Establishing Identity in Christ for your Family

When my oldest started 7th grade, one of her assignments on the first day of school was to fill out a “Get to Know Me” type questionnaire. A couple of questions that caused me to think a bit were, “What am I known for around school?” and “What do I want to be known for?” This is really asking, where does your identity lie? We can look back at the Breakfast Club for some helpful hints as to what people are known for in school….the athlete, the geek, the trouble maker, the beauty queen, the weirdo. A huge part of raising kids and guiding kids as they grown into adults is to help them to establish their identity. We can do this as parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, leaders, neighbors, or any person who has any amount of influence in a child or youth’s life. I want my kids to know that their identity lies in Christ. They are who they are in relation to how much Jesus loves them. When the world looks at my girls, the desire is that they will be known by whom they belong to and that is Jesus Christ.

Identity begins with how we see ourselves and what we believe to be true of ourselves. The way to lay a foundation of confidence in which we are in Christ is to speak truth and have your children speak the truth and this will become what they believe and that will influence how they behave.

You are what you HEAR: Speak encouraging words to the children in your life beginning at birth. Speak praise about them to other people at times when they hear you. Fill your home with sounds that will remind your children of their identity in Christ. This comes in teaching, your words, and worship music.

You are what you SAY: Encourage your children to speak positively about themselves. In the movie “The Help,” the main character was a black woman who was a maid in a white home. Her name was Aibileen and much of her job was caring for the 3 year old little girl. This little girl’s mama spoke nothing but criticism and frustration to and about the child. Aibileen begins a habit of telling the little girl, “You are smart, you are kind, you are important” and having her repeat it back to her. This habit of hearing it and saying it will lead her to really believe it.

You are what you DO: Act like a child of Christ. Walk in his power, grace, love, and freedom.

Here are some phrases based in Scripture that you can begin to speak over the children in your life and have them speak back to you. There are some that will be more relevant than others depending on the age, stage and circumstances of the children. I found this helpful list on Joyce Meyer’s website,

I’d love to hear how your children respond to these truths and any creative ways you have tried to encourage your children to hear them, say them, and act upon them. Here are a few to start with: 301276_10200111740294894_1297924620_n

I am complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10).

I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).

I am free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me (Isaiah 54:14).

I am born of God, and the evil one does not touch me (1 John 5:18).

I am holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:16).

I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).

I have the peace of God that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

I have the Greater One living in me; greater is He Who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17).

I have received the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened (Ephesians 1:17,18).

I have received the power of the Holy Spirit to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, to cast out demons, to speak with new tongues. I have power over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means harm me (Mark 16:17,18; Luke 10:17,19).

I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me (Colossians 3:9,10).

I have given, and it is given to me; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, men give into my bosom (Luke 6:38).

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Family Guide to Use in The Five Minutes’

Hello friends,


I have had several requests for the direct link for the Family Guide mentioned in recent post called “The Five Minutes'”


Here is a link to the page where you can download the current Family Guide. I update this Family Guide each time we introduce a new series. The next one will be up in September.


Have a great day, Echo

The 5 minutes’

Boy, do I understand the busy life of a family: so many schedules to coordinate and so many tasks to accomplish. It really feels sometimes like trying to get everyone where they need to be, when they need to get there, and with the stuff they need to have with them takes extreme planning methods. I think these are the kinds of questions that need to be on SAT tests: You need to have Suzy on the West side with ballet equipment from 3:45-5:15, Joey on the South side for a baseball game from 5-7(and you’re on snack duty), and work on Sally’s science experiment in the same evening. How can you accomplish this? Oh, and make sure everyone is fed and clean!!!

So, I understand when we start talking about Family Discipleship that many already stretched families have the reaction that, “Yes, while we understand that it’s important—it feels nearly impossible to really make those kinds of changes in our family!” Does that feel familiar to you?

“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 heart and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deut. 6:7-9

We hear that we need to share the things of God with our children. Okay, but “what” exactly do we need to share with them? At our church, Risen King Community Church in Northern California,  we send the kids home with a Family Guide (these are posted at  if you missed it or feel free to use them if you don’t have access to a resource like this in yourMatthew and kids area) that has a story, a memory verse and an action point, or you can start with a weekly Scripture reading or devotional, or use what you are learning in church.

Once you figure out the “what”, the hard part is figuring out the “when.” Here are a few of my ideas as to how to put Deut. 6 into practice in the real world that we live in today.  Take advantage of the 5 minute chunks during your day. For the sake of these examples, I’m going to share how I would use a Family Guide in an average family.

Talk about them when you sit at home

  • Stick the Family Guide in your napkin holder and talk it through at the dinner table or while making dinner, cleaning the house or working on homework.
  • Crank up some worship music as you’re working on chores as a family.

And when you walk along the road

  • Walking or driving works!! Stick the family guide in your tennis shoes or in the visor in your car so that it’s available to pull out to start a conversation when you’re driving(of course, don’t read it while you’re driving–have a non driver reading–talk about it while you’re driving) or taking a walk.
  • Listen to worship music!

 When you lie down and when you get up.

  • Write the memory verse of the week on an index card- read it with your children when you’re tucking them up and/or in the morning when getting ready for the day.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

  • Use bracelets, necklaces, shoelaces, key chains or t-shirts to remember things we’ve learned about God.

Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

  • Write words or verses or truths on the bathroom mirror and the refrigerator!

Please share some ways that you have used the 5 minutes’ in your family!!


Let’s focus on the characteristic of generosity and resist the temptation to narrow this to the act of giving money. With our children and youth, let’s develop a culture of giving.  We, as disciples of Christ, are called to be giving and generous with our times, talents and treasures. How can we develop a culture where generosity is natural? Create opportunities, encourage generosity, and celebrate generous action.

TIMES: We can develop generosity by spending time serving others. This shows up in a variety of ways with children. With preschool and elementary aged children, this can be encouraged by allowing a friend to choose the activity, spend time reading to someone younger than you, pause to hold the door open for others, let another person or group go first at whatever activity we’re going, or serving in various ways alongside your family. As children mature into Jr. High and High School students this tendency will morph into spending time volunteering in the church or community, giving up a week of your summer to be a counselor at camp, offering to help people you see struggling, and thinking about how your actions affect others. Our role as church leaders is to encourage and give opportunities and acknowledge when we see families and children giving of their time and putting others first.

TALENTS: We can develop a culture of generosity by using our talents to serve others. The trick about talents is to widen the scope of what it means to be “talented.” Everyone has a talent in some area. Let’s discover it and give opportunity and ideas on how to use it. As church leaders let’s acknowledge some of the talents that may go unnoticed and create opportunities for kids to be generous with their talents.

TREASURES: Treasure can be money…it can also be “stuff.” Your treasure is anything that is valuable to you. Children can be encouraged to be generous with their treasures by sharing with others anything that is important to them.  Encourage and acknowledge when generosity shows up. Treasure also means money—see the post entitled “We tithe by math, give by faith”  to see some thoughts on being generous with actual money.

When we focus on money as the primary tool to develop generosity, we are missing some BIG opportunities. Generosity is a character trait, a way of life, a world view, not an action. The action of giving comes out of a generous heart. I want to be careful to not put the cart before the horse by starting with the action rather than the heart.

What are some ways that you can encourage, celebrate1972398_624531504284074_1204482594_n, and give opportunities to develop generosity in your church or your home?

How does GRACE fit in with Your Family?

So much of raising kids tends to focus on behavior management…how do you get them to obey? How to you get them to be kind, compassionate, responsible, courteous, generous, honest, confident, and humble? How to you get them to stop hitting, whining, biting, throwing fits, wetting their pants, and leaving their things all over the house, car and yard?

Sometimes it feels like raising kids becomes “how do you help your kids not be disgusting?” Wear deodorant, take a shower, don’t pick your nose, stop scratching there, go to the bathroom to do ‘that’ and so on and so forth. Other really important lessons are guiding them to understand the value of work and the value of money. We want to instill a strong work ethic and a good understanding of how to manage your money. This is a lot of pressure and I’m barely scratching the surface of all the demands and expectations as we’re raising up the next generation.

And then, there’s GRACE. How does grace fit in to all of these expectations? Grace is a free, undeserved, unearned gift. Grace is how God has shown favor on us as His children. He loves us and gave us the gift of eternal life even though we can’t do anything to earn or deserve this gift.  Ephesians 2: 8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

Children have a hard time understanding grace because developmentally they think concretely. Kids tend to think in black and white terms. So, how do we raise responsible, respectful kids who are fun to be around….aaaaaaand, kids who understand God’s grace deep, deep down?  We love unconditionally! Even when kids are not acting ‘loveable’ we extend love to them. I know, we always love our kids, but do we always show them and tell them that we love them? Often, when kids are in trouble or being difficult, our reaction is to withhold affection. Break through that natural tendency and express love as you are guiding your children to do what is right. Grace doesn’t mean that we never suffer consequences. Grace means that we still love and continue a strong relationship through the consequences. When we as adults make a poor decision, we still suffer the consequence of the poor decision—however, God still loves us, still died for us, still gives us the gift of eternal life. When our kids make a poor decision, they still need to suffer the consequence of the poor decision—however, we will still love them, still sacrifice for them, and still give them the gift of unconditional acceptance.

The small step this week in our Family Discipleship Path will look differently depending on the age and stage of the children in your life. I challenge you to make an effort to extend love to your kids in the midst of consequences or rough situations. If you’re having a great week and that’s not really a big enough challenge for you, then I challenge you to find ways to show grace to your kids…give unexpected, undeserved, unearned gifts. Do something fun—just because, go out for a treat—just because, let them set the agenda for the evening—just because!!

Please take a moment to share the reactions of your children when you extended expressions of love during rough situations. Share your ideas of how to show grace to your kids during the happy times.

Prioritizing God centered camps in your calendar and budget

Christian camp experiences are a valuable part of a child’s relationship with Jesus. These are times that are set apart and designed for students to center on Jesus, connect with supportive friends and leaders, and cooperate in the mission of God. Camp experiences have been designed to meet the student where they are and draw them into a deeper relationship with Jesus. I realize that there are many demands on your time and money during the summer months. I would like to encourage you to prioritize camp for your kids on the calendar and in the budget.

Reasons I love summer camps:

  1. Camp is a great place to take big steps on your journey with God. In the normal ongoing ministries of our kids and youth our leaders are committed to meet a child where they are and walk them one step closer to Jesus. With some time set apart at camp we can take more steps in one week of camp than we can in six months of “normal” ministry.
  2. Incredible friendships are formed. The friendships that are formed or grown during the camp experience have the benefit of being formed around a common focus on Jesus. These friendships will continue to give encouragement all year long.
  3. We get some intense time with God. The leaders spend months planning and preparing for the summer camps so that the environment is set to hear God speak into their lives.
  4. Students make life-changing decisions at camp. Many decisions that are made in a camp setting are life changing for the students. Some hear a call to be a missionary or a pastor, some are drawn more in love with Jesus, others make a decision to share the love of Jesus with their peers during the school year. These decisions play out during the school year and often their whole lives long.
  5. A unique learning experience. Kids who don’t connect with the classroom setting will be given opportunities to learn truths and applications about God while using their whole bodies and being outside.  So many behaviors that are inappropriate in the classroom are perfectly accepted in a camp setting….running, yelling, jumping, dancing, and belly laughing. Most kids will learn applications in this setting, some kids can only learn those types of applications in the camp setting.

Believe me, as a parent of 3 camp aged children, I understand that the cost can be overwhelming and daunting. This is why I am attaching several ideas on how your family can start now to plan for camp to put this life changing experience within reach.

Ideas for raising money for camp:

Gifts: Your student can ask for money for camp or a mission’s trip for Christmas or birthdays.

Auction: Have your student think about some talents and abilities they can offer to friends and family such as babysitting, yard work, crafting, baking, etc. Auction off 4 hours of services to the highest bidder. Determine your time frame, publicize through email, Facebook and phone calls.

Work: Using the talents and abilities that we have talked about above, seek work with family and friends using these services. You can publicize an hourly rate or offer to work for donations.

Raffle: Is there something that your family can come up with that has value? A weekend away, a home cooked meal, a business service? Print up raffle tickets and directions. Determine a date to hold the raffle and sell the raffle tickets to friends and family.

Support Letter: Send letters out to your friends and family requesting support for camp. Draft a letter with an introduction paragraph describing who you are, what you are doing and the benefit that you see. Give a clear invitation to support you through a donation. Give clear instructions on the time frame and how to send money.

Bible-a-thon: Our KIDS ministry holds a Bible-a-thon each March. The kids ask for people to sponsor them to read the Bible. Sponsors can either give a set amount or an amount per chapter read. There are forms and instructions available at You are welcome to use the forms and do a Bible-a-thon on your own.

Save: Designate a container in the house to save money for camps and missions trips. Deposit coins and money throughout the next 6 months. You will be amazed at how much you can store away. Make some sacrifices and encourage your children to make sacrifices in order to go to camp.

As you are working toward saving for camp, involve your kids in the process all along the way. The experience of camp will be greater if they were involved in the sacrifice to make it happen.

Do you have an amazing camp testimony of your own or one of your kids? Do you have other ideas on how to raise money? Do you have other reasons that you prioritize Christ centered camps? Please share your thoughts to encourage others in their journeyecho n kids

Why is it called GOOD Friday?

This was a question that I was asked by my then six year old daughter. Why is it called GOOD Friday? I mean, Jesus, the one that we love, the one that we adore, was crucified on this day. What’s so good about that? This is a question that many adults forget to think about. This question presented an incredible opportunity for us to talk about why it was so GOOD that Jesus died on the cross. My initial answer was, “It’s so GOOD because Jesus died for our sins…your sins, my sins, the sins of the whole world.” She innocently and oh so wisely, asked again, “But why is that good?” The reason that is so GOOD is because this is what allows us to have a relationship with God. A simple explanation (I like to look at John 3:16 and Romans 5:8) is that our sin is like a giant electric fence in between us and God, keeping us from being really close. When Jesus died on the cross he wiped our sins away and that giant fence was demolished so that there is nothing in between us and God. And that is why it is GOOD Friday!! Looking at it this way, maybe we should call it GREAT Friday, or AMAZING Friday, or ABSOLUTELY, AWE INSPIRING, MIRACULOUS Friday!! Check out Hebrews 10:19-22, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Read these verses with your kids. Depending on their ages you will focus on different parts…but the overwhelming truth and bottom line is “let us draw near to God.” Good Friday is so GOOD because Jesus’ sacrifice allows us to draw near to God.

The small step on the Family Discipleship Path that I would like to encourage you to take this week is to celebrate Good Friday with your family. You can attend a service at a church or have your own celebration with your family or a group of friends. Spend a couple of minutes reading scriptures regarding the death of Christ before you celebrate. Encourage your kids to ask some questions after the service or gathering. I give my kids a paper and pen and have them write down questions during the Good Friday service so that we can talk about it afterward. This helps them stay focused and quiet and remember their questions at a time when we can talk about it.

Most Good Friday services include a communion table. What a great opportunity to draw near to Jesus as a family. A simple explanation for communion is that it is a way for us to remember what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross. Give a brief explanation before hand, then participate together, and then offer an opportunity to share their experiences or ask questions afterward.  Here’s a post with a bit more of an explanation of communion


Please share your experiences with children and Good FridayMatthew and Noah