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The Bitterness of Daily Faith

October 27, 2014

BitterBillyDaily faith is sometimes bitter. Jesus asks us to die every day. You died a little yesterday when you apologized to your co-worker or your spouse or your child. Today you’ll have to die again when you are mocked or passed over or trampled on, and Jesus calls you to respond with love and understanding. Tomorrow, we die again when our prayer is answered, “No.”

Following Christ is often sweet, but it’s always a killer. And the death is bitter. And yet it’s a good gift.

Every daily “death” I endure serves to pry my eyes off myself, and fit me more for loving others well. My friend Brandon Heath sings “gimmie your eyes” in one of my favorite songs of his. But that eye exchange is going to require massive surgery. It will require a long and painful recovery. There’s no other way for me to become like Christ, who endured the shame and pain of the cross for the joy set before him.

And so, I will always need reminding,

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

and…

John 16:33  – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

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Order the new all-Scripture CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs (click here)

Subscribe to our mailing list (and get free Slugs & Bugs coloring pages!) (click here)

Avoiding Parenting Clichés

October 24, 2014

Child_art_mom
Whenever I’m called on to give instruction to budding songwriters, we inevitably address the use of cliché. I  encourage them to think of a cliché as a missed opportunity to tell the truth – which is a nice way of saying, “Words matter. Don’t be lazy.”

When writing, clichés are often the first phrases that come to mind. Good writers do the work of skipping over those clichés and finding memorable details that capture their audience. As a parent, my audience is often my children, and that same brain work is important when communicating with them.

When a child hands me a blob of unrecognizable scribble and calls it a robot, I can say “That’s nice” or “great job,” and that works fine the first few times. But eventually, kids will hear the laziness behind the words, and they will recognize a hidden meaning: “This is not important to me.” (Which can feel like: “You are not important to me.”)

I don’t necessarily take their “artwork” seriously, but I always try to take my kid seriously. If they are proud, I’m proud too. You can always complement their imagination or the color choice, or, did they work hard on it? If so, it always pays to comment on their effort.

I ran across a great article in Parents Magazine on How To Praise Your Kids that addresses that in some detail. I really like a lot of this stuff… How To Praise Your Kids.

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Order the new all-Scripture CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs (click here)

Subscribe to our mailing list (and get free Slugs & Bugs coloring pages!) (click here)

How Jesus Is Teaching Me Today

October 21, 2014

pencil

This morning I didn’t have time for prayer and bible reading. In other words, I woke up in my hotel room in Columbia, SC and watched Sportscenter for 45 minutes before posting a few tweets and taking the stairs down for breakfast.

I didn’t turn to the Lord until my 90 minute drive to the airport. I spent the first 20 minutes replaying conversations from the weekend in my mind. Second-guessing certain choices, and imagining others.

Years of the daily struggle of a life of faith have taught me this. Indulging in imaginary conversations is sure evidence of spiritual neglect.

Thankfully, I was convicted about it, and it humbled me (finally), and I began to pray.

Soon, the Lord brought a verse into my head – in the voice of my friend Sally from the Scripture CD.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 4:4-8

 In other words, don’t talk to yourself. Talk to Jesus.

That’s how Jesus is teaching me today.

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Order the new all-Scripture CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs (click here)

Subscribe to our mailing list (and get free Slugs & Bugs coloring pages!) (click here)

The Three Pillars of Slugs & Bugs

October 7, 2014
As I travel around the country, I’m often asked what Slugs & Bugs is all about. For tonight’s Twitter Party, I thought I’d lay out a short outline to help our discussion!
The Three Pillars of Slugs & Bugs
Jesus
1. Who is he/what’s the big deal
2. Why he matters in my everyday life – getting dressed, making coffee, taking out the trash, working, etc.
3. How a family lives together, with Jesus.

Silliness

1. Silliness meets kids where they are, while simultaneously reminding parents who THEY are in Christ (little children).
2. Silliness presumes humility – you can’t look down on anyone when you’re being silly. It requires you to make yourself low – just like the gospel.
3. Silliness causes laughter :-) Who doesn’t need more of that?
Artistry
1. Discipleship demands it (Be Excellent – Romans 16:19)
2. Kids deserve it – we should soak our children in excellent artistry – whatever the sort.
3. Parents deserve it – if their kids enjoy the music, parents are going to have to listen to it A LOT.  Parenting is hard enough without having to endure repeated listenings of bad music. Talk about adding insult to injury! Rather, they should enjoy it so much that they are glad to hear it again.
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Briefly… The inspiration for Slugs & Bugs came from having my own children, and always feeling like a hypocrite whenever I talked about the gospel with them. Nobody knows you like your kids, and whenever I would talk about Jesus and holiness and honoring God with your life, I could hardly do it because I felt like such a fraud. Lord knows I dishonor the Lord with my behavior in many ways every day.
And then… I realized that I was going about it all wrong. Instead of trying to teach them about how Jesus wanted them to act, I began teaching them what a life walking with Jesus is like for me. And that changed everything.
Slugs & Bugs was born out of a desire to help other parents connect with their kids in the same way.  Singing silly songs right next to spiritual songs puts the gospel in its proper context, right along side every other aspect of life.
(Please pardon the formatting… wordpress is giving me fits tonight)

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Chalk Talk

September 29, 2014

As our kids grow, our mantras change.

“Use your fork, not your fingers,” morphs into “don’t talk with your mouth full” before we know it. As they continue to grow, the messages often pertain to how they treat one another.

“Treat her like you want to be treated.’

“Respect your brother.”

” You are not the family policeman.”

Las year, Amy bought a a chalkboard for our kitchen, so she could point to a message instead of having to say it over and over.

This new one was born out of trying to find a new way to say an old thing. Our kids can be hard on each other. “Please, give him a break,” is a constant refrain and reminder for extending grace. Then, the other day I was telling my son that whoever crosses your path, your first job is to love them. Those two thoughts merged and became our newest chalkboard message.  I thought I’d share it with you guys, since it seems to be helping.

chalk

If you see someone, love them. If they frustrate you, give them a break.

Talking To Your Kids about “What Love Is”

September 25, 2014

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay our lives down for our brothers and sisters.  – 1 John 3:16

This post is the 11th in a series on our new CD Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs. All the lyrics to Sing the Bible are word-for-word Scripture. I hope this series helps parents talk with their kids about each passage on the CD.

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1 John 3:16 is a great conversation starter with kids. At first glance, it seems like a simple and efficiently packaged lesson.

1. This is how you know what Love is…

2. See what Jesus did?

3. Now go and do the same.

However, we only need to remember our own horrific record of personal obedience to abandon that notion. This is no “one and done” lesson. I am still learning, so I must allow my kids the freedom to absorb and understand (and transform) at the Lord’s pace. You could start by asking them what is so special about this verse.

They’ll probably miss it, but in this passage John detonates an atomic bomb of knowledge and insight. In one short sentence, the “disciple Jesus loved” reveals one of the greatest biggest mysteries of the human race.

John lifts up the crucifixion as the definition of Love. He is also saying, “This is how to know whether or not you have love: if you lay down your life for others without regard for your own pleasure or comfort.”

This definition of love really hits home with those of us old enough to multiply and divide. Those kids (and parents) realize how impossible it really is to forget about ourselves and our wants. This is how Oswald Chambers puts it (in today’s Utmost).

Our Lord’s teaching can be summed up in this: the relationship that He demands for us is an impossible one unless He has done a super-natural work in us.

So, this verse provides a great opportunity for kids (and adults) to pray. “Lord? Have you done a supernatural work in me? Please show me by helping me love my brother and sister when I don’t want to.”

Parents, this verse gives us a great chance to level the gospel playing field between us and our children. They need to see us needing Jesus. Tell them how you struggle with this verse, and how the Lord loves others through you. You may start a conversation that lasts a lifetime.

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