Following Jesus (email 4-26-2012)


As parents the best way to pass the faith on to our kids, is to be followers of Jesus ourselves. Jesus promises in Matthew 11 that he will make our burden light as we learn to follow him.

Play “Follow the Leader” and “Simon Says” with your kids. Use these games to talk about following Jesus.

Learn to follow Jesus by spending time in His Word.

How to Lead by Following

A reading from I am a Follower by Leonard Sweet

   What does this dancing guy on a hillside have to do with following Jesus? A lot more than you think.
   Take a look at what’s happening here in this moving parable. Look closer. Remind you a little of that crowd on the hillside passing out loaves and fishes? Jesus set the story in motion, but his disciples passed the food. If they hadn’t, the crowd wouldn’t have eaten—or been fed.
   Like all life’s decisions, dances begin with a motion, then someone passes the motion, and the motion goes forward with a yes from all. The way of the dance may start with an unconventional and unique way of moving. But the truth is, without someone to stand up and join in—to be a “first follower”—no true dance is born.
   If dancing is your life, then whose beat do you feel moving with the rhythms of your body? First followers feel the Jesus way, share the Jesus truth, and live the Jesus life. And they pass the Jesus dance on to others.
   So who is that first follower? Who is that risk taker willing to stand beside that unexpected innovator and be a dancing fool? Would it be you? Would you lay down your coat and get up and dance for Jesus? In front of everybody else? Knowing you’d be following a way of living different from everyone else, knowing you’d be taking on a new identity as a mover and a shaker, knowing your newest friend may well alienate you from the rest? A first follower is a way paver, a true disciple, and a life sharer. A first follower chooses a way to go even when no one else is going there. A first follower recognizes the truth even when no one sees the beauty of an ordinary dance. A first follower knows that to dance from the soul means to embody the dance itself.
   We are the followers. He is the dance. Feel the rhythm, pass the motion, make some music. Get up and dance.  (I Am A Follower, pp. 3-4)

Be the First Follower

Passing on the faith to our children means we need to be the ‘First Followers.’ We are the guy or gal who joins the dance when no one else has joined—and by doing so our children and others will join the dance, and become followers as well.

Being the first follower takes courage—but its worth it! Eternally worth it.

______________________________________________________________

Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an
email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as
they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage
others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families”
to 22828 or go to www.familiesinfaith.org 

Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich


Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2012, all rights reserved

Leave a Comment…Share Your Thoughts

Debunking a cultural myth (email 4/19/2012)

  • Do parents lose their influence as their kids get older?
  • Can parents shape the religious lives and attitudes of their children?
  • –Or, is that something that everyone has to choose for themselves?
  • Should parents should “stay out of it” and let children choose their own path?

Our culture tells us that parents should ‘stay out of it’ and let children choose their own path. Even the popular TV show Mike and Molly make such claims. Is that true? Should parents ‘stay out of it’? If we stay out of it, why should we think that things will work out the way we want them to?

here’s the Mike and Molly Video Clip (discussed in Joel’s video)

Are you the second Generation?

A study conducted in 1980 called “Young Adolescents and Their Parents” surveyed 8000 young Americans. They found that only 10% of church families discussed faith with any regularity. A whopping 43% NEVER talked about God at home.

Chances are you grew up in this era. Which means you did not grow up with the model of faith development at home. You probably didn’t have family devotions on a regular basis. You probably didn’t pray too often with your family, and you probably didn’t read the Bible at home.

It is not surprising therefore to see the next generation—today’s parents—not know what to do when it comes to faith at home. We were raised to believe that at church is where matters of God and faith happen. The role of moms and dads was to get their kids to church and in church programs. It only made sense then that churches grew their programs for kids, youth, and young adults.

Mark Holmen in his book Impress Faith on Your Kids, says, “I do not believe we have bad parents today. I don’t think you want to be a bad parent. Yet when it comes to doing what we need to do to lead our kids to life, through faith in Christ, I don’t think parents have any idea how important their actions and behaviors are.” (page 35)

There is good news and bad news in that thought. As parents we have the influence – good news! But we get what we are – nerve racking news.

If we want our kids to live for Jesus—loving Him with all of their heart, and loving others as they love themselves…. —well, then, that’s exactly what we need to be.

  • If you want your child to read the Bible more – then you need to read the Bible more
  • If you want your child to pray more – then you need to pray more
  • If you want your child to show compassion and mercy – then you need to show compassion and mercy
  • If you want God to be number one in your child’s life – then God needs to be number one in your life.
  • The opposite is also true… if you want your kids to have a shallow faith, a faith that doesn’t impact or inform their lives, a faith that crumbles under pressure and is easily swayed… then be that way yourself.
  • Want to know what you will get from your kids? Look in the mirror, and that will likely be an accurate predictor.

Quotes on parental influence

“Your home is the single most powerful arena on earth to change a life for God.”

Bruce Wilkinson – The Prayer of Jabez – page 32

“The Bible is unmistakably clear that it is the parents’ job to disciple their children.”

 Steve Wright – Rethink – page 146

“All of the different approaches to studying parental influences in the religious socialization pro­cess converge on a single conclu­sion: Parents play an extremely important role in the developing religious attitudes and practices of their offspring. In fact, few re­searchers would quarrel with the conclusion that parents are the most important influence in this regard.”

 Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsberger – Amazing Conversions – page 226

“The responsibility for raising spiritual champions, according to the Bible, belongs to the parents. The spiritual nurture of children is supposed to take place in the home. Organizations and people from outside the home might support those efforts, but the responsibility is squarely laid at the feet of the family. This is not a job for specialists. It is a job for parents.”

George Barna – Revolutionary Parenting – pages 11-12

______________________________________________________________

Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families” to 22828 or go to www.familiesinfaith.org 

  Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich


Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2012, all rights reserved

LEAVE A COMMENT…Share Your Thoughts

M&Ms and Jesus (email 4/12/2012)


Sharing Jesus with our kids can be done in many different ways. Some times the best way is using everyday things to connect to Jesus. Take M&Ms for example…

M&Ms are great for this one—with a little creativity you can tell the story of Easter and Jesus using a bag of M&Ms. Try this idea out today – AND let this be an example and motivator to come up with your own ideas for using everyday things to teach your children about Jesus.

Download the poem “Easter’s Sweet Story” by Joel Dietrich here.

Easter’s Sweet Story

— by Dr. Joel Dietrich

These candies tell a story, the best you will hear
About Jesus – His death so we could draw near

Notice the colors all 6 in our story
Telling of Jesus – His death, life and glory

The letter is more than what you might see
Turn it over to see an M, W, 3 and ELet’s start with brown the color of the cross
To which Jesus was nailed – where his life was lostThe red for His blood shed on Calvary
For your sins and mine that we might be freeThe M stands for Messiah who died in our place
Forgiving our sins through the gift of God’s Grace

The 3 counts the days Jesus spent in the grave
Refusing to stay, He rises to save

The E stands for Easter and God’s Eternal Plan
God brought us salvation by the death of one Man.

The Yellow and Orange tell of Easter’s sunrise
New life and it’s freedom replacing the cries

Green shows new life as clearly as Spring
That comes with the promise of the resurrected King

Blue is for Baptism’s claim of new life
Conquering sin with all of its strife

The W is for Worship and worthy is He
Of praise, adoration, submission, and glee

Finish the story with the candy’s sweet taste
Feeling God’s love and holy embrace

Web Links and Other Ideas

Teach like Jesus taught – from kid’s ministry ideas

Christian Object Lessons – from creative Bible Study.com

Erika Dawson – Christian Blogger with ideas for Families

Digital Kids Initiative –
All things dealing with raising kids who are digital natives. Ideas, stats, articles, sharing and more.

______________________________________________________________

Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families” to 22828 or go to www.familiesinfaith.org 

  Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich


Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2012, all rights reserved

M&Ms and Jesus


A great way to pass the faith on to your children is to tell the story of Jesus using everyday items.  Here is a poem written to teach the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection using a bag of M&Ms.  Give it a try today –

Also please post any ideas you’ve heard of or tried at home that use everyday objects to teach a lesson.  We could all use some ideas for bringing God into our everyday lives.

M&M poem  Click here to download PDF of poem

Leave a Comment – Share Your Thoughts

Easter Traditions 4/5/2012


Easter is the celebration of the most important event in the history of the world – the resurrection of Jesus. Many of the traditions associated with Easter have pagan backgrounds but that does not mean we cannot use them to point to Jesus and His resurrection.

Develop Easter traditions in your home with your family that celebrate the gift of God’s Son, and His compassion and humility of dying on the cross and rising again. Keep the resurrection and the new life won by Christ as the center and focus of your celebration.

A Touching Easter Story

— Read it – you won’t regret it!

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher. One day, she called his parents to come to St. Theresa’s for a consultation. As the Forresters sat quietly in the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’ t have learning problems. Why, there is a five-year gap between his age and that of the other students!”

Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke. “Miss Miller,” he said, “there is no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.”

Doris sat for a long time after they left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul. She wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying?

As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family! Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy!”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N-now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically – all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises.

Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents and explain the project to them. That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord and waited an hour for him to come by and unclog it. After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground we know that Spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arm. “That’s my egg Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!”

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too, showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My Daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents! Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy – your egg is empty!” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh yes!” Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see 19 eggs on top of his casket, all of them empty.

Web Links and Other Ideas

 Fun Facts about Easter Candy

The first chocolate eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th century and remain among the most popular treats associated with Easter.

90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made for Easter each year.

16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter. Each day, five million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for Easter.

Easter is the second top-selling confectionery holiday behind only Halloween.

88 percent of adults carry on the Easter tradition of creating Easter baskets for their kids.

76 percent of people eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.

Red jelly beans are kids’ favorite.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest Easter egg ever made was just over 25-ft high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 lbs. and was supported by an internal steel frame.

More Easter links…

Hot Cross Bun – History and Recipe

Easter at Home 2012– blog with family devotion ideas for Easter at home

Home School Ideas – 12 activities to teach Easter and Holy Week at Home

______________________________________________________________

Families in Faith is a Free email resource.  We will send an email every week offering tips, suggestions, training, and encouragement to parents as they work to pass the faith on to their children.

Please share this email with others.  You can also encourage others to sign up for Families in Faith online by having them text the word “families” to 22828 or go to www.familiesinfaith.org 

  Created by Dr. Joel Dietrich
Minister to Families and Children
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
8304 Old Keene Mill Rd  –  Springfield, VA  22152

©2012, all rights reserved