• A Culture of Thanks

    Practical ways to create a culture of thanks in your home.

    On New Year’s Eve 1961, Dr. W. A. Criswell stood before his congregation at the First Baptist Church Dallas, Texas, and for nearly five hours preached an epic message tracing what he called “the scarlet thread of Scripture” through every book of the Bible. With captivating authority, Criswell revealed how the theme of Christ’s blood atonement serves as a unifying motif for the entire Bible.*

    More recently, Sally Lloyd-Jones, in The Jesus Storybook Bible, has done a remarkable job highlighting this same unifying thread in a way that captures the attention of young readers. The Passover lamb in Exodus foreshadows Christ as the ultimate Passover Lamb. Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days foreshadows the burial of Christ in the tomb for three days. On and on you could go. The shadows are fascinating and numerous.

    Closely connected to this scarlet thread is the idea of thanks and remembrance—thanks for what Christ has done through His redeeming work, and remembering His work of salvation through symbols and the retelling of this grand story … particularly to children and grandchildren. This emphasis upon the telling and retelling of the scarlet thread to children is my focus here.

    Several scriptural examples will help illustrate this biblical mandate:

    Deuteronomy 6:20-22 -“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.

    Deuteronomy 11:19 – “You shall teach them to your children…”

    1 Chronicles 16:12 – “Remember the wondrous works that He has done…”

    Psalm 78:4 – “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might and the wonders He has done … that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn.”

    1 Corinthians 11:24-25 – “and when He had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”

    The mandate is clear. As parents and grandparents, we have a divine calling and obligation to pass on the oral tradition of storytelling, but not just any story. THE STORY. The story of the scarlet thread. The story of Jesus. We must remind them of what God has done. Remind them of what He has done for humanity through the cross. Then remind them of what He has done for you specifically. Tell them how Christ saved you. Share your own story with your kids. Remind them of how He provided for your family when money was low and bills were many. Remind them of how He saw you through an impossible situation.

    Then, thank Him together. Create a culture of thanks within your home by making it a habit to stop and acknowledge God, the author and provider of every good thing. Remembering and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other, because when you remember, it stirs thankfulness and gratitude in your heart. When you are grateful, you remember the source of your gratitude—who God is and what He’s done.

    Here are some practical ways to create a culture of remembrance and gratitude in your home:

    1. Place visual reminders around your home of what God has done. You might use Scripture passages or pictures of times and places where God intervened and showed off. For example, in our house we hang pictures and paintings as visual reminders of our life in Uganda where God showed off during our adoption of Alethia.
    2. Read through the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family, carefully tracing the scarlet thread through every story. Thank Jesus together for the cross and salvation.
    3. When you pray before a meal, don’t just ramble off the same words every time. Pray specifically, thanking Him for the unique ways He has provided for your family.
    4. During mealtime, go around the table and have everyone share something specific that they are thankful for.
    5. Make it a habit of sharing with your kids the unique ways that God has showed off to your family. For example, when that mystery person puts money in your mailbox at just the right time, tell your kids. Don’t keep it a secret. Help them see that it is God who is at work behind the scenes.
    6. Whenever possible, take communion together as a family and explain the imagery of the bread and juice to your children, pointing out Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.
    7. Finally, don’t miss a single week of our yearlong sermon series The Story beginning January 11 at Journey. Grab your copy of The Story and begin taking your family through the grand narrative of the Bible, helping them see the scarlet thread.

    What are some ways you create a culture of thanks in your home?

    *You can download Dr. Criswell’s entire 3-part message on his website at wacriswell.com

  • Camp KidJam 2014 Recap

    Another action-packed, Jesus-centered, camp experience for our elementary kids!

    For the sixth year in a row, Journey Kids took a group of elementary kids to Camp KidJam. Every year, both the kids and the leaders come home with fresh understanding of biblical truth and a renewed look at life. Of course, this year was no different. We traveled to Wingate University with our largest group ever, 37 kids and 8 leaders. KidJam challenged our kids with this year’s camp theme: “Move.”

    Every session, kids experienced exciting and messy games, engaging worship, entertaining stories, and an inspiring message. The verse for the week that the kids were challenged to memorize came from Philippians 3:14. “I move on toward the goal to win the prize. God has appointed me to win it. The heavenly prize is Christ Jesus himself.”

    In each session, kids were given a “Bottom Line” – a main takeaway from the message and story. This is similar to how in Uptown and throughout Journey Kids each Sunday, we impress a bottom line based on the story and small group activities. During the first morning sessions we heard the story of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in Mark 1:1-11 and John 1:19-34. The story reminded us to listen to someone who is listening to God. The final story on the last night of camp was from John 3. It focused on the story of Nicodemus and his encounter with Jesus. The Pharisee continued to ask Jesus how the things Jesus boldly claimed were even possible. Jesus responded, “We speak to what we know, and bear witness to what we’ve seen.” The story taught us to believe in who Jesus says he is.

    Kids walked away from camp, like they do every year, exhausted but with a clearer understanding of who God is and who he wants them to be. The Sunday after we returned from camp, I was talking with a mom in the hallway. I asked her if her son had fun at camp. She told me that he did have fun, but that all he wanted to talk about was what he learned while he was gone. She continued, saying that anytime she asked about camp he would get so excited to talk about how God wants him to move at home, in his school, and his neighborhood. In fact, she told me it wasn’t until two days later that he wanted to talk about the “fun” parts.

    This was another incredible year at KidJam! We know this wouldn’t have been possible without the families of the campers, the prayers of Journey, and the generosity of church members. This year more than 10 kids were able to go to camp thanks to the generosity of Journey families who felt led to send a child to camp that may not otherwise have been able to go. We are extremely excited to see what all 37 kids do with their new knowledge and how they begin to move. We are already counting down the days to KidJam 2015!

    – Joe

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  • Winning On The Weekend

    A word to Kids leaders about what it takes to be successful on Sundays at Journey. Many of these ideas can be transferred to all ministry teams who serve on Sundays at Journey.

    This training video is for Journey Kids leaders and is about what it takes to be successful on Sundays at Journey in our Kids Ministry. Many of these lessons and ideas can be transferred to all ministry teams who serve on Sundays at Journey, so we encourage all volunteers and leaders at Journey to watch and be encouraged in how to be successful in your area of service on the weekends.