When the Method Becomes the Message

It’s right to be given a job and have a required result with the work we’ve been asked to do. But we get mixed up on the result required in regards to parenting. Our parenting is a reflection of our relationship with Christ, not our child’s spiritual state. If you do certain things to ensure you are sharing Christ’s wonderful story with your children because you know Him yourself and are obeying the Lord in your responsibility, wonderful! If you do certain things to ensure your child will grow up to be saved, you’re claiming a job that wasn’t given to you and you cannot perform.

It’s super easy to fall into the ‘trust the method’ trap of parenting in our Christianity. It becomes a saving mechanism instead of an act of obedience. But a very important spiritual doctrine is imperative to keep our heads in all this. Read these verses…. I mean, really read them as pertains to your parenting:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8,9 

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

God doesn’t need your method to save your kids from their sin. You can’t train it out of them, you can’t love them out of it, you can’t preach it or guilt it out of them. It’s God’s work. But you are called to be a faithful, loving, discipling parent no matter what the results are. I’m commanded to train them up in the Lord and talk to them of the Lord when I walk by the way, when I rise up, and when I lay down. It’s pretty much the first thing on my brain when I wake up and the last as I pray myself to sleep. But nowhere am I commanded to have results. My parenting is an act of obedience before God. My child’s response to faith is between them and God. I’d love to be a big part of that introduction between child and God, but thankful that the responsibility doesn’t rest on me to make sure it happens.

How we teach and train and disciple our children in the ways of Christ is NOT the point. So many people (most that I’m friends with, perhaps) are Jesus’ faithful followers without any method used in their homes while they were growing up, yet here they are, saved and sharing Christ with their families.

I also know many people who were saved in the middle or after the child training years for their family. If one of these newly saved folks looked at most of the Christian books geared towards having godly families these days they would be overcome with disappointment. According to most articles and books they missed their chance to be godly parents. Most of the teaching is focused on younger families ‘getting it right’ from the start. But what about those who can’t do that? It most certainly can’t be about the method of baptizing and catechizing them when they are young in order to make sure they grow up to love Christ.  What a weight for these folks to carry! And might I add, that is HUGELY works-based. (I’d like to clarify and say that it’s only works based if you expect the result of salvation in your children instead of your goal being simply to obey God’s command on your own life for what you are called to do as a parent. Those are two very different things.) Nowhere in Scripture is someone else’s love of the Saviour dependant on another’s action. Remember Ephesians 2:8,9!

There’s an idea that I’ve watched take hold in the Christian community while growing up. This idea that has turned into ‘fact’ is that you get saved and then somehow you have the ability to raise your kids to avoid the pitfall of growing up unregenerate… which happens to be the most natural thing in the world. But somehow we think that based on the way we raised them and provided the right atmosphere, love, and wise guidance from Scripture they will automatically follow Christ. How you live out your life becomes a saving mechanism instead of a simple act of obedience as it was intended. Heaven help us. 

How soon we forget from whence we came. How soon we forget that it wasn’t a method that brought us to Christ, but the power of the Holy Spirit awakening our souls to His truth. I look back at my parents’ testimony and stand in awe. Two people that weren’t seeking God end up pummelled by His grace in the midst of their worldliness and godlessness. They didn’t get discipled into the family of God. They weren’t argued into it. They didn’t have parents that raised them up in catechism and family worship times. God stepped in and made all things new in their life and, BAM, nothing will ever be the same!

I barely remember life with a bar in the living room, mom being a heavy smoker, and the ball team partying at the Homeplace after games. So I grew up with parents who were transformed by the amazing grace of God living their testimonies out in front of me for almost my entire life. The Dorey household was totally different almost overnight and people sat up and took notice at the change.

I, myself was gloriously saved at a young age, then years later I started raising my own family based on all that my parents lived out in front of me, and among my own hiccups in life kind of picked up where they left off. I’m trying to pass the torch with all of my might…as if I can make my kids reach out their hand and take the torch. When they don’t want it things can feel awkward…. What do you do then? In my own fumbling way I trained them to know how to run. I trained them to know what a race is, where we are supposed to be running, how to hold the torch, how awesome the torch is… but I cannot for the life of me make them want to hold the torch. That is not something the natural man wants to do, it is a spiritual desire that has to be given.

” The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

And then there’s the fact that I’m not God, so I can’t make that happen.  And it can get crazy heavy holding out that torch when they just won’t reach out and take hold yet.

In christian circles many have gone from preaching the gospel as the power of Christ transforming a life to instead preaching certain methods of how to share the gospel. We then turn around and after years of living it and being excited about the change in our own lives, start preaching the tradition as the gospel. Big problem here; traditions and methods do not transform, Jesus does.

I recently listened to a well known speaker talk about family discipleship and raising kids and parenting. He spent a long time discussing what Christianity should look like in a home. A sort of one size fits all to a godly home… as long as you’re a young family and can do it ‘right’ from very young ages I guess it could sound encouraging… Not much was said about the fact that spiritual life is something you pray desperately for in the life of your kids and when push comes to shove, no matter how we work toward providing opportunities, we cannot depend on the method, we have to depend on Jesus to work supernaturally in their life. All else is works-based theology. Nothing of what the speaker said was bad and there was so much good advice… but it certainly left a ‘works’ taste in my mouth, and you could tell from the comments of those watching him that they were pretty confident in this method as well, some smugly so.

Increasingly there is an underlying ungodly confidence in the how-to’s. You can show up to conferences, or check out websites and podcasts online of methods being taught as if they were the gospel itself. When a speaker can spend an hour talking about catechizing your children, doing family worship, and making sure you find and adhere to a denomination’s belief, but not talk about the only hope being the saving work of Jesus, there’s a problem… the method has become the message.

In light of all this, when you come to a place where you do all the things in your ‘method’ and it doesn’t turn out like you planned but your hope was in the said method, you will despair. But, if you plug away only using your method as a tool to share the main point of Jesus being our Saviour, when your family doesn’t look like you hoped you will not despair because your hope is actually in the person of Jesus Christ, not what you were doing. And we know that He is always still at work in the circumstances and isn’t circumvented by our approach. He’s the same Jesus that saved me and my parents without any catechism or ‘family worship’ involved, and so many things being done ‘wrong’! And many of my fellow church family can say the same.

We can see from Scripture that there simply isn’t any guarantees with parenting. Read about David’s family in the Old Testament…. all the kings in Scripture and how some had beautifully godly parents and still were ungodly themselves, or many had evil parents and were God-honouring themselves. I also love thinking about how thousands of people were saved in the New Testament who were older. Think of Pentecost. All the things Jesus expected of them as a newly saved person in all their responsibilities was to introduce everyone to Jesus through their testimony now, including their older children. Jesus didn’t give any specific family instructions on what a day should look like in their homes. But he did make it clear Who we should be looking to each day.

I will say that much of the advice offered by ‘method preachers’ on different parenting issues have been a great help to us. So much good is there. Maybe even 99% goodness, but that 1% really throws things off so that many are extremely confident in their results-driven choices. They don’t know what to do with it all when the results are wonky. When it becomes apparent that each person has to come to a testing and challenging point in their lives when they meet God and say ‘thank you Jesus!’ or, ‘I’ll do it my way, thanks.’; that inevitable individual choice of whether to grab the torch for themselves and start running, or not.

A parents’ job is to live faithfully before God with what they’ve been entrusted with. And every single parent is botching it in one way, or a thousand. You don’t think you are? You’re probably one of the worst offenders to what I’m talking about! lol!

I don’t think catechism is bad. It’s fantastic done with the right mindset. But it’s horrible if they aren’t invited to the table of God’s grace and forgiveness every single day by the way you meet them in their sinfulness. It’s so easy to bring kids up to think of themselves more righteously than they ought to think when they grow up in a ‘Christian home’.

Results-driven parenting leads to action based on fear and guilt… or self-righteousness… and I’m not talking just about the parents here. That’s the fruit we see in our children as a result of this mentality, too. We may love Jesus and not realize that how we are portraying Christ to them is actually pushing them to works-based salvation that they will either embrace and live in self-righteousness or they will reject because they can clearly see the hypocrisy in it. And thankfully even then, God can and will still work however He chooses. But remember, we are striving for obedience in parenting here, not results. It’s about our relationship with Him.

If your confidence in your child’s spiritual condition is in HOW you’re training and not in the simple work of Jesus Himself, then the method has become the message to you. It’s subtle idolatry. But when your one and only method (which you can play out in a multitude of ways) is to lead your children to Jesus no matter what happens or how old they are, your confidence rests in the One you’re reaching for not how you’re reaching. May God richly bless you in your parenting journey!

~Shannon

Ready for change?

This is a perfect time to start in on the Bible Challenge if you haven’t joined us already. You are definitely missing out if you aren’t reading your bible this way!

Are you a young single gal or guy? Are you a mom, a housewife, a grandma? Are you a pastor, a teacher, a husband, a dad? Are you a skeptic who thinks people like me are crazy and need a crutch? This challenge is for you! I double dog dare you to try it.

If you have had the Bible Challenge change you, post a video on Facebook or Instagram sharing about it… or leave your story in the comment section below. Others need this and you might be the one to help them join in and start on their way to big changes!

Would a French version be helpful for your family and friends? Bam! Here ya go…

No matter what’s going on in your life… good, bad, or ugly.. this is what you need. Give it a try.

~Shannon

5 Things You Need For 2020

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We’ve been preparing for and enjoying lots of Christmas here at home. From my youngest’s artwork I share above, to cookies upon cookies on cooling racks, and wrapping a billion presents… I’m loving the thoughts of all my kids being home and together again for the first time since May. I want to relish all the Holiday season brings and pack in as much as we can to enjoy together. But while all that is happening I have the constant thought in the back of my mind that January is coming quickly and how much I’m looking forward to another fresh start. I want you to look forward to it, too!

The year 2020 is upon us and I’d love for you to join me as I embark on my New Year’s traditions for yet another year. If they hadn’t made such a big difference in my life and completely changed everything for me I wouldn’t bother continually passing on this advice over and over and over… But seriously, it’s just too good not to share. Honestly, my mind is exploding with all the things that I, my family, and friends have learned through these five things this year as we muddled along and laughed and cried together! Hopefully there will be time to share some of them here on the blog, but start in on them yourself by joining in on these simple life changing ideas and your 2020 will be different than you ever thought it would be!

5 THINGS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE THIS YEAR:

1. Take the Bible Addiction Challenge and have your life changed in ways you didn’t know was possible. Prepare yourself, though. It’s going to rock your world! Check out the Bible Reading Challenge HERE! And for a visual reminder you can print this photo off and stick it in your Bible:img_6221-2And thanks to a fabulous friend the Bible Challenge has been translated into French! Thank you so much, Krystle!!!image22. Listen to a Life changing sermon from John MacArthur that completely turned my world upside down. Not even joking. You can listen in on how John MacArthur studies his Bible HERE! I double-dog dare ya!

3. Pick out 5 topics to become an expert in. Watch for these as you study your Bible. Get yourself a cute binder and dividers and get ready to start making notes on it all as you dive into Scripture. You can become an expert on these topics faster than you ever would have imagined! Elizabeth George suggests this in her book, A Woman After God’s Own Heart. I obeyed her suggestion and it CHANGED MY LIFE!

4. Pick out a new Bible to use for 2020. Underline, highlight, write in notes… MARK IT UP!! This idea was passed on through one of our favourite Bible teachers at church, Mr. Steeves. I was hesitant to do this because I fall in love with my Bibles and ‘just know’ where everything is and they become like an appendage. But, after taking his advice I was sold. So each year I start in with a new Bible that is fresh with no marks in it and begin to devour it all over again.

5. Pick a theme word for the new year. This idea was passed on through a random blog somewhere once upon a time. Say good bye to New Year’s resolutions and hello to progress! Read up on the thoughts I shared in THIS ARTICLE.

Sound like a plan? Excited? You should be. Let’s do this! And if I don’t get back on here on the blog before the new year,… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

~Shannon

 

Spiritual Anorexia

 Is your Bible woven intricately into every area of your life? Does it consume you? Do you understand the thoughts of the Psalmist saying ‘As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you’?

That phrase used to confuse me. I’d think to myself, “I’m not desperate for my quiet time with God like a thirsty deer hunting for a stream.’ I figured the Bible teachers I’d heard mention it must be faking that feeling….

At that same time the thought confused me I was starving for help and life was getting to be way more than I could handle. I hadn’t realized yet where my nourishment came from and I was bordering on spiritual anorexia.

As my hubby says, if you’re not going to eat your spiritual food don’t complain about your hunger pains!

When was the last time you devoured your Bible? Not a Bible study book…. not a commentary… not a Christian living or devotional book… but the tried and true Word of God all on its own? … for more than 5 or 10 minutes???

We are pretty big on getting people into Scripture in these parts because many of us have experienced the awesome consequences time after time in our own lives, and we are so excited to pass on the simple advice that will change other’s lives, too!

We’ve watched as prison walls have been torn down in lives over and over. We’ve also had to watch the consequences of many who don’t love on their Bibles, too… and it ain’t pretty. Hard to witness such things, but praise God for the many who He teaches to ‘pant for the living water’ and those that are washed by the Word daily!

As you pick up your Bible today, and every day, think of these words I found in my bible study notes from a couple of years ago (I preach to myself CONSTANTLY 😅) because maybe you need this reminder, too?

Always be willing to revisit the word of God. He is constantly revealing more of himself to the christian through it. Always ask Scripture good hard questions, it can handle it. Whether you will bear it or not may be a different story. Ask God to help you handle it.

Prepare yourself to be cut and maimed and destroyed every time you open the Word. God uses it to cut away every bit of self government and reason humanly speaking, and works to bring you under the subjection of the One who holds the sword, no matter what He may say.

Always be humble enough to hear other men’s views on what those inspired pages say but wise enough to honestly sift them through the whole of Scripture to see if they are in keeping with the Word – not necessarily in keeping with what you have always understood the Word to say.

Jump into your Bible today! Expect BIG THINGS!

Haven’t heard about the Bible Challenge? Here it is in a nutshell… It’s an awesome addiction.

~Shannon

Some Favourites & My 2019 Word

So my Word for 2019 is Quiet.

I told my husband not to get too excited. Not the kind of quiet that keeps me from sharing my opinion, asking questions, or generally talking up a storm. That would take a super miraculous, end of times, kind of act of God 😅.

No, the ‘quiet’ I’m talking about is what Psalm 91 talks about. Be quiet and trust God to take care of things…. he is able. I need this word to be active and full force right now. So I’m working at memorizing this amazingly comforting chapter.

In December I had been thinking about how I wanted to jump out of the boat like Peter did and learn by doing. He headed into the crazy-hard, life threatening experience with just Jesus to look to and learned how capable God is of handling his storms and bringing quiet to a troubled soul…. then Nikki surprised me with the AMAZING piece of art by one of my favourite painters in the world!!! Gasp!

I now have a constant beautiful reminder of Gods sovereignty in my troubled waters, right here in my living room. I sneak a peek at it often each day. Glory.

I do not have Facebook but here is Holly’s Art page for you to check out. Let me know if the link doesn’t work! I’ll have to console myself if you buy all my favourites. 😉

What’s your word for 2019? Leave it in the comments!

Another new year kind of habit you can start is to become a bookworm. So often I meet up with a lady who says she’s not much of a reader. It makes me sad…. and frustrated for them. If you aren’t reading you are missing out! Be a reader! Be teachable! There are so many ideas to mull over and stretch your brain!

Fit To Burst is my latest read. FANTASTIC! My sister gave it to me for Christmas and it is a must read! 🙌🏻 Praise hands all around🙌🏻! You could finish it in an afternoon. Not a big book, but it is PACKED with goodness.

To help you on your way to become a lover of books here’s a link Charmin sent me just this morning that my husband and I are going to give a try.

2019 BOOK CHALLENGE

I’m following the directions and beginning with the light list and see how far I can get. 2018 was a challenging year for me and I only got through 13 books. 😔😔😔 But maybe this year will be different.

And last but not least. Please check out this AWESOME SERMON . I laughed out loud, wanted to wave some hankies, and contend for the faith a lot more by the time all 28 min of this message were complete!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some favourite things like in this post every couple of weeks. So if you enjoy these links make sure you ‘follow’ this site to know when more are posted!

~Shannon

One Word for 2019

It changed entire years when I started. It wasn’t like those New Year’s resolutions that you get depressed about because you fail almost as quickly as you start. This is totally different.

Some blog, somewhere long ago, gave the idea to choose a word/theme to work on for the new year in place of setting resolutions. You have a whole 365 days to learn, mull over, make progress in your word. It changed my life!

My first year with this idea I think I chose the word ‘Prepare’.  I was tired of always feeling under the gun, like I would be late, not have enough food, not have that gift ready, etc. So I began, day by day, focusing on preparation for the day ahead. I was learning to think of what would be expected of me in the next 24 hours and what I could do to best take control of my domain. I didn’t set a resolution of having every single thing prepared for every single day, or I would have felt defeated within a very short time. Instead I tweaked how I did things each day as I progressed a little at a time and created new habits both in thought and action that made my life go more smoothly as the year progressed. I learned so much without being overwhelmed! And many of the lessons I learned that year while caring for my home and family are now implemented to prepare for our conferences each fall!

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In other years the words I’ve chosen have been Simplify, Organize, Family, Surrender…. And every single one has been used by God to teach me much throughout the 12 months I’m focused on it.

My 2018 word has been Hearts. The word Hearts has been written on my little Dollar Store chalkboard sign in my kitchen since January 1st of this year. A constant reminder that all day every day I am preparing for, molding, feeding, reprimanding, cleaning for, spending time with, HEARTS.

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When my door bell rings I am meeting another heart that has just as many emotions and worldly cares as I do. When my child comes down the stairs in the morning and sits at the counter with bedhead and asks what’s for breakfast, I am looking at a fragile being that I can make or break with how I respond and speak. I’m interacting with hearts all day, every day.

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A number of times I’d catch a glimpse of my Heart sign and have immediate twinges of guilt because I had forgotten my important word and knew I had failed much. I was also thankful for the visual right there to remind me before I lost too much time. God is gracious and I have learned much this year about myself and God has been kind and not allowed me to lose my mind as I waited up many late nights for my ‘hearts’ to return home after evenings of hockey games, campfires, and random fun times with friends. This past weekend I automatically thought of all the Hearts involved as I waded through the mounds of boots and jackets and toys and food scraps from my house full of family and friends saying goodbye to some special people who will be moving soon.

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Hearts… I’ve been given a new focus for the people in my world this year. I see them differently. I have been humbled, given courage from, learned to care deeply for, and connected on a whole new level with the hearts in my world.

As you can tell from our pictures we often have a houseful. We love having our family and friends around us. I have had to let my dreams of a Pinterest style home go, and enjoy the relationships with all my people. The words that I’ve chosen over the years have all lended themselves to this same conviction that our life is about relationships. When I chose ‘Simplify’, I realized I was simplifying so that we could enjoy the right things, not the extras that weren’t eternal. When I chose ‘Organize’, life for all my people became easier and more enjoyable and we were able to include more relationships into our days. When the word was ‘Family’, I learned to focus more on my innermost circle because its super easy for me to get caught up in all the action going on around me. The ‘Surrender’ year taught me that I was selfish and need to let go of a lot of my own wishes because there were others I live with all day every day that had wishes, needs, and dreams too.

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I can’t even hope to pretend that I’ve mastered any of those areas. But since that wasn’t the point, learning was, I can walk away from those years thankful and know that I’ve grown and made some progress.

So, since this simple practice has changed my life in a bigger way than I ever expected, I want to share the idea with you. Take the month of December to think about your word for 2019. Ask God if He’s got a word already picked out for you. 😉

I’d love to know what word you decide to conquer!!!

~Shannon

Add this to your Bible Challenge!

Another Bible Challenge update for you. This time I’ve added one of my favourite and most helpful ideas to the video. You just might want to adopt it as well! 🙂

New here? Check out the previous videos to catch up:

Bible Challenge Introduction 
Bible Snippets 1
Bible Snippets 2  

Have you been trying the challenge out? I’d love to hear from you! The testimonials I’ve heard so far have been wonderful!

~Shannon

Bible Challenge Snippets 1

So excited to hear how many are jumping in to this Bible Challenge, and the difference it’s making in their lives already! Praise God for the simplicity of reading the Bible and how He works through it!!

Here’s an update for those interested, with some snippets from my conversations with Jenn (fellow Bible Addict). Feel free to watch and stay tuned for more thoughts in this journey of loving your Bible.

Here’s the link to Video Introduction to the Bible Challenge. If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ve added the poster to the bottom of this post to give you the challenge in a nutshell.

Challenge poster

~Shannon

 

 

A 2018 Challenge

Here’s something I’ve wanted to pass on for a looooong time. I just used my iPhone, and it isn’t awesome quality, but that’s not the point…. When I say this will change your life, I do not say that lightly. I hope to be sharing often this year on the blog all the ways this simple challenge has made a difference for me since I began 19 years ago. Check it out and I double-dog dare you to try it! 😉Challenge poster

 

 

~Shannon

Summer Appetites

Summer is here. And if your family is anything like mine summer can take on a life of its own. The sun is out longer and there are so many activities that can be fit into a day, and before you know it life is at a whirlwind pace.

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I’m asking all of us moms to consider taking a step back and enjoying the old fashioned kind of summer. You know, the kind that enjoys time at home with family & friends, and taking the opportunity to learn to work.

Way back, like 20 years ago, when I was watching a documentary, I heard a mom of many say that she wanted her children to love being home and so she worked hard at staying home and making it a great place to be. They didn’t run the roads or sign up for programs. They just enjoyed home. She cultivated that and created an appetite in her children to love and care for home. I think that when you are content at home you lose the need for constant gratification elsewhere. I love being home and I love it when my kids want to invite others over. Our house is full. A lot. I love it. It is exactly what I would wish. I have been thankful for that lady’s testimony many times over the years as it reminded me of that same goal in my life.

Through the summer we take ample time to sit by the pool and relax. So thankful for downtime. But summer is also when we have had the majority of time to work on our kids work ethic throughout the years. Berry picking, lawn mowing, wood stacking, yard cleanup…. so many opportunities to cultivate a love of working hard. Plus, as they get older and better at it they can work away from home and have money in the bank and learn to save, and spend wisely with ever-watchful dad & mom showing how its done. It’s not easy to cultivate the appetite for hard work in young children. There were a few days this momma just cried, and still does. It’s rough sometimes and I’m a weak and frail and a selfish human being. But there were so many more days that gave hope. On those hard days I remember Proverbs 31 says that, ‘She shall rejoice in time to come…” Not now. Now is the hard work. But in time, after we have sown many many many seeds, we reap a bountiful harvest.

So while you enjoy all the things summer is to you, remember you are creating appetites. You are sowing seeds in your children that will reap a bountiful harvest. Make sure you are sowing the right seeds so that you will be thrilled at what you see when it’s ripe and ready!!

~Shannon