Author: Shawn Dunn

Four Back-To-School Tips for Families

It’s that time of year again – back to school. It’s time for new shoes and backpacks filled with sharpened pencils and glue sticks. Sports are starting back up and routines set the pace for the day. Some families are dreading the month of August. For others, it feels like this truly is the “most wonderful time of the year.”

For our family, back to school really means back to the basics. Summer is great with its laid back schedule and unending supply of popsicles. But we can’t live on kool-aid alone. So as our family prepares for a new school year, we try to keep a few simple things in mind as we head back into structured routines.

HERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE THINGS WE DO AS WE HEAD INTO THE FALL SEMESTER –

  1. Family is always first // Before we commit to a new activity, we try to evaluate each person’s activities. We ask the question – can the entire family commit to the activity and support each other? We want to be each other’s biggest fans, so we try to make sure we aren’t too maxed out with activities. We don’t want those good ideas and new activities to become heavy burdens. We look at the overarching schedule and include family fun times, date nights for mom and dad and activities for the kids. Then we choose our commitments wisely. We try to do this altogether and, as a family, decide what things we can do and what we can’t. If everyone agrees on the schedule in the beginning, it’s easier to push through later on in the year.
  2. Devotionals are a priority // Our family devotionals aren’t fancy. We sit around the table and they look different each day. Usually we share what we’re thankful for between gulps of orange juice and bites of cereal. Sometimes we share how we can pray for each other. Other days we read certain passages from the Bible. For us, devotionals are about getting a little focused time as a family where we commit our day to the Lord before we go our separate ways. We declare that we will follow Jesus and support one another. We don’t shoot for perfection, but consistency. This helps us stay unified and reminds us who we are as a family unit.
  3. Nightly check-ins are important // This often happens around the dinner table. We share the best and worst parts of our day, or we share something that we think no one else knows yet. Sometimes check-ins happen in the car on the way to an activity. We ask questions like, “who’d you sit by at lunch?” or “Who did you play with on the playground?” We then ask what they talked about or what game they played. We also make sure to go into each kid’s room at bedtime and chat for a second, looking for an open window into their hearts where they feel safe to share. We try to prioritize this as we’re often tired, but we never regret taking those few moments to ask focused questions that give us insight into their private world.
  4. Pray together // We try to make sure we have a set time during our day to pray together for our kids. It’s not often a very long prayer time, but it’s focused solely on our kids and family. If you’re a single parent, look for a friend that will pray with you for your kids. Praying with someone else really gives us courage to believe the best and helps us trust God with our children’s lives.

No matter how you feel about the start of school, doing a few simple things to prepare will help you start off on the right foot!

By Shawn and Connie Dunn

Shawn serves with our Kids Ministry as one of our pastors. He and Connie have three kids.

Find Water

When I lived in Indonesia, I ran across a group of Indonesians who had a desire to share the gospel with anyone they met. They were really excited and always carried a backpack with a Bible inside and something else – a bathing suit! Their theory was that when we find someone who is ready to believe, the next step is Baptism. So, they needed to always be ready to “find water” because often in the Bible salvation is followed quickly with baptism.

SALVATION IS THE HEART RESPONSE TO GOD.

It is a personal decision between God and a man, woman or child!  But baptism is the act of going public with your faith. Water baptism for an Indonesian, and I believe for many others in the world, isn’t a small decision. Baptism is the “line” that many Indonesians will come up to but not cross because they know this is when they aren’t just keeping their faith to themselves anymore. By the act of baptism, they are proclaiming to family, friends and strangers that they are a follower of Jesus. They are “all in.”

In the Book of Acts there is an Ethiopian man that believes. Philip, the apostle, finds this man trying to figure out what the Bible is saying and who is this Savior he is reading about. Philip explains to him about Jesus and the man wholeheartedly believes. As they travel the man sees a body of water and says, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” Philip baptizes him right then – hours, maybe even minutes after salvation.

But did he know the Roman road salvation plan?

He hadn’t even heard a Billy Graham sermon.

He probably didn’t even know the 10 Commandments at this point. And he probably couldn’t tell you more than a couple of stories in the Bible.

BUT HE BELIEVED, AND HE WANTED TO MAKE IT KNOWN.

So, he got baptized.

I work with kids and they have all kinds of thoughts about baptism. I’m sure some of us have the same thoughts, but don’t say anything for fear of being wrong. Below are some of the reasons kids have thought you get baptized:

  1. “The water washes off all your sins.”
  2. “God cleans your heart when you go under the water.”
  3. “The water is magic water and helps you to never ever sin again.”

Often kids think baptism is the time when your sins are wiped away. So, I get to talk to them about the moment they believed.  We talk about where they were and what they felt when they prayed to receive Jesus. At that point, their sins were forgiven, and they began a relationship with Jesus. They are forgiven by God for all their sin, and we talk about how amazing forgiveness is. We talk about how everyone doesn’t know about what God has done in their life, but baptism gives them the opportunity to let others know.

BAPTISM IS AN OUTWARD SIGN OF AN INNER CHANGE.

We go in the water to show people that we were full of sin. But then we met Jesus and die to our old way of life. When we come up from the water, we show everyone what has happened to us on the inside – we have become a new creation.

So, we find water when we find Jesus so everyone else can see what God has done and perhaps find Him themselves!

If you are interested in getting baptized at our Baptism Bash on May 20th, sign up here!

By Shawn Dunn – Kids Pastor