Team Tanner

checkers-4d497f146269cWhat do you get when you mix together five kids, a checkers game, and a Bible? Give up?

An incredible opportunity for our family to discover together how God would have us live at peace with one another.

This past Sunday morning, during our family worship gathering, my wife, Lorrie, grabbed what was available to her, a checkers game, and proceeded to hand out the black and red pieces to each of us. (Once I realized what was going on, I knew that this was going to be good!) She then asked who was on the red team! We raised our pieces high. Then she asked for a show of hands for those on the black team. Now that we knew who was on what team, we were ready.

Lorrie then led us all in a very thought provoking discussion about what it means for us to be on different teams competing for the status of WINNER! We then talked about how it makes sense for us as a family to think of ourselves as being on one team, rather than on opposing teams. The kids began to understand that if they spent as much energy on encouraging one another as they did fighting each other that there would be more peace in our home.

Once we all seemed to be on the same page, we were all willing to admit that we struggle to live at peace with each other. We allow little things to develop into bigger issues that eventually erupt into an all out war.

For some reason we think that if we just try harder, we can beat this. We couldn’t be more wrong.

God makes it very clear in the Bible that without him we have no hope in living a victorious life. If the Tanners want to be people of peace, we need to surrender to the Holy Spirit, see each other as being on the same team, and always remember that we’re not to fight against each other, but rather we’re to join forces and fight against our common enemy.

We read in Ephesians 6:10-13 (NLT):

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

After we read this passage of Scripture we took some time to unpack it a bit so that we all understood what God was telling us to do.

First, we learned that only God’s strength was going to help us change. On our own we are not strong enough to make the necessary changes to our thinking, our attitudes, and our actions.

Secondly, we learned that we’re on the same team and that fighting against each other doesn’t accomplish anything good. We can’t allow Satan to dupe us into thinking that it’s okay for us to fight against each other. That will only distract us and keep us from accomplishing all that God has for us to do as a family. Our full attention needs to be on standing firm as one team against our common enemy.

Thirdly, we learned that everyday we need to put on God’s Armor to help us stand firm against our common enemy, Satan. From head to toe we need to be covered with God’s strength and power. As we hold up the shield of faith and use the Sword of the Spirit (the Bible), we will find ourselves walking in victory and living at peace with one another.

As we prayed and closed up our family worship time, we put our hands into the middle, counted to three, and yelled…TEAM TANNER!

How have you been able to encourage your family to stand as a team against your common enemy?

Transform Everything

Jubilee 2013As I sat with my wife, Lorrie, anticipating the beginning of Jubilee 2013, I couldn’t help but be a bit surprised that we were there. We hadn’t planned on it, that’s for sure. It was indeed a God-thing, and I was glad to be surprised by His goodness and blessing.

We had been invited about a month earlier by a Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) worker, Billy Ferrell, when we first met over lunch to talk about what God was doing among college students in York, PA.

Once I knew that I would able to attend, I began to realize all of the opportunities that I would be afforded. I would be able to connect with several friends from the Pittsburgh area that I haven’t seen in a very long time. I would connect with a few fellow Geneva College grads as well. In addition, I was looking forward to hearing from several of the speakers and learning more about how our church, LifeStation, could partner with the CCO to help transform college students to transform the world.

On top of encountering God through relationships as described above and during times of worship and learning, my wife and I had the privilege of meeting a new family who was in very similar shoes as we were as we partner with a friend and his family to plant a church. This new friendship was a real gift from God. Karl & Bethany are a great example of what it means to live on mission for the glory of God and allow God to transform everything. They own Alabaster Coffee in Williamsport, PA and are committed to being a part of how God transforms that city.