looking at the A, B, C’s of her life. (Having only two sessions to share gave God time to reveal some pretty amazing things to us, yet it has also given Him the chance to stir our hunger to dig in and learn a little more now that the retreat is over).

The points of the 2nd day were simple. Esther had A–Attitude, Esther was B–Brave, and she was C-Called. Since the weekend, I can’t help thinking about my A,B,C’s. One of the questions we asked during personal devotions was “If your story was being written today, what would be said about you?” And so I find myself sitting tonight here in “my chair,” watching the Steelers play football in their crazy striped uniforms and thinking about the legacy of my spiritual A, B, C’s.

And for better or for worse, I’ve decided to partner with my faithful God to work through all 26 letters, letting Him define and refine me into more of His likeness.

So how about you? Do you know your A,B,C’s? What spiritual attributes best define you? And are there some areas God is showing you need some adjustments? It may be time to bravely work on some attitudes so that you can live out your calling.

As I’ve been asking God about my spiritual attributes, here are a few things He has been showing me. I’d love to have you share yours.

A–Adventurous–To follow Christ is the greatest adventure of all. I’m always excited to think back of the many adventures we have shared
B–Bold–I don’t know that I have ever been as brave as Esther, but I know that God often gives me a “holy boldness” to say, teach or share
something that He wants to have shared.
C–Called–This one is the same as Esthers, but I’m continually reminded and excited by the fact that I just can’t take credit for how
God chooses to use me. I mean, who in the world am I to be used in the service of the King. One thankful woman, that’s who!
D–Discipleship–One of the passions of my heart, it’s continually my prayer that God will use me in the discipleship process. No doubt, the
harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

I’m actually looking forward to the process of learning my A,B,C’s, and hope in these next days of my STAY-CATION, God will reveal to me the things He wants me to see. Because I know that the more I reflect Him, the greater the opportunity to influence those He puts in my life with His character, and that’s an adventure I can’t wait to be a part of.

Tell Me the Story

“Honey, I’m home.” I arrived back early this morning from an amazing week of church camp ready to tell my husband all my stories about a week spent with a pretty special group of soon to be high school freshmen. During the week I had the privilege of helping them take a look at the stories of the Old Testament and how they (the kids and the stories) fit together as part of God’s whole amazing story of love, redemption, grace and reconciliation. We talked about how everything in the O.T. points to Jesus coming to save us in the N.T. and the N.T. points to Jesus coming again to get us for Eterni-T.

This year God had placed in on my heart that we needed to be talkin about the fact that we need to be knowin the story. As I have been reading through the book of Acts–one of the greatest books in the Bible, at least from an adventure standpoint (yeah, that’s just a personal opinion, lol, but I think it’s spot on)–anyway, I couldn’t help but SEE (our theme for the week) that in the book of Acts, while the church was growing like wild fire, that not only did people know the story, they were living the story, they were sharing the story, and God was moving, changing their lives and their stories because of THE STORY.

I mean, Luke obviously knew THE STORY. . . he wrote the book of Acts. Then Peter pipes up with THE STORY at Pentecost. Stephen knew THE STORY and while sharing it he lost his life and gained a new one at the same time. Philip knew THE STORY, he shared it with the people of Samaria, a sorcerer and a Eunich. Saul became Paul because of THE STORY, and he couldn’t stop telling THE STORY for the rest of his days on earth.

The problem lies in the fact that we are not doing a very good job with THE STORY. Even if we know the stories, or some of them, we often don’t understand them or what their importance is or what they mean in the big picture of God’s story, His-story. . .our story.

Romans 1:28-32 reveals to us the consequence of forgetting THE STORY,

“Furthermore, they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

When we know THE STORY, we know GOD because HE IS THE STORY. He and His love are woven into every event, every person’s life and breath and story recorded on the pages of His Word. This week I saw students with a hunger to know THE STORY and THE GOD who is responsible for it. Watching them learning, praying, praising, committing, asking, and seeking is a great encouragement–a hope that the story will continue to be passed on and passed down until the One who is writing it returns to take us home. And until that day we must continue to pray, and we must continue, like the men and women of the book of Acts, to know THE STORY, live THE STORY, and share THE STORY with a world who needs to know the love of the Creator and the heart of His Son who came that we might have life.

How do you know God likes salad?

Because He put so much lettuce in the Bible!!! Bahahahaha. . . .oh well. . .

A few years back, the year our youngest son was graduating from high school, I was fortunate to have had the privilege of giving the graduate’s charge at our church’s service that Sunday. I remember bringing a head of lettuce and pealing back the leaves one at a time as we talked about the “lettuces” in the book of Hebrews.

Truth is there are enough leaves of lettuce in the Bible to make a salad of ginormous proportion. But today, I’ve been drawn back to the espcially tasty bites in Hebrews, especially chapter 10.

For example:

Hebrews 4:14 . . .let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 6:1 Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. . .
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere faith. . .
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we professed, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds
Hebrews 10:25a Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but. . .
Hebrews 10:25b let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching

And just like a salad is rarely complete with just lettuce, the writer of Hebrews adds a little something to the mix beginning in verse 35:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

And then here comes the kicker, I LOVE this part, L-O-V-E it.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

We won’t shrink back, we won’t give up, we won’t give in, we won’t turn away. We will follow, we will love, we will give and forgive and help and serve and share and tell until He who is promised returns. And until that time, “lettuce” do these things with the confidence, peace, joy, grace, strength, energy, passion and commitment that comes only from Him.

Stuff From My Car

In a couple of hours I will be speaking on the campus of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO, giving a late night devotional talk to a small group of some of the greatest young women around–the women who reside on the second floor of Dennis Hall! I have a great love for these girls! Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking to their entire dorm, but tonight we have chosen to take things to a slightly more personal level, and “tonight’s gonna be a good night. Yeah, tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.”

Although I’m writing this now, I won’t post until after I speak. Then there can be that element of surpise (maybe even for me), and I will still have time to process my thoughts one more time before they come out of my mouth–something I probably should do a little more often!! During my drive down to Joplin I was thinking about the things I felt that God was leading me to share with them. Things I wished someone would have said to me. Things that, if I had a daughter, I would want said to her–again and again and again–from someone other than her mother. Things that would sink down deep into her heart for all of her days. Things she would one day share with someone else’s daughter.

The last time I shared with the girls here, we talked about our baggage and our luggage–y’know that stuff we carry around instead of laying it down–and the importance of leaving it with the greatest baggage handler of all times–Jesus. As I thought about how we would move on in our journey tonight, I noticed in my car several things I was carrying with me that would help us to connect to things I wanted to say and maybe lighten the serious tone of the things we would be talking about. Things like:

A Worldless Book Cross Bracelet–This bracelet was made for me by a woman in our church. The beads reflect the light when I drive (at least on sunny days) and are anchored by a cross. As I looked up at that bracelet today, I know I want to remind them that we need to reflect The Light and that our security comes from being anchored in Christ and what He did on the cross.

Chapstick–Cherry to be exact! Oh yeah! We need to have coverage over our lips at all times. What comes through those babies comes directly from what is being stored up in our hearts. So if we are going to take care to have soft lips, we better take care to have a pure heart softened by the truth and love of God.

A Beanie Baby Bumble Bee–We will be taking a minute or two to talk about purity–like in matters involving the birds and the . . . .yeah, you guessed it. . .bees! But also in matters of the heart, the eyes, the ears, and as so many Pinterest Pinners put it, “my style.” There is a reason the guy from Cake wants a girl in a short skirt. . . .and we need to talk about that.

A Beanie Baby Lady Bug–Around here we don’t just have lady bugs, we have those annoying imposters, the Japanese beetles. They look like lady bugs, but they don’t act like lady bugs. They come in swarms, they take over everything around them and they stink. (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this!) They may look cute, but they are not. A stinky disposition is something we need to mature out of because even if you try to cover it up, it doesn’t take long before people see the truth and want to stomp you out.

A Business Ccard and Hospital ID Badge–When we recognize our security is in Christ, and as we mature in Him, our identity becomes secure. Not only will we know who we are, but so will others, and our security will allow us clearance into their lives in order to help them know the One who can heal and help them.

An iphone–These little guy reminds us to keep listening to God. If we don’t we will become ruled by emotions, circustmances and reactions rather than truth and God’s direction. We need to be really careful what we’re takin in or we will be taken in by whatever comes our way.

Emory Board–This little tool helps us realize that our devotion to God will take some shaping up. There are some rough places we all need to let him smooth out, and even though it may hurt we won’t give up, give in, or give out. We will be women who keep our commitments, keep our promises, and keep our faith no matter what our emotions or insecurities may want to do. WAIT! What insecurities? There are being gently filed away and that baggage has been left with Jesus!

LOL!! I just wrote so much, all of which will probably take you longer to read than for me to say, but at the heart of all this stuff is the realization that through the years He has brought me to the place where I am seeking and seeing God in all things. Some of those things are so simple, like objects in my car, and others are so complex, like the giving and taking of life or the complexities of a solar system.

The things in my car helped to remind me of lessons I want to pass on to the women traveling the roads behind me–things like purity, maturity and security.

Proverbs 4:23-25 says:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left and keep your feet from evil.”

This morning:
Last night these girls and I talked about our need for real purity in our lives, and the need to grow up, put away our fears, put our trust in God and gain control over those emotions that keep us from completely devoting ourselves to Christ.

As we talked about the virtues held in this Scripture, we talked about the lies in the promises we read on our Dove Chocolate wrappers, how Smokey Robinson may “Second That Emotion,” but we want to “second that devotion.” Strangely enough, we finished up chatting about Peyton Manning! This simple, yet extraordinary man, and the integrity and example he has shown, but not just as a quarterback. His life reminded us how great the need is for men, and women, to live lives that set that example, and we prayed to be or to become women of purity, maturity and security, ruled by devotion rather than emotion, living out Christ’s example whever the journey takes us.

And it was a good, good night!