Monthly Archives: February 2011

Am I the Problem?

Fighting stinks! However, I believe wherever there are relationships there is the potential, if not the probability, of conflict. The potential or probability does not make it right, but it should make us aware of its possibility. This coming Summer the youth leaders and youth will be looking to the topic of conflict and seeking, by God’s grace, to be better equipped so that when it arrives we know how to biblically handle it.

In the mean time, check out this article by Kevin DeYoung and ask yourself, “Am I like this?” Do you and I fit any of these marks? If you do, I know I do, pray for forgiveness. Ask God to give you the humility of Christ. Remember, we will never love another rightly unless we love Jesus first.

CHECK THIS ARTICLE OUT.

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Celebration for Friends

We hope you will be able to celebrate with us the birth of Matthan Seitz to the parents of Allen and Keshia Seitz. We will be having a get-together tomorrow (Sat. Feb 26th) from 1PM to 3PM in the Outreach Center of Vann. This celebration is for all the youth and their families.

We are thankful for the little addition to the Seitz family. Allen and Keshia Seitz have served faithfully in the area of youth ministry . They have poured their time and talents into encouraging and equipping the young people at Vann.

We hope you will be able to enjoy cake and conversation with us. If you can, maybe bring some diapers that the family will be able to use (a lot) of. Matthan is already a big boy (over 9lbs) so maybe we can get some size 2 or 3’s for the near future.

It is a joy and privilege to celebrate together all that God has done and continues to do. I look forward to our time tomorrow afternoon, worshipping and serving God through our care and love for one another.

Intergenerational Interaction and Appreciation

As we continue through the “7” Marks of a family-equipping congregation, we arrive at mark #4. This mark is called Intergenerational Interaction and Appreciation. We have been encouraging our folks at Vann Avenue to participate in a couple of ministries that are intentionally intergenerational. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight one ministry exclusively.

Usually, unless holiday scheduling prohibits, our ladies at Vann gather the fourth Monday of every month to encourage and enjoy and evening together they refer to as Titus 2. We were blessed to have one of the leaders of the Titus 2 ministry and our Pastor’s wife, Chastity Martin, come up to a youth meeting on a Sunday evening and express her desire to see ladies of all ages come together and encourage and equip one another through the Titus 2 ministry.

Mrs. Martin also discussed the theme of Titus 2 in 2011, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild. This theme will set the course and provide for all who are participating an opportunity to understand and encourage one another through a world of confusion and immorality. There are times that the older generation needs to understand the temptations that are present in our younger generations lives. Our younger generations need to understand temptation is not a new concept, although certain temptations are coming earlier than in the previous generations. We encourage our ladies to follow the pattern and principals laid out in the Bible concerning older women training younger women. This is a really good thing. This is a gift from God. It is my prayer that more ladies and more girls (from elementary through high school) will be a part of this intentional, intergenerational ministry at Vann Avenue. Here are a few helpful links or resources.

Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild website

Crazy Love

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe–the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor–loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss.

Have you ever thought some of those things above? Well, if you have your not alone. We are beginning to go through a book by Francis Chan titled Crazy Love on Wednesday nights in the youth area. I hope you will plan to be a part of it with us. I have asked the youth to take the initiative and get the book for themselves. You can find the book almost at any bookstore, except for Borders because I checked there.

If you can’t get the book right away, click on this link to see a free sample on-line of chapter 1. Let’s not settle for the status quo. Jesus is calling us to a radical, crazy relationship with Him. Unfortunately, it might look even crazy to those inside the church, as much as it should look crazy to those outside the church. Regardless, what type of love is Jesus calling you to? Are you overwhelmed by His love for you?

Do I have a Plan?

As we continue looking at the “7” Marks of an family-equipping church, we come to mark #3. In this mark, Parenting with a Plan, Dr. Jones states, “Parents are equipped, through pastoral proclamation and church practices with a plan for their child’s discipleship. The church and its leadership may serve as a catalyst for this process, but parents take responsibility for the Christian formation of their children.”

I believe for this post it is necessary for me to come at this topic, not as Family Life Pastor, but as a husband and father. Here we go. I have struggled with a plan. Although I want my children to grow and love God and love others, I had believed my responsibility was the physical provision and the church’s responsibility was the spiritual provision. It was probably a few years ago that God had begun to radically change my opinion about this process. As with most things God opens my eyes to, this was going to require some change. This change wasn’t easy. First, this gave me more responsibility. I already had a busy schedule and how was this going to effect an already packed week. It was much more convenient to hand this responsibility  (my child’s spiritual growth) off to someone else. Second, although I loved the churches God has allowed me to be a part of, not too many of them were very effective at encouraging and equipping me for my spiritual parental responsibility. To their defense, I can definitely identify couples from the churches we have been a part of, who are healthy and passing their faith down through the generations. However, I wouldn’t say they were creating a culture of healthiness, but basically a sprinkling here and there. All this to say, God was saying to me, through His word, that I was responsible and needed to be moving to a more faithful understanding of my role.

This past weekend Shannon and I were able to attend a parenting conference called Instructing a Child’s Heart by Dr. Tedd Tripp. This was just what we needed. Weeks before the conference the Lord had been laying upon my heart a mission statement for our family. How would the Mileski’s explain their purpose in life? How would my kids explain to someone their purpose in life? How did they understand God’s purposes for their lives? What were key foundational values that we believed God was pleased with and we could encourage one another towards in our home? Although we had a pretty good idea and had begun to communicate it to the kids a week ago, this conference sealed the deal with it’s importance for our family.

This is one of the reasons for the image above that has a stone path. The Mileski purpose is To Glorify God and Help People Become Faithful Followers of Jesus. We have titled the values we will hold to in our home as the Family Trail. We think of our values as being steps on a trail. Our values are. . .

Family,

Truth,

Relationships,

Accountability,

Integrity, and

Love.

Ephesians 6:1-3 states “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother-which is the first commandment with a promise-that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.” We like to teach them that staying on the family trail will also fulfill this command with the promise of going well and long life.

Now this is just a small slice of the overall parenting responsibility, but we hope this is laying a foundation or structure that will be helpful for them to enjoy God and love one another. What about when you get off the path you might ask, because we all have been there and done that? Well, that’s where corrective discipline is necessary to restore this person back onto the path.

You might be saying to yourself that these guys should have already had this figured out, and maybe you are right. However, we are thankful for a God in heaven who is a God of mercy and hope. Mercy, in that we parents don’t do everything right, but He is patient and forgiving. A God of Hope in that wherever we are in the parenting process, maybe your kids are about to launch into adulthood or are already there, He has a good plan for our future. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we can begin today to seek His guidance in our parenting and the humility to chart a different course if necessary.

What’s Your Goal?

What is our goal in parenting? Are we praying that the little ones won’t get into too much trouble? Are we hoping that by the end of high school they won’t have done anything “really” wrong? Do we buy into culture that we want them to be successful, in a worldly sense, and economically better than we are? What is our goal?

Someone might ask why there even needs to be a goal. Although, almost everywhere else in life goals are necessary. You and I have goals at work. We don’t just go, at least most of us don’t, and wonder what we are going to do today. We plan vacations. We have goals for retirement. You can probably think of numerous other things you plan for and have goals set.

But what about parenting? As we continue to look at the “7” marks of a family-equipping church, we come to the second mark and see that it is Parenting with an Eternal Goal. In the article by Dr. Timothy Jones he says, “Parenting guides the child toward conformity to the character of Christ. All young people should be raised with the conviction that they are to be missionaries and that their primary goal is to use their gifts and resources to advance God’s kingdom.” That is quite a statement, because I believe you and I need to understand all the elements of what he is saying.

First, we must be convinced conformity to the character of Christ is our first priority. Not only must we be convinced this is best for our child but we must be convinced that this is best for me. Is conformity to the character of Christ your first priority? Do I model the pursuit of holiness “Christ-conformity” at home? Do my children know I am pursuing this? Do they know I struggle with sin, besides the fact they may face my anger at times? I mean, do they hear me asking their forgiveness and modeling repentance and faith in the home?

Second, what about this idea of raising them to be missionaries? What!? I don’t want them leaving the country (I bet this is what you thought about). What about raising them to see all of their life as a life of missionary work? Do we reinforce that their school is a mission field? Remember that statement “Somethings are better caught than taught?” I do believe this is one of those areas. Are you and I modeling a missional life? Do we serve others in the community who have needs? Do we intentionally build relationships with unbelievers, for the purpose of praying to lead them to Christ? You might say you are too busy for that stuff. I recently heard a great acrostic for the word busy (Being Under Satan’s Yoke). Listen parents, God wants us modeling the missional life. God intends for our children to learn about loving others by the example we show and how the example reinforces the bible taught.

Third, we are to teach them how to view their gifts and resources for God’s kingdom. What are my gifts to the body of Christ? Is there more than just putting my tithe in the offering plate, although our kids do need to see that? How should we teach our children to view their talents and experiences? Are they important to God? What is my role as a parent in this area of parenting? Let me speak from experience, that I know how to do this in the area of sports. I know how to assess ability and strengths and utilize them on the playing field. However, as a follower of Jesus, I believe all of life is a life of worship and I want my kids to understand sports in light of who Christ is and who they are in Christ. Parents, this changes things. This looks and sounds different than the family across the street who goes to the same games, but without a kingdom perspective.

Lastly, do we as parents teach a kingdom perspective? Am I communicating a kingdom to my children that is bigger than one church? Am I teaching and modeling for my children, that although God’s kingdom is bigger than one church, we are faithful to Him as we serve in the local church. Being a part of the local church is part of what it means to seek first the kingdom of God. We are not only attenders, but we are building relationships with other believers, serving in our areas of gifting, and seeking to make a difference in this community by our involvement in the local church.

Well, that was a bit more than I had planned first sitting down. Parents, you and I both recognize there are areas we need to seek God’s help and direction. The leadership of the church realizes we have to come along side our parents and provide encouragement and equipping in these areas. Although we believe God has established parents as the primary faith-influencers in our kids lives, He has also established for us to do this in community (together as the church). Don’t throw the towel in. God’s grace is greater than our sin and He always provides for what He calls us to.

PUREGIRL Event

Friday, March 18th and Saturday, March 19th

If you are a mom, aunt, grandma, or a mentor of a girl who is between the ages of 8 to 12, then this event is for you and them. This is a wonderful opportunity for you to spend some intentional “girl” time together with other ladies and girls from around the state of Indiana. For more details click this link for PureGirls.

If you are interested, we have many ladies (girls) planning this trip through our Titus 2 ministry. Please contact the office and you will be connected with the group.

What is a Strategic Question?

This might be the question you and I am asking right now? What does a question have to do with being a family-equipping congregation? Dr. Timothy Jones helps us understand the significance of this question as he says, “A question that filters good versus best activities. How will this element of our ministry equip families to function as a foundational unit of discipleship?”

Is this really necessary? Why don’t we just do it the way we always have done it and call it good? As I am reading a book by Mark Holman titled, Church+Home: The Proven Formula for Building Lifelong Faith, the observation is made, “Our enemy, Satan, is  continually at work to stop Christianity from advancing, and it has become clear over the last few decades that Satan has moved his emphasis to the home. Satan realizes that he will not prevail against the Church because Jesus has already declared that he will not. Yet no such promise regarding the home was made; therefore, Satan realizes that the home is open territory for him to go to work. And during the last 40 to 50 years, Satan has been at work to take Christ and Christlike living out of the home because he realizes that if he can accomplish this, he can impact the advance of Christianity not only for today but also for generations to come.”

Wow! Do I recognize my own home as a spiritual battle ground? So, what about the “question?” We believe, as leaders of the church, that we need to ask ourselves critical questions when events or activities are planned. For example, does this activity bring families together or pull them apart? How will this program or event resource, train, or involve parents to disciple their children?

If we are going to “say” we champion the family, then our “doing” better reflect that conviction. I definitely recognize some areas we at Vann are intentional about equipping the family. I see our TeamKID ministry sending home a take home piece called Faith Talk where the home is encouraged to spend time during the week reinforcing the lesson learned. It encourages the home to read the Scriptures, pray, and discuss together what Jesus calls the family to do. In the youth ministry there are monthly magazines and take home pieces that encourage the home to be discussing the topic together. I am thankful for Pastor Eric, promoting and attending himself with his wife, the Instructing a Child’s Heart conference at First Baptist Henderson. We have both our intergenerational ministries, Titus 2 and BMen, striving to embrace intergenerational relationships and seeing the importance of equipping the next generation. I’m sure I missed other things, but these initially encourage me to see what we are doing and where we believe God is leading us.

“Whatever else may be said about the home, it is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out. It is the place where life’s bills come due, the single most influential force in our earthly existence. . . . It is a home, among family members, that we come to terms with circumstances. It is here life makes up its mind.”

Charles Swindoll

Family-Equipping Congregation

If you have been around Vann for any length of time over the last year or so, you would have heard Pastor Eric or I communicate that we desire to be a family-equipping congregation. What are we talking about? Well, to be honest we too are asking questions like this and discussing what it would look like at Vann Avenue Baptist Church. We believe the Bible teaches that the home is to be the primary leader in discipling the children, but we also recognize the role the church plays in the process as well. Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, associate professor of leadership and church ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has recently helped us think through the family-equipping model by laying out what he defines as 7 key “Marks” of a family-equipping church. I will list all seven of them today and over the next few days we will look at each one individually. As we go through the “marks” it will be helpful to ask ourselves if we at Vann are meeting or moving toward that individual “mark.”

Mark #1 The Strategic Question

Mark #2 Parenting with an Eternal Goal

Mark #3 Parenting with a Plan

Mark #4 Intergenerational Interaction and Appreciation

Mark #5 Faith is Taught in Homes

Mark #6 High Expectations for Husbands and Fathers

Mark #7 Compassion for the Orphan and Widow

From here we will define what each mark means, and then look at where we are at Vann, and where we need to go if the family-equipping model is truly the God-given model for church and home.

In the mean time, you might want to check out this website, Legacy Milestones, and see how this church partners with the home to disciple the next generation.