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Family Time Recipe


Environment Serving


Kids in the Kitchen

Tot Time

Fruit Kabobs



Editor’s Note


Conversation Starters


Tough Topics


How to Use Family Time and the Family Verse




The Middle


Capturing the Season




God’s Word










Spiritual Parenting





Spiritual Grandparenting


Game Time

The Everyday Parent


10 Environments





Fall Garland

Why We Serve

Service as Worship

Serving Your Family Telephone Game & Pictionary of Service



Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Remember or Act

Serving Kids

Sit at Home

What Is Sin?

What a Difference a Question Makes


What Is My Part? Philippines

Others First

Anti-Chore Chart 2

Five Questions to Ask Ourselves Inbox

“What Needs to Be Done?” Game

CREATE Anti-Chore Chart


We believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s chosen teacher. It is He who causes spiritual growth and formation when and as He chooses. As such, we have articulated 10 distinct environments to create in your home. We desire to create spiritual space, which we refer to as an environment, in which God’s Spirit can move freely.

This environment encourages a posture of the heart that asks the question “What needs to be done?” It allows the Holy Spirit to cultivate a sensitivity to others and reminds us that we’re called to a cause bigger than one individual life. It helps fulfill the mandate that, as followers of Jesus, we are to view our lives as living sacrifices we generously give away! “What needs to be done?” What if you and I and our kids walked into every situation, with every person, and simply asked this question? Somebody’s crying. What needs to be done? Does she need to be left alone? Does she need to be hugged? Does she need to talk to someone? Does she need someone to pray for her?

Michelle Anthony Family Ministry Architect David C Cook

Follow Michelle: @TruInspiration

Out of my own selfishness I don’t always want to answer that question the way I know the Holy Spirit wants me to. But when we hear it and respond to it, we enter a very rich environment that enables us to lead an other-centered life. What might it look like if we started pursuing this posture with our children from an early age … teaching them to walk into any situation asking “What needs to be done?” Wow—we’d live in a different world!

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF SERVING (an excerpt from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony)

Even small children need to discover that part of responding to God’s love for us is serving Him … I know one family that has a whiteboard next to their front door. As they enter and exit, they see the names of their family members. As they seek to serve their family, they simply sign their initials next to the name of the member they served in some way. It doesn’t say what was done, but it offers visual accountability to each member of the family to fulfill what the apostle Paul wrote in the same chapter where he connected worship with service (Romans 12). He said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:10–11). Ultimately, when we serve each other, we are serving the Lord.

Design, Layout, and Photography by Brad Claypool (




Debbie Guinn

HomeFront Senior Managing Editor David C Cook

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When I think about living in the environment of SERVING, I picture packing up my family and moving to a desolate country or trading my normal, everyday life to work in an orphanage. And while each of those scenarios would be amazing, if God called me there, I’m learning to recognize that just being a parent means living a life of service. From the time the sun rises to the end of the day, we’re serving our families. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. School. Soccer. Piano. The list goes on and on. We serve our families because we love them. We see the needs, and our actions constantly answer the question “What needs to be done?” This month’s issue of HomeFront focuses on the why behind SERVING. The God’s Word section (page 7) explains why God calls us to put the needs of others before our own. Simply put, it’s because Christ laid down His life for us. In Worship (page 8) we discover that the Greek word for worship, latria, can also be translated as “service.” Worship and service are inseparable— they’re literally the same word. You’ll have tons of family fun playing this month’s games (page 10) with a new twist on some old favorites. And the Anti-Chore Chart in Create (page 11) will shine a new light on the many ways we can serve our families. On a final note, I’m excited to think about a generation of children walking into situations asking and answering the question “What needs to be done?” Our world will become a better place, and many will come to know Christ through the actions of just a few. It starts in our homes, but who knows where it will go?




sy as a e s a It's ONE TWO THREE


Start by deciding on a day and time that works well for your entire family. It can be an evening, afternoon, or morning. Just commit to building this time into your family’s natural rhythm. It’s usually best to build this time around a meal.



Memorizing Scripture can be an incredible practice to engage in as a family. But words in and of themselves will not necessarily transform us; it is God’s Spirit in these words who transforms. We come to know God more when we’re willing to open our hearts and listen to His Holy Spirit through the words we memorize. Have fun with this verse, and think of creative ways to invite your family to open up to God as they commit this verse to memory.

Look through HomeFront and see what stands out. Choose two or three experiences you would like to incorporate into your family times each week. Don’t feel burdened to complete all the activities at once, but carefully select which ones will fit your family best. This resource provides your family with more than enough experiences to create transforming environments in your home throughout the month.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Romans 12:10–11



Remember to HAVE FUN! Strive to make each gathering unique to your own family as you enjoy spending time with God and each other. 5


family time

c a p t u r i n g t h e s e as o n

D N A L R A G L L FA This month, make a festive fall garland to hang in your home and watch it fill up with the ways your family intentionally chooses to serve others.

INSTRUCTIONS: • Cut several small pennants out of fall-colored felt or fabric. • Using the leaf template provided, cut several leaves out of burlap. • Using the clothespins, attach each pennant to the twine to create the garland. You may choose to leave space between the pennants where you’ll later pin the burlap leaves. • Using a fabric or paint marker, write an “act of service” idea on each leaf. (You may want to put newspaper underneath the burlap in case the ink seeps through the holes.)


• Hang the banner in a prominent place in your home, and place the leaves and small clothespins in a basket nearby.

• fall-colored felt or fabric • burlap • scissors • twine

• Throughout the month, as you complete each act of service, add the corresponding leaf to the garland, either by hanging it between two pennants or clipping onto the top of a pennant.

• fabric marker or paint marker • small clothespins • basket • optional: newspaper

HELPFUL HINTS: Each family member should brainstorm age-appropriate acts of service she would like to do at some point this month (washing dishes, emptying the garbage, taking care of a pet, doing laundry, baking cookies for a teacher, making an encouraging card for a friend or relative, etc.). Try including acts of service done within the home, acts of service that will benefit those outside of the home, and acts of service that can be completed together as a family. Have each person choose a few activities that will be especially stretching for him in addition to activities that are already part of his normal routine. This way, as your family is called into greater service this month, you will also be encouraged to recognize the things that you already do to meet the needs of those around you! by: Emily Ganzfried



family time

g o d ’ s wo r d

Why We Serve

HEAR IT Read Mark 10:45 and 1 John 3:16–17 with your family. Then consider the following questions.

Service can take many different forms, but the idea and motivation remains the same: to put the needs and desires of others before our own. Jesus sums up this call by reminding us that “even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

• Knowing even Jesus came to serve, how can we serve as well? • How does serving in response to God’s sacrifice change the heart behind our service?

We understand that we have a biblical mandate to serve. We know we should serve because God tells us to serve. However, what’s the “why” behind our service? Why does God call us to serve others?

• Is Christ calling us to specific acts of service or a lifestyle defined by serving others?

We know we can’t be saved through serving, because salvation comes only through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8–9). We also know serving doesn’t make us any holier in God’s eyes, because only faith yields righteousness before God (Romans 4:2–3). In light of this, the question remains: Why does God call us to serve?

DO IT If we’re serving in response to Christ’s sacrifice, this ultimately shifts our perspective on why we serve.

We see the answer clearly in 1 John 3:16–17: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

As a family, talk about the ways you’ve previously approached serving. • Do we decide to serve because we have to or because we get to?

Christ calls us to serve because He first performed the ultimate act of service for us: He took the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross. And since we’ve been purchased with Christ’s blood, we should lay down our “right” to our own lives and give our lives for the sake of others. We serve others in response to Jesus’ love for us, and we can see a picture of this throughout the New Testament as well as our churches and faith communities today.

• What kind of attitude do we have when we serve? Does this attitude reflect a thankfulness for all Christ has done for us? Next, talk about how serving could look different if you served in response to Christ’s love. Discuss: • How can we view serving as a joyful gift?

God calls us to serve others because He first served us. As a result, our lives aren’t our own.

• In what practical ways can we serve as a family while remaining in a posture of response toward the Lord? Now, go out and do it! Pray together and ask God to lead you to the place where He’s calling you to serve. Then serve in response to the love Christ has already shared with you. And while you serve, seek every opportunity to spread God’s Word. Nothing displays Christ more beautifully than being His hands and feet. by Joel Stanton



family time

wo r s h i p

P I H S R O W S A S E RV I C E The early church couldn’t even think of worship outside of this concept of service. The Greek word for worship is latria. This happens to be the same word for service. Latria is service. Latria is worship. So the New International Version renders Romans 12:1 like this: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” The original Greek text can also be translated, “This is your spiritual act of service.” The two are inseparable. It’s the same word. So for us to be worshippers with our lives, we must learn to be servants as well. We must enter into every situation and ask the question, “What needs to be done?” (an excerpt from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony)


This month, after reading Romans 12:1, begin to list the ways you can worship God with your life. Make three lists and title them “Past,” “Present,” and “Future.” List the ways each person has responded to the question “What needs to be done?” and how you as a family have responded in the past. Then talk about right now. How is your family responding to God now? Finally, talk about your future—again, as an individual and as a family unit. What are some ways you can serve God as a spiritual act of worship in the future?

Revisit your lists often, encouraging each other to remember God’s mercy to each of us. 8


family time


serving your FAMILY

Growing up in a pastor’s home meant we often had a house full of people—people to whom my parents felt compelled to minister. Last-minute meetings, Bible studies, and impromptu counseling sessions were the norm around our home. Many times we had no warning when people were about to arrive. But we welcomed them into the reality of a busy home and the messes that come from children being children. For the times we did have ample warning and time to prepare for guests, we had a family tradition that made “tidying up” a fun way we could serve each other. My mom created a big box filled with all of the tasks that “needed to be done” in order for our home to be ready for guests—bathroom sinks to be cleaned, bathroom mirrors to be wiped, trash cans to be emptied, vacuuming, setting the table, toys put away, pillows plumped, front porch swept, and the list went on. Mom would rally “Team Edwards” (our family’s last name) around the box and quickly remind us that this was a way of answering,“What needs to be done?” On her “Go!” we would all grab a task and scurry off to complete it. We had a couple of versions of this game. Sometimes the goal was to be the person who completed the most tasks. To the victor went the reward of a treat, or a dollar, or maybe the night off from other chores. Other times we raced as a family to see if by working together we could complete all the tasks by a certain time. The goal was to be quick and efficient. I have such fond memories of this tradition. Having guests always filled our house with an exciting buzz (because it usually meant we’d be having dessert!). But even more than that, it felt good to be a part of this team called family. We learned that we all have a part to play in being a family and that we’re responsible for serving each other around our home. by Ali Bray




family time

game time



This version of the “Telephone” game will get your children thinking about different acts of service in a fun way. Gather your family in a circle on the floor. The person to start the game should think of an act of service, such as washing the dishes or making someone else’s bed, and then whisper it into the ear of the person next to him. That person should whisper what she heard into the ear of the next person, and so on. Once the act of service reaches the last person in the circle, she should say it out loud to see if it stayed the same or changed while traveling through the circle. Usually by this time the message will be so different from the beginning that it will have everyone giggling hysterically! by Heather Kasparian



Play “Pictionary” with a twist! This game will have your family sketching different acts of service. Before you begin, write down different acts of service (e.g., making the bed, sweeping the floor, folding clothes) on pieces of paper. Fold the papers and put them in a bowl. Then, depending on the size of your family, split into two teams (or keep things simple with one big group). If you split into teams, choose one person to take a piece of paper with an act of service on it. Then give him 45 seconds to sketch it out while his teammates try to guess the act of service. If they guess correctly, they get one point. If not, the other team gets the chance to guess. Then it’s the other team’s turn. If you decide not to split into teams, just take turns sketching out the acts of service you choose while everyone else tries to guess each one (no need to keep score for this version). Have fun!



family time

c r e at e

ANTI-CHORE CHART In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. He immediately follows that with a commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our service to others reflects the depth of our love for God. When we serve those around us, we serve God as well. Through the environment of SERVING we cultivate hearts within our children that ask the question

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4 begin by coloring the chart to make it your own. Then start filling in the blanks on the left side of the page with the names of family members you will be serving. Next, fill in the ways you will serve that family member across the top. You may consider brainstorming ideas for ways they can serve around your home by encouraging them to answer the question “What needs to be done?

“What needs to be done?” This isn’t an attitude that comes naturally to most children. Egocentric by nature, most children have a “me first” approach to life. This environment of SERVING teaches children to instead have the “you first” approach described in Philippians 2:3–4. In order to help cultivate this environment in our own home, my husband and I have emphasized to our children that our family functions as a team. We do not have a list of chores that our children must complete, and we don’t pay them to work at our home. Instead, because they’re members of “Team Crockett,” we try to remind them that they’re responsible for working together on the daily tasks related to our home. This has often resulted in picking up toys that another sibling left out, helping Mom pack Dad's lunch, or another small act of service. This month, try replacing your children's chore charts with our HomeFront “Acts of Service” chart found at the end of this issue. Unlike a chore chart, which features a list of items that need to be completed, this chart starts out blank. You and your children can 11

As the weeks pass, offer your children less input and see what they come up with on their own. As you serve others, fill your charts with stickers or drawings to serve as a visual reminder of the different ways you chose to serve your family. When your charts are full, celebrate with a fun family activity or special treat. by Alyson Crockett


family time

fa m i ly t i m e r e c i p e

Prep: 20 min.


Time: 4–5 hrs. Yields: 6 sandwiches

INGREDIENTS: 1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, or chicken) 1 cup chopped red onion 1 /2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper 6 oz. can tomato paste 1 packet sloppy joe seasoning 11/4 cups water 6 hamburger buns or rolls (consider using small slider buns to make it more fun for kids)

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS: shredded cheese (jack or cheddar) lettuce • coleslaw • tomato slices red onion slices • dill pickle slices

by Amanda Hunt

DIRECTIONS: 1. In a large skillet, brown meat with onion and bell pepper. Drain any excess fat. 2. T  ransfer cooked meat and vegetables to the slow cooker. 3. Stir in water, tomato paste, and seasoning packet. 4. Cover and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for four to five hours, stirring occasionally. 5. Just before serving, warm the buns or rolls in the oven for five to 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 6. Set out all desired toppings. 7. Now have each member of the family serve up a sloppy joe for another person. Make sure you ask each person which toppings she would like. For an easy metric conversion chart, search the internet for “metric kitchen.”



family time

k i d s i n t h e k i tc h e n SUPPLIES: • white lollipop sticks (found in the baking aisle) or wooden kabob sticks (w/ sharp end removed) • small cookie cutters (different shapes)

INGREDIENTS: melons (different types) • blueberries • apples bananas • grapes • strawberries • pineapple



by Amanda Hunt

1. Have the children help wash any fruit that needs washing. 2. Peel the apples and cut into fourths. 3. Peel the pineapple and de-core it. Then cut each section into chunks. 4. Once you’ve prepared the fruit, have the children cut different shapes out of the fruit using the cookie cutters. 5.  Thread the fruit pieces on the lollipop sticks. If you have trouble poking the stick though the fruit, first poke a hole with the sharp end of a kabob stick. 6.  To add some variety to the kabobs, challenge your children to create different patterns of fruit. 7. Serve your kabobs on a platter.

family time

co n v e r sat i o n sta r t e r s

Remember or Act In this variation of “Truth or Dare,” each family member will have the chance to “Remember or Act.” Write each family member’s name on a piece of paper, fold it up, and toss it into a bowl. Fill another bowl with different acts of service, each on a piece of paper. Some examples: “Help another family member clean his room,” “Help a neighbor with yard work,” etc.

by Heather Kasparian

GET YOUR CHILDREN TALKING … Have your family sit in a circle on the floor. Starting with a parent, so the kids can see how to play, pull a piece of paper from the name bowl, read the name, and ask that family member to choose “remember” or “act.” If she chooses “remember,” she gets the opportunity to share a time someone helped her or a time she helped someone else. If she chooses “act,” she must pull a piece of paper from the acts of service jar. As you play, make a list of each family member’s acts of service, and help her complete them throughout the week. Encourage everyone to be on the lookout for new acts of service to add to the jar, and continue playing this game all month. 13


family time

sto ry t e l l i n g

SERVING KIDS “What needs to be done?” Just ask the kids! Most of us have been part of a service activity designed to meet a need in our community or our world. Usually we participate in service projects that have been planned in advance, carefully orchestrated, and divided into specific tasks by adult leaders who “know how” to do it. But lately I’m learning that the best kind of service comes from the little ones we serve. At our church, part of the regular worship in children’s ministry involves bringing offerings for pre-selected projects designed to meet specific needs. Our children give generously, prayerfully, and cheerfully. We talk about how their gifts can help others, whether it’s digging wells that provide clean drinking water, helping mothers and babies with food and necessities, or building a school for children in Liberia. These kids are always on board and eager to help others! And while this is all great, we have found the best service projects in our ministry are the ones initiated by the kids themselves!



family time

sto ry t e l l i n g

It’s amazing to see how God uses these kids when they ask the question “What needs to be done?” and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them. Recently a seven-year-old girl name McKenna suggested we bring money to buy blankets to be given through Samaritan’s Purse. McKenna saw a brochure that ignited a spark and passion for this organization. She researched the project, explained it to the group at church, and got started! And she didn’t just stop with the kids at church. She talked to her teacher at her public school and led her classmates in a fundraising project to raise money for blankets. She also wrote letters to friends and relatives asking for contributions. The result? Seventy-nine warm, comfy blankets going to children around the world! Another opportunity for serving came about when of one of the families in our church was involved in a

serious car accident. The mom, dad, and eight-year-old daughter Jessica were taken by ambulance to the trauma center. Mom and daughter were released, but dad stayed in the intensive care unit for several days. As Jessica visited her dad, she discovered that children were also patients in the ICU. On one of her daily visits, Jessica learned that stuffed animals were given to young patients to comfort them. Unfortunately, they had run out of stuffed toys! Jessica got an idea that, as she explained to me, exploded in her brain! God was speaking powerfully to this young girl. She told me about her idea to collect stuffed animals for the children in the hospital. We gave her time that very day to share her God-given idea and passion with the children of her church community. By the next Sunday, the very large box designated for the stuffed animals was overflowing!


Jessica and I delivered all the stuffed animals to the hospital. The children received them gratefully. After handing out the toys, eight-year-old Jessica prayed a blessing over the patients before we left. We believe God’s love was delivered with each stuffed animal that was given away. by Eileen Reid Children’s Ministry Director Valley View Church Clackamas, Oregon


family time

p r ay e r

? T R A P Y M S I T A WH The environment of SERVING encourages us to ask the question “What needs to be done?” This can seem like an overwhelming question when we look at all of the pain and need in our world. So much needs to be done. But we don’t have to answer this question on our own. When we’re intimately connected with God, He will answer this question for us. We have the comfort of knowing we can go to God continually and ask Him what part He wants us to play in meeting the needs of our world. He will break our hearts for what breaks His. He will open our eyes to the things that need to be done. He will be faithful to answer us every day if we look to Him and ask, “Lord, today, what needs to be done, and what is my part in that?” At the beginning of the month, take a few minutes to gather your family for prayer. Explain to them you’ll be spending the next week asking God to show you what needs to be done. Share with them that God sees and knows all of the pain and need in our world, and He has a special part for each of us to play in healing that pain. If we ask Him, He will show us what He wants done. As you pray, ask God to give you His love and compassion for this world. Then ask Him to open the eyes and ears of each family member in the coming week so you may see and know what needs to be done around you. Pray that He would begin to show your family what unique part each of you can play in His story in this coming month. Next, explain to your family the following plan for the coming week: Each time you head out into your community—whether getting in the car to drive somewhere, walking around your neighborhood, heading to the park or the store, or wherever you go—simply pray out loud, “God, please show us what needs to be done.” Encourage your family members to

point out things that need to be done. Maybe you see a lot of trash at your neighborhood park that needs to be picked up. Or you notice your neighbor just had a baby and could use a meal. Perhaps you hear about children in other countries who need to be sponsored. Jot down what you notice in your “family serving notebook.” If you have older children, you may want to get each family member his own notebook. Remind your family that as you notice needs around you, this is God talking to you and showing you His heart for our world. At the end of the week, gather as a family and read through your notebooks. Pray over the things you wrote down and ask God to show you how your family can meet these needs. Pick a few of them and make a plan for how you will do those things this month. Remind them that as you do this, you’re joining God in caring for this hurting world. What a privilege to be able to partner with and be used by Him! by Laura Weber



family time

g lo b a l

Where in the World Is ...


Awakening a compassionate heart and a global mindset in children for people beyond the boundaries of their own neighborhoods.


The Republic of the Philippines consists of an



archipelago of 7,107 islands situated southeast of mainland Asia and separated from it by the South China Sea. The land area of the Philippines covers approximately 115,831 square miles, 67 percent of which is contained within the two largest islands of Luzon and Mindanao. Other large islands include Samar, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate.

POPULATION: 101,833,938



80.9% Roman Catholic 5% Islam 4.5% Other Christians

NOW THAT WE KNOW THE LOCATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, LET’S MEET ITS PEOPLE. More than one hundred and one million people call the Philippines their home.

DID YOU KNOW? • The Philippines is considered to be the “text capital of the world.” Filipinos send about three hundred fifty to four hundred million text messages every day—more than the number of text messages sent daily by Europe and the United States combined!

As in other Asian countries, rice is a staple for all meals. Coconut is used liberally when creating many dishes, and coconut milk is used to cook meat and vegetables. Most Filipinos prefer fish and other seafood such as crabs and shellfish. In fact, they appreciate seafood best when it’s left uncooked in vinaigrette and sometimes stuffed with onions wrapped in banana leaf.

• The “Conus Gloriamaris,” the rarest and most expensive seashell in the world, is one of the 12,000 species of seashells found in the Philippines. And out of the 500 coral species known worldwide, 488 can be found there.

If you went to church in the Philippines, you would most likely go to a Roman Catholic church.



(derived from and pronounced like the Spanish greeting “Còmo Està”) To talk with your friends in the Philippines, you would speak Tagalog.

Warmth and hospitality seem to be innate Filipino qualities. Filipinos consider serving others the best they have to be an honor. A typical Filipino house isn’t a home unless it’s ready to serve unexpected visitors. If you arrive at a Filipino house during mealtime, you’ll be asked to sit down and share what they have on the table. Eating alone without asking others to join is considered rude. 17


family time


OTHERS FIRST by Debbie Guinn

A blessing can be a prayer of commission, a Bible passage, or words of encouragement. Blessings can also be spoken over a child for the purpose of declaring God’s protection, joy, and wisdom over him.

BLESS Read this passage of Scripture over your children to remind them that we’ve all been given gifts we can use to serve others.

God’s gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. (1 Peter 4:10 NIrV)

PRAY [Child’s name], may you always remember the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for you and serve Him and others faithfully.



INSPIRE Parenting stories and devotions to spur you on and motivate you as you spiritually parent your children.

EQUIP Resources to prepare you as you navigate through tough ages and tough topics.

SUPPORT Walking alongside you to promote healthy marriages and answer your spiritual parenting and spiritual grandparenting questions.




t h e e v e ry day pa r e n t

“If you wanna be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be a servant of all.” —Psalty the Singing Songbook


he culture in which the majority of us live is riddled with entitlement. Humility is hard to come by. In many circles, children are being raised to get what they want, when they want it. This isn’t restricted to well-off families that spoil their kids based on materialistic excess—it also applies to parents who just don’t want to deal with confrontation, desperate to avoid conflict and keep the peace. By doing so, however, we’re inadvertently teaching our young ones that they’re authorized to demand. We unintentionally teach them they’re exempt from serving in order to be served. In churches and schools alike, too often parents assume the proverbial role of servant to their demanding taskmaster of a child. So how do you cultivate a sense of servanthood in a child? How do you soften a child’s heart and help him see the worth of another? Initially it begins in us. Kids, from the earliest age, learn from what we do and mimic our behavior. If we have a tendency to put ourselves first, they will have a tendency to put themselves first. Digging a little deeper, we could ask ourselves why we put ourselves first to begin with. Could it be possible that we’re born with an innate sense of selfpreservation and fear? Case in point: In chapter 10 of the book of Mark, Jesus took His disciples aside and told them, plain as day, what was going to happen to Him. He’d be arrested, condemned, and crucified and would rise from the dead. The 12 responded with a dramatic change of subject that led to a bizarre conversation about who would sit at Jesus’ right hand. This response showed their lack of understanding and their complete self-centeredness. Jesus set them straight by saying, in essence, “You guys are acting like unbelievers! You’re called to be different. You want to be great? Serve! Even I, the Son of Man, came to serve, not to be served.” The disciples reacted out of fear and a desperate sense of self-preservation. It was as if they saw that the end was near and they needed to secure their positions in heaven before anyone else took their spot. I believe our children have a tendency to do the same. Perhaps we do too. One way I experienced this in my family was when my kids were younger. I can recall countless times they were faced with the difficult choice of allowing their friends to go first. Whether it was taking turns playing with a toy or choosing which movie they’d like to watch, it was difficult for them not to have their own way. I watched them almost seem tortured when snacks were limited and they allowed their friend to choose first, which almost always resulted in them not getting what they wanted. I’ve tried to teach them over the years to always let others go first, especially when they’re our guests. Allowing someone else to choose first is a beautiful lesson in being a servant—especially when you’re young. It takes an enormous amount of effort to teach children to put others first. Just like the disciples, we all seem to have this innate sense of making sure we get what we think we deserve—get first and then give. But God calls us to give and serve first and let Him take care of us. It all comes down to how much we really trust God to take care of us. Once we’re secure in our knowledge that God has our lives under control, even in the midst of storms and struggles, and we recognize that He loves us beyond measure, then we can have the courage to relinquish our desires to be first. by Crystal Lewis




tot t i m e ( ag e s 3 & u n d e r )

Repetition is fundamental to almost any learning style, so when you’re attempting to teach your children, use repetition! lie down

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 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.

g the roa lon


at home sit


get up

(Deuteronomy 6:6–7)

sit at home

While at home this month, sing this fun rhyme to the tune of “Bingo” as you go to different people in the family and ask “What needs to be done?”




to u g h to p i c s Sin. What an ugly word. But you can help your kids understand sin and what to do about it.

What Is Sin?

Sin refers to attitudes, actions, words, or a lack of faith that misses what God wants us to be and do. It might also be something we don’t do but should. Sin results in a break in our relationship with God and, often, another person. As toxic as sin is, we can’t get rid of it ourselves. Assure your kids that only God—because He loves us so much—can make it right. He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to die in our place to bring us the opportunity to be forgiven and to be restored in our relationship with Him. Romans 6:23 explains it: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we ask God to forgive us, He wipes away our sin, and His Spirit gives us a fresh start. Admitting our wrong
is often the hardest part. As we as parents model this, our kids learn how to recognize and deal with their own sin.


the middle (6 t h

What a Difference a Question Makes Kids love to ask questions. When they’re young, it’s the never-ending litany of “Why?” questions as they’re attempting to make sense of the world around them. During the middle school years, however, the questions begin to change. This is the age when children begin to ask questions that will define them. Middle school is the age when kids start to take steps out on their own and begin the process of discovering who they are and what their lives will be about. As long as your kids are in the question-asking mode, you might consider giving them another one to add to their repertoire: “What needs to be done?” When I was in middle school, I was very involved in my church and in serving God. But, if I’m totally honest, I was a lot more involved in myself. Serving was something I did out of a sense or responsibility or looking for a place to belong. It was the occasional event provided by the church. It was the chance to


8 t h GRADE)

give myself a pat on the back and feel good about participating in a “serve opportunity.” That “feel-good feeling” would last for a while, and when it began to wear off, the next serve opportunity would come around to restore it. Serving, for me, became something I did at a particular place and time. Unfortunately, this set the pattern for what service would look like in my life for quite a while. God doesn’t call us to an event of serving; He calls us to a lifestyle of it. Look at Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God— this is your true and proper worship.” The word for bodies in this verse is the Greek word soma, and in some contexts refers to the whole self. That sounds like a lot more than just an event or an occasional opportunity. In fact, we’re told that this is the best way we can worship our God. If this is the lifestyle we’re called to lead, and our middle schoolers are beginning the journey of figuring out how they want to live, then this might be an important component to share with them. This, then, brings us back to the question “What needs to be done?” 22

This question has redefined what service is to me. It’s a question that I can constantly ask and a question that sparks dialogue between the Lord and me throughout the day. As I’m asking this question, suddenly opportunities for service are all around me. Whether it’s something small like picking up a piece of trash, or something bigger like helping someone who has a flat tire on the side of the road, my eyes are open to the ways I can serve and worship God while sharing His love with this world. As parents, you have the opportunity to build this question into your child’s identity. Start by asking the question together as a family. Model it for them. Have conversations about it with them. Personally, I often wonder how my life and relationship with God would be different if I’d learned to ask this question when I was beginning to define my identity. Think about a generation of children that would approach each situation in their lives asking and then answering that question. Our world would become a different place. We must start somewhere—why not in your home? by Matt Barnes



m a r r i ag e


As a premarital counselor I have the privilege of preparing couples for marriage. Couples spend 15 hours going through a program I designed that helps them develop relational skills, learn how to know their partner better, agree upon a system to deal with conflicts, and talk about expectations for marriage. When we talk about expectations for marriage, a couple often says they won’t have any serious problems; they will always be in love, and their romance will never fade. When I ask them why they’re getting married, they usually say, “Because we love each other,” “We just want to be together forever,” “Because of what he does for me,” or “Because no one loves me like she loves me.” Rarely have I heard a soon-to-be spouse say, “So I can serve him or her.” Yet Jesus came as a servant and calls us to follow in His footsteps. When I talk about serving one another, I often see blank stares on the couple’s faces. Couples don’t usually enter marriage thinking about how they can serve one another, but that’s exactly what Jesus taught us our roles should be. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43–45).

“THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE.” Do you take the role as servant in your marriage? How you can daily serve your spouse? I believe if we were to daily take the position as a servant in our marriages, we would change the face of marriage in the Christian church.

Consider the following five questions to begin the change: 1. What thoughts do I have that go contrary to Christ’s message on servanthood? (“I shouldn’t have to do this for him.” “What does she think I am—her slave?” “Doesn’t he see all of the other things I do for him?” “Do I always have to be the one to sacrifice?”) 2. How can I become a better servant to my spouse? 3. Do you know what your spouse needs from you the most? 4. What are three ways I can serve my spouse better today? 5. How can I affirm my spouse for how he or she has served me over the years?




s p i r i t ua l pa r e n t i n g


Q: A:

I feel as though I’m always pointing out serving opportunities to my children. At what age should I expect my children to ask the question “What needs to be done?” themselves?

Simply said, our children will mimic our actions and value what they see us value—not necessarily what we say. If we find ourselves constantly reminding our children to have a servant’s heart but they don’t see this lived out in our lives, we may never see our children asking this question or acting on it. However, children are quick to do what we do. As you set the example of living out a servant’s heart and asking “What needs to be done?” I think you will find even your youngest children following in your footsteps.


Q: A:

What is the difference between “serving” and “chores”?

In the context of the home, there are just certain things that need to get accomplished to maintain order. While a “chore” is something that sounds like a drudgery that needs to get done before the fun can happen (and often conjures up negative emotions), “serving” is a posture of the heart that God creates in us as His Spirit inspires us to live out the life He has called us to. In serving, the focus is on someone or something else, and in that selflessness we find true joy and happiness according to God’s Word. The other fundamental difference is that chores are something we are directed to do by parents when we are young, whereas serving is something that God’s Spirit directs us to do for our entire lives as we seek Him.




s p i r i t ua l g r a n d pa r e n t i n g

“what needs to be done ?” game

Depending on the age of your grandchild, give him 15 to 30 seconds to look at the photo below. Then ask “What needs to be done?” Allow your grandchild to list several of the obvious tasks—pick up trash, help the homeless man, etc. Then give the photo back to your grandchild and tell him to look a little longer. Encourage him to pray and ask God to show him what needs to be done. Help your grandchild to think outside the box and see beyond what’s obvious. Are there people hurting? If so, what needs to be done? Is someone in danger? If so, what needs to be done? Does someone need a meal or a home? If so, what needs to be done?

One of the advantages of being a grandparent is the special relationship we form with our grandchildren. We can relive all of the fun parts of parenting without all of the responsibilities. And when we get tired, we can send them home!

As you play this game with your grandchildren, remind them that this could be a street in any city or town—even their own! Encourage them to enter every situation asking “What needs to be done?” and relying on the Holy Spirit to give them eyes to see and hearts to serve.

Because our time with our grandchildren is more intentional, it seems like everything we do with them is “special”—especially when it comes to spiritual things. With this in mind, we want to challenge you this month to play the “What Needs to Be Done?” game with your grandchild.

by Debbie Guinn



10 ENVIRONMENTS Below you'll find a brief explanation of each environment. 1. Storytelling—The power of The Big God Story impacts our lives by giving us an accurate and awe-inspiring perspective of how God has been moving throughout history. It is the story of redemption, salvation, and hope and tells how I have been grafted into it by grace. It further compels us to see how God is using every person’s life and is creating a unique story that deserves to be told for His glory. “God has a big story, and I can be a part of it!” 2. Identity—This environment highlights who we are in Christ. According to Ephesians 1, we have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, sealed, and given an inheritance in Christ … all of which we did nothing to earn. This conviction allows children to stand firm against the destructive counter identities the world will offer. “I belong to God, and He loves me!” 3. Faith Community—God designed us to live in community and to experience Him in ways that can only happen in proximity to one another. The faith community serves to create an environment to equip and disciple parents, to celebrate God’s faithfulness, and to bring a richness of worship through tradition and rituals, which offer children an identity. Our love for each other reflects the love we have received from God. “God’s family cares for each other and worships God together.”

4. Serving—This posture of the heart asks the question, “What needs to be done?” It allows the Holy Spirit to cultivate a sensitivity to others and focuses on a cause bigger than one individual life. It helps fulfill the mandate that as Christ followers we are to view our lives as living sacrifices that we generously give away! “Asks the question, ‘What needs to be done?’”

5. Out of the Comfort Zone—As children are challenged to step out of their comfort zones from an early age, they learn to experience a dependence on the Holy Spirit to equip and strengthen them beyond their natural abilities and desires. We believe this environment will cultivate a generation that, instead of seeking comfort, seeks a radical life of faith in Christ.


“God transforms me when I step out in faith.” 6. Responsibility—This environment captures the ability to take ownership for one’s life, gifts, and resources before God. A child must be challenged to take responsibility for his or her brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for those who are spiritually lost. Our hope is that the Holy Spirit will use this environment to allow each child to understand that God has entrusted His world to us. “God has entrusted me with the things and people He created around me.” 7. Course Correction—This environment flows out of Hebrews 12:11–13 and is the direct opposite of punishment. Instead, biblical discipline for a child encompasses a season of pain, the building up in love, and a vision of a corrected path for the individual with the purpose of healing at its core. “When I get off track, God offers me a path of healing.”


8. Love/Respect—Without love, our faith becomes futile. This environment recognizes that children need an environment of love and respect in order to be free to both receive and give God’s grace. Key to this environment is the value that children are respected because they embody the image of God. We must speak to them, not at them, and we must commit to an environment where love and acceptance are never withheld due to one’s behavior.

An Awakening for Today’s Families

“God fills me with His love so I can give it away.”



9. Knowing—Nothing could be more important than knowing and being known by God. We live in a world that denies absolute truth, but God’s Word offers just that. As we create an environment that upholds and displays God’s truth, we give children a foundation based on knowing God, believing His Word, and cultivating a relationship with Him through Christ. God is holy, mighty, and awesome, yet He has chosen to make Himself known to us! “God knows me, and I can know Him.” 10. Modeling—Biblical content needs a practical living expression in order for it to be spiritually impacting. This environment serves as a hands-on example of what it means for children to put their faith into action. Modeling puts flesh on faith and reminds us that others are watching to see if we live what we believe. “I see Christ in others, and they can see Him in me.”



acts of service




awaken the families in your church! Spiritual Parenting is a six-part program that empowers parents in your church to be the primary nurturers of their children’s faith. Families will be transformed as they learn how to create space for God-encounters in everyday life. Perfect for parenting classes, mom’s groups, mid-week programs, retreats, and more!

HomeFront Magazine september 2013  

A Spiritual Parenting Resource is a magazine that gives families ideas for creating fun, spiritually forming times in their homes—setting as...

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