Daddy Comes Home

Hopper-kids

I was honored to be a part of this incredible moment.  My friend, Rocky, had been deployed for over six months.  He has three beautiful young daughters who love their Daddy very much.  They THOUGHT Daddy wasn’t coming home for weeks.  We convinced them that we needed to shoot a video to send to him overseas.  I said, “Why not go to the airport where he’s eventually going to come home and we can show him what it is going to look like when he eventually comes home.”  The girls were all about it.

In the middle of their video shoot, Rocky, steps out of the crowd with open arms to greet them.  They were shocked!!  It was a touching moment, all caught on camera.  Enjoy this video of one of our honored military personnel coming home to his family.  As you watch it, say a prayer for all of those who are still deployed.  Pray that God will keep them safe so that they will be able to enjoy this kind of moment soon.

Powerful Video – “This Time” (Based On A True Story)

Most of you who read my blog often will know I am a huge fan of the music of John Elefante (the former lead singer of the rock group, Kansas). Having followed his career since the mid-80s, it has been a pleasure as I have become friends with him the last few years. He is an incredible musician, singer, producer – but an amazing man of God as well.

I will never forget when he sent me the original demo to the song, “This Time.” I was blown away and moved to tears when I heard the song for the first time. It was a song he had just written that chronicled the TRUE STORY of his daughter, Sami, being saved from abortion. Her thirteen year old birth mother was moments away from aborting her when she knew that God was speaking to her to “get up” and get out of that abortion clinic. God had plans for the little girl she was carrying. Thankfully, Sami’s birth mom did not go through with the abortion – and John and his wife ended up being the adoptive parents.

John has just released the official music video for the song today. Please watch this video and pass it on to others. Who knows how many young women will be moved by the message behind this video/story. If only one child is saved from being aborted as a result of this video, it will be worth it. I believe you will be moved as you watch “This Time.”

Brian-and-John-Elefante
Brian with John Elefante at his house in Nashville

Becoming A “SLAM Grandparent”

Kennedy
Anthony Kennedy (far right), his three boys, and me

Yesterday was a very cool day for my wife, Cherith, and I. It was the day we discovered we are now “SLAM Grandparents” at First NLR. We became the Kids Pastors here in 1999 – nearly 14 years ago. “SLAM” is the name of the Elementary Kids Church service we began when we got here. Yesterday, it was an honor to welcome several children into “SLAM” who belong to Anthony Kennedy, one of the kids that were in that original group.

I am about to celebrate my 14th year as Kids Pastor at First NLR. I have been blessed to minister to thousands of kids during this time. It is such a privilege to watch them grow, both physically and spiritually, and ultimately pass on that spiritual heritage to their own children.

In the time I have been at First NLR, I have friends and acquaintances that have been in three and four churches. I am thankful for a church with strong pastoral leadership, a clear vision, and dynamic spiritual health. These are the things that allow me to stay here at First NLR and receive the benefits of longevity in ministry.

In the coming months, I will be performing the wedding for one of the girls who grew up in our kids’ ministry here at First NLR. What a blessing to be able to be a part of the different seasons of life for the same children and families. While we continue to grow as God allows us to reach more and more families, I pray that Cherith and I will see the day when we become “SLAM Great-Grandparents.” (somebody please pass me my walking cane and Depends)

Book Review: “Connecting Church & Home” by Dr. Tim Kimmel

“Strong churches don’t make strong families.  Strong families make strong churches.” – Dr. Tim Kimmel

What is the center of your Family Ministry strategy?  Is it safety and protection from the dark influences of this world?  Is it reaching unchurched families through evangelism?  What drives your ministry to kids and families?

Dr. Tim Kimmel offers a one word answer in his new book, “Connecting Church & Home.” That one word:  GRACE.  Dr. Kimmel suggests that God’s grace can and should be what encompasses everything we do as a church – especially ministering to families.

Kimmel begins with the book with a challenging history of what has happened in the American church in the last 75 years.  As society has deteriorated, parents have felt more and more isolated and incapable of leading their own children on a spiritual journey.  Add to that – the church answered by raising up professional Children’s and Youth Ministers to “help” them raise their kids.  What happened more often was that the parents abdigated their responsibility to the “professionals.”

This book is challenging, but is a very encouraging read.  Kimmel offers a blue print of a “grace based parenting system.”  This is clearly defined as “treating others the way that God treats us” in every single relationship in the home.  Kimmel writes, “By making God’s grace the philosophical starting point of everything we do, we guarantee that whatever is done will be done within an authentic connection to our kids’ heart” (P. 58).

Kimmel’s strategy of “Grace Based Parenting” is broken into four dimensions:  Greatness (aiming kids at the biblical standard of greatness), Character (guiding kids through the building of godly character that will last a lifetime), Freedom (every child wants freedom; allowing the child freedom to fail, etc.), and Inner Needs (providing for the basic needs for love, security, hope, etc.).

Grace based parenting is a parenting strategy that seeks to produce heart change in the life of our kids.  This type of parenting results in kids who inwardly love Jesus and inwardly want to serve Him wholeheartedly.  Kimmel understands that if you change the heart – the outward actions will change to imitate Jesus as well.

“Connecting Church & Home” can be purchased here.

Check out this video from Dr. Tim Kimmel discussing his book:

Great Family Project: “The Christmas Prayer Chain”

Looking for a great and easy-to-do project for your family this Christmas?  My wife, Cherith, started this Christmas tradition in our family when my kids were just babies.  It has meant a lot to our family, and I hope you will find it meaningful as well.

What you need:

25 strips of construction paper (approx 2 inches wide and six inches long); a sharpie marker; glue

What to do:

1)  Prior to Dec. 1st, gather your kids together and take turns naming the name of someone the family will pray for (friends, family, pastors, teachers, and others)

2)  Write one name on each strip of construction paper, then glue each strip together end-to-end, linking each to make a long paper chain (see graphic above).

3)  Place the Christmas Prayer Chain on the mantle or on the Christmas Tree

4)  Starting Dec. 1st, gather the family together to remove one link of the chain and pray together for the person listed on that link.

5)  This is a wonderful way to countdown the days until Christmas and have meaningful family prayer time.

May you and your family enjoy your Christmas holiday!