“How to Simplify Life: Ice Cream Dinner”

We continued our series at Gateway in Austin called “How to Simplify Life.”

It’s both a parenting series, and it’s a re-parenting series.

Remember that sense of fun, adventure, and creativity? A time in life when the possibilities were endless? God wants kids to grow up fiercely alive. We can rediscover that sense of excitement in life by discovering our uniqueness, sense of worth, and value.

Discussion Questions

Work through the following questions and scriptures on your own, and get together with your running partner, life group, or friends and family to talk through what you are learning.

Next Steps

Message Video:

Message Notes:

Childhood was so simple. There was a wonderful freedom and innocence and joyful, playful, simplicity to life that God intended us to experience as children. We always wanted to have fun, and sometimes on vacation our parents might even let us have Ice Cream for dinner!

But then life hit, and for many of us adults, we lost that simplicity. We lost that ability to dream, imagine, create, be playful, try new things, explore, grow. In this series we are learning to parent our children and how to let God re-parent us.

In week one of this series, we looked at the importance of Climbing our Family Trees. Last week, we looked at Regaining Innocence. This week we are looking at instilling a sense of wonder and adventure in our children or regaining this sense of adventure in our own lives.

I want to talk about two ways we can help to instill or regain a sense of adventure:

Rhythms and Risk

Both are important.
Some of us are organized, but if we aren’t careful we miss out on the beauty of being spontaneous.
Others of us fear nothing and take risks all the time, but we aren’t grounded in a healthy pattern from which we can build.

Kids need structure and consistency.

Kids need confidence to branch out and try new things.

And guess what, so do adults.

Spiritual Rhythms

When God created, all was good!
Humanity lived in harmony with God and with creation in the Garden, in Paradise!

And God set apart one day for rest.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. – Genesis 2:2-3

God gave humanity freedom, and in that freedom we chose to go our own way which led to brokenness. This brokenness damaged our relationship with God, with each other, and with creation.

A Weekly Rhythm

Even still God has been making a way that we might experience His presence, His glimpse of paradise on earth as it is in heaven. Through the Hebrew Scriptures we see Him choose a people group to bless so that through that people group all nations would be blessed. He gave them laws that if followed would bring more of heaven to earth. One of those laws was the Sabbath – a day each week to stop working and to rest, to be fully present, to remember God is in charge and we are not. A day to remember with gratitude all God has done, the beauty of creation. This would be a weekly rhythm of rest and reflection.

Sadly, to the people of God the gift of a Sabbath became more of a religious ritual with more and more rules layered on top of it.

The greatest work of God to bring more of heaven to earth was to send the Messiah, the One who would heal our brokenness. The Messiah was God in human form, and His name was Jesus.

He reiterated the importance of the rhythm of rest, but he reclaimed it as it was intended to be. For those of us who follow Jesus, we know that it doesn’t have to be on a particular day of the week, but the idea is that we need spiritual rhythms to keep us grounded.

The guys at the Bible Project explain it this way:

“When followers of Jesus observe the Sabbath, we live as if this restoration has already taken place. We take a break from the broken rhythms of hustle and hardship to set aside a time of submission to his rule and enjoyment of his presence and to extend these things to the world around us. When we observe the Sabbath well, we become little resting places of God’s presence.”

– The Bible Project

You see, when you and I choose to follow Jesus, we become God’s agents of bringing rest and peace to the world around us, a glimpse of heaven on earth.

Jesus made this invitation:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

You can find rest in Him by setting aside an entire day of rest each week.

Daily Rhythms

And we can apply this principle of rest daily connecting personally with God in prayer, meditation, reading the Scriptures, remembering all He’s done with gratitude, exploring the beauty of His creation, enjoying a long and lingering meal with family or friends.

This helps us recalibrate and reprioritize during the busyness of life.

When I was young, I was a nervous kid before it was cool or at least before it was talked about.

  • My Mom had to request permission for me to miss the assembly on Stranger Danger because I was already too freaked out about getting abducted.
  • The doctor put me on a bland diet in elementary school because I was developing an ulcer from worrying.
  • My Dad was trying to teach me how to do a back dive one day when I was about 8 or 9 years old out at Lake LBJ about 45 minutes west of Austin. I was so afraid of getting hurt, I ran away and hid. I never did learn how to do one.
  • I remember as a kid, wondering how I was going to die. Isn’t that sad? I just knew I wasn’t going to live long enough to get married or have kids. I just knew I wouldn’t make it to the year 2000. I don’t exactly know why I was so scared, perhaps it was my vivid imagination.
  • I was so afraid of dying, I wasn’t really living!

But what I do know is that my parents made some key decisions which helped me find faith and to grow out of that.

My parents created rhythms for life that were very consistent.
Participating in the church services and eventually youth group was a constant in my life. I had friends there. I learned about God there. And it happened every week – rain or shine.
Now, around middle school, I was ready to move on. I didn’t like youth group. I didn’t like church. In fact, when we could, a buddy of mine and I would sneak out the back of the church to jump on a neighbor’s trampoline.
Here’s the funny thing that happened though. In my teen years, my fears got worse, and suddenly I needed what the youth leaders were talking about. I needed faith. I needed hope. I needed love. And it was in that season I began listening more earnestly when they talked about having a relationship with God.

It was in this context where I had a very real and life-changing experience with God. God was no longer an abstract idea, He became my Heavenly Father. He became real to me.

I created spiritual rhythms for myself – building on what my parents had set up for me. And I began to grow. I tried to spend time with God – reading the Bible, memorizing key verses, praying, and journaling.

As a new follower of Jesus, the fear of death began to dissipate because I was discovering death is the beginning of something even more remarkable – eternal life!

I also began to see areas of my life that God wanted to change, and some of that were some of the generational struggles my parents also passed down to me. Anxiety is a struggle that has passed down from generation to generation. The women in our family extrovert this anxiety by micromanaging. The men in our family keep it inside but it comes out as anger. In both cases, it’s all about trying to control people or circumstances to avoid what we fear.

Back when I was 17, I had a mentor from church who was helping me grow. He taught me the power of God’s Word to reorient our minds from fear towards faith. When I found myself anxious or afraid, I would quote these verses I had memorized to confront the fears with faith, to confront the lies with the Truth:

“Have no fear of sudden disaster.” – Proverbs 3:25

“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Or other verses I didn’t have memorized, but I would go read them to remind myself that my life is in God’s hands. He can be trusted.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…  all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! – Psalm 139:13-17

These verses still come to my mind when I need them!

Even we follow Jesus we are still in this world and have room to grow.
Even as we grow we can relapse.

Even though there are things Jesus heals instantaneously in our lives, there are other areas He wants us to work on in a healing journey with Him.

Some of us are haunted by our past. It’s not just messing up your present but it will affect your children’s future.

“Jesus is in our hearts, but grandpa is in our bones.”

– Pete Scazzero

Just as I have passed along some struggles to my kids, more than anything I have wanted to pass along our faith.

We are called to leave a legacy of faith!

In a Ted talk, 7 year old Molly Wright talks about “How Every Child Can Thrive by Five.” Her talk referencing brain science proves what the Scriptures said 2000 years ago. Kids need parents who Connect, Talk, Play and kids thrive when they are in a healthy home and have community. At one point she points out:

“The positive relationships with the grown ups in our lives gives kids the confidence we need to try new things, to explore, and be a kid.”

– Molly Wright (age 7) on TED.com in a talk called “How Every Child Can Thrive by Five.”

If you have children or want to be a parent one day, we want to help you have a healthy home and be that community for you and your children so that you will leave a legacy far beyond your lifetime.

  • We have parenting resources listed as part of the Sunday Discussion Questions including the last 3 episodes of The Post-Christian podcast, just go to GatewayChurch.com/NextSteps.
  • Our kids and student teams are here to serve your family.
  • Our Grow, Serve, and Heal teams and groups are here to help you create a healthy home by becoming a healthy person.

What rhythms do you have to stay connected to God and what’s most important?

Some of us are so out of sync, that we are exhausted from just living life. And our kids never know what to expect.

It’s a new season, so it’s time to get into a new rhythm.

These spiritual rhythms create the space to connect with God, to remember all He has done for us, and to recalibrate for the next week.

For us, our Sabbath is Fridays. It’s a day I stay away from the news and avoid opening my laptop. It’s a day of rest, of fun, and remembering God can be trusted with my life and with all that is happening in the world.

For you, Sundays could be best for a Sabbath for you and your family. If you are watching online, be fully engaged. Invite others to come and watch with you or get your family all together to watch. If you are in person, it could be serving kids in one service and attending another service. That’s 4-5 hours off the phone!

Let us help you in your spiritual journey.

Let us help you help your kids in their spiritual journey.

Once we develop healthy spiritual rhythms and discover God can be trusted, to instill a sense of adventure we need to be willing to take risks.

Spirit-led Risk

I call it Spirit-led Risk because it’s not about being foolish. It’s about being in tune with the adventure God has for you.

When I decided to follow Jesus, I had no idea the adventures God had for me. Moving from Dallas Fort Worth to plant a church in Seattle and then on to Los Angeles. God has opened the door for me to travel to serve Him all across the U.S. and in Mexico, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, China, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Syria. The same kid who was so afraid had a chance to travel the world and tell people that God loves them and wants a relationship with them!

You see, some of us just come to God for help to survive, but He has invited you into something much, much bigger than what we think. God is at work all around us and in some of the most remarkable places.

Did you know two locations where the Church is growing the fastest?
Iran and Afghanistan!

When we see images on the news of the collapse of a government, it is a reminder to pray for others whose lives are far more difficult than ours. But there is also so much more going on than what we see on the news. God is at work!

“From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims who have converted away from Islam and become true followers of Jesus Christ has skyrocketed, from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people. Amidst persecution and even genocide, the Church in the Middle East is growing in ways never seen in fourteen centuries of Islam.”

– Operation World

How is that possible?

The message of Jesus when it is in its purest form spreads like wildfire! In the U.S., we have a version of cultural churchianity that gets mixed in with politics which makes it hard for people to hear the message. And as followers of Jesus we get sucked into a consumeristic mentality. We ask God to bless what we are doing rather than followign His lead.

It is good and even important to go to God with what we need and what we want, but it’s also important to know that prayer should also be what realigns our heart with God. And when our hearts are aligned with God, He sends us out on adventures to spread the love, faith, and hope we have from Him!

“Follow Me”

When Jesus began His ministry 2000 years ago, he started with a simple invitation. He looked into the eyes of fishermen, a tax collector, a political zealot, a thief, and business owners and said: “Follow Me.”

In Jesus’ day, there were lots of rabbis with their entourages. Those who followed these rabbis were called disciples, and their job was to share the message of what their rabbi taught them. In following a rabbi, you were renouncing all other political parties and religious ways of thinking.

Jesus was asking for that, but he was asking for more than that.

He wasn’t just a great teacher. He was not just another prophet. He was and is the Messiah, the Son of God.

If you have chosen to follow Jesus, you have surrendered your entire life to Him. You have reoriented your life so that He leads you in every way. When we don’t, we are missing out on what He has for us.

If you are here checking out faith, you should know that Jesus’ invitation is to you as well. You may even sense that right now, “Trust me. Follow me.” On the other side of saying yes to following Jesus is life and freedom!

Now notice, Jesus said: “Follow me” not simply just “Listen to me” or “Sing to me” or “Listen to messages about me.” or “Quote me”

Jesus does not just invite us to follow Him for what we can get, He also invites us to follow Him for what we can give. We get a lot! In following Jesus, we experience forgiveness, eternal life, unconditional love, peace, joy, and the same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead comes to live within us and guide us!  But we are also in a position to give a lot! In following Jesus, we find purpose, meaning in life, and we can be those who bring more of heaven to earth. We bring healing, life, and freedom!

Beyond “Merely Human Concerns”

There is a remarkable moment in Jesus’ life that was shared in 3 different accounts of his life and ministry – The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Jesus had just miraculously fed 4000 people with just a few loaves and a few fish. He had just healed a blind man by putting mud on his eyes made from dirt and spit. And then he had this conversation with the men who had left everything to follow him.

27 Jesus… asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Some of us are missing the adventure God has for us in life because we have merely human concerns. We do not have in mind the things of God.

God has an adventure for you each and every day, but you have to pursue Him for Him to reveal it.

  • You have to listen for His still small voice and guidance to find the adventure each day. It comes in the form of an opportunity to help someone.
  • It comes in the form of a thought that is selfless, requires courage and is consistent with His character.
  • It comes in the form of doing the good that you know He wants you to do and avoiding the destructive things that tempt you.

“Die to Self”

So Jesus explains what it really means to have in mind the concerns of God, to truly be His disciple.

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” – Mark 8

Too often we don’t take risks because we are too afraid to lose what we have, but when we choose to lose everything – surrendering everything to God, that is when we truly live!

We sacrifice our soul for our career, for our weekends, for our relationships, even for our families, but in the end we cannot possibly be the people we want to be without God’s help, forgiveness, grace, kindness, and peace. In dying to ourselves, that is when we truly come alive! We take up our cross and die to our old lives so we can experience life as God intended it to be!

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

–  Deitrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Without the crucifixion, there is no resurrection!

If you follow Jesus, die to self so you can truly live!

It’s time to give God everything knowing He will give us back only what’s best for us.

When we die to self, we can live freely – no longer afraid or worried!

You cannot kill a dead man!

When you fear only God, you have no need to fear anything else because God is bigger than everything else!

What needs to die in your life? What do you need to sacrifice and surrender?

  • Our unwllingness to die to ourselves may be killing our marriage.
  • Our selfishness may be harming our relationships with our kids, our parents, our friends.

When we have spiritual rhythms and Spirit-led risk, we can leave a legacy of adventure. When we choose to follow Jesus then we become those who help others follow Jesus. We look for mentors and become mentors.

Our world needs followers of Jesus who are consistent and adventurous – to demonstrate who Jesus really is rather than the consumeristic, judgmental, hypocritical cultural churchianity they see on the news.

“…what do I want to provide for the world? And what I continue to come back to is…I want to be a healing presence.”

– Christine Yi Suh, InterVarsity

I believe God put you in the exact family you have so that he can heal you and bring healing through you to those who are older in you, and those who come after you!

For those of you have kids now or will have in the future. You need to know that every child needs to discover their own faith. My generation used to walk away in college. The younger generation tends to leave in middle school. They wrestle with their identity, the sexuality, and mental health issues more than previous generations. And as hard as it is to see our children struggle with these big issues, the beauty is we can be there to help them through it and even help them come back to their faith before they leave the home.

Take a step towards leaning into your faith and leaning into community to make progress and find healing for you and those you love. 

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