Favorite Tweets for April

We started the month with a week-long Soccer Camp in Allendale. Not much of a better way to get the month going.

But the greatness of the month didn't end there. Here are some of my favorite Tweets from this month, from others and from yours truly.

From Others

@Paul TrippThis morning you are not just greeted by the depth of your need, but also by the stunning glory of God's provision in Jesus.

@Lucas_Johnson92Missions will never be easy when we are pushing back the darkness.

@FirstWorldPainsWhy are children obese? Probably because burgers are $.99 and salads are $4.99.

@PontifexBeing a Christian is not just about following commandments: it is about letting Christ take possession of our lives and transform them.

@DuBose RatchfordExtraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. - M. Henry

@JimGaffiganThe hardest part of parenting is when I’m with my kids.

@mitchmillerme Why am I a youth pastor? I hate when someone tells youth to live right without rooting that call to holiness in the cross & resurrection.

@JTBarnes37:  Anyone else see the irony in this manhunt? He was captured in a boat. On land. In Watertown....

@BoAyers_Live:  "When Jesus said "follow me" to his disciples, it wasn't an invite to pray a prayer. It was a summons for these men to lose their lives."


What skateboarding taught me about missions // "This is how missionaries think: nothing is to be wasted."

5 Ways that Sports Parents Annoy Youth Sports Coaches // As a 2nd-year coach, I appreciate this!

White sauce = Manna from heaven.

Sometimes when we don't agree, it's not right or wrong, but because we just see things differently.

God has a role for each one of us. Stay in your own lane; don't be envious of the race others run.

Me to my son: "Why did you make that craft in your church class?" Son: "Because I HAD to." // Meaningful time today at

One Small Thing: Lego-a-Day

I will not say that I played with Legos all month. No, I'm not embarassed about my goal for the past few weeks. It's that there is no such thing as "Legos." The correct phrase, as I was reminded by listening to workers at Legoland, is "Lego bricks."

Yes, I do think that saying Legos is less clunky than Lego bricks. But I want to give respect to one of the most inspiring, and most valuable, toy companies in the world.

Anyway . . .

Each day for the month of April, I have built something out of Lego bricks. I loved Lego when I was a kid (starting with the Town sets, but eventually focusing on Castle sets). And thankfully my parents kept most of my collection, and have since passed it on to our kids.

What did I learn in doing this "one small thing"? That creating something can be so relaxing.

Whether it is following directions, or building my own creation, there is something calming about doing this. Now I see why my wife sometimes sits in front of the computer with Pinterest open, putting together crafts.

An extra bonus was building things alongside my kids. They were always good to remind me (similar to my pushup and photo goals), "Did you build your Lego thing today?"

While I won't build something each day for the rest of the year, I will keep playing. Here's to a full year of creating things out of Legos Lego bricks!

May Small Thing:  Exercise "Every Day in May"

Back to a health-related goal for the month of May. You know, bathing suit season is coming up.

A friend of mine from college (she was on my "sister hall" during our Freshman year) has inspired me. For at least the last couple of years, she has done an "every day in May" exercise goal. I will join in with her this year.

Some days I'll jog (groan), and some days I will do this 15-minute bodyweight workout. And does an extended session of Just Dance 4 count?

So, let me know: How are you goals coming along? Want to join us for "every day in May"?


The Head, Heart, and Hands of the Gospel

Seth McBee wrote a helpful article, How Kids Learn to Follow Jesus. His purpose is not to write a to-do list or formula, but to give us a vision for living "normal life with intentionality."

Using the framework of Deuteronomy 11, McBee explains that parenting is holistic discipleship, with two key principles:
  1. "Discipleship is for the head, heart, and hand. We are to teach our children to know the gospel, believe the gospel, and obey the gospel."
  2. "The discipleship process is happening all the time, in everyday life. Every moment of the day is a chance to speak, teach, and demonstrate the gospel."

Not only has this article helped me in my parenting, but as I've done my own personal devotions, I've been seeing the theme of head, heart, hands all throughout scripture, especially in the context of discipleship. I hope to write more on that in the future.

For now, I'll give you some excerpts from each of these three categories. And note that it's the same concept in How to Make Disciples (the source of the image above).

Head: Knowing the Gospel

We want our kids to know theology. We want them to know who God is, what God has done, who we are and how we should live. 

The issue is our kids get bored with the many way we have tried to teach this in the past. Memorize this verse, sit here for Sunday school, or listen to mommy and daddy read from the Bible. Noe of those things are bad, but what if we could do all those things in ways that they'd actually love and look forward to and ask to do?

Heart: Believing the Gospel

Not only do we want our children to learn theology and mission through teaching, but we want them to believe it and know it in their hearts. We want it to go from information, to transformation. . . . 

Find out how to affect their heart by seeking the Spirit and continue to do it, even if you don't get the reaction you were hoping for.

Hands: Obeying the Gospel

Not only do our kids need to know about God in their head, and know what he's done in their heart, but they also need to work this out as disciples and missionaries. We have to know that our children are not missionaries only when they get older. They are missionaries now.

Be sure to read the full article.

And on a related note, watch this short video by Paul Tripp, on How to Disciple Children for Misison.

Related Links:

Praying for Your Kids

Do you sometimes find yourself in a rut when it comes to your prayer time? I know I struggle with this. I know I should be always passionate about prayer. My lack of fervor and excitement probably just shows my earthly, proud heart.

But the fact is that often need some refreshing ideas. If the same is true for you, I'm happy to pass on these resources to you. I came across these articles in the past couple of months.

I'll give the short list, but be sure to read the full article for more details.

From Desiring GodSeven Things to Pray for Your Children 
  1. That Jesus will call them and no one will hinder them from coming.
  2. That they will respond in faith to Jesus's faithful, persistent call.
  3. That they will experience sanctification through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and will increasingly desire to fulfill the greatest commandments.
  4. That they will not be unequally yoked in intimate relationships, especially marriage.
  5. That their thoughts will be pure.
  6. That their hearts will be stirred to give generously to the Lord's work.
  7. That when the time is right, they will GO!

From All Pro Dad10 Things to Pray for and With Your Child
  1. Pray that your kids make a real connection with God.
  2. Pray that your children honor the Creator.
  3. Pray they translate that honor into action.
  4. Pray that they are well-equipped to meet every daily need.
  5. Pray that your children understand the power of forgiveness.
  6. Pray that they are well-equipped to deal with temptation.
  7. Pray that they will have the resources to defeat everything negative. 
  8. Pray that they will develop relationships that serve to strengthen them.
  9. Pray that love will define them.
  10. Pray for the strength of the family.

Related Link:
**image courtesy of geri-jean via sxc.hu

The Stress of Parenting

From Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen:
"Socioeconomic status correlates positively with good parenting, which, research has found, improves academic achievement (DeGarmo, Forgatch, & Martinex, 1999). Unfortunately, the converse is also true: the chronic stress of poverty impairs parenting skills, and disengaged or negative parenting in turn impairs children's school performance. 
Parents who are struggling just to stay afloat tend to work extra hours, odd shifts, or multiple jobs and are less able to provide attention and affection and to devote their time, energy, and resources to their children. These deficits have been associated with higher levels of externalizing behaviors and poor academic performance on children's part (Hsuch & Yoshikawa, 2007)."

Jensen's book focuses on the effects of poverty on a child's brain. Since I'm writing about poverty-related topics on my other blog (such as Poverty, Stress, and the Brain), what I want to point out here is how stress can lead to negative parenting.

When I have a bad day (or week), I am not focused on loving my kids. I want to be left alone, and not engagiing with my children. Are you with me?

We all have stresses in life (though those in poverty tend to live with more chronic stressors). The issue is how do you cope with them.

Because whether it comes to our child's "bad behavior," or our own negative parenting, we need to recognize that those are merely symptoms of a heart issue. What should you do? First, recognize that your behaviors are not the main issue. Second, know that your external actions are a result of internal beliefs. Third, admit that you are not properly dealing with the stressors in your life.

Will doing these three things cure your stress? Probably not. But it puts you on the right path. If you want to lead your children, you first have to lead yourself.

Let's look at the opposite case. A study from the University of Iowa reports that "infants who have a close, intimate relationship with a parent are less likely to be troubled, aggressive or experience other emotional and behavioral problems when they reach school age."

So to put it all together. . . . Stressed parents do not make great parents. Deal with that stress in a healthy way, and you will be freed to engage your child in an intimate relationship.

Related Links:

Heart Connection, Moralism, and Grace

Excerpts from Connecting Church & Home (Tim Kimmel), which I reviewed here:

The Role of a Parent

The role of a parent is to connect to the heart of his or her child in such a way he or she prepares that child to more easily connect to the heart of God.

Notice I didn't say teach them the Bible, pray with them, take them to church, teach them to obey, discipline them, make sure they know good doctrine, and have a biblical worldview. These are all great "parts" of the bigger picture. They all have a place within the on-going spiritual responsibilities of a Christian parent. But they can be transferred academically or by memory without a heart connection to the child and ultimately have very little impact on the finished spiritual product.

Without a heart connection, these "parts" are little more than exercises and information. It is within the context of a heart relationship that these vital spiritual tools have an influence on the divine grit and spiritual resolve of a child.

When I say "heart connection," . . . I'm talking about a level of relationship that is so deeply felt in the heart it automatically inclines the people involved towards mutual honor, joy, respect, appreciation, and the desire to consistently pursue the other person's good.

Misguided Thinking

We may never say it out loud, but there develops in many followers of Jesus this subtle sense that our primary purpose is to impress God and appease Him by obeying Him; that somehow, God's kindness, blessings, and watch-care are contingent on our day-to-day behavior. Obedience is a wonderful and logical response to the love of God on our behalf, but it can become a toxic feature of our relationship with Him if we're obeying God for all the wrong reasons -- biblically-flawed reasons. . . .

We're predisposed to created a church environment that panders to people who are more in line with our behavioral checklist. Next thing you know we're creating all kinds of noble, but man-made, systems to prop up our nice Christian behavior -- an outside-in management plan for our spiritual deportment that takes the place of the work of God the Holy Spirit. Here comes the pride, followed by our self-righteousness.

This is what happens when we leave the grace that save us at the foot of the cross. . .  .


Too often local and domestic churches are either missing or seriously struggling to maintain the atmosphere of grace that was supposed to be permeating all of their teaching and relationships. . . .

We're quick to embrace the part of the story that's easiest to quantify -- like orthodoxy and biblical truth -- but struggle to wrap our hearts around that part of the story that requires us to be more honest about our fragile natures and more forthright about how these foibles blur our faith picture. 

God's grace was supposed to be the part of the story that neutralized these tendencies. . . . But grace doesn't allow itself to be embraced as an academic exercise. It requires humility, brokenness, and an almost reckless surrender to God's transforming impact in our lives.

Related Links:

Sender's Stuffed Animals: Then and Now

The first "stuffed animal" that my six-year-old, Sender, had was named Blankie Bear. Usually, he was referred to simply as "B."

Elijah, Sender, B

This "B" was the animal that Sender once screamed out for in the middle of the night.

His first Webkinz animal was Spike, and he added Cuber (short for "Computer") shortly thereafter.

Spike and Cuber

He has many, many other stuffed animals (not pictured), some of which have been inherited from his older brother.

One of his latest favorites is an opossum, named Big Fat Up, which I think is supposed to be short for "Big Fat Opossum." Normally just called "Big Fat." Not exactly politically-correct, are we?

Big Fat

He also got this cat. He calls her Cupcake. He loves Cupcake. How sweet, right? But should I be worried? Is Sender becoming too soft and sweet?

Soft and cuddly Cupcake

I'm not worried, especially when he named this bear.

His name: Poopie Bear.

Yeah, boy! That's more like it!