What Is Discipleship?
About the Guest
What does it look like to make disciples ... of your kids? Jason Houser, founder of Seeds Family Worship, talks to parents about the importance of training their children in the ways of God. Jason reminds moms and dads that discipleship is a lifestyle, and can be done easily through everyday opportunities.
Seeds Family Worship ministry. Looking back from here, he never would have imagined that leading worship at his church’s Vacation Bible School in 2002 would mark the beginning of the Seeds ministry. He has seen God’s faithfulness as he has written, recorded and produced over 150 scripture worship songs over the past 15 years. He has been able to work many gifted artists, wors...more
Jason Houser talks to parents about the importance of training their children in the ways of God, reminding parents that discipleship is a lifestyle.
What Is Discipleship?
Bob: Like a lot of dads, Jason Houser decided he was going to bring some kind of spiritual focus / some kind of family devotions to his family every day. He found it was really hard.
Jason: Our first times we sat down, and our kids were younger, were so profoundly discouraging. [Laughter] I said, “I am doing this so poorly.” Now, I know—and I hear stories from people—that there really is a spiritual battle that happens when you try to engage. So, you need to be aware of that and don’t be discouraged.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 12th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Jason Houser today about how he has pressed through the issue to find a way to spiritually focus and train his children. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. If there’s any issue moms and dads have asked us about over the years—
Bob: —it’s the issue we’re going to talk about today.
Dennis: It is. And I just want to read what Christ commanded in the last couple of verses of Matthew, Chapter 28—He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” He commanded us to make disciples around the world, but it begins at home.
And we have an author, song-writer, worship leader, daddy of three, husband of one—Heidi—for more than 20 years, who lives in Twin Falls, Idaho. Jason Houser joins us on FamilyLife Today. Jason, welcome back.
Jason: Thank you so much, fellows. It’s so great to be here with you guys.
Bob: And any of our listeners, who have taken a son or a daughter through Passport2Purity®,—
Bob: —you’ve heard Jason; right?
Jason: That’s right.
Bob: Because you and the Seeds Family Worship team, which you give leadership to—
Bob: —you took the Scriptures in Passport2Purity / put them to music for us. Those songs, that help us memorize Scripture, are a big part of Passport2Purity—and now, new songs for the brand-new Passport2Identity® resource—
Bob: —that we’ve created as well.
Bob: Great partnership. And you guys do such great work. In fact, I was telling you earlier—when I’m reading my Bible now, I’ll come across a verse; and I just have a melody break out in my head because I’m thinking of the songs that you’ve written on these. [Laughter]
Jason: I love it. Well, it is such a blessing. It’s been such a great journey, and we appreciate you guys. And I will say—the verses that you’ve given us to write songs to for these projects have not been the easiest verses—like preeminent—Colossians 1:18. I mean, that’s not the most singable word in the universe; but I love how the song turned out. [Laughter]
Then, we had: “Flee sexual immorality”; but it was a journey getting the songs written.
And I’ll tell you—to be a part of these Passport projects and to actually get to do them with our children—and our Seeds Family Worship Board of Directors and our creative team—we have gone through them with our kids, and we have life-changing stories that have happened. It really has nothing to do with the fact that our music’s on there. It was really for us, as parents, and it really equipped us to have some super important conversations at a time that was needed. So, thank you guys—it’s been awesome to get to be a part of it.
Dennis: Well, thank you for using your gifts to honor God; and I appreciate this latest contribution. It’s a book you coauthored with Bobby and Chad Harrington called Dedicated. It’s about training your children to trust and follow Christ, which is what discipleship is all about.
And I guess that’s my first question—you wrote the book about it: “How would you describe discipleship to moms and dads and what their assignment is in discipling their kids?”
Jason: You started the broadcast out, reading from Matthew 28. We’ve taken our definition of discipleship from that—and it’s: “Helping people to trust and follow Jesus.” It’s really—you have to go and make disciples—and that happens in the home—and baptizing them, and then, teaching them. There’s that process of—it’s not just the conversion or helping our children to say, “Okay, we believe in Jesus”; but it’s really teaching them to obey and knowing that Jesus is with you. Jesus said, “I am with you always,”—that He’s with us in this process.
So, we took that verse from Matthew 28. Then, we added a couple other verses from Ephesians 6:4, where it talks about: “Fathers, don’t exasperate your children; but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Then, Proverbs 22:6: “Train a child in the way they should go. When they are old, they won’t depart from it.” So, that’s where we get: “Training your children to trust and follow Jesus.” It is taking these verses together—like:
“That’s the call / that’s the discipleship that happens as you go through life and having God at the center of your home.”
Bob: When you and Heidi became parents for the first time, did you have a vision for what it was God was calling you to do, as a dad? Did you have in your mind: “Oh, I’ve got an assignment here. I’ve got to disciple my kids”?
Jason: We didn’t have a clue about what was happening. I actually have a funny story about when our oldest son, Ben, was born. We were bringing—actually, out of the hospital—we were in Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m carrying him out of the hospital—I remember this like it was yesterday. This seven pound, two ounce little boy felt like he weighed a hundred pounds as I’m awkwardly walking him out. And I’m thinking to myself: “We needed more training. We need help.” I mean, I’m thinking about trying to keep this little boy alive; right?
It reminded me—this is a little insight into how my disturbing mind works—but it reminded me of the first time I ever bungee jumped off a 300-foot tower; right? I was excited about that. I was—I’m an adventurer. So, I climbed up the tower.
I put the harness on. I’m getting ready to jump off, and I’m just excited. I’m a little nervous; but I take that first step off of the tower, and I start my free fall. I thought, “I should have put a little more thought into this decision.” [Laughter]
And that’s kind of how it felt—that connected in my heart, walking out of the hospital, like, “I should have put a little more thought into becoming a parent,” because I’m just thinking about his life—his physical life—not thinking spiritually yet. But then, I learned, later, I’m a spiritual parent. God’s giving me a calling. There’s nothing more important than his spiritual life and teaching him about the Lord.
Dennis: It’s interesting that you described walking out of the hospital with a seven-pound boy, feeling like it was a hundred pounds, because in Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, [verses 6-7], where it kind of gives parents the charge—it says, “These words, which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, shall be on your heart;”—
Dennis: —“and you shall teach of them as you walk by the way, and as you do life with your kids [paraphrase].”
And the concept of “these words that I am commanding you today shall be on your heart” is the idea of getting up every morning, with a sack of flour on your back, carrying them—a 100-pound sack of flour—weighted down by the responsibility you have to shape the soul, the character, the spiritual identity of this young man / this young lady—this child you’ve been entrusted with.
Dennis: I don’t think a lot of parents feel that weight today, and that’s what this book is really all about.
Jason: The title, Dedicated, comes from the place—you know, most Christian parents will dedicate their children, whether that comes in the form of baptism / a dedication—however, the church expresses that—but there is some form of dedication. They are saying, “We want our kids to be committed to the Lord.” That’s their desire. But we talk about: “Well, how do you live out that dedication?”
And there are these other things that we want our kids to have—every parent says, “I want my kids to have the best opportunities.” They are thinking about their future, but the best opportunity and the most important thing that your kids are going to have to follow Jesus is through you.
And that passage, Dennis, that you are talking about in—it really happens as God is the center of your home. It’s not preaching sermons to your kids or these other things. It’s about a lifestyle / this discipleship lifestyle that needs to happen / that needs to be that weight. But the weight—it’s not just you—Jesus is with you in that. We talked about the Great Commission, but it is to feel the responsibility of that.
Bob: You just identified two aspects of what the discipleship process looks like. One aspect is that it’s some intentional, maybe formal, interaction where you do say: “Okay; let’s have some time where we’re going to look in the Scriptures together,”—
Bob: —or “We’re going to read a Bible story,” or whatever it is; but it’s formal and it’s intentional.
The other aspect is the informal life-on-life:
“We’re walking by the way. Something comes up, and we talk about how God is in this.” Both of those are important, but I think parents sometimes discount the informal part and think, “If I’m not doing the formal part, I’m failing.” The informal part is pretty significant as well; isn’t it?
Jason: Absolutely. And it’s really—I even think breaking it down like that is not necessary. It’s really—again, it’s a lifestyle. Your life is going to look different. But when you break down that passage from Deuteronomy 6, the first thing is for parents to say, “There is only one God,”—here, it is read: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” I say: “Families, you have to decide: ‘Jesus is Lord of your house—“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”’”
Dennis: Who are we going to worship?
Jason: Right. We’re going to worship Him, and that’s—these are the boundary lines in God’s Word. So, then, it says, “These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” “You should love the Lord your God,”—as you were saying Dennis. We need to love Him, as parents; and then, we need to have His Word.
So, we need to be in relationship with God.
Dennis: I don’t want to run past this. I want to just stop for a second because the way you can tell what you worship is what you talk about.
Dennis: It’s what you treasure. It’s what you value.
Dennis: It’s what you first go to in your mind and your heart as you wake up every day.
Dennis: And I think parents, today, need to take a step back and just do an inventory of the gods that are clamoring for number one in their lives. And there are a bunch of them.
Dennis: There’s career. There’s accumulation of property and wealth, and prestige, and looking good about life; but none of those things are going to shape the spiritual condition of your child, which will do him well or her well throughout her entire or his entire lifetime.
Jason: So, that’s what we always tell parents and we talk about in the book—when you begin this process as being dedicated to Jesus—exactly what you’re saying—you take this personal inventory and say:
“Do I love the Lord first and foremost? So, there is only one God. Where am I with Him?” You make that commitment; and then, you make the commitment to be in His Word.
One metaphor that I use, as a musician, is—every time I play music, I take my guitar and I tune it. Every time I’m in the recording studio with some of the best musicians in the world—between every take—they are tuning. So, what we do is—we tune our hearts and our lives to God’s Word—that’s that daily process.
And I tell families: “It’s not religion. It’s not beating yourself up: ‘Oh, I didn’t read my Bible today. God’s mad at me.’ It’s: ‘I need that! It’s my spiritual food.’ So, I’m committing myself to Him—that I’m tuning myself to His Word—that these commandments are on our hearts.”
Then, you go from there. Then, you shall teach them diligently to your children. And Bob, you’re talking about the formal and informal. To us, we just say, “You need to have a plan,”—intentional. Diligence is having intention, and it can look different for every family.
There is something that we teach called the Family Worship Fingerprint—
—we say, “You know, it’s amazing how God made every one of us unique. We all have our own fingerprint. Well, every family is unique. You have your own blessings from the Lord and you have your own unique challenges.”
You know, it’s important to thank God for your health. My wife is a nurse practitioner. I think a lot about health because we talk about that a lot. If you have the blessing of health in your family, you thank God for that. The blessing of finances—God’s provided for you or just our daily bread / all those things—you thank God. Then, the challenges—every family has unique challenges. Maybe, it’s a sick parent or child. One of our children has to take shots every day, and that’s part of our life—that’s one of the challenges.
But you take who you are, as a family—the size of your family / some of your family background—and you decide: “Okay, how are we going to do discipleship? How are we going to spend time together, seeking the Lord? What does that look like to have a diligent plan for us?”
Bob: So, what’s your fingerprint? If we came to the Houser house and we were going to get your picture of what—
Jason: We’re going to break it down.
Bob: Intentional—yes, break it down for us.
Jason: So, I don’t know if you guys know this, but we have—our last name is Houser—but we call our family, “Housermania.”
Jason: And it doesn’t take long, hanging out at our house, to figure out why. We have a dog, and a guinea pig, and then, we have—it’s just life; you know? So, for us, one of the things we do is we try to have dinner—we schedule time—Monday and Tuesday nights, we sit down and have a family dinner and devotion time. Our life flows; okay?—because I’m travelling / I do a lot of different things—we’re in ministry. We just have a pretty crazy life; but for us, we sit down and we’ll have dinner. We’ll talk about “What’s your high and low for the day?” We just talk about that.
Dennis: What’s it look like? I just want you to visualize for our listeners. Are your kids sitting there—perfectly sitting up straight and listening all the time—[Laughter]—or are they flipping peas, like ours did, across the table or sliding down in the chair underneath the table?
Jason: Oh, yes.
Dennis: What’s it really look like?
Jason: Hey, I think just corralling our kids—that can be a battle—
—but we’re talking, and sometimes, there is drama. Drama happens; right? Real life is happening—
Jason: —all around us.
Dennis: But you keep doing it—is the point.
Jason: Yes. We’re saying, “What’s your high / low for the day?” And sometimes, people have stories, and sometimes, there’s nothing. But we talk about that. Then—
Dennis: What’s a recent high/low from your family?
Jason: Well, highs—oftentimes, it is football practice. Lows can be a math test. But you know, a lot of times, we just connect that with life / with what’s going on. So, that’s kind of our sit-down time; but then, before the kids go to bed, I’ll say, “We’re going to have a devotion time.” And sometimes, we’ll read a book. I always try to share life / real life, and then, tie it to the Word—like: “Here’s what happened at work today,” “Here’s what happened at school,” “What does God’s Word say?”
So, it’s not a lot of preplanned—you know, it’s just more of what I think Deuteronomy 6 is—we’re just bringing life back to the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes, a verse will be off the cuff; you know?
Bob: And when you’re talking about reading through a book together, or even reading a passage of Scripture, you’re talking about a paragraph—
—not a chapter, not a—it can be 30 seconds.
Jason: Yes; very short. A lot of times—of course, our kids are older. One of the things that I tell families is: “When you start when your kids are young, you could start at the crib. You walk into their room, you put your hand on their back, and you start praying for them. And it’s just a few seconds. Then, as they can start praying with you, then, you start with very short Bible stories.” I mean, literally— like you’re saying, Bob—one minute / five minutes. When your kids are young, don’t go for five minutes; but you are setting this pattern and habit.
Jason: And then, as they get to be teenagers, a lot of times, you may have a sit-down—the family that we serve with / the Moreland family in the Seeds ministry—they do breakfast devotions. They’ll go through a book; but they set a time when they have breakfast, and they do it together. That’s their intentional time.
As the kids get older—like reading a book—we didn’t do that when our kids were really young; but we did that—but we just read one section, talk about it, and then, we just move on.
Dennis: The goal of being a parent and discipling your kids is not to get to the finish line.
Dennis: It’s to go through the journey with your child—and bring the truth of the Bible / the reality of your experience of Jesus Christ in your life—
Dennis: —and pass on those stories to your kids.
Dennis: I mean, that’s really your assignment. The truth of God’s Word and your experience of God—both of those are important because, if just have the truth and you’re just lecturing—
Dennis: —they don’t like that. But if you just have the experience, without the truth, then, you’re setting your kids up to be convinced by some false teacher at some point.
Bob: Here is the big message that you’re sending just by doing this—you’re saying to your kids, “God and His Word are important to us, and so, we take time for this.”
Bob: And they may not remember the lesson from Thursday or the paragraph that you talked about two weeks ago, but they will remember, years from now:
“For Mom and Dad, God’s Word was important. We took time.” That big message is a huge message to deliver to your kids over the years.
Jason: And to know that God’s Word is important to you, personally, too—that you have a personal time with the Lord. I heard someone, one time, just encourage people just to read their Bible in front of their kids. You may get up and have your devotion time and go off to a private place; but he said, “Go out and sit in your living room when your kids get up—they can just see you spending time with the Lord.”
Bob: You talk about this in your book—what you’re doing today, as a dad, is not what you saw modeled in the home where you grew up.
Bob: Your dad was not an intentional discipler.
Jason: Right. This is, probably, the most common story—is people don’t have a context of seeing, “What does this look like?” And I definitely didn’t. I got saved at a church camp and started going to church.
I started at the place, where I just knew it was important and been encouraged just to sit down and go:
“Okay, we’re going to try something. We’re going to try to sit down and read a simple Bible story.”
And let me tell you what happened, and I warn parents—like: “There is a spiritual battle that happens.” Our first times we sat down, when our kids were younger, were so profoundly discouraging. [Laughter] I said, “I’m doing this so poorly.” Now, I know—and I hear stories from people—that there really is a spiritual battle that happens when you try to engage.
Jason: So, you need to be aware of that and don’t be discouraged because the thing that I found is—I was dead-set—like: “We’re just going to try to have this spiritual family time. I don’t even know what it looks like; but reading a Bible story and praying—okay; I’ve got that part.”
So, we were trying to do that, but I’m thinking the kids aren’t getting anything out of this. Then, one of our sons, a few weeks into it, said, “Well, yes, Dad, like you talked about the other night, and when God said this, and that’s why we need to do this.” I was like: “You got that?! You actually got something from this?!” I was so encouraged because I—he heard that—
—I didn’t know. But that gave me that encouragement to continue to take those next steps.
Again, I tell parents just to begin / just to start with the simple short prayer. And that’s a huge breakthrough—just to start praying for your kids before bed, or in the morning, and praying that God will help you seek Him together. That’s the first step. And then, you build on that.
Dennis: I’ve met a lot of kids, over the years, who grew up listening to FamilyLife Today. Personally, our kids didn’t when they were growing up—they were living it / they were living FamilyLife Today. [Laughter] But when they got a little older, occasionally—and Bob knows / he did the same thing—
Dennis: —we would pull out a broadcast. I’d say, “Hey, Laura, I need you to listen to something.” And it was classic. It was talking about girls, and how they dress, and how they relate to boys.
Bob: It was modesty; right?
Dennis: It was on modesty. And it was pretty tough stuff, and Laura just kind of threw her head back on the chair—
—she’s leaning back, and she’s acting like she’s sleeping. Two months later, she’s talking to a friend; and I’m overhearing this conversation: “Well, I know what So-and-so said about modesty; and I’ve got to tell you—they said this, this, this, and this. It’s pretty cool.”
Now, here’s what you can’t give into—it’s called the dark side of teenagers. They want to make you believe they aren’t listening and they don’t care, but you know what? [Laughter] You don’t know what’s getting through!
Jason: Right; right. Absolutely.
Dennis: You just have to keep on keeping on, and it’s formal times. It’s also what I call sandbox theology. All of our kids had sandboxes that they played in / and built little roads, and houses, and all kinds of stuff, and palms trees out there. Crawl into the sandbox with them—play with them and apply the Scriptures to what—don’t make everything spiritual—but find a few things, as you go through life, to connect with your kids and to train them to be a follower of Christ.
Bob: And the point is: “You can do this. Parents can do this.”
Dennis: Yes, they can do it.
Bob: You don’t have to go to Bible school.
Dennis: You don’t have to go to seminary.
Bob: That’s right. And the second thing is—it just needs a little intentionality / purposefulness, where a mom and a dad say:
Bob: “You know what? We need to make this a priority in our home.”
Dennis: “We need to be dedicated.”
Bob: “We do.”
Jason: That’s right.
Bob: Look at—there!
Jason: Come on! Where did they get that? Wow! [Laughter]
Bob: That’s the title of the book that Jason Houser has written. It’s called Dedicated: Training Your Children to Trust and Follow Jesus. And of course, we have copies of the book available in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of Dedicated; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and place your order over the phone.
And let me just remind you—that Jason is the guy who has taken Scripture verses and put them to music for the resources that we’ve created for parents and children to use together, Passport2Purity—
—which, of course, has been around for more than a decade—and the brand-new Passport2Identity for parents of mid-teens, 14- / 15-year-olds, to have a getaway time together to talk about their identity. The songs you will hear and the Scripture you will memorize, as you are off on these weekends with your son or your daughter, are songs and Bible verses that Jason has crafted for us. Find out more about Passport2Purity and Passport2Identity, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or again, give us a call at 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
And we want to make sure, before we’re done here today, to acknowledge our friends, Ellsworth and Tammie Herring, who live in Houston, Texas, because four years ago, today, they stood in front of the preacher and said, “I do,” and the other one said, “I do too,” and they were married. They are celebrating their fourth anniversary today.
“Congratulations!” to the Herrings.
Here, at FamilyLife—we are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries™. In fact, we are celebrating our 40th anniversary this year. We had some friends of the ministry, who came to us, knowing that this is our 40th anniversary and knowing that the summer months are always a slow time of year for ministries like ours, and they said, “We want to give you a little boost as you head into summer in honor of your 40th anniversary.” They have agreed to match every donation we receive, during the month of May, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to a total of $350,000.
So, it’s a good time—if you’ve ever thought about making a donation, now is a good time to do it. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can make your donation online; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate; or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And once again, any donation you make this month is going to be matched, dollar for dollar, up to that total amount of $350,000. So, we hope to hear from you.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to continue our conversation with Jason Houser and talk more about what we can do, as moms and dads, to make sure our kids are spiritually focused as they grow. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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