Aaron R. Decker

Faith, Family, Church, Health

How To Pray For Your Kids At The Beginning of a New School Year

Joseph is starting Pre-K today.  Several area schools are starting school this week.  Are you nervous for your kids to go back to school?  Are you excited as they begin a new chapter in their life’s story?

To get our kids ready for school, we go shopping for new clothes and backpacks, prepare their lunches the night before, make sure they get plenty of sleep, or even try to get them in a back to school routine the last few days of summer.  Yet so often, we forget what is most essential to help our kids prepare for school.  We forget prayer.  As your kids head back to school today or later this month, here is how you can pray for them:

  1. Pray for their safety.  If I am honest, the threat of school shootings, violence, and bullying makes me want to shelter my kids.  There is a spiritual battle we do not see (Eph. 6:12) that is the root of much of the evil in our nation and schools.  The kingdom of darkness is waging war against the Kingdom of God.  Consequently, Satan is a defeated foe, but he is attempting to dismantle God’s Kingdom rule.  Pray for protection over your kids…that God will have the victory in their lives and the kingdom of darkness would not have any rule.
  2. Pray for their growth.  In Luke 2:52 we are told that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” when he was a boy. When I pray for my boys, I pray for their wisdom to increase…that they may learn in school.  I also pray for their physical growth and health (stature).  Finally, I pray for God’s grace in their life and favor with their classmates, teacher, or anyone else they encounter.  
  3. Pray for their salvation.  My sons are 5 and 1.  They haven’t yet trusted Jesus as Lord, yet I pray for their salvation.  I pray that God will work in their lives and reveal himself to them personally.  If your kids are struggling with their behavior, they need discipline.  However, behavior modification only goes so far…ultimately, they need Jesus who can change their hearts.
  4. Pray not just that they would be good; pray that they would be godly.  There are a lot of good kids in America today.  We often tell our kids to be good, and if they are well behaved, we are satisfied with that.  However, I believe God wants us to pray bigger prayers for our children.  Good kids are fine.  Godly kids can be world-changers.

Maybe you have something to add?  How are you praying for your kids this new school year?

On Health: Invest NOW or Pay Later


When I was a kid, my adult teeth would grow in before my baby teeth would fall out.  I had to go to the dentist to get my baby teeth pulled to allow room for the new ones to come in.  On top of that, I had to have braces for four and a half years.  As you might suspect, I hate the dentist.

After getting my braces off my Junior year in high school, my teeth looked pretty good…I had never had any cavities. So as an adult, I stopped going to the dentist.  Earlier this Spring, one of my molars started hurting.  It had been six years since I had been to the dentist.  Turns out, I chipped part of it off due to decay.  I went to the dentist to have it checked out, and I had several other cavities that I have to get fillings for as well.  This work is costing me a pretty penny compared to a dental check up every six months to a year.  If I would have just gone to the dentist every six months, I wouldn’t had to deal with this cost or this pain.

This silly story reminds me of a simple principle…INVEST NOW or PAY LATER.

When you examine your life, this is true in ANY area of life.

Parenting.  Finances.  Work.  Spirituality. Marriage. Health…especially health.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I found myself one hundred pounds overweight at the end of 2013.  So I decided I needed a life-change.  It didn’t happen overnight, but I decided to invest in my health NOW…day by day.  Now on my third year of my weight loss journey, I have lost 114 lbs total and am doing the keto diet.  (More on that HERE).

If you aren’t investing in your health TODAY, you will have ramifications to pay LATER.  High blood pressure.  Heart disease.  Diabetes.  Early death due to health…all these and more are NOT worth the ice cream, cupcakes, or soda pop.  They are JUST food.  For me, food used to be life.  I would live to eat food.  It hasn’t come easily, but food no longer has a stronghold on my life.  Instead of living to eat, I eat to live.

One of the number one excuses why people don’t exercise is time.  “I just don’t have the time.”  However, when I began to examine my schedule, I saw it wasn’t a matter of extra time, so much as it was a matter of priorities.  I promise you I don’t miss the extra 30 minutes of TV each night I sacrifice for exercise.  If health is a priority, you will find the time to exercise.

In addition to exercise, I am investing in healthier food.  This even changes the way I shop at the grocery store.  How do you know what you should or shouldn’t eat?  Think about your local Walmart grocery section.  You should choose food from the perimeter of the store, rather than food on the shelves that is in packages.  The problem is the food on the perimeter often costs a little more than the pre-packaged junk.  However, I’ve found that when I eat clean I am also eating out less.  The money spent on food usually balances out.  Buying food is an INVESTMENT into your future health.  The types of food you eat matters to your health.

If you are unhealthy, and needing a life-change, I want to encourage you…DO IT!  Do it for yourself.  Do it for your spouse.  Do it for your family.

Today is Monday, have you decided to make a health change yet?  Why wait?  Today is a great day to start.  Take one day at a time.



On Parenting: Time Flies

…for I have learned whatever the circumstances to be content…Phil. 4:11

I remember turning ten years old…sometimes like it was yesterday.  I remember always looking forward to the next big thing, almost wishing my life away. 

I couldn’t wait until I was 16 and driving. 

I couldn’t wait until I was playing Varsity football. 

I couldn’t wait until I graduated highschool and was headed off to college. 

I couldn’t wait until I finished college and landed my first full-time job. 

I couldn’t wait until I got married. 

I couldn’t wait until we got a house and started having kids. 

This week, my boys turned 5 and 1. I’m a 31 year old married dad. How did this happen?

The life of young parents is difficult.  

Out the window is a chance for spontaneous weekend trips or late night dates. 

Your free-time slowly erodes to virtually nothing. 

Where I used to enjoy staying up late, it seems I can’t keep my eyes open much later than 11 now. 

Gone is a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. This is replaced by cries of “mommy I’m having a bad dream,” or the baby screaming for milk in the middle of the night. 

These are struggles, but they won’t last forever.  These struggles will be replaced with new ones.  There is a lie that life will be struggle-free or painless once your kids get older. However, new struggles will come along at each age of parenthood.  Troubles at school. Heartbreaks of your boys by some Jezebel in their teenage years. Rebellion or bad choices, even if you raised them right. 

Being in the ministry for eleven years, I have had many conversations with senior adults on anything from life to politics to family. One tip they constantly say is “enjoy it–they won’t be that age forever.”

If “time flies” as you age it is because of your experience. The more years of life you have experienced, the faster the years go by in comparison. According to this article “we perceive time relative to the ‘absolute’ time we compare it to. In other words, the longer you’re alive, the smaller a year becomes in relation to your entire life as a whole.” In 80 years of life, the passing of one year seems like nothing in comparison.  You’re not crazy, time is flying. 

I’m still a young parent. I have only been in this game for 5 years. But the best advice I can give brand new parents is: don’t wish your life away. Be in the moment with your kids and stop buying into the lie that things will be better when they get to a certain age. These moments appear difficult, but in hindsight, they build your character. 
I really believe that’s why God made me a daddy. Slowly, He is chiseling away in me things that need refining. Patience. Humility. Consistency. Contentment. 

Are you content with your circumstances or are you always wanting more?  God wants to use our circumstances to refine our character and bring us to closer communion with Him. 

On Health-The Keto Diet 

keto chart from John Jong of FB group keto-adaptation

I have had several people ask me about the keto diet over the last few months.  I have been doing it since February, and have lost nearly 50 lbs (114 lbs total since 2014).

First, I want to provide a summary: Keto is a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet.
It differs from Atkins in that Atkins is higher protein, and eventually introduces more carbs.

On a keto diet, you need to limit net carbs to 20g or less.  To get net carbs, you calculate total carbs, and deduct the fiber.  Additionally, on the diet, around 75% of calories come from fat and 20% from protein.  I would recommend downloading the myfitnesspal (free app) because you can enter recommended calories and break down the percentage.
Fat has 9 calories per gram, while carbs and protein have 4. (If you use the app, you don’t have to worry about this, just enter the calories and percentage of each and it automatically does that for you. When you see “macro-nutrients” or “macros” for short, it means the breakdown between fat/protein/carbs in your diet.)

For me I eat just under 2000 calories a day (see above chart to see your breakdown).

My macros are 99g protein/165gfat/25g carbs

For example, here’s what a typical day may look like on the keto diet:
Breakfast: Bacon and cheese omelet and bulletproof coffee
Lunch:lettuce wrapped cheeseburburger with mayo and mustard
Dinner: Steak and salad with ranch
Snack: Sunflower seeds

I usually eat meat, green veggies, and other fats such as butter and coconut oil.  You don’t eat sugar, grains, or fruit on the keto diet.

What does the word “Keto” mean?  The Keto Diet gets its name from the state of ketosis, which happens when your body produces excess ketones you are peeing in your urine.  When starting the keto diet, this can be measured by ketostix while peeing.

Initially, I wanted to try this diet because I thought it would work really well for me. I started out just trying it for a few weeks, but I’ve been doing it for six months now without any problems.  This diet works for me because I like meat (but I like Ice Cream too). Thankfully, there are alternative recipes for just about everything: pizza, ice cream , fried chicken and more.  One of my favorite sites for recipe sites is  Their recipes are always delicious and satisfying.

I eat keto because I enjoy it, it promotes weight loss, but there are many benefits to the keto diet.

  1. It has helped bring my food cravings under control.  I am a recovering food-addict. Seriously.  After much research, I’m finding that this was enhanced by a carb and sugar addiction.  When you eat carbs, it spikes your insulin, making your brain think you are hungry and wanting more food.  This was causing unhealthy weight gain, and one of the primary reasons I ballooned up to 362 lbs.  Now that I eat high fat and protein, I am much more satisfied and full and I don’t have sugar crashes.
  2. The diet, along with the weight loss that comes from it, has significantly lowered my blood pressure.  I used to be on blood pressure medicine, but the keto diet helped bring my blood pressure back to normal.
  3. Energy.  Throughout the day, I found that I would run out of energy easily in my pre-keto life.  Now my energy levels are much more sustained.

What is stopping you from a healthy lifestyle?  Maybe the keto diet is the push you need?  Contact me about any questions you may have.

Here are more external links about keto:

This is the videothat originally introduced me to the diet.…/17/heres-what-this-man-learned.html

Here’s the best website about the diet (they also have GREAT recipes!)
Here’s a good article summarizing the diet (*note they are a little higher on carb intake–up to 50g because this article is referencing body builders.)


On Discipleship

Today’s blog is in the form of a video–a message I preached yesterday at FBC Neosho, “The Urgency of Discipleship.”

On Ethics-Abortion Part 2

psalm 139

This is the final part of my blog on abortion.  You can find part 1 HERE.

As a Christian, my worldview is based on the Bible, so I want to examine what Scripture says about human life.  The opening chapter of the Bible explains that: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)  Every human life is important to God because He created us to be in His likeness.  No other work of God’s creation bears the title of being created in His image—humanity is exceptional.

The entirety of Scripture is clear: God values an unborn baby as a person.  In his famous psalm, David explains the providential care that God had in forming him as a person inside the womb: For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

This passage confirms that God, in his sovereignty, has a part in forming unborn persons.  He saw David as special even before he was born; He even wrote the plan for his life.  What might this look like?  Grudem explains that “God was active as the unformed substance (embryo) grew and developed; indeed he is the one who formed my inward parts and knitted me together.” [1]

Additionally, Jeremiah tells of God’s loving care: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)  This passage informs us that God forms an unborn baby in the womb, and that He knows us before birth actually happens.  Patricia and Keith Miller explain: “God is actively and personally involved in the life of every unborn person, even regarding plans for each day of his or her life.”  [2] Furthermore, the in Isaiah 491:1 the prophet says that “The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.”

Next, in Luke’s Gospel, we are told Elizabeth’s baby leapt in her womb upon learning the news that Mary was carrying the Messiah.  (Luke 1:44)  Consequently, pediatricians recommend reading or playing music for babies while in utero.  Why?  This all confirms that a baby is able to feel such emotions as joy in the womb.

Finally, Exodus 21:22-25 reveals how God, through The Law, set measures to protect the life of an unborn child.  “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life.”  Although this passage is linked to violence done to a pregnant woman specifically, it is clear that the unborn child is still regarded as a person treasured in the eyes of God.

In adhering to a pro-life stance, the personhood of an unborn child is the primary issue.  Sadly, statistics show that 18% of “born again” Christian women in America have had abortions. [3]

Paul reminds the Church in Corinth: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  Because it takes a human life, abortion is one of the most defiling things a woman can do to her body.

Women have to live with the consequences and shame post-abortion.  David Reardon, author of Aborted Women: Silent No More, states that “over 95 percent would not now have chosen abortion, and that 66 percent feel they are now worse off than they would have been had they not had an abortion.” [4]

Abortion is not just a pain-free procedure for the baby and mother. In Suction, a method used in 80 percent of dilation and cutterage abortions, the doctor dilates the cervix and places a suction tube into the womb.  In the procedure “the suction tears both the baby and his or her placenta from the uterus sucking them into a jar.  The force of this suction is twenty-eight times stronger than a normal vacuum cleaner.”[5]


If we are to be faithful to thorough biblical exegesis, we must conclude that God cares about the status of every person, even in the womb.  The Law, The Writings, the Prophets, the Gospels, and Paul’s letters all confirm that human life is valuable to God.  Therefore, we must be faithful to speak out against all injustice.  The prophet Micah famously instructed God’s people “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”(Micah 6:8)  An aspect of this social justice is protecting the rights of unborn children.  The Church must do this in love, and in the name of Christ.

Furthermore, we must make the Church a safe-haven for those women have chosen abortion in the past.  Most women regret having an abortion.  They will need to go through the healing process and our response is to offer restorative counseling to these women regretting their decision.  More than ever the Church needs to proclaim that abortion is wrong, but forgiveness and restoration can be found in Christ.

  1. Wayne Grudem and others, eds.  The ESV Study Bible.  (Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1116.
  2. Patricia A. Miller and Keith R. Miller, Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Youth.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006), 17.
  3. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics For a Brave New World.  (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 64.
  4. Feinberg, 130
  5. Feinberg, 74.

On Ethics: Abortion Part 1

Joseph in womb 20 weeks

My son Joseph at his 20 week ultrasound.

In light of the Democratic National Convention, I wanted to offer a Christian voice on abortion.  It seems that the Democratic party has gone way to the left on the issue.  I remember a time when Democrats thought abortion should be legal, but not necessarily encouraged (think Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s stance).  After what I have seen at the DNC this week, it now seems they celebrate it.  In fact, abortion was even cheered at yesterday’s convention.

Since the decision of Roe vs. Wade (1973), which legalized abortion in the United States, abortion has been a divisive political and religious issue.  As biblically-faithful Christians, we are called to take a God-honoring stance on abortion.  While the Bible never directly addresses abortion, the Bible is clear about the sanctity of every human life.  The question to unpack is: does God—and should we—see a developing fetus as human life?

Child Development in the Womb

One of the paramount issues in the life vs. choice abortion debate is addressing when a human life begins.  Millard Erickson explains the importance of this ethic:

Is the fetus to be regarded as human, or merely as a mass of tissue within the mother’s body?  If the former, abortion is indeed the taking of a human life and has serious moral consequences.  If the latter, abortion is simply a surgical procedure involving the removal of an unwanted growth like a cyst or a tumor. [1]

Ultimately, this debate hinges upon when we consider human life beginning.  There is plenty of evidence to conclude that human life begins at the moment of conception.

The data shown in Ethics for a Brave New World confirm that at conception: “Genetic instructions from both parents interact to begin a new and unique individual.”[2] Moreover, not only is a new individual forming, but the baby’s gender can already be determined between days 5-9.[3] Additionally by day 18, the heart is forming, and just a week later the heart already begins to beat! [4] Clearly, the baby’s life begins to develop at the moment of conception.  “It is necessary to regard the fetus as human at every point of the development process.”[5] Sadly, abortions are still legal, because of uninformed views on when human life begins.

Abortion Statistics

One of the ultimate reasons pro-choice advocates promote the women’s right to an abortion is the right to an abortion due to rape or incest.  Shockingly, only .06 of 1 percent of all abortions performed are due to rape. [6] Additionally only “six percent of abortions are performed because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child.”[7] So what is the primary reason for abortion in our society?  According to Feinberg, “93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient.)”[8]  This presents a serious moral dilemma when the baby’s life is in danger because of the mother’s convenience.  As Christians, the Bible is our ultimate resource for addressing any injustice or moral predicament.

Tomorrow, we will look at what Scripture teaches on the sanctity of human life.

1 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1998), 570.
2 John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics For a Brave New World.  (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 76.
3 Ibid.
4 Feinberg, 77.
5 Erickson, 570.
6 Feinberg, 126.
7 Feinberg, 65.
8 Ibid.

On Finances-Kingdoms


Without a doubt my favorite teaching of Jesus is the Sermon on the Mount.  In this message, he was instructing disciples on their very way of life as citizens of the Kingdom of God. When we think of the Kingdom of God, we usually think of a place we go when we die.  This is not the teaching of the New Testament.  God’s Kingdom is an already, not yet reality.  It is now, and still to come.  It was ushered in with Jesus and His ministry, yet it won’t come in full authority and rule until He returns.

How are we to live in light of this?  We are to live as citizens of His Kingdom now.  This impacts how we live–how we raise our family, how we treat others, and even how we handle our finances.

Surprisingly, Jesus had quite a bit to say about how we think of possessions in the Sermon on the Mount.

when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do (Matt. 6:2)

when you pray, pray for your “daily bread” or needs for the day (6:11)

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… (6:19-20)

You cannot serve God and money.  (6:24)

Do not be anxious about God’s provision in your life (6:25-31)

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (6:33)

Too often we promote our kingdom above His.  We are consumed with materialism–always wanting bigger and better.  We hoard money instead of being generous.  Perhaps if we are honest, this is because we have a fundamental mistrust in God.  We are workaholics because we want to chase the almighty dollar, and perhaps save ourselves through material wealth.  We don’t trust God and His provision. It is dangerous to pursue money over Christ and His kingdom.

So, how do we handle our finances in light of what Jesus taught on possessions?

  1. We Seek His Kingdom First-This is about stewardship.  We should see God as the owner of everything that we have; we are just managers.  When you do your budget or get your paycheck are you looking at how you can advance God’s kingdom or your own comfort?
  2. We Trust Him to Provide-It is clear that we are to provide for our families by working for a living.  If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)  Yet too often our American culture produces workaholics.  How do you  know if you are a workaholic?  The very indicators are that you neglect your family, forget His church, and don’t prioritize down-time.
  3. We Serve God, Not Money-Jesus’ teaching was clear.  You cannot serve God and Money.  In fact, money is an idol in many of our lives; it’s what we really worship.  You must make a decision…which is more valuable to you?  God or Money.  In light of eternity, the decision is a no-brainier.  Invest in things that matter.  Invest in things that will last throughout eternity.  Invest in His Kingdom.  How do you know what you worship or value?  Examine your calendar and your bank account.  Those are the things that you’re investing in…the things that matter most to you.

Next week I will begin offering practical financial advice for Christian families, but I wanted to establish the foundation first: our allegiance to advancing His Kingdom.

How about your family?  Do you see finances as an opportunity to advance His Kingdom or your own?

On Health-How I Lost 113 Pounds


It was the morning of December 31, 2013.  I knew I had to lose some weight for the new year.  I had made resolutions before, only to fail in a couple of weeks.  That morning, I suspected I was the heaviest and most out of shape I had ever been.  As a 28 year old, I had spent most of my 20s obsese.  I knew my 30s were coming soon and I was tired of being fat.  I was an active high school athlete that hadn’t learned how to manage my weight post football.  I knew I had gained 100+ pounds since graduating 11 years before.  I knew I needed a life change, so I stepped on the scale…362 lbs.  I couldn’t believe what it said honestly.  How did I get here?  It was a wake up call.  I was already dealing with high blood pressure and now my weight was out of control.

New Year’s Eve night of 2013, we had friends over (like we normally do) and I remember telling some of them that I HAD to lose weight this year…like triple digits.  It sounded hard (it has been).  It sounded unattainable, (thankfully it wasn’t) but that day I committed to a new LIFESTYLE.

I didn’t have radical weight loss surgery.  I didn’t join Weight Watchers.  I didn’t drink any shakes.  Instead I went back to common sense.  I had lost weight in the past…50 pounds after graduating college…by depriving myself…only to gain it all back, plus some.  So how did I lose 113 pounds and am still losing today?  What advice would I give you?

  1. Track your calories.  I use the app MyFitnessPal to track everything I eat.  Before I tracked calories, I just assumed I wasn’t eating that much.  After a couple of days of tracking calories, I soon realized just how much I was eating! (usually in second helpings and ice-cream).
  2. Get moving.  I was so overweight that I knew my body could not endure a physically exhausting program starting out.  So I started by walking for 30 minutes a day, every day.  Now that I’ve been losing weight for 2 and a half years, I alternate between cardio and weight training.  You have to start somewhere.  You aren’t going to be able to run 5K or bench press 300 lbs in week 2 of exercising if you are out of shape.  One of my friends told me you didn’t get overweight overnight.  You won’t be able to lose all your weight and get healthy overnight either. There is no quick fix to a lifestyle change.  Be patient it takes time.
  3. Don’t let your circumstances dictate your eating.  I ate when I was happy and wanted to celebrate.  I ate when I was unhappy or down on myself  (Interestingly, this doesn’t actually make you feel better about yourself.)  As a Christian, my health had become a stewardship issue.  I wasn’t taking care of my body–the temple that God’s Holy Spirit resides in.  Over time, I learned to not let food be ultimate in my life.  I had to find my joy in the Lord in good times. Instead of turning to food, I had to surrender the heartbreak to Him in the difficult times.  For those that have never struggled with food addiction, this may seem silly.  But I assure you–the struggle is very real.  I am a recovering food addict.  (On a side note, a keto lifestyle, which I will be blogging about next week, has helped bring my food cravings under control.)
  4. Take One Day at a time.  This is the best  advice I can give you regarding your health. You will mess up.  You will have days you don’t eat the right things or days you eat way too much.  This is OK.  The best thing you can do is do better the next day!  I am thankful each day is a new day…each day is a fresh start.  You aren’t changing your week or month…you are changing your LIFE…it is a lifestyle change.

Today is Monday.  I can’t tell you how many times I have said I’m going to start a diet ‘Monday’ only to fail by dinner time.  I wish I had known that a real lifestyle change is about making small changes at first, then gradually adapting more habits.

Church leaders, let me encourage you: For the sake of your family and ministry, you have to prioritize your health. I didn’t, but thankfully I dealt with it early enough in my life that it won’t have lasting implications.  

Have you struggled with your weight?  Do you know someone that might need some encouragement getting healthy?  I encourage you to share this blog for those wanting to commit to a healthy life!

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