Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The last two years on this day – the first day of school for my kids – I have written a post about prayer on the first day of school (you can read the one from last year here).  As I think about the importance of prayer and the importance that school plays in the lives and development of our kids, I am reminded that we should make prayer for our kids a daily practice.

I am also reminded of how limited, important and sacred our time with our kids really is.  When you look at the hours in a week and you deduct the hours spent sleeping and then you deduct the hours spent at school, you are left with a limited number of hours that you have with your kids.  When you do the math, depending on their involvement in other activities, you probably have between 20 and 25 hours in a given week (Monday through Friday) to mold and shape your kids – roughly half of the time that we turn them over to the school.

The time moves quickly.  It seems that one week you are taking your kids to kindergarten and the next you are packing the car to head off to college.

Make the most of your time with your kids.  Spend time with them.  Listen to them.  Guide them.  And yes, pray for them – everyday.

If God has entrusted you with children, how will you make their lives better today?

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This Sunday, we will see all the work of the last few months come to fruition with our children’s musical drama here at 1st B.  We are dedicating the entire morning service to children.  I am excited to see and hear their message.Boy Singing

Last night, during their rehearsal, I watched from the doorway for just a minute as the children sang and spoke their parts.  I was caught up in the importance of children being involved in leading and living out the truth they have been learning since their beginning.

Parents – you have no greater responsibility in this life than to provide for and raise your children.  And the top priority within this calling to be a parent is raising your children to trust in God.  The church is here to help.  The purpose of a healthy ministry to children is to partner with parents to make sure our children grow up to be spiritual giants.

Did you catch that – the church is here to help – to partner with parents.  The responsibility rests with the parents – not the church.  What our culture needs is parents who are committed to being parents.  Parents who will do the hard work of raising up their children in the way they should go.  Parents who will instill a Godly example.

This is not a job for the faint of heart.  But when you see children on a stage, singing their hearts out to praise their king – you realize – it is all worth it!

Stay strong parents!

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Lessons From Linda

One of the ministry opportunities that is afforded me as a minister is to walk with families through some really cool times – weddings, births, baptisms and others of life’s many mile markers.

But there are other times that I walk with families and the occasions aren’t nearly as joyous.  I met with a family on Sunday to plan a memorial service for Linda.  As I sat down on the sofa, I listened as four daughters gathered around to share stories and memories about their mom.  And I watched as a proud father nodded his head in agreement and love as he listened to each story.

I wrote as quickly as I could and then finally gave up and just listened.

I learned many, many things that afternoon about Linda.  But what most struck me as I drove away from the house was the undeniable, overwhelming love that this family has for one another and how they learned that from their parents.

As I have prepared to speak at her memorial today, Linda has inspired me.  I wrote yesterday about the importance of taking the time to appreciate those you love (you can read that post here).  But Linda inspires us to move beyond a mere appreciation.  I am inspired to show my love in my actions and not just in my words.

Today’s “Verse of the Day” on Biblegateway.com is 1 John 3:18, which is very fitting.  It says this,

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

A lesson Linda knew well and lived out daily.

Shouldn’t we all do the same?

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One of things that has always fascinated me is the west Texas weather – and I grew up here!

On Sunday, the sun was shining and we enjoyed 70 degree temperatures.  By the time church let out Sunday night, we had wind chills in the 30’s.  By Monday morning we had white-out conditions and 4″ of snow and a blizzard going on.

Schools and businesses closed their doors and everyone settled in to stay warm for the day in the comfort of their own homes.

I can tell you for my boys and me (Kristi is away on a business trip), it gave us a much needed day to be together.  Apart from a couple of hours I got some work done (now days we can literally work from anywhere) we spent some quality time together and I loved every single minute of it!

I am so blessed by the family God has given me!  My boys are growing into amazing men and I get to watch God work.  

So today’s post really doesn’t have much of a message other than maybe to remind us to slow down from time to time and appreciate the ones you love.

God, thank you for the day you blessed me with to spend with my sons.  It was truly a time to slow down and breath and just spend time together.

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Family At Thanksgiving

Here we are the day before Thanksgiving.  Many of us are planning time with family and that time will most likely include plenty of food, a lot of fellowship and quite possibly some football.

I remember Thanksgivings as a kid.  I grew up learning to value family and time together.  I had over 20 first cousins on one side of the family and it was never dull when we all got together.  The plan was the same each year.  Everyone would converge on my grandparents home – a little farm house on the edge of town.  It had been added on to in order to have a second bathroom and another place to sleep.  It’s normal occupants didn’t need much space, but at holiday time, it became a bit cramped.

At meal time, the kids were typically allowed to fix our plates first and then head off into another room to eat on “TV trays.”  We ate and joked and had a great time together.  But it was all just precursory to what would come next.

It became a tradition by the time I was 13 or so, that we would all load up in as few cars as possible and head over to the elementary school.  The school had a covered, outdoor basketball court.  It would begin with simple games of “PIG” or “HORSE.”  But what we were really hoping for was some unsuspecting locals who might wander up and be pulled into a friendly game.

It happened just about every year that enough would show up and we could have an actual game.  These locals had no idea what to expect from Team Hill.

We really didn’t call ourselves that, but it was no question that it was our family against whoever else showed up.  To be honest, I don’t ever remember losing.

As I think back to those days, I am reminded that no matter how far apart family members may be physically, there is a bond that cannot be broken.  It is at times like holidays that we should think about family.  If you can’t be with your family this holiday, give thanks for them and then let them know you are thinking about them.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

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Over the last month, the post that has received the most views has been this one.  I wrote it on the first day of school last year and, given the recent interest in the post, I thought I would revisit the topic – particularly since today is the first day of school for my kids for the 2012 – 2013 school year.

The school years are so important in the lives of our kids.  They mature and grow, not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well.  When you think about the amount of time they spend in school compared to the time you have with them at home, it becomes even more obvious just how important it is to pray for them and for their teachers and school administrators.

So here is what I would like you to do this morning.  The following is a guided prayer.  This concept may be a bit foreign to some (it certainly was to me when I first encountered it several years ago), but it can be very effective and meaningful.  Simply follow along and pray as you feel led.

Spend a couple of minutes clearing your mind and focusing on the magnificence of God.

Pray that your children will enjoy their day.  Pray that they will be receptive to what God has for them this year.  That they will connect well with their teachers and that they will make at least one new friend who will help them stay the course in their followship of Jesus.

Pray for the teachers.  Pray that God will give them a sincere passion to make a positive impact in the lives of their students.  Pray that God will give them wisdom as to how to help each student.  And pray that God will give them the tools and the strength to use those tools to teach our kids.

Pray for the school administrators – all those folks who work to make our schools a safe and effective place of learning and growing.  Pray for their wisdom and passion.  Ask God to bless them today.

Ask God to use you to make a difference in the lives of your kids and in the schools in which they attend.

Father, I thank you for my kids.  They are growing up too fast.  I remember when I used to have to do everything for them and now, it seems, they can do it all themselves.  God, I ask you to be there for them when I can’t.  Protect them and keep their feet on the right path.  Put people in their lives today to direct them and teach them.  Grow them into the people you created them to be for your purposes, and help me to be the parent I need to be for my kids for your glory.  Amen

Be blessed today!

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This past Sunday was Father’s Day.  A day that is often set aside to give a tie or maybe a dozen golf balls to our dads.  Sometimes it is hard to come up with just what to give our dads.  Often I resort to a gift card or even worse – a check – in a card mailed too late.  At least that is how it happened this year – sorry again dad!

But it is hard to find creative ways to say thank you and show our love and appreciation for our dads.  That is not an excuse – just the reality.

However, this year, my sons made my Father’s Day experience one I will never forget!  They moved me, inspired me and gave me an overall sense of pride in the men they are becoming!  Each of them, in his own way, touched me deeply.

It began at about 11 PM on Saturday night.  I went in to tell Ethan, my middle son, goodnight and we started a conversation about his spiritual walk that went for 3 hours.  It was amazing to see and hear what God is doing in his life.

Then on Sunday morning during our worship service, Bryson, my youngest, decided during our response time to come to me.  It is customary in our church for people to come forward during this time to pray or talk with me about things they are struggling with or decisions they need to make.  Often, they come just to have me pray for them – which by the way is always wonderful.  But Bryson came with a different idea.  I assumed he was coming to ask me to pray for something going on in his life but that was not the case.  His first words were, “People always come for you to pray with them, but no one ever comes up here to pray for you.”  At that moment I began to weep.  And the tears didn’t stop as I listened to one of the most powerful and moving prayers I have ever heard!

Then, as I was trying to compose myself to finish out the response time, I looked up and my oldest son, Jared, was standing before me with tears in his eyes.  He put his arms around me and said, “I want to re-dedicate my life.”  For those of you not from our tradition or familiar with church-speak, what he was saying was “I want a closer walk with Jesus and I want my life to count for something.”  It was a moving time.

So, this past Father’s Day was one I will never forget!  I thank God for allowing me to be a dad and blessing me with a beautiful, amazing wife who has given me three incredible sons!

What about you?  How was your Father’s Day?

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