Coming This February

Here’s a quick look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate over the next few weeks:

February 2nd – Toddlers through 4th grade will discover God’s power and goodness as Jesus heals the servant of a Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). The lesson’s take-home point is: “With Jesus, all things are possible.” Club 56 kids will discuss the question: “How does God’s peace help me?” – Understanding that when we let go of worry and trust God, we can enjoy God’s peace regardless of our circumstances.

February 9th – Toddlers through 4th grade will learn how Jesus showed incredible love and forgiveness to a Samaritan women and revealed to her amazing truth (John 4:1-42). The lesson’s take-home point will be: “God wants us to love everyone.” Club 56 kids will talk about the question: “Who or how should I center my life around Jesus?” – Understanding that when you redesign your life, you place place God in the center of everything you do.

February 16th – Toddlers through 4th grade will hear the amazing story of how Jesus feed over 5,000 hungry people with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15). The lesson’s take-home point will be: “God wants us to share what we have.” Club 56 kids will look into “Why should I worry about who or what influences me?” – Understanding that temptations from influences in our everyday life disrupt us from staying connected to God.

February 23rd – Toddler through 4th grade will tread the high seas as we set sail with the disciples and see Jesus walk on water in the midst of a storm (Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56; John 6:16-24). The lesson’s take-home point will be: “Trust in Jesus one step at a time.” Club 56 kids will discuss “Why do I need to be careful what I watch?” – Understanding how TV and Movies can increase how temptation and sin can sneak into our lives.

Modeling an Imperfect Faith for My Kids

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

The ups and downs of parenting can have the same effect as being car sick. For those of you who haven’t experienced this particular side effect, let me assure you that feeling nauseated to the point of… well you know, isn’t a picnic. Parenting can be like that sometimes. Family life seems to be going along smoothly when all of the sudden you’re trapped in the house with kids from The Lord of Flies. At such times, dealing with negative behaviors seems to dominate my attention and my focus. Phrases such as, “Stop that”, “put that down”, “take a time out”, or “now you did it” are all that come out of my mouth for days at a time. I find myself caught in a cycle of grumpiness and am at a loss for how to help my kids see life through the lens of Christ’s love.

After experiencing this pattern recently, I realized my energy was misplaced. I was so focused on the negative behaviors, I had missed the bigger picture. I forgot about my primary calling as a parent, which should not be about targeting the fruit of my kids’ behaviors but the root. I placed my full attention on judging their actions and forgot to search for the sources of these behaviors. I also realized I was doing the same to myself. I had somehow internalized that I was failing as a parent if my kids were misbehaving, so I had all my attention on trying to problem solve the behaviors that popped up, like playing a game of Whack a Mole. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit revealed my misguided approach and reminded me how God had showed me love when I hadn’t deserve it and how He had applied mercy instead of consequence. Once again, I had missed that whole faith and love part of following God in my parenting. When I realized how much I loved God for not condemning me but instead lovingly helping and equipping me to be more like Him, I was truly convicted about my behavior as a parent. Being a good parent really begins with modeling my faith in Jesus through God’s transforming love working in my life and through my parenting.

Being imperfect as a parent actually opens the door for kids to be free from the tyranny of living up to unachievable expectations and, instead, points them directly to God. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, any person, child or adult, would fail miserably, but through His help, we begin to bear fruit that reflects God. My favorite of all the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5 is self-control. So, I’m eager to change my focus from behaviors, towards showing my kids an authentic faith marked with flaws but full of love. Authentic faith is centered on being open about our failings, accepting others where they are at, training them, encouraging them, and cheering for them when they get it right.

Resolutions of an Imperfect Parent

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

Now that I’ve been a parent for over 11 years, I’m confident I don’t know that much about parenting. Ironically, before my first child was born, I thought I would be a much better parent than my own parents. But looking back on the years now, I can see the reality is I am an imperfect parent but with good intentions. My good intentions have turned into mistakes not because I was wrong about them but because I misapplied them.

This realization was very discouraging. Here I was, a children’s pastor with a desire for kids to grow in their faith, yet I was without any clear idea how to develop it in my own home. Our kids had little experience with adults worshipping outside their leaders in Heroes Gate. Added to that were the constant battles in which our children pointed out each other’s faults without taking into account their own. We became referees to petty arguments centering on who did or didn’t do something, making our home a culture of Me rather than Us.

Through it all, I realized I couldn’t parent each child the same. Each child has his or her own unique personality and experience which means consequences that worked for one child had little to no effect on another. However, the kids expected everything to be equal without any understanding that equal is not always just or fair.

My wife and I knew we needed a resolution around parenting, so we spent time in prayer and asked friends what they did as parents. One thing became clear: We weren’t bad parents. We were parents without a vision. What we needed was a picture of our kids as adults. So we began to ask ourselves and God the following questions:

• What do we want our child’s character to be like as an adult?
• What do we hope our child’s faith will be like as an adult?
• What does God want for our children as adults?

As we pondered these questions, a picture for each child’s future began to materialize. God revealed many things about our kids and ourselves and made it clear we needed to give over to Him any expectations regarding our children’s careers and living near home. We chose to entrust our kids to God, having confidence that He loves them far more than we ever could. This was probably the toughest part of the process, yet our children’s futures were tied to our willingness to trust God fully.

God continues to challenge my wife and me to not only grow our own faith but to include our children in the process. We’ve opened up our hearts to our kids and invited them to pray with us, to worship together as a family, and to open the Bible together when dealing with issues, behaviors, or character problems. We continue to pray for God to reveal what is needed for each child.

Our kids have grown in their faith, yet they are still kids. They are still developing and far from perfect, and so are we. But through it all, our family has grown more intimate and connected. I’d love to tell you we are intentional all the time, but life catches up with us, and we have to reset our intentional mode more often than not. Thankfully, God is able to help us do that through His Holy Spirit.

When we turned to God and entrusted our kids to Him, He gave us a vision which continues to steer our decisions and gives us direction. This doesn’t guarantee a child will turn out perfect, but helps us to ensure that our children experience love as we model authentic faith through the ups and downs. Trusting children to God equips us to love them regardless of the choices they make through God’s endless supply of self-sacrificial agape-love.

What Makes My Child Tick?

Love Languages
By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor
Woodland Hills Church

I have been a mother for 22 years now. In my years of “mothering” my children, I have been constantly changing, seeking, and learning. Trying to be the best mom that I could be has always been a goal. Some days have been great, while others wound up feeling like dismal failures. Over the years, I have found that when trying to build a relationship with my child, or anyone for that matter, it is very helpful to have tools to figure out what makes them tick. What matters to them? How can I show them I love them? What do I say or what actions of mine will help my child become the adult I would like them to be? A book I have loved and used over and over in my parenting is The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.

The premise of The 5 Love Languages of Children book is that if you build a foundation of unconditional love (agape) with your child by helping him/her feel loved in a way that he/she understands. In order to do this, you need to watch and study your child. As he/she grows and learns, ask questions in order to see what two Love Languages he/she is exhibiting at that time. Keep in mind that because we are always learning and growing, the Love Language can change.

The Five Love Languages are:
1. Physical Touch- Hugs and kisses, a dad tossing his child in the air, a mom reading with her child on her lap, wrestling or spinning a child around are all examples of physical touch.

2. Words of Affirmation- Words of affection, praise, endearment and encouragement stick with a child for a long time. Likewise, cutting words do not leave a child for a long time, so words must be chosen carefully.

3. Quality Time- What really makes a quality time individual feel loved is undivided attention. This can be 15 minutes or a few hours, but time spent with him/her is what will make him/her feel loved.

4. Gifts- This one can appear tricky because it can seem materialistic. The key to showing love to an individual who is a gifts person is not the amount spent on the gift or even the size but the meaning behind the gift. The gift must be given to show “heart felt love” and shows he/she is known and loved, such as the gift of a new set of coloring pencils for the child who loves to draw for hours.

5. Acts of Service- Show a child love by serving him/her and doing for him/her things he/she is unable to do on his/her own. Model the concept of serving others with the hope that as your child grows into adult, he/she will do the same for others.

I highly recommend the 5 Love Languages series of books. They have helped me to be a better mother, a better friend, and show love to those around me. I encourage you to check out the book.

Coming This January

Here’s a quick look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate over the next few weeks:

January 5th (this past Sunday) – Toddlers through 4th grade met Simeon and Anna and discovered how this pair of elderly God-followers’ patience and faith was rewarded when they got to meet young Jesus.  The lesson’s take-home point was: “Don’t give up on God.” Club 56 kids discussed the question: “What does it mean to be transformed?”

January 12th – Toddlers through 4th grade will learn of Joseph and Mary’s trust in God as they followed His leading and escaped with young Jesus to Egypt.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “You can trust God to do what’s best for you.” Club 56 kids will talk about the question: “Am I important to God?”

January 19th – Toddlers through 4th grade will hear the amazing story of Jesus’ baptism and His triumph over temptation in the desert.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “God is stronger than anything.” Club 56 kids will look into “How can God transform me” during their time.

January 26th – Toddler through 4th grade will be introduced to the 12 young men Jesus chose to become His special disciples.  The lesson’s take-home point will be: “Jesus wants all of us to follow Him.” Club 56 kids will discuss “How can following Jesus give us meaning and purpose?”