137: Fertility Struggles and Motherhood

We love to celebrate and support moms on Mother’s Day, but this day can also be difficult.

For many, struggles with fertility are painful, prolonged, and so often lonely.

On this episode, Rachel talks with Bethany Lutz about her journey through infertility and motherhood–her anger, loneliness, and finally joy–and how God and his people carried her through.

 

Check out Aaron Lutz speak on this as well here:

The Travis & Cari Hicks Orphan Care Story

“God has gifted us each 24 hours in a day and we have a choice in how we spend it.

We knew going in to this that our schedules stay pretty packed, but what are they packed with? Are we aiming to glorify God with all of the time He has given us?

He made it clear to us that if we could make time for all of the other great things in our life, we could surely make time to care for the orphan – for HIS orphans.” – The Hicks

 

 

A Simple and Powerful Prayer for Your Child

I remember learning about an approach to prayer years ago when my son was a toddler, and I’m grateful for the way it shaped me as a young father. The advice was simple and practical – use Ephesians 3:14-19 as a way to pray for those you love.

My son is a teenager now and I continue to pray this way for him and my other children. Using these few verses from the Scriptures to direct my prayers has not only helped me pray clearly and consistently for my kids, it has formed the deepest hopes and dreams I hold for them in my heart. I expect to ask God for these things in my kids’ lives for the rest of my life.

Ephesians 3:14-19 says, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Wrapped up in these five verses are three powerful things I ask God to do in each of my kids’ hearts.

Lord, please give my child faith in Christ

I strive to teach my kids about who Jesus is and what he has done, but try as I may, I cannot create faith in their hearts. I know God has to be the one to give them the grace of his presence and roots of faith, so I make verses 16 and 17 my request to God saying, “Lord, grant my son strength through your Holy Spirit so that Christ would dwell in his heart through faith.”

Father, please show my child how much you love them

I have spent a lot of time considering the richness of verses 18 and 19 in my own heart. This is the most impassioned prayer I regularly bring to God, “Father, please open my daughter’s heart and mind to the depths of your love. Help her know, without question, that she is loved by you. Give her security and identity rooted in your unquestionable love. Help me love her like you do.”

I often add in a confession of my own faults and shortcomings as a father and ask God to answer this prayer in spite of me. My kids need to know the nature of their true father and I ask God to help me be more like him.

Lord, please fill my child with your presence

This passage has God’s presence as bookends. Paul tells his reader that he bows his knees to ask that God gives them strength and power through the Holy Spirit in their inmost being, and he finishes hoping his reader is filled with all the fullness of God.

I make these words my request saying, “Lord, whatever my son faces today, be ever present to shape his experience, thoughts, and actions. Fill him with your Spirit and give him strength and wisdom to live differently — to live for you.”

I have many hopes for my kids but none more important than these. Consistently asking God to give and grow faith, to expand their knowledge of his love, and to make them aware of his presence each day has shaped the way I parent and the heart I have for each of them.

116: Have Yourself a Merry Blended Christmas

During the holidays, there is so much fun and celebration, but there are also difficult things that people must work through. One challenge for many is found in the complexity and accompanying emotions of a blended family. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Brad and Amy Thompson about their experience of having a blended family and navigating the Christmas season.

Resources:

Clear Creek Classes (new classes starting in 2022) 

 

 

Who Will Teach Your Kids to Pray?

Our older son was four and our younger son was barely three years old. My older son began his prayer as I had taught: “Dear God, thank you for today. Thank you for Jesus. Please keep us safe. Amen.”

My younger son began his prayer differently. “God. You are so big. You made everything. The trees, the sky, the bugs, the flowers, the whole world…”

As my three-year old rattled out his list of God’s creations, my older son leaned to me and whispered, “He’s just making stuff up. That’s not prayer.” I couldn’t help laughing out loud. I will never forget this even though they likely already have.

Someone taught me to pray, though I don’t remember who.

I have one vague memory of my mom praying with me as a child, but I can’t recall with clarity what we prayed for. Yet, despite my lack of memories, I am certain that my parents prayed regularly, and I would imagine they prayed with me.

After all, someone taught me to pray. Why do I not remember?

This is a topic I constantly ponder in relation to my own children. What will my children remember? Will they remember the first time they learned to pray? Will they remember all the prayers we have spoken over them and with them?

Probably not.

As much as I hate to admit it, I have no control over which memories stick with my kids. Many of our day-to-day activities and conversations have been or will be forgotten.

So, if they don’t remember these specific lessons, is it possible that the pattern of prayer we, as parents, instill will be more impactful than our children’s actual memories of praying?

Our older son is motivated by the facts and is angered by injustice. He is acutely aware of his sin and needs to be reminded of how much he is loved and forgiven by his heavenly Father.

Our younger son is wildly creative and is constantly lost in his thoughts. He is keyed into the beauty of God yet questions the truth of God.

Our daughter is highly aware of her social environment and is often intimidated by it. She prays to God but is frustrated that she can’t see or hear him speaking to her.

Our kids are distinctly different. Their prayers are too.

But, no matter their differences, we hope to teach each of our kids to trace a line back to God with prayer. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “to run one’s mind back up the sunbeams to the sun.” We hope that as they experience life – the ups, downs, and everything in between – they will follow the path back to the source of it all.

We teach them to just keep praying.

When our older son feels defeated and angry, we teach him to praise God’s sovereignty and pray for the Spirit to bring his calming peace.

When our younger son isn’t sure that God is who he says he is, we teach him to thank God for his unchanging nature and pray for God’s revealing truth.

When our daughter is insecure about her social surroundings, we teach her to praise God that he promises to be with us and pray for confidence.

To pray is to be with God. To pray is to be in his presence.

The gift of prayer, or the gift of being with God, that we have received through Christ is one we hope our kids will embrace.

To keep praying with them, over them, and for them is a charge to us.

We do not have to pray perfectly. Instead, our aim is to pray every day, in all situations, and in all things, and that by our example our kids will learn to do the same.


 

Adoption and the Gospel

Adoption has been an important feature of the Church from antiquity. Throughout the centuries believers have adopted children in a variety of circumstances, and adoption has become a powerful picture of the Gospel to the world.

After Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, the movement of Christ-followers that became known as the Church began to spread over the known world. The dominant Roman culture of the age did not value human life in the same way as the growing Christian movement.¹

Christians understood humanity to be created in the image of God and thereby each person had value and worth, including “unwanted” children. While Roman historians differ in reasoning why Roman culture was comfortable with discarding children, historical and archeological research tells us that the Romans had no qualms about abandoning children for any reason, whether due to gender, deformity, or family situation. Unwanted children were regularly deserted outside ancient cities.

But Jesus’ followers, motivated by the doctrine of the image of God and love for people, became known for taking in these unwanted children.² From the very beginning of the movement, the Church has been known (at least in part) for the adoption of children.

But what led these believers to this kind of care for orphans?

I think there are two great answers to this question.

First, God makes it clear to us in his word that he cares for those without a family. Psalm 68:5 describes God as “Father for the fatherless and protector of widows.” The Scriptural command to care for the orphan has a rich theological foundation. God has a heart for the orphan and the Gospel — the story of Christ coming to earth to reconcile wayward people with the Father — illuminates this. Believers are referred to as co-heirs with Christ and as sons of God the Father.

The Gospel is an adoption story.

Because of Jesus’ work, believers are adopted into God’s family.

Second, as we become more like Christ, we should look more like him and reflect his heart for the orphan. James 1:27 states “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James, the brother of Jesus, explained what it looks like for Christians to hear and do what Scripture calls us to, and the example that he gave was to “visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”

As believers grow in their relationship with Christ, God’s priorities will become our priorities. Our heart should look like his, including care for orphans.

The early Church understood the doctrine of adoption as a counter-cultural phenomenon and acted on that doctrine. Adoption in Rome was typically reserved for wealthy childless couples. These families would adopt a young adult that seemed worthy of carrying on the family name. The adoptee would have to prove to be worth bringing into the family to become an heir.

The Christian doctrine of adoption completely turned this around!

Instead of the adoptee proving themselves before adoption, the Father brought in those who had proven themselves to be unworthy! The fact that the Son came to bring us into his family and make us co-heirs with him in God’s family should give us the greatest sense of joyful hope possible.

We live in a culture where adoption is a common occurrence, but the early Church changed the entire culture by demonstrating love for orphans motivated by their understanding of the Gospel.

As we help parents in the adoption process, and care for widows, the sick, and the needy, we are not only obeying the commands and model of Scripture, but we are standing with a great cloud of witnesses who came before us. 

Christians continue to lead the way in advocating for adoption, and the need to care for the orphaned is as pressing today as it was during the first century. The counter-cultural witness that early believers displayed through adoption is still available.

While Christians adopt children at double the rate of non-Christian Americans, there are still nearly half a million American children in foster care. The opportunity is great and there are several ways that believers can care for needy children directly and indirectly.

And even though not all believers are called to adopt, our care for orphans can be shown in other ways. If you are not adopting, your support of the Church, helpful nonprofits, and believers going through the adoption process is a great way to serve and offer aid.

To learn more about opportunities to be involved in caring for orphans, visit https://www.clearcreek.org/care-and-support/care-and-support-fostering-adoption


¹ Viegas, Jennifer. “Infanticide Common in Roman Empire.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 5 May 2011, https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna42911813.

² A helpful resource in developing a theology of adoption is the chapter “Sons of God” in JI Packer’s book Knowing God. (Packer, J. I. Knowing God. InterVarsity Press, 1973.)


 

107: Are We Raising Consumer Kids?

During the series Salty: Sticking Out for the Right Reasons, we’re discussing questions related to each message on our podcast. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Lance Lawson, and Aaron Lutz discuss how living in a self-absorbed culture impacts our kids. And how we can help our kids be less inwardly focused and more outwardly focused.

Resources:

Salty: Serve Others – Fight Consumerism (sermon)

103: Parenting Teens Today

“You aren’t raising kids, you’re raising future adults.” School is back in session, and even though the stress and strain of 2020 isn’t gone, the new school year feels at least reminiscent of the rhythm of life before COVID. But how, if at all, has that changed teenagers and how we parent them? And how can parents lead their teens to re-engage and move forward? On this episode, Jon Coffey talks with Clear Creek’s director of Family Ministries and Church on Wednesday Campus Pastor, Lance Lawson, and 528 Campus attender, former student ministry volunteer, and parent of four kids, Stacey Morgan, to talk about raising future adults in 2021.

Resources:

Sticky Faith by Dr. Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark

Finding True Rest and the Joy of Discipline

Well, it’s the end of the summer and my kids are insane. Yours too or just mine? They stay up until 10:30 p.m., they are constantly “bored,” always hungry (why are they so hungry?!), often bickering, and well, just done with the down time.

And guess what?

So am I.

Do you want cupcakes for breakfast? Should we start a movie at 10:30 p.m.?

I’m in that part of summer.

It’s time for school. It’s time for schedules. It’s time for discipline.

Summer is a much-needed break from the monotony of schedules and to do lists, and we love it! It gives us space to stop and rest and spend a lot more time together. It gives us time and space to explore God’s creation and be creative with our days.

But, after a few months of this respite, we all come to the realization that the daily disciplines of life are much needed as well. 

Our spiritual lives can feel the same way.

We get tired and need breaks, and so we stop doing some of those things in our schedule. And that’s not always a bad thing. Taking a needed break can help us to remember that even when we stop working, God still sustains and provides and stays in control. Rest can also help us to step away from our busy schedules and celebrate the beauty of this world and the people in it, and then worship God who gave it to us.

And in the same way he gave us all of the things that fill up our lives and our schedules, he also gifted us with rest. We were created to need it.

But here’s the thing: rest isn’t opposed to discipline — we need both.

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30).

What Jesus offers here is not just a nap, a vacation, or a summer break. He’s offering an entirely new way of life. He invites us to take up his yoke — an agricultural image that is commonly used to describe following a teacher ­— and he means for us to learn from him, to travel by his side, and be under his instruction and care. Through this, he promises we will find rest.

But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill rest; this is deep, soul-level rest. This is true rest.

And true rest is more than luxury, comfort, and free time. It’s peace and security found through a relationship with the one who created, loves, and redeems us.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

— Matthew 11:28-30

But, in order to participate in this kind of rest Jesus offers, we need rhythms of discipline. These are rhythms that don’t stifle us, but that actually free us as we learn from Jesus, to know him deeply, and to become more like him.

And we are not alone in this journey; Jesus is with us. He promises to be yoked with us as we seek to learn and grow. And, when we inevitably stumble, he carries the load.

So, as we begin this new school year full of schedules, sports events, and work, I want to encourage you to take a next step toward this rest only Jesus can provide. Maybe you should take a class to learn how to read God’s word, join a small group to study and worship with community, or commit to spend time daily in prayer with God.

However, these words find you today, don’t miss this opportunity to respond to the invitation of Jesus. Because he is who he says he is the Creator, Savior, and King — the one who created all things, who died to rescue us from slavery to sin, and who will restore this world and reign eternally. He is the humble servant who offers to carry our burdens and teach us his ways. He can be trusted, and in him, we can find a way of life that leads to the true rest we all long for.


 

099: Princess Culture — Toxic or Transformative?

From Snow White in 1937 to Raya in 2021, princess movies have entertained and influenced little girls for decades. But is this influence good or bad? On this episode, host Rachel Chester is joined by Chris Alston, West campus pastor, Dalena Ryskoski, a volunteer on Clear Creek’s Children’s Ministry oversight team, and Aaron Chester, Clear Creek’s “How to Study the Bible” class instructor, to discuss how these princess movies have changed over time and how they lead us to change as well.