Tagged In: family
So 2016 was a whirlwind year. The year in which I turned 40 gave me no time to pursue a mid-life crises, ha! My first priority has been my family. Our daughter (9 years old) enrolled in a Christian school for the first time this year. She is a social butterfly, and flourishes with friends, schedules and structure. In addition to that, we home school two of our boys, and our three year old continues to bring an overload of joy to our family.
Second has been my church ministry. Things have continued to grow and flourish. We are enjoying the second year of the implementation of our music leadership team, a group devoted to the growth and work of the ministry. I attribute much of the success of our ministry to this group of fellow laborers who love the Lord and are committed. And frankly, that describes the majority of the people I am privileged to serve with week after week. Above all, God is doing a great work at Mikado Baptist Church, and as my pastor likes to say, “we are just glad to be on the bus!”
It’s been a joy to continue to contribute to the online work here at Koerts Music. Here is a list of all the major projects I was able to accomplish in 2016, thanks to the grace of God:
- 2 new Flex Instrumental solos (Jesus Paid It All and Christ Arose) — Flex Solos are instrumentals adapted for various instruments
- A new Easter piano collection
- The new Loved piano collection
- 2 new patriotic piano collections: One Nation Under God
- We launched our new Piano Club, which has done really well. You should join it!
- 3 new African American Spirituals piano collections
- A piano duet collection: Repeat the Sounding Joy
- A new Christmas piano collection: Rejoice
In addition, about half way through 2016 I began recording and making YouTube videos of all music I produce on this website. Please check out my channel, and if you like what you see, please subscribe. I expect to continue this with all future projects.
So, it has been a very busy year, and I give all the credit to God who has allowed me to keep up at this pace.
What can you expect this year? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few plans I have for 2017
- Continue my current pace of musical output. Perhaps even exceed expectations. There are plans for new piano collections, more duet and duo arrangements, as well as more Flex Instrumental solos.
- Continue to deliver amazing content for the Piano Club members.
- Release a new simple series, with piano collections that include arrangements that are easy.
- Releasing music by other composers, not just that James Koerts guy. 🙂
- A renewed emphasis on blogging.
Let me just park there for a moment. Blogging is, frankly, a chore for me. I find it easier to “do” ministry than to blog about it. But the longer I’m in church music ministry, the stronger my passions in the field have become. There are some things I simply want to say. There are other things that I just can’t figure out, and I’d like your input. I view it as a worthy exercise, and so it’s something I’m willing to commit to do in 2017. I don’t know if it will be once a week or more or less frequent than that. But I do plan on sharing my thoughts more often, and my whole goal is encouragement and engagement.
We are very excited about our newest arrival, Jacob Erick Koerts, born on May 1st, 2013. So excited that I had to do a blog post about him! (Isn’t that sad?)
He is Koerts baby #4, so there’s a lot of excitement around our house! (As of this writing, our children are ages 7, 5, 2, and 1 day.)
Here are some pictures for your enjoyment:
Mom and baby are doing well!
I was recently asked to speak on family worship at our church. I was overwhelmed with the opportunity, and eager to share what God had taught me as I studied this important area of worship.
We first discussed what real worship is (and what it isn’t). Then we spent a good deal of time discussing how we are to worship (in spirit and in truth, John 4:24). I concluded with the thought that if this isn’t happening on a personal level, then chances are it’s not happening in the family. And if this is the case, then by extension, it’s likely not happening on the corporate level.
If we are going to see dynamic, heart-felt, fully involved worship in our church services, I believe worship must be found in our families (and ultimately, in our personal lives).
Here are a few tips and ideas for meaningful family worship. By no means do I think this is an exhaustive list. I just wanted to give a few ideas to help encourage our families to action. I hope they’ll help your family as you seek to put God first, and honor him in the area of worship.
Develop an attentive eye for God through everyday experiences.
Otherwise known as God-moments. He’s at work all around us. Nature. Circumstances. Challenges. You name it, the hand of God can be seen in it. You just have to look.
If your young children have questions about God, do your best to acknowledge them and answer them. Intentionally draw life applications through difficult family situations. Ask your children what various events and activities teach us about God.
Cultivate a thirst for God through regular family worship.
In our home, we call this devotions. We usually get ready for bed, then all meet in the living room. (Often we’ll have the children bring out their bean bags; we like to make it a real fun, enjoyable and natural time.) Then we read a passage and talk about it together.
For small children, I highly recommend a book that our family has recently discovered: Long Story Short. (You can find it here.) This book has breathed new life into our family devotional time. Older children and teens might enjoy this DVD series I’ve recently come across, which I also highly recommend.
There are many things you can do together in this setting. We have been known to read the Bible, share testimonies, talk about hard things mommy and daddy have gone through and share corresponding biblical truth, read a missionary story and sing together favorite songs that our children have learned in church. It’s not rocket science.
Our goal is to be consistent with it. We live in an extremely busy life. (Doesn’t everybody?) So we often will only meet a few times a week. Our desire is that our children will gain a heart for God, and that their desire to learn more about him will compel them to want to partake in family worship.
Encourage courageous faith through eager expectancy.
What do I mean by this? Well, do you expect God to work on your behalf? Or do you live your life without any real desire to see God move and answer prayer? We can evidence to our children that we are expecting God to work on our behalf and for our good by developing a consistent prayer life that expects the Lord to answer. He may not always answer the way we expect (or want), but he is at work. This is the vision I want to set for my children: that we can pray in accordance with his will, and he will answer. I call it, “praying down fire from heaven.”
I’m not merely referring to having strong faith, or making it so by saying it so. I’m talking about exhibiting complete trust in a great big God who can do anything. We do this in the little things, like praying for a good parking spot at the shopping center, or asking God to provide a particular toy that the kids would like. There have been many times when God miraculously worked on our behalf—often in small ways—and we were able to share with the children how God had answered our prayers.
If we want our children to walk by faith, we need to be willing to do so ourselves. Let’s set the tone.
Nurture an excitement for corporate worship through faithful example.
Do your children say, “Oh! Do we have to go to church again?” Or do they say, “Yay! We get to go to church again!” I’m not sure I know of any children who say the latter, but I think it should be somewhere in between.
I am convicted about this whenever we prepare for a family vacation. Our family loves vacation! When we are getting ready, we talk about it a lot, and it’s easy to generate excitement among our children. We need to be doing the same thing with church.
If your example is a slouched posture in worship, if you are uninterested or preoccupied during worship, then you are setting a poor example for your children. We need to make worship a priority, partly because God is seeking worshipers (John 4:23), but also because as believers, it is an activity that we will be participating in all throughout eternity. When it is a priority in our lives, it will be a priority in our family’s life.
I’d love to hear your take on this. What are some ways you have been able to make your family worship meaningful?
I recently saw this shocking video online. The video itself is not shocking; it’s the message that is.
To fully understand it, you might want to read this scripture first:
The tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:8-10).
I guess a better question is, Could this be me? It kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
My family just made a quick getaway this last weekend to Jacksonville, Florida. Both Beth and my folks live in Jacksonville, so from time to time we enjoy visiting what really amounts to our old stomping grounds. While it was only a three day visit, it was great to just get away, unplug from the regular schedule, and recharge while away.
I brought books to read and paperwork from church to review, but I spent most of my time playing games with my family, visiting the beach, and playing with our children (and enjoying our folks play with our children).
During our vacation, and really over the last few months, we have been noticing some hilarious comments that our three year old son has been saying. This must be the most humorous stage of raising children—we have been laughing a lot lately. His comments are funny and cute, and I really could write a book about it.
Here are a few of the funny comments and questions my three year old son has said recently:
- While traveling, he observed a pickup truck full of furniture and boxes and blurted out of nowhere: “Do you see all that yucky junk?”
- You should see his mischievous smile that accompanies this question: “Sissy, do you want me to tickle you?”
- When asked what we should name our yet-to-be-born third child: “Well, I’m gonna call him Turkey.”
- In response to something silly mommy or daddy says: “You bunny rabbit!”
- When daddy accidentally says the word “stupid” (a word mommy says is a bad word and shouldn’t be said): “Daddy, that’s not very nice.”
It’s great to hear the words that truly are “out of the mouths of babes.” His two year old sister isn’t far behind him in the funny comments category. Yet amazingly, this child who makes me laugh so much, has a very sweet and sensitive heart. Maybe someday he’ll read this and get all over me for it. Regardless, he has reminded me and taught me so much about being caring and loving. I’m not one of those parents who thinks my children are perfect (though I joke they are!), but I am grateful for the gift they are to me and my wife. My life is deeply enriched because of my family.