Guarding Our Kids’ Hearts

enemiesIt’s amazing the lengths we will go to protect our kids.  We strap them into car seats to protect their bodies, give them bike helmets to protect their heads and slather them up with sunscreen to protect their skin.  We shop for organic food and check ingredient lists. We tell them to look both ways before they cross the street, don’t run with scissors and never ever take candy from strangers.

All good things.

The Bible, however, says that when it comes to protection, our number one concern should be our hearts.  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (NIV).  Above all else.   

Why above all else?  Because the heart is the wellspring of our lives.  Everything flows out of that.  As the New Living Translation put it, “it determines the course of your life.”  If we want our kids to have lives that honor God and bring them joy, we need to teach them to pay attention to what’s going on inside.

Of course this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our kids physically, but it does remind us that we should be teaching them to guarding their hearts with at least as much effort as we teach them to wear a helmet or buckle up.

In his book called Enemies of the Heart, Andy Stanley says, “One of the best ways to train our children to guard their hearts is by asking questions.”

According to Stanley our questions not only show our kids that the condition of their heart matters, but it shows them how to examine their own hearts to see if there are issues they need to deal with.

In the book Andy talks about a bedtime routine he established with his kids and some of the questions he used with them to begin training them to think about matters of the heart.  Here are some of the questions he lists:

  • “Is everything okay in your heart?”
  • “Are you mad at anybody?”
  • “Did anybody hurt your feelings today?”
  • “Did anybody break a promise to you today?”
  • “Is there anything you need to tell me?”
  • “Are you worried about anything?”

You can imagine how over time, asking questions like these would spark conversations that can help us get our kids thinking about the condition of their hearts and the work God wants to do there to center their lives on Him.

So give them a shot.  Try one of Andy’s questions or some of your own at bedtime tonight and see where it leads.



Worship Wednesdays

worship.PNGHave you ever worshipped together as a family?   If you haven’t, you’re missing out.   Not only do kids need to see their parents model worship , but they need a space where they can participate themselves, learn about worship and ask questions.  Plus it’s just a whole lot of fun.

That’s why I love Worship Wednesdays, our backyard family worship time.  For the past two summers, we’ve carved out Wednesday evenings as a special night for our family to sing, read the Bible and pray together.  Why summer?  Our schedule is way more flexible.   No homework, soccer games or early bedtimes.  And, it’s a perfect time to get outside.

What We Do

Now before you dismiss this idea, let me tell you, it’s way easier than you think.  You don’t have to be musical or super-spiritual to pull this off.  Although our format varies, here’s a typical family service for us:

  • Opening song
  • Share time (share a Bible verse, praise poster, etc – everyone brings something)
  • Short family devotion and prayer
  • 3-4 more songs
  • Prayer requests
  • Closing song


For our songs, I will either Google some lyric videos (ahead of time so everyone’s not waiting on me to find the next song) or print out some lyrics for us to sing acapella.  It doesn’t always sound pretty, but that’s not the point.  The point is making a big deal about God and who we are in Him.  At the beginning of the summer we come up with our play list together so the kids have a hand in choosing the music.

Here’s our current summer song list:

  • How Great Is Our God
  • Good, Good Father
  • More Precious Than Silver
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • Here I Am To Worship
  • God is So Good
  • Your Love Is Deep
  • Sanctuary
  • Jesus Loves Me

Share Time

The only rule we have for Worship Wednesdays is that everyone (including mom and dad) has to bring something to our worship time, a Bible verse, a poster with a “praise phrase,” a song or something.  We want our kids to remember that worship is not a spectator sport.


We’re currently using a family devotional called God’s Names,  a great tool to focus our thoughts on God’s character.  It’s a perfect book to inspire worship.   I read the devotional but have my daughters read the Bible verses it references so they’re playing a part.

Prayer Requests

During our prayer time we brainstorm prayer requests together.  Then everyone takes one or two of those requests, and we pray for them out loud.

Realistic Expectations

One of the things that has made Worship Wednesdays work for us is that we are super flexible with it.  Although we try to protect Wednesday nights, we can bump worship to a different night if something comes up.  If it rains or is too hot, we move inside.  If the someone has a bad attitude that night, we just roll with it.

Our first week this summer, my daughters were fighting like cats and dogs right up until worship time.  As we began, I asked them to pray for God to help them let it go and focus on Him.  Much to my surprise they did it and it worked!

The bottom line is that we try to keep it fun and flexible so it feels more like a treat than an obligation.  Though some nights are crazy, other moments are powerful and sweet, and by the end of the summer we’re sad to see it go. Not only do Worship Wednesdays help us create some of the best memories of the summer, I’m praying they’re building a habit of praise in my kids that will last a lifetime.




Book Review: Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side


Good parents make sure their kids are prepared. That’s why we obsess over car seats, bike helmets and sunscreen. It’s why we pack lunches and track down soccer gear. It’s why we spend hours driving them all over town searching for supplies for big, school projects.

We try to prepare our kids because we love them. We want to give them every advantage against the challenges life throws their way.

Yet, when it comes to our kids’ spiritual lives, how well have we prepared our children to face the future? Will they be able to handle challenges to their faith? Do they know how to answer questions and articulate what they believe and why?

If you’re not sure about the answers to those questions, you definitely need to check out an amazing new book called Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side by Natasha Crain. It’s a guide for parents to help our kids answer difficult questions about their faith.

I’ve been following Natasha’s blog for the past year and when I saw she was writing this book, I requested an advanced copy to review because I knew it was going to be awesome. I was not disappointed.

Over the course of the book, Crain tackles forty hot-button questions, grouped within five major conversations:

  • Conversations about God
  • Conversations about Truth & Worldviews
  • Conversations about Jesus
  • Conversations about the Bible
  • Conversations about Science

As our culture grows increasingly hostile towards faith, these questions will become more important than ever before. Our kids are going to need to learn to think critically and express their beliefs in a reasonable way.

Crain writes, “We have to stop winging our Christian parenting and start getting in shape to prepare our kids for what’s ahead.”

And prepare us she does. Keeping Your Kids On God’s Side covers all the big challenges to faith, including everything from the creation and evolution debate to how we know we can trust the Bible as a reliable historical manuscript.

Throughout the pages of this book, you’ll explore questions like:

  • How can Christianity claim to be the only path to God?
  • Why does a good God allow suffering?
  • What evidence is there that God created the universe?
  • How can Christians believe miracles are possible?

These are deep waters for sure, but Crain never lets it get boring. The author has a unique talent for taking deep and complex issues and putting them on a shelf that we can all reach. The chapters are concise and easily digestible. With tangible illustrations from everyday life, she makes this material so accessible that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get it.

However, I also appreciated that while Crain keeps the chapters short, she includes plenty of references and links for anyone who wants to learn more.

The fact is our culture is shifting, and we can either ignore it and let our kids flounder in a sea of skepticism or we can do what good parents do and prepare them to face the challenges that will come their way.

In twenty years of Children’s Ministry, I have never read a book I would recommend to every parent . . . until now. Buy this book. Read it. And get ready to go on an incredible journey of faith and reason with your kids.

P.S. If you’d like to read this book with a group, be sure to check out the author’s private Facebook group by March 1st where she’s going to be doing a read along with her fans and answering questions along the way.

Disclosure: As I’ve already stated, I received a free copy of this book to review, but the opinions in this review are my own. This book is fantastic!

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