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Instilling God’s Word In Our Hearts – Road Map Month 7

By on July 2, 2018

Mid-year check up. How's it going? Are you still reading through the Bible with us? Well, to be honest, we have struggled consistently reading together since the summer hit. It's not that we've stopped reading our Bibles all together, it's just that we're not all together as a family when we read. This has been a little frustrating for me. I had a plan. I wanted to keep the plan. Yet, God's grace abounds, and we will continue where we paused when we all get back on the same schedule together.

That's okay.

If you've been reading through *most of the Bible in a year with us, you know that God did the same thing with His children. They frequently got out of sync and needed to be reconnected to His Word and a relationship with Him. That is exactly what Ezra and Nehemiah provide for God's people—a re-commitment to the Lord, His Word, and His ways. It's not easy, but it is so worth it.

If you're just here to grab the next month's road map, you can download it here:

Instilling God's Word In Our Hearts

I love that we've been soaking in the big picture of God's Word this year. Unfortunately even a year in the Bible is not enough for it to penetrate the depths of our need for Truth. This pursuit should take a lifetime, and as parents, we need to expect to spend years cultivating Biblical literacy. 

When you hit a season when everyone is sick, company is staying in your house, or schedules are crazy, it's okay to allow for these disruptions. The journey we're on will take years, so we can't expect to conquer it in a day.

The real challenge is to not let these disruptions completely derail your vision and plans. Set a specific goal for when you'll start back reading together as a family, and then try some of these strategies for continuing to build Biblical literacy while you wait:

1. Read Your Bible in Public

Well, not really public but definitely out in the open where your kids can see you. They need to see you choosing to spend time in God's Word even when your routine is out of whack. Don't chase them around or be crazy obvious about it, but don't hide in your room even though the quiet might be appealing.

2. Keep Talking About What You've Read So Far

Our Western minds think that to keep making progress we must keep moving forward. However, you continue to instill God's Word in your children's hearts by talking about it. The more you discuss a story or idea, the more understanding they will gain. Stopping for a bit to let the material sink in is not necessarily a bad thing.

3. Memorize Scripture

Hiding God's Word in your heart is a gift in every circumstance. This doesn't have to be a big undertaking—just play some Seeds worship in the car or as your kids go to bed. The truths will lock in as they listen.  
Again, you don't have to conquer the whole Bible in a day, but a verse a week can really add up.

As you read through the twenty points of interest this month, watch how God restores relationship with His people and build the excitement for the good you know is about to come!

Want the Rest of the Plan?

Click on the links below to download the complete reading plan, or just start where you'd like to jump in.

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How to Keep On Reading the Bible Through the Summer – Road Map Month 6

By on June 4, 2018

My daughter was looking for a version of the Bible on the other day, and she asked what the difference between the "Drama" and "Non-Drama" versions. Since they're audio files, they are either dramatized or simply read. My husband and I laughed at what the "Non-Drama" translation of the Bible would look like. I imagined it would read something like this:

In the beginning...the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.

The whole thing is filled with drama: disasters and dilemmas. It's hard to read the continued struggle of God's chosen people, but I think that is mostly because it continues to remind me how often I fail and choose the wrong things. That's what this month's reading is all about.

If you've been reading through *most of the Bible in a year with us, you know that it the disasters never stop. What amazes me about reading through this dark drama God reveals throughout this time period is that he continues to provide glimpses of hope and plans of salvation. We definitely don't deserve a love like that.

If you're just here to grab the next month's road map, you can download it here:

How to Keep On Reading Through the Summer

As I look at the Israelites, I notice that what slid over the years was their relationship with their Lord. This is so easy to do especially when your schedule changes or becomes unpredictable. Summertime can really be a challenging time to keep up a habit. Here are some ideas for how to keep on reading through the summer:

1. Relax a Bit

This might seem counter-intuitive, but on our last trip, we found that letting our family Bible reading fit more organically into our schedule allowed us to enjoy it more together. Since we were not all getting up at the same time, it didn't make sense to wake the family to read the Bible. I would surely have teens sleeping through chapters, and then I'd have to be the Bible reading police officer. Once that situation arises, nothing else is productive. By relaxing a bit, we found that there was a natural time in our day that we all enjoyed reading together - right after dinner. This blessed us all.

2. Refocus on the Vision

Often we forget how fundamental vision really is. If you've been reading for five months, it can be easy to get worn out and think, maybe let's just take a break for a bit. And sometimes you really do need a break from the way you're doing something. However, if you started this journey because you wanted to give your kids the big picture of the Bible, a break might not be in line with your initial vision.

Sit down and talk with your family about what you're doing and why you feel like it's important. They'll probably give you some great ideas on how to keep going. If they're on board, then you'll have a better time keeping the practice. They might even start reminding you!

3. Focus on the Story

My kids have been working on writing their own stories this month. As they have been seeping in the elements of story, they have started to see the narrative of scripture in the same light. They're noticing the disasters that arise and the dilemmas that men face. When the scripture comes to life, it provides an alternative motivation to continue reading: they need to know what's going to happen next.

4. Pace Yourself

If the goal is to make it through the Bible, the timeline isn't as important. If you need to slow down at times, then slow down. You might find you have more time throughout the summer, and you can read more at those times. Giving yourself grace will allow everyone to enjoy the reading for longer, and in the long run, you'll end up having the stamina to finish the course.

As you read through the twenty points of interest this month, pay attention to the disasters and dilemmas the Israelites faced as they distanced themselves from their relationship with their Lord. We have a lot to learn from them because we fall so easily into the same traps. Its only with intentional focus on the Lord alone that we can avoid these pitfalls, and that can only be accomplished by God's grace!

Want the Rest of the Plan?

Click on the links below to download the complete reading plan, or just start where you'd like to jump in.

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Faith | Family Life | Fun

10 More Christian Films Your Family Can Enjoy on Netflix

By on May 7, 2018

Updated 2/23/2019

As school winds down and summer begins, it's time to rest with my family and enjoy a good movie. I've shared 10 Christian Films for your family to enjoy on Netflix, but there are still some more diamonds in the rough out there. Here are some more Christian films that we've enjoyed together!

If something I've recommended doesn't happen to be available anymore, you can always check here for all of the Faith and Spirituality Movies.

An Inspiring Life

1. The Case For Christ - TV-PG

Lee Strobel's testimony in The Case for Christis truly inspiring. As a newspaper journalist, Lee Strobel works to disprove his wife's new found faith. When their daughter almost dies, the couple reacts in different ways. Strobel's wife seeks answers from Church, and Lee sets out to prove that faith is a hoax.

Based on Strobel's best selling book The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesusthis movie is a fantastic representation of a investigative reporter putting his well-honed skills to work for the Lord.

A Documentary

2. Martin Luther - TV PG

Netflix calls this one a "docudrama" because there is narration like a documentary, but the insight into the life of Martin Luther is brought to life through dramatizations of his history. This is a great intro to the life of a man with the first idea that went "viral" through the modern media of the time: the printing press.

Movies that Pull at Your Heart Strings

Often I struggle with Christian films because they center around so much tragedy. Having lived through loosing a loved one in a car accident, I feel very sensitive to that topic. That being said, these stories are powerful in exposing God's power to bring healing through suffering.

2. A Question of Faith - TV PG

I was skeptical of this one, but the story was a beautiful picture of how God brings people together in suffering to reveal His forgiveness, love, and power. So many people are walking through challenging circumstances. We need one another to walk through them. Get your tissues ready for this one!

3. Believe - TV PG

I really like Christmas movies all year long, and this is one of those that is worth watching any time of year. With a business in the red, Matthew struggles to choose between caring for others and caring for himself. When a young boy, CJ, helps him out in a time of need, Matthew's heart is warmed by CJ's belief in miracles. It's a sweet story of the power of community.

4. River Thief - NR

Warning - this one isn't for littles. Written and produced by one of my favorite authors N.D. Wilson, this story explores the concept of gratitude and what life looks like without it. A young man, who is looking for his unknown father, waltzes into a small town and meets a young waitress and her grandfather. While this movie won't leave you with warm fuzzy feelings, it's worth watching as it will leave you thinking about gratitude and its connection with how we deal with circumstances daily.

Not Just for Kids

5. The Star - PG 2017

The Star has been one of my favorite Christmas movies for kids. It is such a sweet story that shouldn't just be reserved for December. I love the music in this animated tale.

6. Benji - TV PG

I grew up loving Benji, and now Netflix has remade the old family favorite and they did an amazing job. When a brother and sister walk in unexpectedly on a robbery and are taken captive, it's up to Benji to help the police track the kids down. I love the sweetness and loyalty that Benji shows even when he's kicked out of the house. Even though this one might be targeted for kids, I really enjoyed it. It's truly not just for kids to enjoy!

Or if you like a good TV Series

7. Highway to Heaven

Sometimes you just need to revisit classics like Highway to Heaven. They don't make them like they used to.

8. VeggieTales in the City

Or you could enjoy the second spin-off of an old favorite: VeggieTales in the City.

What Makes Something Christian?

If you're truly hunting good Christian films, you might want to subscribe to PureFlix. There are some really good movies out there that exemplify Christian principles without ever mentioning God. So I have to ask, what makes something Christian?

9. The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is a historical fiction story based upon the lives of people that lived on Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel, during WWII. This small community comes together around books when that is the only way they can fellowship with one another in the German occupation. It is through these times together that they form friendships that carry them through difficult times.

This movie is a beautiful picture of forgiveness and it presents a great opportunity for discussing Biblical perspectives on the challenges of war time living.

10. Pelé - PG 2016

Pelé follows the story of a young boy who fights his way out of poverty through his talent in his sport. Movies like this that show determination, rising from adversity, and singular focus present inspiring portraits of lives well lived. It is good to see how others live and be inspired to pursue excellence.

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Faith | Family Life

The Dangers of Cultivating a Fractured Focus – Road Map Month 5

By on April 30, 2018

David's story has been so inspiring for my family to follow together. It is such a challenge to see a man of such great faith falter. If you're like me, you've had high moments of faith in the past, and it's easy to assume that those faith filled days can carry you throughout your future. If you've been reading through *most of the Bible in a year with us, you know that it didn't work that well for David. When he set his focus on creating peace, he ended up causing the most disharmony in the midst of his home. It's tragic really...but it is such a clear picture of the truth about the nature of man.

The next twenty points of interest follow that conflict further as men grab at power and take their eyes off of the Lord. As the kingdom divides, it gets pretty ugly. Sin is given full vent, but God never leaves his people to themselves. He sends warnings through prophets, continually calling them to return to their first love. While this portion of the Bible is more difficult to enjoy reading, it's important to take the time to use the mistakes that the Israelites make as a warning for our own faithlessness. Each of us stray from time to time, and it's really a matter of cultivating a fractured focus. It doesn't work...or at least it doesn't come without great consequences for yourself and those around you.

If you're just here to grab the next month's road map, you can download it here:

The Dangers of Cultivating a Fractured Focus

When the kingdom divides, a problem arises for the tribes of the north: where do we worship now? Since Jerusalem was in the territory of Judah, the northern kingdom was left without a place of worship. So, the king did what any power hungry king would do, and created a secondary place of worship. Did this honor God? Nope.

This simple decision led to years of idolatry and divisions that continued to drive the nation of Israel apart. It didn't even matter if the people had enemies outside of the camp...they did a good enough job tearing down God's chosen people on their own.

Isn't that exactly how the enemy works? Families are continually under attack. Churches are falling apart from in-fighting. When we have a dis-unified focus, it's impossible to stick together. Here are some things that divide our focus and make war on our unity as people of the Lord:

1. Fixing Our Eyes on the Fruit and Not the Source

While it's good to desire love, peace, and joy, those are the fruit of the Spirit and not the Spirit himself. We can obtain them only through a relationship with the Lord. They come from well nourished fellowship with our Father. When that relationship is right, we can enjoy the fruit.

Often we try to manufacture the fruit on our own. Just as the kings grabbed at power and prosperity, we can grab at the fruit and hope to gain it while bypassing the relationship. God is the one who grants power and prosperity, but they didn't want the tediousness of cultivating a relationship with him to get what they wanted. They worked to manipulate the circumstances to claim it themselves. That never satisfies.

2. Syncretistic Worldview

Syncretism is the merging of different religious behaviors or schools of thought. When the Israelites opened their doors to idol worship, they were trying to merge a Biblical worldview with the worldview of the surrounding nations. It doesn't work.

In the same way, as modern worshipers, our Biblical worldview is under attack. The world values wealth, health, fitness, beauty, entertainment, and any number of other objects of worship. If we try to merge those ideals in with what the Bible says, we can get caught with a fractured focus again and find ourselves in danger.

3. Your Dollar (Or Your Minute) Is Your Vote

My niece likes to say "Your dollar is your vote" meaning that if you spend your money somewhere, you are condoning the product or service you're investing in. It can be very easy to get carried away in spending patterns that don't line up with your belief systems both in money and in time.

If you've maxed out your family's schedule in such a way that there isn't any time for togetherness, rest, or time in God's Word, you're fracturing your family's focus. The greatest challenge these days is that there are so many wonderful things to do. Seeking out quiet times of resting in the Lord can be very challenging, but if you don't do it, there will be definite consequences.

As you read through the twenty points of interest this month, pay attention to the consequences the Israelites faced as they divided their focus between following the patterns of the world and following the patterns of God's Word. We have a lot to learn from them because we fall so easily into the same traps. Its only with intentional focus on the Lord alone that we can avoid these pitfalls, and that can only be accomplished by God's grace!

Want the Rest of the Plan?

Click on the links below to download the complete reading plan, or just start where you'd like to jump in.

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Faith | Printables

Praying the Psalms – Road Map Month 4

By on March 26, 2018
Hearing the story of the Israelites hasn't become easier now that they're in the Promised Land.  If you've been reading through *most of the Bible in a year with us, you might be feeling the same way. Even in times of peace, the people can't keep their promises without someone making them keep their word. The next twenty points of interest cover the introduction of a earthly king to govern God's people. But they already had a King. Why were they looking for a replacement for the King of kings? When Saul is crowned King, things don't go quite as planned. It's not until David, a man after God's own heart, takes the throne that there is true peace in the land. However that peace comes at a cost and brings with it trouble of its own. It is getting clearer with each chapter that we read that we need a Savior. We can't escape this sin pattern on our own. If you're just here to download the next installment of the Road Map Through the Bible, you can get that here! I encourage you to continue reading about praying the Psalms. One beautiful way of submitting our desires to God's is praying His Words back to him. I've asked my husband to share about this powerful practice today. I hope you're as encouraged by this idea as I have been:
Prayer is one of the most intimate things we can do. Connecting with our heavenly Father directly is an unmatched privilege. Once we receive the Holy Spirit by faith in Christ, we now have unveiled, unmediated access to the Father. Paul says that in Christ we have "boldness and access with confidence through our faith him" (Eph 3:12).
The trouble is that we're not sure how sometimes. Maybe you've done it long enough that prayer has become quite routine for you, and the words have started to roll off like a grocery list.
Recently, I have discovered that my prayers (how I communicate with God) transforms when I give up trying to say the right things and just use His words. What this does is begin to revitalize and train your heart to want what He wants and to love what He loves.
Prayer requests of all kinds are given by friends and family. Praying the Psalms will produce a lens of discernment regarding these requests. For instance, when someone requests that you pray for "their job" or "their car trouble" or even "their dog," you discern that you are not really praying for their job or car or their dog. You are praying for their heart to respond in faith and humility regarding their job or car trouble or their dog. You are praying for God to protect them from the enemy, and for them to walk in truth.
In light of this, I want to give you five reasons why you should pray the Psalms.

How to Pray the Psalms

It is possible to pray through a Psalm using the themes you come across as you read, but these are five reasons to use as much of the very words of the Psalm as possible. For instance, you can pray from Psalm 86, "Teach (name) Your way, O Lord; (he/she) will walk in Your truth; unite (his/her) heart to fear Your Name." If you simply insert the person's name and some personal pronouns, you have an immediate and profound prayer for someone. Think of the last time someone asked you to pray for them. Whatever their trouble, consider the prayer from Psalm 86. It's profound: "Teach (Greg) Your way, O Lord (in and for this situation he is dealing with)..."
You can pray for yourself, but I have especially loved writing down prayers from the Psalms I can learn to pray for others. Here are five reasons you should.

5 Reasons Why You Should Pray the Psalms

 1. They are God's words

One of the best parts of praying God's Word is that they are God's words, not yours. Many times we do not realize that our words contain hidden agendas and complaints. If you use the very words you see, you can know that they are God breathed already and righteous. Jesus Himself prayed and spoke the Psalms fluently. The apostles were also saturated with them. They prayed them together and sang them together. In fact, the Psalms are used over 400 times in the New Testament. They knew that these were God-centered words because they were God-inspired words, not fleshly motivated ones.

2. They are worshipful words

The words of the Psalms take our prayers out of a gray, myopic vision of life into the colorful, expansive world of God's greatness. The very words of the Psalms reach up on their tip-toes to touch the glory of God. His deeds are wondrous and the words of the Psalms fill your mouth with His praise. Words of worship can teach your heart its place, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick" (Jer 17:9). Sometimes you don't realize just how arrogant and self-centered your words are - even in your prayers. When you pray for others, it helps you keep the right perspective.

3. They are Emotional Words

The very words of the Psalms need no help on the scale of emotion. They teach us how to pray with emotion - appropriate emotion. There is humility even in the deepest grief and in the highest joy. The words reflect a profound humanness like a realistic painting. They are songs of the heart which masterfully weave the harmony of the divine perspective with the dissonance of suffering. The Psalms carry words of despair and anger as well as words of peace and joy. The whole range of very real human emotion finds its home in the very words of the Psalms. So when you learn to say these words in your prayers for others, you learn to put yourself in their shoes.

4. They are Rational Words

Emotion, however, does not run amok in these words. They are tempered by a kind of focus in every Psalm. With clear structure, the psalmists convey clear (albeit poetic) meaning, and very purposeful questions. These timeless words are invaluable for balanced thinking and rational processing of requests and circumstances.
In Psalm 86, he says, "Make glad the soul of Your servant." And then, as if to give the reason for the request, he says, "For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul." Why? "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving kindness to all who call upon You." It's a very rational thought process, and sometimes we I need help with that. Then, I'll be more likely to stay focused when I pray for others.

5. They are Relational Words

Without a doubt, the words of these Psalms are potently written to express himself to his Creator, but not only for himself. Every Psalm is for a kind of remembrance. The stories they tell are to be remembered among a people who had been chosen by God. They were to remember His deeds. They were to remember how they should respond to God, to each other, and to enemies. In a word, to remember their relationships. These words help us remember where we came from and who we are. They help us remember who God is and to hope in His grace and mercy. They help us remember there are consequences to our actions and that relationships are hard work. It helps you be compassionate when you pray for others.
Pray these pleas and promises of faithfulness for others. Pray these godly desires and heavenly warnings with sobriety and compassion. Praying the Psalms teaches us to pray by imitation and response, and they tend to take us deeper into our own heart, even when we pray for others. We learn how to think God's thoughts when we pray this way.
Bonhoeffer once said, "The more deeply we grow into the Psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become."

Pray for your kids with the inspired words of God that David, a man after God's own heart, wrote. If we learn anything from reading through the Old Testament, we should learn that we can easily be led astray by the desires of the world. God's Word keeps us anchored to Truth.

Want the Rest of the Plan?

Click on the links below to download the complete reading plan, or just start where you'd like to jump in.

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