Training For Righteousness…The Daily Walk

A Guest Post by Kristen Torres

For the month of January, the Equipped blog will be exploring the theme of New Beginnings: New Year’s resolutions. We start strong in January and they slowly dissipate by the end of February- whether it is reading more, or getting healthy or whatever it is, we start the year with excitement, with visions and goals for the year to come. As you look to this year, what’s a particular verse that you want to shape your entire year?

 

I have been savoring the Psalms over the last few years. In doing so, it has created a new rhythm of rest in my life…resting in Him. And, no, this does not mean staying in the bed longer (ha)! It’s about walking in His Word…hence, a daily walk.

Psalm 23:3 says, “…He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” As I ponder my “paths” I wonder, ‘Who’s actually doing the leading?”

The word “path” in Scripture often refers to life. And when I reflect on the pace of the life of Christ I think of walking, likely strolling, even lingering (yes, even at the age of 12!).

Let’s be honest, if you ask those closest to me about my pace, they may not use the words “strolling” and “lingering.” Yes, I’m prone to wander, but praise God, “He will bind my wandering heart to Thee.”

In Alan Fadling’s book, An Unhurried Life, he states, “The pace in the church doesn’t seem all that different from the pace in the world around us.

When we finally do slow down, often the hurried pace of our inner life is exposed.”

In The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Ortberg suggests that “hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.” Hurry has become a habit—a way of life. Instead of being with Him we attempt to do more for Him.

Kristen Torres has been a member of the Dawson Family of Faith her entire life. She began serving in 2007 and currently serves as the Minister of Spiritual Development and Women’s Ministry. As a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, Kristen’s prayer is that the Spiritual Development Ministry reflects that life in Christ is truly life to the fullest. (John 10:10).

The Lord used the gift of new puppy a few years ago to help me establish a new rhythm of practicing His presence and (literally) walking out the Word. Leo (our dog) and I often take early, while-it-is-still-dark morning walks. As I walk, I’m working out Scripture…and over the course of a month I’ve meditated on and memorized a portion of His Word. I love to savor it, processing the same couple of verses day after day and then adding on week after week. Oh, how HE SPEAKS!

As tempting as it may be to wake up the whole family to practice a new spiritual discipline, I’d encourage you to start in solitude. And, yes, give it time! Wait upon….the LORD.

Now, it may not be a morning walk or Scripture memorization for you, but my prayer is that you will live at such a pace that it allows you to “tune your heart to sing His praise.” As you practice His presence may you experience the purposeful and sustaining power of Jesus Christ in and through the Holy Spirit.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NASB)

A challenge for you as “He leads you in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake” is to go at His pace. God is always speaking. Are you taking time to listen?

Can Isaiah teach my kids to drive?

Guest Post by Danny Turner

For the month of January, the Equipped blog will be exploring the theme of New Beginnings: New Years resolutions. We start strong in January and they slowly dissipate by the end of February- whether its reading more, or getting healthy or whatever it is, we start the year with excitement, with visions and goals for the year to come. As you look to this year, what’s a particular verse that you want to shape your entire year?

Two more years.

That’s all we’ve got left?

And only four years remaining for our youngest?

It hit me like a freight train that evening, while I was surrounded by Dawson’s High School Seniors.   As usual, they were sitting around our dinner table that Monday night for “Family Dinner.” We host them every week, and it probably blesses us more than it does them. But on that particular night, they were discussing college choices. Some seemed perfectly ready to be on their own. Others seemed apprehensive. A few of them looked way too young. Speaking of “way too young,” our 10th grader and our 8th grader were sitting in the room with them, and I suddenly saw a giant imaginary countdown timer as I looked at them. It seemed like only last week that I was at Centrikid Camp with them. But here we are- only two & four years from watching my son and daughter heading off to college, and I haven’t come close to teaching them everything they’ll need to know to survive, much less thrive, when they are out on their own.

Driving a car? Finances? All that complicated boy-girl relationship stuff? A ”must remember to teach them about _____” list started scrolling by in my head. It was lonnnnnnnng. I’ve always told them that it’s my job to make sure they don’t end up as copies of their parents, but rather that we want them to be better than their mom and dad.

I’ve got a lot of teaching left to do before I pull the chocks from under their wheels so they can fly off.

Where do I even start?   I sifted through the expanding to-do list, and came to the conclusion that there aren’t enough minutes left in the upcoming two years. I decided I had better boil it down to essentials.

Breath…relax…

What are the most important nuggets I need to make sure they carry with them? OK, that’s easier. The seeds for our kids’ adult successes were planted years ago, and they really weren’t directly related to lessons on dating, stick-shifts, or bill-paying.   The seeds that sprout into vines of good decision-making are those related to our core values, beliefs, and priorities as Believers.   Those are the building blocks.

Back in my Air Force days, we talked about the AF’s three “Core Values”: Integrity First, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do. It really doesn’t take much word-swapping to adjust those values to a Christian life template, right? That got me thinking, and I laughed, realizing the middle Value was actually a paraphrase of my favorite verse. The words of this verse are prominently displayed on a large stone in the courtyard of a certain heavily guarded Special Operations compound where I occasionally worked. On this boulder are the words to Isaiah 6: 8.

And God said, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for me?’

I answered, “Here am I. Send Me.”

As someone who was fully prepared to give my life for my country, it resonated. There is an oath that military combatants take that says “I am an American, fighting in the forces that defend our country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.” Isaiah 6:8 struck a lifelong note in my occasionally hard head. I kept it on the wall of my closet so that I would see it every time I put on my uniform. I took it with me when I deployed. And I kept it on my desk as a commander. It eventually led me to serve on Dawson’s Safety Team. It kicks me in the shin when I don’t feel like volunteering for a given need.   Thousands of years after he wrote those words, Isaiah constantly reminds me that It ain’t about me. I am here to serve others, not to serve myself.

Seems like that should be a good guide for every second of my life, right? The verse reinforces the second greatest commandment, which Jesus mentions in the Gospels. Right after he says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and Soul and mind,” he commands us to “…love thy neighbor as thyself.” In Danny-simple words: If I always put others first, I’m more than likely at least headed in the right direction on my daily walk. I’d love to say I am good at holding true to Isaiah 6:8 all the time…that I apply it unwaveringly as a husband, a dad, as a Christian, or as a member of Dawson’s Family of Faith. But I fail miserably pretty much every day. In fact, I really stink at it.

But it’s a starting point. It’s MY starting point, and it’s what I use to frame every meaningful decision in my life, to this day. After my faith/trust in my God and Savior, there is nothing more important than putting myself behind others. Isaiah said it, and Jesus said it. That’s good enough for me.

So, back to my teenagers, and all the life-answers I need to teach them before they move out…

As I sat around the table that night, watching Dawson’s seniors, I took a step back and felt a peace. I reminded myself that we really aren’t teaching young people the answers to the life- test. Instead, we are (and have been, for years) teaching them the formulas for making tough life-decisions they will face later. They have been getting “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul,” and Isaiah 6:8 (in various forms) for years from grandparents, family friends, Dawson Kids’ amazing team of investors, the Dawson Student Ministry, and the whole Dawson Family.

So, THANK YOU. Thank you, to every voice that, even for brief moments, speaks words of God’s love and light to every young person at Dawson, and in our community. And thank you for your living demonstration of Isaiah’s words. Thank you for giving my kids the tools they’ll need when they start their own adult walk in a few years.

That’s all the time I have today. Gotta go teach a 15-year-old to drive.

Danny Turner, better known as “Anita’s husband” and as “Robby and Veronica’s dad”, is a retired USAF pilot who serves as a deacon and as a member of the Safety Team. He has been a volunteer with DK and DSM, and is rumored to be the coolest guy Danielle knows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings

Guest Post by Alice Elmore

For the month of January, the Equipped blog will be exploring the theme of New Beginnings: New Year’s resolutions. We start strong in January and they slowly dissipate by the end of February- whether it’s reading more, or getting healthy or whatever it is, we start the year with excitement, with visions and goals for the year to come. As you look to this year, what’s a particular verse that you want to shape your entire year?

I don’t do resolutions.

Several years ago, an acquaintance writing an article about New Year’s resolutions asked for mine. My response was so cynical: I told her I fell short of my own expectations so often that I had stopped making resolutions, since they only set me up for more failure. Looking back, I think my passion for a fresh batch of big goals burned out about the same time I had kids.

As parents, we feel like failures more often than not as we put ourselves, our lives, and our families next to a measuring stick of someone else’s social media feed as well as our own expectations. It’s been a relief in recent years as I haven’t felt like a RESOLUTION was constantly looking over my shoulder, grading how well I parent, how much I exercise, or how clean my house might be.

Instead of fretting over what I should be improving, I can simply remind myself of what God is going to do this year—and what He does every year.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 NIV

For 39 chapters, God (through Isaiah’s inspired words) tells Israel and a lot of other nations that they’re going to mess up. He describes all the ways they’re going to fall short, in amazing and frightening detail. Then he tells them he’s going to judge and punish them, and how he’s going to do it. Years before any of it actually happens.

But then, in chapter 40, everything changes. Isaiah reassures Israel that after the shortcomings, after the punishing exile, after the sadness and the pain, God is on their side. He fights for them, carries them, and redeems them by sending the Messiah.

In 2018, I will not read my Bible as much as I should. I will disappoint my kids. My house won’t be as clean as I would like. But I know that God carries us close to his heart and gently leads us, even as he foresees every way we will fall short this year. And knowing that makes it easier to give grace—to myself and others—and try again tomorrow.

Alice Elmore is a Life Group investor in 1st Grade C on Sunday Mornings, and lead investor for Bible Buddies on Sunday Nights. She is married to Greg. They have two girls, Molly and Charlotte.

Simeon

Christmas: What part of scripture illuminates the Christmas story for you?

When you think of the Christmas story, what comes to mind? angels? shepherds? Bethlehem and the inn? The manger? Mary and Joseph? maybe a newborn named Jesus? I think about all those things, but also about a man named Simeon. Let’s look at what scripture says about him in Luke 2:25-35.

Jesus had been born in a stable in Bethlehem. Wise men had come from far away to worship him, shepherds had left their flocks to see who the angels were singing about. A very short, eight days later, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple for him to be circumcised and to dedicated him to the Lord. This was something all Jewish parents would have done for a firstborn son, dedicated him to the Lord, setting him aside for the Lord’s purposes, in the life of their family and the life of the people of Israel. While this dedication was something all Jewish families did for their son, this particular child was different. The purposes which the Lord had for him were different than any other.

Jon Meads – Associate Minister to Children

In this moment where Jesus is dedicated to the Lord, we meet Simeon. Simeon is the embodiment of the righteous remnant of the people of Israel. The portrait we see of Simeon is of a man soaked in the presence of the Living God. The Holy Spirit has promised, has revealed to him that he would see the Messiah before his death. The Holy Spirit, which has guided him his whole life, guides him to the Temple, the place where a Holy God meets his people. His entire life, he has lived in anticipation of this moment. His response captures the joy he must have experienced in that moment:

Now, Master,

you can dismiss your servant in peace,

as you promised.

For my eyes have seen your salvation.

You have prepared it

in the presence of all peoples—

 a light for revelation to the Gentiles

and glory to your people Israel.

Luke 2:29-32

Simeon is a righteous and devout man. He has followed God, and the Spirit has revealed to him the coming of the Messiah. But now Simeon has seen the one who brings God’s salvation for Jew and Gentile alike. This is what makes Christmas, makes Advent, such an important time for Christians. May we be reminded and challenged to wonder anew that we have seen our salvation in the face of Christ.

God-breathed

a guest blog by Ruth Bean

Sometimes I wonder if I am failing as a mother.

 

I actually stopped reading blogs and attending mommy groups because I would get so stressed out about all the things I WASN’T doing for my children. Instead of being encouraged, I would be SO discouraged. Why? Because I want to be perfect. There, I admitted it.

 

Perfection is in my DNA. (Sorry, Mom, I ratted you out.) But, guess what? Perfection is a LIE. A BIG FAT UGLY LIE. As Christians, we MUST seek truth. We must teach truth. We must live out the truth as best we can with the help of our Almighty God. But how?

 

  1. FAITH

 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1

 

This verse was written to the Jewish Christians who were being persecuted. The author was encouraging them to hang on and not lose faith during this trial because God loved them and is always faithful. Wow! How easily this message relates to all the things we face today.

 

As parents, we must have deep-rooted faith in order to teach our children about something we cannot see, feel or touch.

 

  1. EDUCATION

 

Did you ever use CliffsNotes in school? I do not love reading so those little yellow booklets became my best friend. I made good grades, but I missed all the details that make a book great. Sometimes we do that with the Bible. We look for verses that suit our current situation, even take it out of context, and forget the rest. Hmmmm…the phrase: “I want the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.” Can you handle the truth?

 

Ruth Bean is a wife, mother of two, fitness instructor, life group leader, school volunteer and much more.

Think about a puzzle piece. If you didn’t have the box or know anything about the puzzle, could you figure out what the entire puzzle would look like by having one little piece? Probably not. Every single word of the Bible is God-breathed. Every chapter, every word, every weird name is important. And, it’s really cool when you put all the pieces together and see God’s prophecies come true. How privileged we are to be able to have a copy of the entire Bible and see how it all fits together.

 

It’s so important to teach our kids, not only the New Testament, but the Old Testament—how you can trace the lineage of Abraham all the way to Jesus…that God didn’t go back on His promise to Abraham when his people kept messing up…again…and again….and again….how

He used ordinary, sinful people for His glory…how the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled when Jesus came!

 

We must educate ourselves before we can educate our children, or else it’s just CliffsNotes.

 

  1. ACTION

 

If I didn’t know how this blog post was going to end, I may have broken out in hives already, thinking, “Well, we are doomed. I don’t read the Bible enough. Have I taught my kids enough about the Bible? Are we too distracted with activities to even make time for all this?”

 

In this time of instant gratification and distraction, we must choose to be still and make time to read God’s Holy Word. I used to feel guilty that I didn’t get up super early for quiet time. I just cannot focus that early in the morning. And you know what? That is ok. I promise there is not a verse that commands us to have quiet time at 5 am for one hour. You must choose what works for you.

 

As a very distracted person, the best way for me to stay in His word is by teaching others and/or having a structured Bible study (group or just a book). If I am not doing either of these things, I seem to “fall of the wagon.” (P.S. Carpool is also a wonderful time to dig deeper into God’s word!)

 

Recently, the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to encourage and teach my children to read their Bibles more. When they were little, it was so easy! It was a part of our nightly bedtime routine. But now, I turn into mom-zilla around 9 pm and that sweet Bible reading may turn ugly pretty quickly. So what now?

 

I started keeping my Bible in the front seat of my car—where we spend a lot of time these days. On the way to school or a practice, the kids will read passages to whomever is in the car with us. Then we talk about the context of that verse.

 

The first day we did this, my daughter said she wanted to read John 3:16. But what she learned that day is why Jesus spoke those words. Jesus was talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus who had many questions about Jesus’ teachings. This was a neat conversation that led to application to our life now—there is probably a “Nicodemus” at your school who has questions about Jesus. If you are ever confronted with questions about Jesus, you have a great resource in these verses!

 

We must take make take action to educate ourselves about God’s word, in context, before we can expect our children or anyone else to listen to us.

 

Parents, if you feel defeated, take comfort in Jehovah-Jireh, our almighty God who provides. He will provide a spark in your heart to read His word. He will provide wisdom and understanding when reading His word. He will provide the faith you need to be a light in this dark world. All you have to do is ask. Matthew 7:7-12

collide questions and answers part 3 of 3

on sunday morning october 29 our kids studied about thomas’ doubt. we understand that, like thomas, many of us have hard questions about Jesus. so we asked each 1st – 5th-grade life group to submit three questions and boy did we get some great ones. we took a wednesday night in collide and invited pastor david and his wife danielle to spend some time answering these questions. we are posting several of those video answers on each of these posts. these are a great resource for you to listen to as a family and refer to God’s Word together. we tried to keep all our answers based on scripture and not our opinions. may these prove helpful as you point your kids to Christ.

you can find Part 1 of 3 here.
you can find Part 2 of 3 here.

collide questions and answers part 2 of 3

on sunday morning october 29 our kids studied about thomas’ doubt. we understand that, like thomas, many of us have hard questions about Jesus. so we asked each 1st – 5th-grade life group to submit three questions and boy did we get some great ones. we took a wednesday night in collide and invited pastor david and his wife danielle to spend some time answering these questions. we are posting several of those video answers on each of these posts. these are a great resource for you to listen to as a family and refer to God’s Word together. we tried to keep all our answers based on scripture and not our opinions. may these prove helpful as you point your kids to Christ.

You can find Part 1 of 3 here.

Why does God allow us to sin? – miss danielle

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

What does Jesus look like?

During the three days between Jesus death and resurrection, where was He?

 

You can find Part 1 of 3 here.

collide questions and answers night – part 1 of 3

on sunday morning october 29 our kids studied about thomas’ doubt. we understand that, like thomas, many of us have hard questions about Jesus. so we asked each 1st – 5th-grade life group to submit three questions and boy did we get some great ones.

we took a wednesday night in collide and invited pastor david and his wife danielle to spend some time answering these questions. we are posting several of those video answers on each of these posts. these are a great resource for you to listen to as a family and refer to God’s Word together. we tried to keep all our answers based on scripture and not our opinions. may these prove helpful as you point your kids to Christ.

Where does God come from? Pastor David answers.

Did Jesus help God with creation? Mrs. Danielle answers.

Why did God make us? miss danielle answers.

Why does God make people with disabilities? Mr. Jon answers.

Numbers 22:21-39.

Equipped - All Scripture Series

Theme intro: For the month of October, the blog will be exploring the theme ALL Scripture. All throughout scripture, there are passages that you finish and you ask yourself:”what just happened? Why in the world is that passage in scripture?” We at Dawson Kids believe that ALL scripture is God-breathed, so in each post this month, contributors have been asked to share obscure/weird/“boring”/gross passage that God has used to impact their lives.

Is there really a talking donkey in the Bible? If so, what is God teaching us through the story of the talking donkey? Let’s take a look at this story in Numbers 22:21-39.

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. At one point, the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and set up camp along the Jordan River, across from the great city of Jericho. The people of Moab were afraid of the Israelites because they saw and heard that the Israelites destroyed the Amorites and took over their land. The Moabites were afraid they were going to be destroyed just like the Amorites.

The King of Moab was named Balak. King Balak sent some of his princes to find a man named Balaam. King Balak wanted Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites so they wouldn’t destroy the Moabites. King Balak even sent some money to give Balaam to try and bribe him to do the curse. When the princes arrived, Balaam tells them to spend the night and he will ask God what he should do.

Now Balaam knew that it was not God’s will for him to get paid a large amount of money to curse God’s people, but he prayed about it anyway. And, no surprise, God told him not to go with the men and curse the Israelites.

The same is true in our lives. There are some things we don’t need to pray about because we already know what God’s answer will be. Here’s an example: We know that the Bible tells us not to lie, so we know it is not God’s will for us to lie. There is no need for us to pray and ask God if we should tell a lie—the answer is always no!

However, King Balak was not willing to take no for an answer! He decides to send more important princes to again ask Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam again says no, but then tells them to wait until morning so he can ask God one more time. This time God tells him to go, but says, “Do only what I tell you.”

Brad Gowing – Discipleship Pastor

The next morning, Balaam gets up and saddles his donkey and goes with the princes of Moab. As they were traveling down the road, God puts an angel in the middle of the path with a sword in hand. Balaam’s donkey sees the angel and turns off the road into a field. Balaam begins to beat the donkey to try to get her back on the road. But the angel moves and blocks their path again, causing the donkey to crush Balaam’s foot against a wall! After a good beating, Balaam gets the donkey moving only to be stopped once again. This time the angel stands in a very narrow place. The donkey has nowhere to turn, so she just lies down. Now Balaam is really mad and begins to beat the donkey again!

This is when things get strange—God opens the donkey’s mouth and the donkey says to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” Instead of acting shocked that his donkey just talked to him, Balaam angrily says, “You have made a fool of me!” The donkey replied, “Have I not always been there for you? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?” And Balaam honestly replies, “No.”

It’s only after this strange conversation with his donkey that God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel of the Lord in the road.

The angel tells Balaam that he is there to warn him. He says that if not for his donkey, Balaam would have been killed. This was God’s way of getting Balaam’s attention to make sure he knew that God did not want him to obey King Balak and curse the Israelites.

God sometimes uses strange ways to get our attention. This is evidence of His grace in our lives. He could leave us to go our own way, just as he could have let Balaam go, take the money, and curse the Israelites. Instead, He used a talking donkey to get Balaam’s attention.

Ultimately, God is protecting His people. King Balak wanted to use Balaam to curse God’s people. But God always protects His people. He’ll even use an animal like a donkey to show that He loves and cares for His people.