Category: united parenting

Just a Phase.

By | May 30, 2015

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If someone has ever told you, “It’s just a phase,” chances are it was intended as a consolation or a word of encouragement. More than likely, what they meant was, “Don’t worry. You can survive this. It won’t last forever.” When I first became a mother and my colicky son was crying for hours after each feeding I needed to know there was hope for a different tomorrow. I needed to know there would come a day when I didn’t smell like baby vomit and when the child I loved didn’t cry for hours.

There’s a lot of truth to the idea that your current relationship with your child is “Just a Phase.” But that’s not to suggest that, as parents, we should grit our teeth and hold out for the next phase to come. A phase isn’t something to wish away or hurry past. Because once a phase is over, it’s over.

We only have the opportunity to know our child once as a three-year-old. After 52 short weeks, they turn four. Sure, moving to the next phase means they will stop throwing catastrophic tantrums when you insist they cannot finish the half-eaten breakfast bar they just discovered under their car seat. But it also might mean fewer spontaneous giggles, loss of imagination. It might mean they finally discover “bilzoder” is actually pronounced “bulldozer.” It might mean you have to start answering some questions you weren’t quite ready for.

Whether your child is a toddler, an elementary age kid, a middle schooler, or a high schooler, they’re in a phase.

And the phase won’t last for long.

Every phase is a timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to influence their future. But in order to leverage the opportunities of each phase, you have to show up for it.

That may sound obvious, but it can be incredibly challenging at the same time.

It’s easy to get stuck in the phase that came before. It’s baffling at times when you realize your child isn’t the same person you thought you knew last year. When their interests change, or their preferences change, it can be hard to keep up.

It’s easy to rush into the phase that should come later. Maybe it’s because we’re ready to watch a new movie, read a new book, or play a new game, so we stretch the age-limit just a touch. Maybe it’s because—let’s face it—if we can get our son to shoot a basketball through a ten-foot goal when he’s six, we’ve earned serious bragging rights. But childhood isn’t meant to be rushed. If we’re always in a hurry to get to the next phase, we can miss what is unique about the phase our kids are currently in.

So, whatever phase you’re child is in, remember there is something remarkable happening right now. This phase won’t last forever. Don’t rush the clock. Don’t wish away the moments you have.

At Vista we value Parent Equipping, coming alongside of families supporting and assisting parents to develop the Kingdom attitudes and practices of their children. This is an important concept to fully understand and embrace. Christian schools and the local church’s Sunday school have traditionally been looked to as the places where children learn about God, the Bible teaches us that children really need to learn from their parents. , Deuteronomy 6:7 instructs us to take God’s Word and …repeat it again and again to our children. We are to talk about it when we are at home and when we are away on a journey, when we are lying down and when we are getting up again. This is a basic model for teaching children about God in the home. The perspective taught in this passage is that the parents are primarily responsible for the spiritual development of their children.

We know that this is not easy. We know it can be overwhelming. We want to partner with you and your family in the development of worshipful, relational and missional children. You don’t have to do this alone so we have created ways to be on this journey with you:

  • Yearly: Milestone Celebrations – Child Dedications (twice a year) and Baptism
  • Monthly: talk.pray.do – a monthly resource based on Deuteronomy 6, encouraging families to teach their children about God as they go through the ordinary experiences of life. It’s about intentionality within the rhythm of your everyday life. We encourage you to TALK with your children for 15 minutes a day. PRAY at least twice a week in meaningful time together as a family. Then we simply ask that you DO one family night a month. Each month we provide instruction and tools to serve as a springboard for your family time.
  • Weekly: “What did they learn?” email follow ups to allow your family to continue the discussion at home regarding the lesson taught that Sunday. If you ever miss a week, check the Vista Parents Blog for more information.
  • Groups: Family Discipleship small groups that study a particular subject for 6 to 10 weeks. Check the Vista Parents Blog for groups forming or email me if you would like more information, to lead or host one.
  • Vista Parents Blog: As mentioned several times before the Vista Parents Blog is a hub of information for your family with everything from helpful tips, resources, lesson follow ups and important Kids Community updates.
  • Serve: We all go through seasons where serving is hard and requires sacrifice. Jesus is worth that sacrifice — and so are our children. We can trust Him to provide rest and Sabbath while we also serve. Whether it is teaching kids, chaperoning a student event, or serving in Kids Community, let’s remember that little eyes are seeing our actions and believing that they too are called to serve the body of Christ.
  • Family Sunday:  We offer Family Sunday, every 7 weeks or so to allow time for your family to worship and serve together.

Let’s do this together! Its just a phase and we don’t want to miss it.

Isaiah Preached about Messiah

By | April 25, 2015

Prophets were people chosen by God to deliver a message from Him. The prophets we have already studied were sent to deliver messages of repentance and impending judgment. The prophet Isaiah gave a message of hope and encouragement. Israel needed to be reminded that God can be trusted. They had done things their own way for so long, they had forgotten about God and the character of God. Isaiah relayed the same message of trust to kings Ahaz and Hezekiah. Ahaz refused to believe the message, and Judah was defeated in battle by Assyria. Hezekiah believed the message, and Assyria was defeated by the Angel of God.

In today’s chapter, Isaiah was offering encouragement to a nation that was in exile. They had been forced to abandon everything and to live in a foreign land—everything they’d known was gone. They felt like God had forgotten about them. Isaiah reminded them that God keeps His promises and gave new information about the promised Messiah to come. Israel was being told to not give up hope, because God had not forgotten about them or about His promises to them.

God always keeps His promises. God’s faithfulness is not dependent on our faithfulness. The sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, is proof.

 

Review: Last week we learned about King Hezekiah. He was a faithful king who followed God and obeyed His commands. When Judah was under attack from Sennacherib, king of Assyria, Hezekiah prayed that God would deliver them. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer that same night.

How did God answer Hezekiah’s prayer? God sent an army to Assyria’s camp and killed 185,000 men. Sennacherib went home in disgrace.

 

Scripture Reading: Reading God’s Word is the most important part of family worship. If you don’t have time to do anything else, be sure to do this section.   Isaiah 53

Memory Verse: Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all”

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TALK

Chapter 53 is one of the “Servant Songs” of Isaiah, and it reveals information about the promised Messiah. Isaiah prophesied what the Messiah would be willing to endure in order to make salvation possible for all who would believe.

  • Verses 1–7 describe some ways in which the Messiah would suffer. What are some negative words that describe how He would suffer?
    • Despised, rejected, stricken, smitten, afflicted, pierced, crushed, wounded, oppressed. 

 

  • Verse 4 states that because of the way He would die, like a criminal, people would think God was punishing Jesus for His sin. Verses 5–6 explain the real reason Jesus was going to suffer. Who is responsible for the suffering of Jesus?
    • We all are responsible.
    • What about us caused Jesus’ suffering?
      • Our iniquities; our transgressions. Habakkuk 1:13 says, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong-doing.” It was our evil that caused God to turn away from His own Son, Jesus.
  • How would you feel if you were in great pain, and your mom or dad just turned their back on you and ignored you
    • Parents, take time to explain how painful it would be for you to turn your back on your child, and discuss how hard it was for God to turn away from His Son. Discuss God’s enormous love for us. A great hymn to listen to or read together that helps describe God’s love is “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us” by Stuart Townend. (Lyrics can be found by searching online.)
  • Verse 9 describes Jesus being put in a grave. How do you think Israel would have felt if this was the end of the chapter
    • They might have felt helpless thinking that there was no point in God sending a Messiah if He was just going to die.
  • Verses 11–12 joyfully explain that Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. What does this verse tell us will happen next?
    • He will see the light of life and be satisfied; He will be rewarded. Isaiah 53 describes Jesus, the Son of Almighty God, becoming a servant. He gave up everything for us, even when we rejected Him. Israel was to listen to Isaiah’s message and be encouraged.
  • What should we do with the message?
    • Acts 8:26–35 tells the story of Philip using Isaiah 53 to explain the Good News about Jesus to an Ethiopian man he met along the road. We should spread the Good News of Jesus, too.

 

PRAY

  • Adoration: “ . . . by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). Praise God for His redeeming love.
  • Confession: “ . . . surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4). Search your heart for any sin and confess it to God remembering the sacrifice made for your sin.
  • Thanksgiving: “ …the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Give thanks for not having to bear the penalty for your sin.
  • Supplication: We should have “the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had” (Romans 15:5). Ask God to give you a Christ-like heart and passion to serve others and to share the Good News of the Gospel.

 

DO

Supplies: 10–20 dominoes (could also use Jenga blocks or self-standing books); table surface or hard floor; paper to fit on front of blocks or books; marker; tape.

Directions: Ahead of time, draw a happy stick figure on one piece of paper and tape it to a domino/block. Draw a sad stick figure on another piece of paper and tape it to another domino/block.

Explain the happy figure represents one who is a believer in Jesus as Savior and that the sad figure represents one who does not know about Jesus. Place the happy domino on one side of the table and the sad domino on the other side of the table, both standing up. Talk about how important it is for each Christian, including kids, to tell others the Good News of Jesus, even though it can seem like a big job. Imagine together what would happen if one kid told one kid and that kid told another kid (place a domino in line for each kid that tells another one about Jesus).

Keep placing dominoes in line until you reach your sad domino. Once that happens, push down your happy domino so all the others get knocked down. Explain that even though the first kid never even met the last one, he still had a part in sharing the Good News of Jesus with the last kid. Now your sad kid is no longer sad, and he can share the Good News with someone else to start the domino effect all over again, so the Good News is shared around the world.

 

(Vista Dublin lesson: April 26th, Vista Worthington: May 17th)

Hosea, Prophet to Israel

By | February 28, 2015

We have learned that because of the sin of Solomon, the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom. The Northern Kingdom was known as Israel and the Southern Kingdom was known as Judah. The Northern Kingdom was comprised of ten tribes, one of which was Ephraim.

Manasseh and Ephraim were the sons of Joseph. When Joseph died, Jacob adopted Manasseh and Ephraim as his own, thus making them two of the tribes of Israel. The tribe of Ephraim was known for complaining against both the judges of Gideon and Jephthah. The conflict with Gideon ended peacefully, but the conflict with Jephthah resulted in the death of 42,000 Ephraimites. The tribe of Ephraim, led by Jeroboam, led the revolt resulting in a divided kingdom and Jeroboam becoming the first king of the Northern Kingdom.

Hosea, as well as other prophets, commonly refer to the Northern Kingdom as Ephraim. This is a reflection of the fact that Ephraim was the most powerful of the tribes in the Northern Kingdom. Keep this in mind during today’s Scripture reading.

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Review:  Last week we were introduced to the prophet Amos. God gave Amos a vision of how He was going to destroy Israel because they worshipped false gods and ignored God’s commands. God showed Amos in the vision that He was going to send locusts and fire—but Amos begged God not to send the locusts and the fire, because the punishment would be too great. God then gave Amos a vision of a plumb line that He used to show that Israel did not measure up to His standard. Even though the book of Amos is filled with judgment against Israel, God did not leave them without hope.

 

What was God’s promise to Israel? One day Israel would be restored and returned to the land that God promised them many years before

 

Scripture Reading: Amos 7:1–16 and Amos 9:11–15.  ****Reading God’s Word is the most important part of family worship. If you don’t have time to do anything else, be sure to do this section.


Talk:   God instructed Hosea to marry Gomer even though she would be unfaithful and love others. In chapters 1–3 of Hosea, God is using Hosea’s life to symbolize Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him and what was going to happen to the people of Israel because of their sin.

Gomer and Hosea had three children. The first was a son named Jezreel. By giving him that name, God was saying that He was going to punish the reigning dynasty that had rebelled against His purpose and His plan. Later, two more children were born.

 

  • What were the names of the other two children and what did their names mean?

Lo-Ruhamah means God will no longer show His love to Israel. Lo-Ammi means that God will no longer call Israel His people.

The prophet, Hosea, tells Israel why God is so upset with them. Hosea says there were three things that Israel was not doing and seven things they were doing.

  • What was Israel not doing that they should have been doing? (see Hosea 4:1)

Israel had no faithfulness, no love, and no acknowledgement of God. What was Israel doing that they should not have been doing? (4:2) Israel was cursing, lying, murdering, stealing, committing adultery, breaking all bounds, and causing bloodshed.

  • What warning does Hosea give the Israelites? (9:7–9)

Hosea warns Israel that because their sins are so many and their hostility is so great against God’s prophets, “God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sin.”

  • From the names God gave to Hosea’s children, we know that He is telling Israel that He has disowned them. How is the message in chapter 11 different than the message in chapter 1?

Chapter 1 was a vivid description of God’s anger and coming punishment against Israel. Chapter 11 is filled with God’s compassion and love for Israel as a father loves his child. God is filled with sorrow because of the actions of Israel.

  • What does Hosea tell Israel to do in order to once again receive God’s blessing?

(14:1–2) “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God . . . Say to him, ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously’.”

  • If Israel follows the advice of Hosea, what will be God’s response?

(14:4) “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”

  • Hosea 14:9 says, “The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them.” God is good and wants to lead us in the right direction because He loves us. God did a wonderful thing because He loves us so much: He sent His son, Jesus. Romans 5:8 tells us that even while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. God still loved Israel even though they were sinning and had not turned to Him. Just as God told Israel that He would forgive them if they returned to Him, God will forgive us.

 

 

Pray: Using Romans 5:8, give God praise for His love. Thank God that we do not have to try and earn His love. Ask God

 

Do: Family Night – Ahead of time, cut out the Prophets pictures and staple them together to make a booklet. Answer the following questions and write your answers inside the prophet image of Hosea.

  1. What message did God have for His people?
  2. What judgment did God say He would send upon His people? 3. How did the people react?
  3. Was there any good news for the people?

Keep the booklet to answer the questions about each of the prophets as we study each one over the next few weeks. Amos is already completed for you.

(Vista Dublin lesson March 1st,  Vista Worthington lesson March 15th) 

10 Benefits of Teenagers (and Families) Serving

By | January 30, 2015

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Community service is now a graduation requirement at many U.S. high schools. That may be one reason volunteerism is on the rise among young people today.

But another is that teenagers are recognizing the value and joy of helping to meet other people’s needs and finding significance by serving a purpose. This millennial generation craves making a difference in the world, and today’s teenagers are actively searching for ways to engage and serve.

For Christian teenagers, serving is an important practice of connecting their faith to something real and tangible, and understanding God’s call on our lives to love and serve others.

As you and your family are entering this new year, explore the variety of serving opportunities that exist for your teenagers and for your whole family in your local church, community organizations, camps and family-friendly mission trips.

 

  • Service gives teenagers a sense of significance, purpose and worth. Living out the greatest commandment to love others connects kids to something much bigger and significant than themselves and their struggle for identity in a me-driven culture.
  • Service takes teenagers out of their comfort zones. The challenge of tackling something new makes kids pay attention, work as a team, face obstacles, and expands their capacity for overcoming hardship.
  • Service teaches kids to rely more directly on God—and helps them grow closer to him in the process…making their faith something they own, not something forced on them.
  • Service leverages new, meaningful relationships with like-minded peers. Teenagers are exposed to new peers and mentors who share the values of service and living out their faith.
  • Service makes kids appreciate how fortunate they are. Helping others in need puts life into perspective and makes kids count their blessings.
  • Service makes people in need become real and human.Teenagers gain a greater sense of respect and value for every life, as well as sensitivity to how God can use them to touch others with His love.
  • Service creates a hunger for God. Kids who serve realize they’re also serving God in the process and often desire to get to know Him better.
  • Service builds a wide range of life skills. Teenagers learn responsibility, tolerance, accountability, good citizenship, compassion, friendliness, acceptance, self-control, determination, endurance, and dependability.
  • Service encourages young people to be salt and light. Kids share their Christian faith with people by demonstrating God’s love in practical, tangible ways.
  • Service becomes a habit. When teenagers help others, they establish a lifestyle of service that often carries over into adulthood.

talk. pray. do – praying on the Armor of God

By | August 6, 2014

talk-pray-do-logo-MED-webBelow is an example of praying on the Armor of God with our children.   

 

Heavenly Father, we come to you in the name of Jesus and we thank you for this day. We enter your gates with thanksgiving in our hearts and we enter your courts with praise (Psalm 100:4)

Father we thank you for… (Thank Him for specific answers to prayer or special people or events in your life as the Lord leads you).

Now we put on the full armor of God (We put it on from the ground up, ending with the sword of the Spirit. You can also follow the exact order that Paul uses in Ephesians, which also ends with the sword).

We put on the shoes of the gospel of peace. We walk in your peace and we run to tell other people about Jesus.

We put on the belt of truth. We walk in your truth; we tell the truth; and we find the truth in the Bible.

We put on the breastplate of righteousness to guard our hearts. Thank you Father, that because of the blood of Jesus, you make us right just as if we never did anything wrong. (Note the play on words – “right-just-as if” sounds like “righteousness.” Using these kinds of phrases helps children remember the concepts – especially when they are grown – Prov. 22:6).

We put on the helmet of salvation to guard our mind, will, and emotions (the soul). Thank you Lord that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). School, work, and everything I need to do, I CAN DO because you help me (Phil. 4:13,John 16:13)

We take up the shield of faith to quench the fiery arrows of the devil. Thank you Lord, that as I put my trust in you, you protect me, strengthen me, and help me through my day.

Finally, we take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, to fight back against the devil.

Amen!

 

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