Monthly Archives: February 2012

I Am the Bread of Life: Lent Family Devotions for 2/26/2012

Warmup Questions

*Bonus points if you bake bread and eat it together as you discuss this lesson.

  • How often do we eat bread?
  • Why is eating bread important for our health?
The Word
  • Do you remember the story in the Bible where Jesus made a lot of bread? What happened?
  • A day later Jesus was talking to some of the same people and said something really interesting. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
  • Why do you think Jesus said he was the bread of life?
  • Is Jesus really bread? What is he saying?
The Connection
  • Just like we need bread and food each day to stay alive, we also need Jesus and a relationship with him
  • We were created for a relationship with Jesus
  • How is Jesus everything that we need?
  • Application question: What is one thing you can do each day to get to know Jesus better?
Symbol Activity
  • Each week we are going to color a symbol that represents what we talked about 
  • What do you think our symbol is today?
  • Now whenever you see this loaf of bread you can remember that a relationship with Jesus is what we really need in life
  • Color in the loaf of bread and then I will show you what we are going to do next
  • Now we are going to made a cube to put the bread on. Each week we will get a new symbol for the cube.
Here is the design for the cube that can be printed on card stock and cut out.
Here are the symbol cut outs for each week.
We are putting our cubes on the dinner table so we can ask our kids the application question each night at dinner.
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Lent Family Devotions 2012

Yesterday my six year old daughter Anna asked me what Lent is all about. It was kind of hard to explain to her. My wife and I go through different practices of Lent each year to prepare for Easter. We want to use our weekly family times to prepare our children for Easter. This year I am going to write a series of Lent Family Devotions over the next six weeks until Easter. My daughters love coloring and hands on activities so we are going to use a cube to illustrate six different metaphors that Jesus used to describe himself. Each week the girls will color an image that relates to these metaphors. Then on Easter they will open the cube to find the last image.

Here is the schedule if you want to join us on this Family Lent Journey.

Week Big Idea Bible Passage Symbol
February 26 Jesus is the bread of life John 6 Loaf of bread
March 4 Jesus is the light of the world John 8 Candle
March 11 Jesus is the way John 14 Path
March 18 Jesus is the good shepherd John 10 Shepherd’s staff
March 25 Jesus is the vine John 15 Vine and branches
April 1 Jesus is our Savior John 19 Cross
Easter Jesus is the resurrection and the life John 11 & 20 Empty tomb

Here is the link to the cube design that you can print and cut out. It’s probably best to use card stock if you have it as it will be more durable. We will help our daughters each make their own cube.

Each Sunday I will post the family devotion as well as the image to print out, color and paste onto the cube.

LGBT, Grace and the Church

After four years at a Christian college, my first job was at a Peaberry Coffee in Colorado. I quickly found out that I was no longer in the bubble of an intentional, Christian community. Misha, one of my fellow baristas, had long, black hair and sometimes wore a dress to work. Misha was bisexual. But Misha was one of the nicest people I had ever met. He taught me the intricacies of making the perfect coffee drink. He didn’t hold it against me that I was a Christian and I treated him with love and grace. It was a pretty eye opening experience for me. I had grown up with the idea that those on the other side of the political and religious aisle were living evil lifestyles. I was totally blindsided by the fact that Misha and others in the LGBT community I have met since exhibited more love than some Christians I know. Read the rest of this entry

Love, Sex and Spiritual Intimacy

Today is Valentine’s Day and love is the big word. But what is love? New polls show that over half of singles have sex on the first date. Sex is quickly being substituted for love. As a follower of Christ and believer in the principles for intimacy in Scripture, I believe that God lays out the best design for love, sex and intimacy. It all starts with spiritual intimacy not sexual intimacy.

Early in our six month whirlwind romance, Hillary and I realized that spiritual intimacy was an important part of our blossoming relationship. We were students at a Christian college and had many examples of godly marriages all around us. I remember drawing the love triangle that you see above for Hillary. We had heard numerous talks about how a Christian couple needs to seek God first and as they grow closer to God, they will grow closer together. So being the good Christian college students we were, we started praying together about our relationship. As we prayed together our spiritual intimacy grew and our physical intimacy wanted to keep up. (Note to dating couples: praying together is dangerous). At some point we realized that it wasn’t good to pray together after 10 pm.

Then when we were married and we could fully express our sexual intimacy, our spiritual intimacy quickly fell out of practice. I remember at one point about 2-3 years into our marriage realizing that praying together was awkward. Something had changed in our spiritual intimacy with God. It was at this point that we realized that something needed to change in our relationship with God as a couple.

Now ten years after that whirlwind romance, we are experiencing the benefits of keeping spiritual intimacy as first priority in our marriage. It isn’t something that just sticks. We have to work on it each day both individually and together. But the benefits of seeking God individually and together has big payoffs in our emotional and sexual intimacy.

Here are some of the practices that have helped us keep spiritual intimacy at the forefront of our relationship.

Develop a Personal Devotional Rhythm

Spiritual intimacy in marriage starts with each of us individually. How do you connect with God on a daily basis? Are you developing a rhythm of daily Scripture reading? YouVersion and Examen.me are two great online resources for starting a daily Bible reading schedule. Getting “fed” at church on Sunday mornings is not enough nourishment to grow in our relationship with the Lord just as going to the gym once a week or talking with our spouse once a week is not enough.

Pray Together

Hillary and I have tried different things over the years. There was a time that we prayed each morning before I left for work. Now with Anna in school and Hillary watching a friend’s baby, this is hard to do. So now we pray together after we watch our weekly online sermon from Lifechurch.tv. This is a great time to talk to God together and share what is on our hearts spiritually. Find a rhythm that fits your schedule and lifestyle.

No Secrets

Hillary knows my struggles and temptations. Nothing is hidden from her. I know experientially what it is like to keep a secret from Hillary and it is not worth it (see Psalm 32:3). The best picture we have of true intimacy is in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve could walk naked with God and feel no shame. This was much deeper than just a physical nakedness but a spiritual nakedness where there was no sin or hidden secrets. Does your spouse know what you struggle with? I know we like to portray our strength and not let our spouses know where we are weak, but true strength comes when we admit our weaknesses and need for help.

Spiritual intimacy doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work each day. There are definitely days and seasons where I don’t feel like praying with Hillary or sitting down to read my Bible. There are nights when I just want to come home and veg in front of the TV. But there are huge benefits to seeking spiritual intimacy first with Hillary.

So focus this Valentine’s Day on spiritual intimacy with your spouse. We were designed and created for it.

Principled Living in a Post-Christian Culture: Learning from Daniel

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were the cream of the crop taken from Judah. They were to go into three years of training to serve the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. This involved training in language and literature and eating the food from the king. They were also given new Babylonian names. Daniel didn’t have an issue with the Babylonians renaming him or the education. The text of Daniel 1 says that Daniel didn’t want to defile his body with the king’s food. He stood his ground on this. The guard gave in and after ten days the four men from Judah were in much better shape than the others so the Babylonian guards changed the diets of all the trainees. Then after three years of training they came to Nebuchadnezzar for questioning. The four men were much wiser than the other magicians and enchanters in the kingdom.

In a foreign land and a culture opposed to the things of God, these men immersed themselves in studying the culture and learning their new roles. They stood by their principles on their diet even though they risked death. They didn’t run from certain aspects of the Babylonian culture but didn’t allow themselves to be defiled by other things. In the end, the Babylonians were impressed by the wisdom and understanding of the four men from Judah.

In our American culture, what do we immerse ourselves in to understand our culture? What principles do we stand by so that we don’t defile our minds or bodies? As our culture moves farther away from the principles in Scripture, the story of Daniel and the other men from Judah will be increasingly valuable.

How do we stand by our principles yet immerse ourselves in learning about our culture?

It’s Halftime in America

This year I was disappointed by the Super Bowl commercials. Most of the good ones I had already seen multiple times with my girls because the companies put them online early. We loved Volkswagon’s Star Wars commercials and the baby slingshot Doritos commercial. I personally loved the nostalgia of Ferris Bueller. But by the time the Super Bowl came, I had already seen these. I was ready for a surprise.

Last year my favorite Super Bowl ad was Emimen telling the story of Detroit for Chrysler. This year during half-time one commercial made the high school students I was watching the game with speechless. For two minutes they were riveted by what was on the screen.

It was Clint Eastwood giving America a half-time speech. Whoever is currently working on TV ads for Obama or Romney, take note of this ad.

Family Friendly Super Bowl

Now that our girls are at the age where they get excited about the Super Bowl and the commercials, I wonder if I really want them watching the game. This year they watched part of the game but Hillary had to turn off some of the commercials because they just weren’t appropriate for our kids. As a youth pastor, I watch the game with students at the annual Super Bowl party. It’s becoming more and more awkward to watch the game with youth group students because of the racy and sexually suggestive commercials.

Is the Super Bowl meant to be family friendly? It is marketed this way but then advertisers like GoDaddy, Victoria Secret and others design ads oozing with sexuality. Honestly I think advertisers’ creativity is lacking when they drop to the level of advertising sex. Then there’s the half-time show. This year I was glad my daughters were in bed so they missed M.I.A.’s flipping off a national audience. M.I.A. needs to be fined and do thousands of hours of community service in schools so she can see first hand the kids who she is influencing. What was she thinking? Or maybe she wasn’t.

I think the NFL needs to seriously consider who they are marketing to the Super Bowl to. Is it families or adults? If it is families, then work with NBC or whoever is broadcasting the game and monitor the commercials and halftime show. Do we need a ratings system for commercials now? I would love for my daughters to watch the Super Bowl but honestly I would have to say it’s not a family friendly show. And after the lack of creativity in commercials this year, I think I just want to watch the game next year.