Archives For Parenting

Reading to children is one of the most important things parents do.If you are a parent or grandparent of young children, at the very least watch the below video of Max Lucado reading aloud.

My younger sister’s children are the perfect age for Max Lucado’s new book, The Boy and the Ocean. I hope she reads it to them soon. While my sister doesn’t need me to tell her how to snuggle with her children and read a beautiful book. Still, as a pastor and author, and older brother, it’s fun to point out several aspects of Lucado’s beautiful story:

    1. Most important, the little boy isn’t named. By not naming the child, Lucado makes this a story for for all children. He invites children to insert themselves into the story, and they will. As sure as little boys and girls knew they were the run-a-way bunny, children who hear The Little Boy and the Ocean read aloud will picture themselves as the ones looking out their windows at the mountains.
    2. The descriptions of the beauty of God’s creation will invite more discussion with little boys and girls. God reveals himself in creation (Psalm 19:1-7). My nephews and nieces don’t have oceans and mountains outside their windows, but they have vast fields and the open sky. They know about big rivers and beautiful birds. So they can follow Lucado’s lead and write their own poetry about the greatness of God.
    3. The beautiful pictures will inspire children to “read” the book on their own. In a previous post, I shared why our family needs the below picture of my nephew: it’s good for the soul to know beauty is possible and real. Children love books with pictures. Their minds absorb the words of the story and when they put on their Elmo slippers and read them on their own, they will hear the story read aloud.

My nephew Graham loves books!


Enough from me. Maybe to start, show this excerpt to your children or grandchildren.  But finish by reading The Boy and the Ocean to them yourself!

“The Boy and the Ocean” – A reading by author, Max Lucado from Crossway on Vimeo.

What questions should teens be asking?What questions should teens be asking? Share your thoughts!

My wife, Jamie, and I love teenagers. I love being around them. We love watching them grow up. And here in our community we have many opportunities to get to know them.

Sunday night was a special treat. We had our first, “Hanging Out, Going Deep,” event at our house. It was our chance for the teens to tell us the questions that are on their minds. They had some great questions. A sample:

  • How should I help a friend who professes faith but is making poor decisions?
  • Why does the Bible teach there is a resurrection if those who die are already with Jesus?
  • Are we obligated to keep all the laws in the Old Testament?
  • How should we relate to someone in authority over us who makes poor decisions? One of the teens quoted Daniel 2:14 in response to the question. I was impressed!

There should be a place where teens questions are answered.

One of the parts of pastoral ministry I enjoy most is the chance to be around young people.Having said that, one of the challenges that young people should recognize is that they don’t even know all the questions they should be asking! Rather than placing all the burden of choosing the questions on the shoulders of teens, one of the things wise people should do is to point out the questions teens should be asking.

So I turn to you for help. What questions should teens consider? I will be asking parents this question in person on Sunday. But it will be helpful to hear from you all before then!

One of my goals in Bound Together was to encourage parents of rebellious children. As a part of doing that, I recommend the book, Come Back, Barbara. Below, Barbara Juliani gives a brief overview of her story which is the subject of this book. I highly recommend the book.

HT: JT

Keep the Bear’s advice in mind this weekend.

If your goal is to destroy your children’s imaginations, the below list is a good place to begin. I would probably put television and video games higher on the list. Christian parents are especially tempted to use quality programs as baby-sitters. But even if the content of certain programs is moral or Christian, it still does the child’s thinking for him or her. So I would add to the list of ways to destroy your child’s imagination:

  • Buy an I-pad immediately. Never require your child to sit anywhere without access to it.
  • Buy all the Christian videos possible. You can have your child watch them while feeling good about yourself as a parent.
  • Put either a television or a computer (ideally both) in your child’s room.
  • Do not read Marie Winn’s book, The Plug-In Drug. She will remind you that the most insidious sort of drug is the one you give to someone else for your own benefit.

Per Justin Taylor, here is Trevor Cairney’s summary of Anthony Esolen’s Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child:

1. Begin by rearing children almost exclusively indoors – give in to the threats of the outdoors, don’t risk allowing them to have unbridled experiences out of our observable space. Lock them up in classes and organized instruction and avoid giving them opportunities to run free.

2. Never allow children to organize their own worlds of exploration of that which is interesting or challenging—replace the spontaneous and child initiated and replace it with 7 days of structured activities controlled by others and a timetable that leaves no scope for exploration, time wasting, and contemplation.

3. Don’t risk allowing children to explore machines or encounter those who know and use them—privilege safety above all things, cut craftsmen from the child’s world, despise practical and craft knowledge, forget about the challenge and fascination of maps, diagrams and the like.

4. Replace fairy tales with cliches and fads—water down stories to remove the evil and violent, look for tales that ‘flatten’ and homogenize, replace fundamental truths with cliches and ideological manifestos.

5. Denigrate or discard the heroic and patriotic—remove fathers who are heroes, men who are warriors, lose sight of the ‘piety’ of a place like the Welsh uplands and coal mines of Richard Llewellyn’s ‘How Green was My Valley.’ Ignore the dignity of simple people and their ways.

6. Cut down all heroes to size—don’t allow a sentimental admiration of a hero, dismiss courage, beat from our boys any hint of hero worship. Instead grow men ‘without chests’ who spend hours on violent video games but never rumble in the back yard.

7. Reduce all talk of love to narcissism and sex – replace the music and tenderness of love in the Odyssey, or the poetry of Stephen Foster for a lost love, with a reduction of love to the mechanics of sex, “reduce eros to the itch of lust or vanity.” Replace the first pangs of curiosity of a boy for a girl, or a girl for a boy, with a bombardment of images of what love isn’t.

8. Level all distinctions between man and woman—just as individual personalities are washed from our classrooms, so too, reduce all differences of gender, and convince children that boys and girls are just the same.

9. Distract the child with the shallow or unreal—fail to encourage the child to hear and sharpen the senses before creating, abolish solitude and silence, fill the child’s life with the ‘noise’ of television, video games and other forms of banality. Don’t just give decibels of noise but rather, more importantly, mental and spiritual interference. Separate the child from the relationship of family, neighbours and friends and place them in after school care, preschools etc.

10. Deny the transcendent—deny the idea of God, ignore the mystery of faith and religion, ensure that unlike the ancients in the caves of Lascaux there is little opportunity to contemplate and create a veritable cathedral born of their imaginings. Do everything possible to erase any opportunity for your child to search out the inscriptions of praise on each human heart.

David Briggs considers the growing tension between church and sports:

The Rev. Stephen Fichter understood just how dominant a role sports has assumed in the culture when a family told him they would be out of town Good Friday to Easter Sunday to attend their child’s volleyball tournament.

“It’s truly sports that has become like the religion” for many people, said Fichter, a researcher and the pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Haworth, N.J.

From youth travel teams to big-time national festivals such as the Final Four, sports have been making increasing inroads in the busy lives of many Americans. Some scholars even trace the evolution of sports from pastime to a form of civil religion to now having become almost a folk religion.

And it is having an impact on religious groups, which report increasing difficulty convincing families that are willing to spend half a day traveling to a 9-year-old’s softball or soccer game to make time for worship services.

Read the rest here.

HT: David Murray

Andy Naselli quotes Carson and Lloyd-Jones to encourage young mothers:

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once spoke with a group of medical students who complained that in the midst of their training and the ferocious work hours they really didn’t even have time to read the Bible and have their devotions and so on. He bristled and said, “I am a doctor. I have been where you are. You have time for what you want to do.” After a long pause he said, “I make only one exception: the mother of . . .

Read the whole thing here.

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

Chris —  February 20, 2013 — 2 Comments

One of the areas we talk about often at the Red Brick Church is retaining our youth.

Marc at 5 Solas recently shared why he believes we are losing our youth. The post begins:

We all know them, the kids who were raised in church. They were stars of the youth group. They maybe even sang in the praise band or led worship. And then… they graduate from High School and they leave church. What happened?

It seems to happen so often that I wanted to do some digging; To talk to these kids and get some honest answers. I work in a major college town with a large number of 20-somethings. Nearly all of them were raised in very typical evangelical churches. Nearly all of them have left the church with no intention of returning. I spend a lot of time with them and it takes very little to get them to vent, and I’m happy to listen. So, after lots of hours spent in coffee shops and after buying a few lunches, here are the most common thoughts taken from dozens of conversations. I hope some of them make you angry. Not at the message, but at the failure of our pragmatic replacement of the gospel of the cross with an Americanized gospel of glory. This isn’t a negative “beat up on the church” post. I love the church, and I want to see American evangelicalism return to the gospel of repentance and faith in christ for the forgiveness of sins; not just as something on our “what we believe” page on our website, but as the core of what we preach from our pulpits to our children, our youth, and our adults.

The facts:

The statistics are jaw-droppingly horrific: 70% of youth stop attending church when they graduate from High School. Nearly a decade later, about half return to church.

Half.

Let that sink in.

It continues with a top 10 list:

10.  The Church is “Relevant.”

9.  They never attended church to begin with.

8.  They get smart.

7.  You sent them out unarmed.

6.  You gave them hand-me-downs.

5. Community.

4.  They found better feelings.

3. They got tired of pretending.

2. They know the truth.

1. They don’t need it.

Read the whole thing including explanations here.

HT: JT

RSS readers will need to click through to watch my answer to this question.*

Christianity.com: How can a church best serve families, children and teens?-Chris Brauns from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

*I have previously posted this video.

D.A. Carson responds to a question which is of interest to every Christian parent.

TT: What is the best way for parents to prepare their children for the attacks on their faith they may face in college?

DC: There is no formulaic answer and no guarantee. For a start, our children themselves are extraordinarily diverse. Many will be tempted by postmodern assumptions. Others will feel far greater threats from biologists, cosmologists, or psychologists who operate under the assumptions of raw atheism or, worse, functional atheism. All I can do is enumerate some values and practices in the home that seem to me to be wise, biblically faithful, and useful in mitigating the dangers. These are exemplary, not exhaustive.

First, the home should encourage vigorous Christian understanding. The most dangerous seedbed for intellectual rebellion is a home where faith is sentimental and even anti-intellectual, and where opponents are painted as ignorant knaves, because eventually our children discover that there are some really nice people who are atheists and agnostics, and they can present arguments in sophisticated, gentle, and persuasive fashion.

Similarly, the local church with young people who are heading off to college should be doing what it can to prepare them—first with a solid grasp of Christian essentials, and second with the rudiments of responsible apologetics.

At the same time, both the home and the church should be living out a Christian faith that is more than intellectually rigorous. It should be striving for biblically-faithful authenticity across the board: genuine love for God and neighbor, living with eternity in view, quickness to confess sin and seek reconciliation, a concern for the lost and the broken, faithfulness in praise and intercessory prayer, a transparent delight in holiness, and a contagious joy in God. Even if our children are sucked into intellectual nihilism for a while, over the long haul it is important that they remember what biblically-faithful Christianity looks like in the home and in the church.

Fourth, wisdom in shaping our kids demands more structure when they are young; more discussion, carefully monitored controls, and a safety net as they grow older; and a willingness, in most instances, to wait to be asked for advice when they have genuinely left the nest and are no longer dependent on our roof or our wallets.

Finally, pray for them. Pray for them especially diligently when you recognize, as you repeatedly will, that unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor do so in vain.

HT: Justin Taylor