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Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Moms' Night Out – The Movie

Last night my wife, two daughters, and parents sat down and watched a pre-screening of the movie Moms’ Night Out. I’m not sure what is happening in Hollywood as of late, but three great Christian family films have hit the theaters recently. Heaven is for Real, God’s Not Dead, and coming Mother’s Day – Moms’ Night Out. To me the most exciting part is that, like Christian music, there are finally some high quality, faith-based films entering into the mainstream genre. And, with the success of Heaven is for Real debuting as the top new release this past weekend and number two movie overall, I hope that the trend will continue.

Here are my thoughts on Moms’ Night Out:

When I looked at the cast of the movie and saw that my favorite hobbit, Sean Astin, was going to be in it, I was immediately impressed. Add to this Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sarah Drew (Gray’s Anatomy), and Trace Adkins (Country Music star) and this had the making of a top-notch film. I have to admit however, that when I sat down to watch, I still had a lingering doubt…is this just going to be a Hallmark movie gone to the big screen? Is there a way that someone is still going to mess this up?

What I discovered from start to finish was a well thought through plot and a hilarious story line. The verbal and slapstick humor caused all of us in the room to laugh out loud more than most comedy movies we’ve seen (we just watched the Secret Life of Walter Mitty a couple of nights earlier, and although we did laugh quite a bit throughout, it wasn’t near as much as we did during Moms’ Night Out.) Just for the fun factor alone this movie will be well worth the price of a movie ticket, both for you and all the members of your family. However the greater thing about the movie is that there is a deeper purpose to it than just making you laugh. The message is a heartwarming story of a discovery that we all should put aside our expectations of what we think a successful life looks like and just live the life that God has given to us, to the best of our ability, and look for the joy that can be found within it’s design.

In Moms’ Night Out the main character, Sarah Drew, feels like a failure, she has everything that she’s ever wanted in life and yet she still feels like she is not as happy as she thought she would be, or should be – her life is crazy. But, by the end of the movie, and a night of hilarious antics, she realizes that although her life will never be perfect, if she can keep the perspective that what she is doing is exactly what God wants her to be doing, she will find joy in whatever situation she find herself in.  That sounds like a message we all could learn from.

Moms' night out movie trailer

Take Home and Application:

1- Husbands take your wife, and your mom, to go see Moms’ Night Out, and then take a moment to affirm in them that they are very, very important.

2- Parents, take your kids to this movie and afterwards talk to them about the fact that our lives on this earth will never be perfect. Don’t set expectations on how you think your life should be, take your life as it is and do your very best to enjoy the many wonderful moments that come along with it. Teach your kids that if we only look at the negative things of life and the failures that come with them, our Christian life will fizzle. But, if we instead thank God for the life that we have, looking for and treasuring the positive things in it, our Christian life will be a sure success.

I highly recommend Moms’ Night Out. Go out and support it and let Hollywood know we want more of the same…the cool thing is, if that happens, it will only get better and better as it goes.

Parenting Uncategorized

Teach Your Kids About Authority

All kids have authority issues.

As parents we have all been there. We tell our children not to do something, and when we turn our backs they decide to do it anyway. Obviously, the root of the problem is their own selfishness. They want to do what they want to do, and not do what you want them to do. But, they are also experiencing a problem with authority, a problem that if you don’t deal with now, will come back to hurt them and haunt them for the rest of their life.

All of us are subject to authority. Whether it be our boss at work, the police and firemen who protect our streets and homes, or the governmental authorities that we vote into position. Most importantly however, is that fact that we are all subject to God’s authority, and by disobeying the authority that He places over us, we are ultimately disobeying Him. That is why it’s important for your child to understand that you, as their parents, are in authority over them, and that that authority has been given to you by God. When they obey you, they are obeying God. When they disobey you, they are disobeying God. If we want our children to live a successful life, they have to learn to obey authority. When they do they will be able to grow up to be the leaders that God designed them to be. Have your child watch the video below about the life of Samuel and how he, by obeying Eli and by obeying God, became one of the greatest prophets in the Bible.

I Will Listen To Authority


An “Umbrella Fella”

When the video is complete, talk to your child about authority.  Use an umbrella as an example. An umbrella is designed to protect us, but the umbrella only works when we stay underneath it. If it’s raining outside and we stay under the umbrella, we won’t get wet. But if we leave the umbrella, we are sure to get soaked to the bone. Authority is like an umbrella. When we stay under those who are in authority over us by doing what they ask us to do, we will be protected from the harmful things in life. If we step out from under the umbrella of authority that protection is no longer over us and we will suffer the negative consequences. Make sure your child knows that God has great plans for them, but those plans will only come about if they live a life of obedience.

For more great tips on helping your child obey and to learn many other great character qualities, go to <a title="Kid's Videos on LeadershipForKids.tv" href="https://www read review.leadershipforkids.tv/browse/plans?utm_source=MJBlog&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=reactive” target=”_blank”>LeadershipForKids.tv and sign up today.

Current Affairs Parenting Uncategorized

Heaven is for Real – The Movie

A month or so ago a good friend of mine, David Almgren, asked me to do a preview screening for the upcoming movie “Heaven is for Real”.

I’m sure by now many of you have seen this movie trailer at the theater and when you saw it you probably said to yourself, “Hey that looks like a pretty good movie…I wonder if it’s done by Christians?”

Well no, not necessarily, and yes, that’s okay!

The movie, directed by Oscar-nominated Randall Wallace, is being released by Tri-Star Pictures and contains some pretty heavy hitting actors such as Greg Kinnear (also Oscar Nominated) and Kelly Reilly (of Sherlock Holmes fame). The movie has been given a hefty advertising budget which Sony has used wisely (unless you haven’t heard of it – then for you, not so much).

Heaven is for Real - Official Movie Trailer

For those of you who may be unaware, “Heaven is for Real” is about a little boy (Colton Burpo) who went to Heaven and came back to tell about it. Here is a brief rundown:

Heaven is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small-town Nebraska pastor who experienced Heaven during emergency surgery. This boy, Colton Burpo, talked about looking down to see the doctor operating on him and he also saw his dad who was praying in another room. The family didn’t know what to believe, but soon the evidence was clear.

In Heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one had ever told him about. He also met his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

Told by Colton’s father, often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is that Heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and to be ready because there is a coming last battle.

The book “Heaven is for Real” has sold over 8 million copies and has spent numerous weeks as #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Recently I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with Todd and Sonja Burpo and I came away thoroughly impressed with both of them (they’re Elevate users by the way!). Their genuine heart for getting this message out is very inspiring. After talking to them, I came away renewed and refreshed by their passion for Jesus that has survived amidst the negativity from some within the Christian body. I can honestly tell you that they are great people, with a great heart, and a great love for reaching others with the love of Christ. They are REAL people with a REAL story and I was honored to meet them both.

Now on to the movie itself – here is what I wrote as a review:

     “Heaven is for real is a gripping movie regarding human doubt and the ultimate reconciliation of belief with every day life. From the pulpit, Pastor Todd Burpo has preached on Heaven his whole career. However, when his son, Colton, makes a claim that he actually went to Heaven, there comes a gut wrenching reality check as to whether Todd believes in Heaven enough to make an alteration in the way that he lives. Once he does, he must then convince his congregation to do the same.

    I believe this movie will cause each person in the audience to think more about Heaven in his or her day-to-day life. I also believe that it will bring the viewer to a realization that everyone needs to have an eternal perspective on their life; to understand that there is life beyond the grave, found in Jesus Christ, and that our actions on this earth will ultimately affect our eternity.”

Movie Review – Mike Johnson

Would I recommend this movie? Absolutely! “Heaven is for Real” is a wholesome movie that will open up dialogue within your family about Heaven and the joys that await us when we get there. When you arrive at the theater don’t expect a Salvation Message, because you won’t find it. However, you will see Jesus Christ clearly presented as the Son of God.

As a parent I would use this movie as an opportunity to talk to your child about the glorious gift that Jesus gives to us when we accept Him as our Savior, and that gift is Heaven. Also, be sure to ask them questions about what they think Heaven will be like and what they want to do when they get there. Let their imaginations fly, and listen carefully, because after all, children in their innocence may know more about the Kingdom than any of us.

In closing, take a look at this clip of Colton singing (he’s got a great voice). I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Parenting Uncategorized

Pro-Active Parenting

Recently my wife Karry and I taught a three-week course based on parenting children three years old through fifth grade. The overarching theme of this course was to help parents understand what they need to do in order to help their child be successful.

During this parenting course, one of the key points my wife and I talked about was the importance of pro-active parenting when teaching your child. Pro-active teaching is when you teach your child what is right and wrong before your child is placed in a position where he or she has to make a decision regarding which direction to go next.

Another key point we talked about is the importance of being re-active when teaching your child. Re-active teaching happens when your child does something that God does not want him or her to do and you use that opportunity as a teachable moment to help him or her see why it was wrong and how to handle the situation better in the future.

These areas of teaching are vital in raising successful children, yet they are two areas that we as parents often fail in. That is why we are so passionate about the streaming website called LeadershipForKids.tv. For less than the price of one cup of coffee per month, you as a parent can have a team of professionals ready to help at a moments notice.

Here is how you as a parent can utilize LeadershipForKids.tv to assist you as you use pro-active and re-active teaching with your child:

·      For pro-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will instill morals and values into your child’s moral warehouse, their heart. Then, when a situation arises where a particular moral or value is needed, it will be available and ready to be acted upon.

·      For re-active teaching, LeadershipForKids.tv will come alongside you to help give appropriate insight during those critical teachable moments after your child has done an action of disobedience. In a moments notice, you can find a video on your smart device that deals with the exact issue your child is struggling with. You will be able to use this video as backup to enhance your own teaching, or, if you don’t know what to say, the video can speak for you.

As parents, we have been given an incredible task: to raise our child to know and love Christ and to live a life that is pleasing to Him. By taking advantage of LeadershipForKids.tv, you can be assured that you will have the tools necessary to make the task of raising your child a successful one.

Children’s Ministry Parenting Uncategorized

A Christmas Memory That Will Last A Lifetime

As a child I remember the “Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar” my family used, where little chocolates and scripture readings sat waiting for me behind little windows that were opened each day. It’s funny how this simple cardboard stand made the joyful anticipation of Christmas even greater while helping me to learn even more about the Christmas story.

Because this is such a fond memory of mine we wanted to recreate that joyful feeling with your children this holiday season too!

On LeadershipForKids.tv we’ve come up with our own wonderful “Countdown to Christmas Advent Calendar” that has both a daily reading plan as well as a five-seven minute video your children will enjoy.

Over the next 24 days here is what your children will learn:

Week One: The Light Is Promised
The promise of the Christ and the promises of God.

Week Two:  The Light Is Revealed
God revealing His plan to bring Jesus into the world.

Week Three: The Light Shines
Jesus’ birth is announced to the world.

Week Four: The Light Must Be Shared
The light of Jesus is to be shared around the world.

As a parent, I encourage you to have a special treat that follows the completion of each Scripture reading and video. Nothing big, just something as simple as a piece of chocolate. It will add to the excitement, and it will make a memory and tradition your child will cherish forever.

Not experiencing the amazing benefits of LeadershipForKids.tv yet? No problem! Sign up today for free and utilize it to make this special lifetime memory with your children. Simply go to Leadershipforkids.tv and begin this special Christmas journey today! You can also download the LeadershipForKids.tv App off iTunes or Google Play for easy access on your phone or tablet.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Slaves to a Schedule

slaves to a schedule

“You must worship only the Lord your God. He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” 2 Kings 17:39 (NLT)

The Exodus is such an inspiring story that it is known across the entire world, even by those who have no connection to the Christian or Jewish faith. What is interesting, is that many of the details of the story could apply to us in our modern culture. Here is one such example. The Israelites were enslaved by the nation of Egypt. They were laborers, and their sweat and toil was nearly unbearable. Moses came and requested that they would be able to leave and worship God, but Pharaoh responded by impossibly increasing their work schedule and cutting their supplies. It is possible that Pharaoh believed the Israelites would abandon their thoughts of worship with the crushing demands of a new schedule.

This should sound familiar. Think about it. We too are weighed down with impossible schedules and dwindling supplies of time and energy. When we attempt to set aside time for worship, the world looks at us as time wasters, telling us that we are missing out on the important things of life. In response, we become our own taskmasters. We fill our schedules and calendars with every extracurricular activity, every club, every sport, every trip, every concert, every outing. However, we must realize that this type of schedule does not make us free. It makes us slaves. Many believers have allowed their families to become slaves to a schedule that keeps them from making God and His Church the center of their lives as it should be.

One thing that you need to do is set yourself free from the tyrannical forces that want you to give up the ONE day that God asks you to worship each week. Walk away from anyone or anything that pushes you to constantly give up worshiping God at church. If you do, God will walk with you, and I promise that walking with God and worshiping Him will lead you to a new kind of life – just like it did for the people of Israel.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Keeping Your Commitments

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” (NLT)

Read 1 Samuel 14.

Making commitments is easy. However, being loyal and keeping those commitments can be much harder than we anticipated. Maybe you get tired, run out of time, or something else comes along that sounds more enjoyable. The important thing to remember during these times is that if we don’t honor our commitments, we will never experience some of the great things God has planned for us. In the story, Jonathan’s armor bear could have refused to go with Jonathan. Two men against an entire Philistine outpost? They wouldn’t even have the element of surprise. The plan sounded foolish and there was no guarantee of success. But the armor bearer had made a commitment to Jonathan and he chose to be loyal. As a result Jonathan and his armor bearer set something in motion that would become an incredible victory of the Israelites over the Philistines.
What victories does God have planned for you? Whether it’s your job, school, family, friendships, or your church, you’ll miss out on those victories if you don’t choose loyalty. A commitment that isn’t honored is useless.
Read Proverbs 17:17. Take a few moments to think about the people and things in your life that you have made commitments to. Spend time in prayer that God will help you to remain loyal by honoring those commitments.

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.

Leadership Parenting Uncategorized

Small Steps Of Obedience

Hebrews 13:6 “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'” (NLT)

Read Judges 6:12-7:22

Gideon started with no confidence. (6:15) But step after step, he obeyed God. He started small by obeying God and destroying his father’s pagan altars. (6:27) He obeyed God and gathered an army to fight the Midianites. (6:34) He obeyed God by sending away troops as God directed him. (7:3-7) And he obeyed when God told him to sneak down to the enemy camp. (7:9-14) As he obeyed, God was with him and Gideon gained the confidence to say “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” (7:15) The “6:15 Gideon” could never have said that!
Where are you when it comes to confidence? Are you “6:15 Gideon,” “7:15 Gideon,” or someone in between? What steps of obedience do you need to take to move from verse 6:15 to verse 7:15 in your life? We don’t need confidence in our selves. We need confidence in God. And we gain that confidence by each step of obedience we take. Whether small or large, taking steps of obedience to God will lead us to greater and greater things. Gideon’s small steps of obedience led eventually to a great victory.
What small step of obedience do you need to take today? Whatever it is, take it! If you do, you can have confidence that you will have great adventures of faith when you walk in obedience to God.

Note: This devotional is taken from the Elevate series, Dojo Kids.

Children’s Ministry Leadership Parenting Uncategorized Volunteers

Weekly Devotionals To Develop Your Leadership Muscle – Lead By Example

On the curriculum team that I oversee are many talented writers. Each week they write a Devotional around a particular lesson or story in the Bible. At the beginning of every week I will be sharing one of these devotionals with you. I hope they help you and give you the ability to develop your Spiritual Leadership Muscle!

Titus 2: 7 “And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” (NLT)

Read Acts 16:1-5, 1 Timothy 1:18, and 2 Timothy 2:2.

Take a few moments to think about some of your best teachers you had growing up. What made them the best? Odds are, they were passionate about the subject matter and they did everything possible to help you learn all you could.
Paul was that kind of teacher. Paul had made it his life’s work to spread the Good News of Jesus everywhere he went. He knew that there was no greater calling and no better way to spend his time. However, Paul also knew that he couldn’t do it alone. He enlisted the help of a young man named Timothy. But Paul didn’t just give Timothy some instructions and then send him on his way. No, Paul spent time showing Timothy how to live the life of a missionary. He taught Timothy how to handle persecution and rejection. He warned Timothy about the dangers he would face. And above all Paul encouraged Timothy. He encouraged Timothy not to give up and to train others as well. Timothy knew what it took to be a good leader because he had a good leader in Paul.

Read Titus 2:7. Are you being a good example to the people who look to you? Does everything you do reflect your seriousness of teaching others about Jesus? Spend time this week thinking about the people you lead or those who look to you as an example. Pray that God will help you to honor that leadership he has given you as you set an example through your words and your actions.