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Family Devotion 9.27.23

“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy.” Colossians 1:11

We are living in a time where people are more anxious than ever, in need of hope, discouraged, and struggling emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Research tells us that since the pandemic all these issues have exploded. I am concerned that many have lost their joy.

I am sure that many who will read this devotion find themselves in need of regaining their joy. There is no self-help formula that will help us do that. That is why I love Colossians 1:11 above. The only one who can help us regain our joy is God himself.

Paul in this verse is praying for these people that they will be strengthened with God’s power so that they will have endurance and patience and that they be filled with His joy. What about you? Are you experiencing the joy that only God can give?

If you are not, I pray that you will hear what the Lord has to say regarding joy. First, I love what C.S. Lewis said about joy - “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” 

Think about it, joy is so important to the Lord that He established it as one of the fruits of the Spirit He desires to give us. Galatians 5:22 tells: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”

How do we get this fruit from him? We align ourselves in relationship with Him. We prioritize our relationship with Him over everything else and He will give us this fruit. This fruit of joy exceeds any happiness. Happiness is dependent on circumstances but the joy that the Lord gives is a sustaining peace and knowledge that the Lord has us!

Do you have the joy of the Lord today? If not, it is time to cry out to God and draw into relationship with Him that He might give you His joy and His peace. Don’t miss out on what God wants to give us as His children.

I love what Nehemiah 8:10 says about joy - “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

Life is hard at times. We need His strength for the journey. I pray today for those of you who are in a joyless period that you will lean into the only One who can give you the strength and endurance you need and that you will truly begin to experience the joy of the Lord.

Family Devotion 9.20.23

Students are not greater than their teacher, but the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” Luke 6:40

Jesus made an incredible statement in Luke 6:40 that speaks to the influences that an authority figure such as a teacher has on kids. I am also convinced that this verse speaks to the influence of a parent on their child.

Parents are their child’s first teacher. They have significant influence in how their kids will develop emotionally, academically, and spiritually. What Jesus is saying in essence is that our kids will become like us.

Author and researcher Christian Smith states that “the single most powerful influence on the spiritual lives of kids is the spiritual lives of their parents.” The greatest influence on the spiritual lives of our kids is not the media they are on, their peers, or anything else. The greatest influence is us!

I want to give you a thought to think about regarding this fact. “We replicate who we are not who want to be.” We may have high aspirations for who we want our kids to be spiritually, but they will model and look like what we look like spiritually.

Robert Fulghum said it this way: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you, worry that they are watching you.” If we want to raise Godly kids, we must live out the Christian life authentically in front of our children.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us what we must do - And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”

Every day we should live out and talk about the things of God authentically in front of our children. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. This culture is working overtime to steal the hearts of our children spiritually.

We need an all-out effort by parents, grandparents, the church, and teachers to impact our kids with the Gospel. But do not forget that the most powerful spiritual influence on kids is their parents.

Why is this so important? Christian Smith’s research also indicates that the number #1 reason kids walk away from the faith is that they never saw it make a difference in their parents’ lives. On the other hand, his research tells us that kids who come out of homes where the parents lived out their faith authentically in front of their kids see 95%+ of their kids go on with God the rest of their lives.

Parenting is hard no doubt. I pray that each of us will make it a priority to live our faith authentically and consistently in front of our kids.

Partnering Together 9.19.23

The Me Factor in Parenting

Just how important are parents in the spiritual lives of their kids? Author and researcher Christian Smith, who has surveyed thousands of teenagers and young adults across this country tells us just how important we are when he states: “The single most powerful influence on the spiritual lives of kids and young adults is the spiritual lives of their parents.” 

It’s not their peers, it’s not media, it’s not youth ministers, it’s not pastors, it’s their parents. Jesus has already told us that in Luke 6:40 when he declared: “Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” 

We don’t need to miss what Jesus is saying here. Parents are the first and primary teacher of their kids. In this verse, He reminds us that our children will become like us. When kids are frustrated with their parents, they might say they do want to be like them. However, kids become like their parents.

Our kids are watching us. They know how deep our spiritual commitment is and how we prioritize the things of God. They know whether we prioritize church and living according to God’s Word.

When I study Luke 6:40 and look at the research, I am convinced of what will happen to my kids spiritually based on how I have lived my faith in front of them. That truth is we will replicate in our kids who we are, not who we want to be spiritually. As an older parent, I have lived and seen this firsthand. 

Our children need to see an authentic faith lived out by us as their parents if we desire to see them develop a lifelong faith. 

Unfortunately, research tells us that far too many young people are not developing a lifelong faith. Lifeway research tells us that somewhere between 70-80% of all teenagers walk away from their faith and church after high school. 

Hear my heart. I never wanted my faith to be a reason my kids might walk away from theirs. Christian Smith also made another statement that really hit home with me a few years ago. He said: “One of the top reasons kids leave the church and the faith is they never saw it make a difference in their parents’ lives.” 

I pray that we will all renew ourselves to living an authentic faith and in doing so will help our children gain a lifelong faith.

Family Devotion 9.13.23

“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.
Philippians 4:11

All of us are born with certain talents and abilities. What we do with these talents and abilities in life comes down to how hard we work at developing them. I hear people, including myself, use the phrase “I am not gifted in that area” a lot when talking about various things.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between what is a natural gifting and things that we can learn to do. In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul makes such a distinction in the area of contentment. We may believe that it is a gift to be content, but Paul tells us that contentment is a learned trait. He makes the statement in this verse “for I have learned to be content.”

I am convinced that one of the greatest struggles that people endure is that of finding contentment. I know that because I too have struggled with that same issue at times. I have seen single people who do not believe that they will find contentment until they meet the right person. Many others believe that getting the right career or acquiring stuff may hold the secret to contentment. The truth is that none of this will ever make us content in and of itself.

How could Paul learn to be content? What was it that allowed him to be so relaxed and relieved of tension? The answer is found in verses twelve and thirteen of the same chapter of Philippians.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

Paul said that he had learned the “secret of living in every situation” and that secret is that “I can do all things through Christ.” In other words, Paul was convinced that Christ was in the midst of his everyday life and in every circumstance of life pouring His power into Paul. Paul learned that Jesus was not only more than sufficient to meet all of life’s challenges but also that through trust in Christ he himself could learn to be content.

What do we need to do next to learn this same level of contentment? First, we must place our focus and our hope solely on Jesus. In doing so, we also must let go of everything that is keeping us from totally trusting Christ with our everyday lives. I love how Brian Dodd explains this process when stated: “You cannot ever take hold of what God has for you until you let go of what you want to hold onto.”

I pray that those of you today that are so stressed and in need of contentment will allow the truth of Philippians 4:11-13 to minister to your heart today and enable you to find God’s contentment for your life.

Family Devotion 9.6.23

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”
- Charles Spurgeon

The idea of truth is a little mixed up these days. There no longer exists a standard of right and wrong. Instead, the standard has become what works for me. This type of thinking is called existentialism.

Webster defines existentialism as “ philosophical theory or approach which emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.”

With this approach, everyone is doing what is right in their own eyes. There is no real foundation with this theory on which to build your life. We see evidences throughout our culture as people are encouraged to do whatever they feel is right regardless of the consequences. In essence, create your own worldview even though this approach will not work.

Matthew 7:25-27 offers a much better alternative to developing a worldview: Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

We have all seen some great crashes in our world of people who have clearly built their lives on the loose sand of this culture. Our lives must be built upon the rock that will endure and not the latest trends of today’s culture. 

This is a worldview that has its foundation in the Bible as absolute truth for our lives. A Biblical worldview requires that we believe that the Bible is indeed the Word of God and that it is inerrant and infallible. Also, that we should live by its truth and principles and allow it to shape our values which in turn will guide our actions.

The world is selling existentialism as truth, and it is as Spurgeon says above traveling fast while we as believers are trying to get caught up.

What are our lives built on regarding truth? Have we built our lives upon the solid truth of God’s Word or have we allowed the culture to put different ideas into our heads? There is safety, peace, and joy in knowing your life is built on a firm foundation.

Rev. Rick Calloway
Head of School


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