"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children." Deuteronomy 6:4-7 

Fitting In

  • By Zach Hoffman
  • 13 Jul, 2017

Making our homes into a holy shelter...

It might be one of the hardest moments that you will have to witness as a parent.

Of course, it had been coming for some time now. Your child was always different from the other kids. It almost sounds cliché to say it, but your child was always different . Maybe not special or gifted to any greater or lesser degree than any of the other children...

She had a sense of humor like all the rest…

He could demonstrate confidence when needed…

Sometimes she would be the one on the playground leading a pack of other kids…

Still, your child was always just… more vulnerable than the others.

Now his head is down, and he won’t lift it up to look at you. He is not speaking. Normally he finds it difficult to be silent. You’ve never seen that reaction before.

Now, you are holding her in your arms after a miserable day. Her tears soak your shirt, and you hold her tight.

You long for the early days when a mere hug and a good cry could set almost anything right. They tell you how no one would pick them for the team. No one would sit with them at lunch. Yesterday’s friends acted like complete strangers today to your child.

What do you do now? Assure them that their best friend who has been sick for the last week should be back in school soon? Tell them next year summer camp will be better? Give them some pointers to improve their social skills?

First, know there is hope. I used to do youth ministry, and now, I serve as the sole pastor of Good Shepherd. I have seen a lot of youth who have gone through heartbreaking periods of loneliness. Perhaps, they had friends that turned against them. Maybe it was a crisis point in a years’ long struggle to find their place. Often times, this clarifies what friendship is, and what they should seek in friends; as well as what friends are seeking in them. In the more painful moments, they simply need you not solutions.  

Remember who you are in these times. You are called to do the holy work of parenting.  


Christ will not abandon you in the crucial moment.

 As a parent, you are serving in the  most vital role in his kingdom. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Perhaps, we feel our own distance from scripture when we see the customary “nice Bible verse” placed in the “nice blog post." But take a moment, to grasp this promise. (Go ahead! The rest of this post will still be there!) You are his workmanship, and Christ is renewing you according to his design.

Those flaws or shortcomings that you feel in this moment might be real, but so is the Spirit who dwells in you.


Secondly, continue the work of making your home into a "little church." We live lives of worship as we serve and pray without ceasing, but the home is especially sacred. This is where the genuine tears can flow before God. It is where we can share burdens and pray for each other most earnestly. It is also where we can renew our confidence in our identity and our place.

This is more than just high-minded theology speaking-this is personal experience. My house was an anchor, because it was a place where I knew I could speak to God. It was the place where I did most of the work of sorting out my identity as a baptized child of God. It was a shelter against the cruelties of childhood. It was a place where I could dive into God’s Word. It was a little church, and it saved me more than once. 

Perhaps, the best thing you can do right away, is fold your hands and show them how one can bear their heart before God. Their pain is your pain. Their hurt is your hurt. Speak that hurt to Christ, and provide a reassuring example of prayer. Pray with the boldness of one who knows that God is even eager to hear your complaints.



There is not one child who does not fit in with Christ. He took on flesh for all. Died for all. Rose for all. Not in a generic way, but he himself knows the awkward stages of growing up. He knows the name of each of the Father’s children, because they have been a part of his creation since before the world began. He thought of each of their names as he died. He rose filled with joy, because he could not wait until your children had the opportunity to be baptized. He has come to bring hope into their lives and ours. 

He did it all for them, just as he did it all for you.

Most of all, we need to remind them of this: “In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

May our homes be shelters and living breathing reminders of the greater reality that is to come: One day we’ll all fit in, because Christ has made room for every one of us.

Impressed

By Zach Hoffman 26 Dec, 2017
I am very excited to announce that beginning on January 7th we will have a new opportunity for fellowship for our parents and grandparents! It is called the "Parent Connection".  This group will meet Sundays at 9:45 in the conference room across from the church office. They will cover a range of parenting topics. These classes will be led by Doug Koschel. 

Doug is kind of new to our church, but he was kind enough to answer some questions I sent his way about the class, and below are his answers. (Oh...you noticed this blog is doing interviews now? Yeah. We're cool like that.)  


By Zach Hoffman 06 Dec, 2017
Just in time for all of those extra church services a program that makes some practical suggestions for how to help your children engage with the sermon. Follow the link to hear a recent episode of KFUO's Faith and Family Program. Give it a listen! 

https://kfuo.org/2017/11/28/faf-112817-active-sermon-listening-for-kids/?utm_content=bufferaceb0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer
By Zach Hoffman 20 Nov, 2017
Let's try five days of Thanksgiving together. This will take us into Black Friday, but while you are waiting outside of Best Buy at 4am you can check out the last devotion of this series! 

This time there are videos and a passage to look over. After watching you can ask: 

Did I/we learn anything new? 
How does this apply to my life? 
How does this help me to keep my eyes on Jesus today? 

I am hoping to have some conversation with you either in the comments on this blog or on the Facebook post. I hope these are helpful, and as always, I am praying for you! 

I have posted the link for each day below:

Day 1: 
 https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3363-giving-thanks-video-devotions-from-your-time-grace/day/1

Day 2: 
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3363-giving-thanks-video-devotions-from-your-time-grace/day/2  

Day 3: 
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3363-giving-thanks-video-devotions-from-your-time-grace/day/3  

Day 4: 
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3363-giving-thanks-video-devotions-from-your-time-grace/day/4  

Day 5: 
https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3363-giving-thanks-video-devotions-from-your-time-grace/day/5
By Zach Hoffman 15 Nov, 2017
Photo by David Straight on Unsplash
By Zach Hoffman 25 Oct, 2017
Here is a fun to way to share the story of Martin Luther with your children!
By Zach Hoffman 24 Oct, 2017

It is interesting how we look back through history to find the exact moment that something significant and world-changing happened. There is no clearer example of this than that fateful evening Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

God had been building these ideas in Luther for some time before this seminal moment.

 Luther was going to become a lawyer, but he was literally thrown off course. He found himself in the middle of a life-threatening lightning storm in 1505. He prayed: “Help me St. Ann! I will become a monk!” He kept his word, and became a monk upon surviving the storm.

In 1510, he visited Rome and saw first-hand the corruption that had run rampant throughout the Catholic Church.

Afterwards, he lectured on books of the Bible as a professor at Wittenberg. He had made his way through Romans and Galatians where he said things like this:

By Zach Hoffman 11 Oct, 2017

A couple weeks ago, both of our daughters had trouble going to sleep. Tracie and I were watching Monday Night Football when they both came out and complained: “We can’t sleep.” (Insomnia is apparently contagious.) We had already sent them back to bed a few times that evening so we decided to have them lay down in the living room while we watched football.

They were both awake as the game was just beginning. Sometime before or after the national anthem there was a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas. Tracie and I both looked at each and waited for the inevitable question to be asked. There was a tense silence for a few minutes.

And … nothing happened. Whew!

Neither of us were ready at that moment to answer questions about the nature of life and death from a pair of frightened and confused children.
By Zach Hoffman 10 Oct, 2017
Last month we had a 7-day challenge to read through a series of devotions titled: "Parenting Under Pressure". Now we're really going to stretch you! I hope you're ready. We're going to do...wait for it... an 8 day reading challenge! 

Below is a link to begin a reading plan that will take you through the book of Romans at two chapters a day. You can download the YouVersion app (it's free and all you need is a password) or you can simply book mark your bible and read two chapters a day!   

To download YouVersion:  https://www.youversion.com/apps
To begin the Romans reading plan:  https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/90-romans


By Zach Hoffman 12 Sep, 2017

Last night was a bit scary. We felt our house shake a couple times as the wind ripped through North Georgia! Things seemed to have calmed down, but there are many places without power. This means that many places are closed- especially school!

Today I am working from home. I don’t mean to brag, but we are fortunate to have both power and WiFi. Maybe you are at home today too, and if you are, this is a great opportunity to spend time with the kids! Below I want to offer some thoughts on how to take advantage of this break from the routine, and spend some time with family in prayer and devotion. Perhaps, God gives us these interruptions so that we can do just that.

1)    Read God’s Covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:1-17 (You can look over Genesis 6-8 for background) and Jesus Walking on Water in Mark 6:45-52 together. Depending upon your children’s age you can read these stories from either a children’s bible or a normal bible. This is a great time to talk about how even in the midst of a terrifying storm like the one we just had; God does not forget his promises or his people.

2)    Spend some time in prayer giving thanks for the many who were kept safe. Also, pray for anything else that might be going on in school or other activities.

3)    Have your children draw their favorite bible story or act out everyone’s favorite story together as a family.

4)    Rest. No explanation needed here.

5)    Play! Break out the play-do, Legos, board games, cards, watercolor, etc. 

What ideas do you have for an unexpected day with your kids? Comment below!

God’s blessings on this wonderful-unusual day. I pray that you and your family grow together in faith and love for Christ today and every day.

P. S. It is not too late to join Tracie and I in our 7-Day devotional challenge! Today is day three. Check it out here!

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/4157-parenting-under-pressure  
By Zach Hoffman 05 Sep, 2017
Photo by Aaron Burden  on Unsplash
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