Family

Generational Curses?

I was recently asked this question regarding Exodus 34:6-7, which reads, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) The question was concerning verse 7, about punishment for third and fourth generations, and whether this changed with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Here is my response…

There are no generational curses in the life of a Christian. In Jeremiah 31:29-30, God promises us that the children will no longer pay for the father’s mistakes; but, we should also remain in covenant with Him (Ezekiel 18). However, there are spiritual consequences to our rebellion towards God, and it is OUR rebellion, not our ancestors, that is relevant here. However, I do believe we are prone to certain generational sins, because of how we were raised. However, on judgment day, everyone shall give an account of himself to God (Rom 14:12), and for this reason, we need to accept responsibility for our own sin.

In addition, we shouldn’t be quick to blame our personal hardship on the generational sins of our forefathers either. A good example is found in John 9:1-3 where Jesus encounters a blind man who was blind from birth. The text reads, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” So in Jesus’ words, sickness, disease or suffering does not automatically mean there is sin in the camp. Therefore, we should not blame our misfortune or our family’s misfortune on the sins of our ancestors. We alone are answerable for our own sins.

10 Things I’ll Miss Most About SoCal

Here are 10 things I’ll miss most about SoCal…

1. Our SeaCoast Grace Church Family – Our decision to move back to Sacramento was a difficult one, because we love our church family! There are so many who have welcomed us into their lives, blessed our family and who we will truly miss.

2. Grace Christian School – The staff and faculty at GCS rock! They love their jobs, love their kids and excel at their profession! Having Zach at GCS these past four years has been one of the biggest blessings!

3. Disneyland – Being annual pass holders at Disneyland for three straight years was an amazing experience. Even as locals, whenever we went to Disneyland, we always thought we were on vacation. And every night we were reminded that we lived 8 miles from the Happiest Place on Earth as we heard their fireworks echo through the valley.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Watching Mike Trout play this year has been crazy fun! And I will miss watching Baseball America’s 2012 Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year play! This guy is a future Hall of Famer and it was so fun to watch him do his thing and Jared Weaver pitch!

5. SoCal Beaches – We loved hiking Crystal Cove in Newport and kicking it in Seal Beach. This past summer was probably our best summer at the beach.

6. SoCal Weather – Where else could it be 80 degrees in December? With typical 70-80 weather year around, we will miss the weather big time. Although, I won’t miss the May grey and June gloom! They never mention those months in the SoCal marketing brochures.

7. OC Small Group Pastors Cohort – I’ve had the privilege of rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of Small Group pastoral leadership and I will greatly miss the creativity and ideas that these men bring to the table.

8. Spiritual Mentors – Wow! It has been a blast to reconnect with some of my former spiritual mentors since living in SoCal! In addition, I have been privileged to meet some other wise men who have spoken into my life over the last few years! Thanks Tom, JP, Lyle, Rob, Mark, Michael, Dennis, Ed and Roger. You are amazing men of faith. And I have been blessed by your investment in my life.

9. Amazing Friends – I have met some amazing people since living in SoCal! And I’ve been able to reconnect with some old friends from college that has been such a blessing! In addition, we’ve so enjoyed our visits from NorCal friends and hosting them at our home. Fun times.

10. Proximity to Fun Getaways – We’ll miss our proximity to Palm Springs and San Diego. They’ve been fun places to escape to for a few days.

The Power of Community

This past weekend we showed this video as part of our weekend services at SeaCoast Grace! I’m so inspired by these women who have courageously walked through a difficult season and found the hope and healing they needed, because of their willingness to face the pain and disappointment in their lives, in a safe community with others. Here are their stories…

A New Adventure

An open letter to the staff and leaders
of SeaCoast Grace Church…

Dear Friends:

This letter is a difficult one to write, because for the last four years SeaCoast Grace Church has been my home. The people have been my family. And the experience of worshiping here has been life-changing. When Jennifer and I started at SeaCoast in February 2009, the church still met in the East Auditorium and the ground for the West Auditorium had not even been broken, nor the vision shared. When I think about all that has happen over the last four years, I stand amazed at all that God has done and how He has provided through His people at SCG. These last four years, have been an exciting time in SeaCoast’s history. And it’s been an honor to be part of that journey.

This letter is even more challenging, given that the last year has been one of my most fulfilling and fun seasons of ministry in my career. I work with an incredible team of people, love the people I serve, and find myself really excited over the growing momentum for small groups. However, after four, personally transforming years at SCG, I believe God is leading me and my family on a new adventure, in order to be closer to our extended family. And so it’s with sadness and joy, I announce that I have given my notice at SCG and will be leaving to move back to Sacramento at the end of this month to accept a similar role at Hillside Christian Church in Roseville.

I fully intend to do whatever it takes to prepare SCG for this transition! And I’m fully confident that all of you will continue to champion the mission well. As I spoke with key leaders over this past weekend, I was encouraged to see their faith-filled reactions. They are some of the best leaders, I have ever worked with! Not only are they supportive of the mission, but they are passionately in love with Jesus. And knowing you and your character, I have full assurance that you will continue to bless these men and women as they faithfully lead this ministry forward.

Your prayers for me and my family during this transition are appreciated. Again, I say thank you for your leadership, support and for your commitment to this ministry. My life has been truly blessed and I leave a deeply grateful man.

Blessings,
Bryan Hardwick

Talking to Your Kids About Sex

I’ll never forget the first “sex talk” I had with my son Zach at Chick-fil-A a few months ago. It was one of the most awkward moments of parenting. But looking back, I’m glad I started the conversation when I did. Having sensed God’s prompting, I recognized that helping my son live pure and understand God’s design for our sexuality would be a challenge in today’s culture, so I wanted to start early and be ahead of the curve, so that he learns about sex from me, rather than someone else.

The other day, I was asked by a father at church about what to do in regards to communicating with his kids about sex. Here’s what I had to say on the subject:

Start Early – The key here is that you want to be the primary and first source of information for your child. The old saying is true, “If you don’t tell them, someone else will.” You want to make sure they are getting the right information about sex.

Share in Stages – Share information based on the child’s interest, maturity and ability to understand. A great book to read on this subject is Talking to Your Kids About Sex, by Mark Laaser. This book is broken down by the stages of a child’s development and offers practical age appropriate ideas of what to address, how and why.

Answer Questions – If your child is willing to ask a question, it’s because they want an answer. Many parents make the mistake of putting off the questions their children ask and never return to answer them. Either because they feel their child isn’t ready to hear them, or they aren’t prepared to address it. Whatever the reason, if you don’t answer the question, they will probably ask someone else.

Teach According to Truth, not Culture – The fact is that today’s culture is mostly wrong about the issue of sex. Culture today is trying to redefine what sex is and one of the greatest tragedies of our generation has been the separation of human sexuality and spirituality. Don’t be afraid to teach your children to be different. If they understand God’s design for their sexuality, they will live differently.

Discuss the Emotional, & Physical Aspects of Sexual Intimacy – Our children should understand the emotional aspect of sex and the damage which can be caused by premarital sexual activity, as much as they should understand the physical aspects. The emotional pain of premarital sex is usually the most damaging aspect later in life.

Make a Covenant with Them – My sister-in-law took both of her kids on a retreat, went through the Passport to Purity curriculum and gave them a purity ring to wear as a reminder of the covenant they made between God and their parents. When my niece got married earlier this year, she gave her ring back to her father to symbolize that she had faithfully fulfilled the vow she had made that day as a teenager.

Keep the Door Open – Keep having the age appropriate conversations! My conversations with Zach are far from over, but by opening the door early, I have hopefully removed any barriers that would prevent him from coming to talk to me. I have also removed the mystique of sex, by being willing to talk to him and answer the questions he has. I don’t believe Zach would be willing to talk about such a difficult subject in the future, if I had not established that freedom and practice at an early age.

Disneyland Tips

As Northern California transplants, Jennifer and I have enjoyed hosting our friends and family in Southern California while they visit Disneyland, colleges, the beach or whatever. And being that we live just 8 miles away from the Happiest Place on Earth, we often get asked lots of questions about discount deals to dining preferences. So having just recently visited, I thought I would share some of my tips to make your visit to Disneyland even more enjoyable.

Best Practices: With the opening of Carsland, it’s best to visit California Adventure first and secure your FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers, the best ride in the resort! The FASTPASS line cues up around the Carthay Circle Restaurant. In addition, you can secure a FASTPASS for the World of Color near the Grizzly River Run. Once you secure both, head over to Disneyland or visit other parts of the park, as everyone is heading to Carsland first. In fact, I think Carsland is best experienced at night, when everything is all lit up! Remember, your FASTPASS is good for anytime that day, as long as it’s after your designated start time. I am also told, although I have never tested it out, that the FASTPASS rules applies to each park separately. So, if your plans take you to Disneyland first and then over to California Adventure, you’ll be able to get a second FASTPASS ticket there.

Affordable Dining Options: There are lots of places to grab a burger throughout the park, but if you’re in the mood for something more, we recommend Rancho del Zocalo in Adventureland. Entrees include citrus fire-grilled chicken, 4 cheese enchiladas, soft tacos, burritos and even a tostada salad. In addition, there is a fresh water fountain that you can use to refill your water bottles! We also enjoy dining in Cafe Orleans, where we often share a Monte Cristo sandwich and garlic fries. Also new to Carsland, is Flo’s V8 Cafe, which is good if you enjoy comfort food.

Fine Dining Options: It’s best to make reservations in advance through Disney Dining. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance at (714) 781-DINE. Some of our favorite dining options include the Blue Bayou, Napa Rose in the Grand Californian, and Wine Country Trattoria. To save money, we recommend going to the Blue Bayou for lunch. In addition, there is full-service prix fixe dinner options at Wine Country Trattoria that include tickets to a reserved viewing section of the World of Color! Overall, the best value for the money, is the Wine Country Trattoria!

Other Notable Food/Snack Options: An Ice Cream Sundae at Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in California Adventure; Mickey-shaped Beignets at Cafe Orleans; and the Churro Bites in Carsland are the best we’ve ever tasted!

I would love to hear your tips and favorites as well, so take a minute to post some below…

The End of an Era

Today I said goodbye to my faithful friend of 15 years! We shared 250,000 miles of memories along the road of life! Traveling the highways, byways and navigating through the seasons of life. I never named her. However, she was a faithful road warrior! I purchased her from Carmichael Honda just days before starting my job with DaySpring Cards back in 1997.

She was a faithful traveling companion. She traversed over 100,000 miles with me from Bakersfield to Eugene, OR and everywhere in between, while with DaySpring Cards. She kept me safe, as I was twice rear ended and once spun out on black ice in OR. In my transition from the road to vocational ministry, she transported me back and forth to seminary several days a week for over two years. She even transported some very important people in her prime, including NY Times bestselling author Henry Cloud and Dove Award Nominee and recording artist, Jason Gray.

With skyrocketing gas prices, she has been our go to car these last couple of years, offering the best miles per gallon, compared to our Dodge Durango! Even with her old age and high mileage, she was like the Energizer bunny, she just kept going and going. Despite the fender benders, and dents courtesy of Zach, I never had anything go wrong with her. And she still rolls pretty good, although she has lost a lot of her get up and go. The good news is that she’s not going to junk yard, instead she’ll be going back to Sacramento, the town she was adopted in, in order to become my nieces primary car.

So, what do you do when you had some a great experience with a Honda vehicle for 15 years? You buy another one! I think this time I will name her!

Raising An Olympian

Last night America was inspired by the finesse and joy of Gabby Douglas’ performance that earned her the women’s all-around gymnastics gold medal! It was a moment of glory! However, that moment, wasn’t realized without a lot of sacrifice on Gabby’s part. “I just want people to know it took a lot,” she said. “It took a lot of hard days in the gym and determination, passion and drive. Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood and tears, and effort in the gym every day.”

After taking gold, Gabby declared on national television, ‎”I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him & all the blessings fall down on me.”

Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, if you take the letters in her last name, they spell out USA GOLD! Way to represent Gabby! You made your nation proud.

A Grace Filled Response

In reading the headlines and social media threads over the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A founder Dan Cathy’s comments, I was reminded of Bill Hybels loving and grace filled response to Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, who under pressure from a gay advocacy group, canceled his appearance at the Leadership Summit, just a few days before the event.

I encourage you to listen to Bill’s response, made in front of a global audience at last years Summit, for I believe his wise words can speak to the issues of our day and give us some great ideas on how we can lovingly respond…

Creating Margin

In reading the recent headlines, I believe that our society is suffering from a societal epidemic: overload! We’re exhausted and hurting, struggling to keep up with life. We feel distressed, but we’re not clear why. We’re besieged by anxiety and fatigue; and our relationships and bodies are suffering because of it. The flood of daily events seems beyond our control. The bottom line is that we are overloaded, and we’re living on the edge.

Today our stress levels are unprecedented and studies have reported that 80% of Americans need to reduce stress in their lives. Change, debt, hurry, noise and complexity all contribute. Because of a rapidly changing job market, we’re more insecure. Because of the breakdown of the family, we’re more alone.

This past month at SeaCoast Grace Church we talked about the need to create margin in our lives by honoring the Sabbath, creating moments of sanctuary with God, and subtracting the things that keep us distracted in our pursuit of him. Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Without margin, especially in the key areas of emotional energy, physical energy, time, and finances, any sense of well-being is unlikely.

In the past, margin was a normal part of people’s lives. They lived on farms. They had time to help a neighbor and attend social events. And they didn’t have all the shiny things that distract us from resting. Unfortunately, what was designed to make our lives simpler has only made it more complex. We’re dialed in 24/7 and have so much information at our fingertips. But, are we really better off?

So if you find that your emotional energy is gone, how do you get it back? Here are six things to consider:

  1. Cultivate social support systems –  Some people fill us, others drain us. We need to intentionally develop relationships that nurture us, with people who understand us and care about us.
  2. Get a pet – Pets are loyal and often affectionate—just the kind of things that increase our emotional reserves.
  3. Reconcile relationships – Broken relationships are huge emotional drains. Forgive and let go!
  4. Rest – Try to set aside time regularly to just “be still” and let God be God!
  5. Laugh – Nothings recharges my battery like a good laugh. Spend time with friends or doing things that make you laugh. Nothing like a good I Love Lucy episode for me!
  6. Create appropriate boundaries –  We need to be able to say “no” at times, so we can say “yes” to God’s best!
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