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Preemptive Wisdom + Drawing for a Free Devotional!

Preemptive Wisdom

In a recent “Ask Pastor John” post, John Piper addressed a question from a young man—a teenager— regarding his desire to be well-liked and popular while, at the same time, being concerned about being godly. Here was part of John’s response:

Preemptive WisdomI think being driven by coolness is deadly. The problem with wanting to be cool in our culture is that cool is almost always defined by the fool. So, it is almost always: Cool = Fool.

If you want to know what a fool is, read the book of Proverbs in the Bible. In fact, I think every teenager, especially boys, should read Proverbs over and over and over again, because of how clearly the Proverbs expose the stupidity of much that is considered cool… (more…)

Not Merely a Death on Behalf of Others

Not Merely a Death on Behalf of Others

Here are a few questions to ask your children and students (elementary age and older):

Why did Jesus die on the cross?

Why would it be wrong for God to simply pretend that your sin is no big deal?

How does Jesus’ death on the cross show that God is right in punishing sin and forgiving sinners?

What did Jesus experience on the cross? Why is this important to know?

Why is it also important that Jesus gives His people His own perfect righteousness?

If you were to appear in a courtroom today in which God was sitting as the judge, what verdict do you think He would pronounce over you, “Guilty” or “Not guilty”? Why? (more…)

“Repent and Believe”—A Call for Clarity

Repent and Believe - A Call for Clarity

We fill words with meaning. The more important the word and what it relates to, the more essential to “fill it” and interpret it with the intended meaning. When it comes to our children’s and students’ response to the Gospel, two words require careful attention: repent and believe. We must be very intentional and careful to communicate these terms in a way that doesn’t diminish the intended meaning. These words convey a serious weightiness—calling for and resulting in a complete transformation of a person’s mind, heart, and will. True saving repentance and belief—conversion, as it is commonly called—is much more than an acknowledgment of true facts about the Person and work of Jesus. Furthermore, while rightly emphasizing what it means to “believe in Jesus,” repentance is often minimized when instructing children. Pastor Art Murphy has some very wise advice for us as we seek to discern a child’s profession of faith: (more…)

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 2

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 2

Read Part 1 for suggestions 1-5.

Somewhere along the way in our parenting, one or more of our children will likely express the above sentiment on any given Sunday. Yesterday’s post presented five suggestions for addressing the issue. Today I would like to present five more. Again, keep in mind that how you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

6. Consider if any of your words and attitudes toward the church have contributed to your child’s perception.

Our words and attitudes make a great impression on our children. What we say aloud and the tone in which we say it often turns up in our children. If I, as a parent, establish a pattern of verbally criticizing the sermon, or the singing or other things related to the church, should I be surprised if my children don’t want to go to church? Ouch! I must ask, “Is my child’s negative attitude toward church in any way sparked and fueled by me?” If so, I need to confess this before the Lord, repent, ask His forgiveness, and commit to guard my heart and words in the future. I should also humbly confess to my children any sinful attitudes or words they have observed in me. (more…)

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 1

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 1

Sadly, I’ve heard this statement from more than a few parents over the years. Some even say, “My child hates to go to church.” It can turn Sunday mornings into a miserable experience for parents and children alike. I have had some desperate, frazzled parents arrive at the classroom with a young child who is literally kicking and screaming. What’s a parent to do? Here are five general suggestions that may be helpful. How you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

  1. Set aside time alone with your child to discuss his or her negative attitude toward church.

Ask specific questions that aim for the heart of the matter. This may take some time. Gently ask probing questions: Did something specific happen in class? What about the service don’t you like? What would you want changed? Sometimes children and youth are embarrassed to express hidden fears and anxieties. “I hate going” may be, in reality, “I don’t want to have to read aloud in class.” Or, “None of the other kids talk to me.” On the other hand, it could be that the child is expressing a more serious spiritual rebellion. Listen to your child. Know and clarify the real issues before responding and taking action. Acknowledge true feelings, but help your child to reflect on his or her feelings in light of God’s Word. Our feelings and emotions need to come under the authority of Scripture. As parents, we need to be careful in helping our children see this. We must also help them recognize unrealistic expectations.  (more…)

Helping Our Children When Church Life Gets Messy

Helping Children When Church Life Gets Messy

I love the church, and I am so blessed that my family has had the great privilege of living in community with hundreds of godly men and women over the years. In regards to my children, the local church loved, equipped, encouraged, and exhorted them in their walk with the Lord. They have received a wonderful spiritual legacy, as countless pastors, leaders, teachers, and members have exemplified a life of faith—displaying what it means to love, trust, and walk in obedience to Christ.

But we must also be prepared to help our children when church life gets “messy.” For example, suppose a professing Christian you have highly respected for years leaves the church and abandons the faith. Or maybe your church is in the midst of a conflict between members, evidenced by public gossip and slander. Or a much-loved couple teaching in your children’s in Sunday school announces they are separating. These kinds of situations can make an impression on our children’s hearts and minds…and sometimes that impression can seriously taint their understanding of the church, the Christian faith, and God. Therefore, parents and teachers need to be prepared to carefully guide our children in such a way that they will not be shaken by these events. (more…)

Enhancing Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Enhancing Your Child's Classroom Experience

Over the years of teaching Sunday school, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous comments and even some complaints from parents about their child’s classroom experience. Some of the complaints were very legitimate concerns identified by the parents that resulted in positive changes in the classroom. Others issues needed to be addressed primarily by the parents as they worked with their child on specific areas of their behavior. In my experience, one of the best ways to enhance the classroom experience for the children is to proactively clarify and understand expectations for teachers and classroom leaders, parents, and children.

For example, here are a few basic expectations for teachers and classroom leaders:

  • Provide a safe, welcoming, structured, age-appropriate environment for the students.
  • Provide well-prepared, theologically sound, faith-nurturing Bible lessons that are presented in an age-appropriate, interesting, and God-honoring manner.
  • Design a class structure that is attentive to the needs of the children while emphasizing and maximizing spiritual instruction. (more…)

What’s Your Family’s Favorite Day of the Week?

What's Your Family's Favorite Day of the Week?

I read this short article, “The Best Day of the Week…for Your Kids” by Nick Kennicott and was deeply convicted. Oh, to have the opportunity to turn back the clock and do things differently with my own children! Not that we didn’t, for the most part, enjoy Sundays as a family, but I wish we had been more intentional in our approach. Here is how Kennicott begins his article:

Several years ago, I was leading a seminar on family worship at a conference and a man told me, “As a child, I always dreaded Sundays. My parents made it miserable.” I was sad to hear about his experience and the only thing I could think to say was, “Well, then they were obviously doing something wrong!” By way of contrast, Joel Beeke once explained that he woke his children up every Sunday and say, “It’s time to get up. Today is the best day of the week!” I hope the accusations leveled against Christians who have the highest possible view of the Lord’s Day—namely, that we just sit around on the Lord’s Day making sure we and our children do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (Colossians 2:21)—aren’t true! Jesus reminds us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). So, if we’re to use it rightly and call the Sabbath a delight (Isaiah 58:13), we need to think about how we can cultivate that delight instead of dread in our children’s (and our own) hearts on the Lord’s Day. (more…)

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 2

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 2

Yesterday’s post highlighted the importance of our children having other godly people in their lives. My husband and I did this through a variety of means, from the time our children were very young. Here are a few suggestions from Chap Bettis about how you can begin and foster this process:

Host an intergenerational Bible study…These nights were built into our schedule and created space for the children to spend time with other adults. According to one of my children, the Bible study with these other families [and singles] was an important influence in her walking with the Lord in later years. Few of these studies were dazzling. We just did life together with individuals who, though imperfect, were seeking to honor the Lord. (more…)

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 1

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 1

I cannot overstate the importance of Christian mentors in the lives of our two children. One older couple in particular stands out in both of their lives. Even now, as married adults, this relationship is tender, enduring, and a continued source of encouragement for our children and their spouses. But that relationship didn’t just come about by accident—it was intentionally sought out and fostered, beginning when our children were very young. This mentoring relationship and others like it came about through deliberately connecting our children with godly examples within our local church. Little did we know at the time, as young parents, the rich benefits we and our children would reap from these relationships.

With that experience in mind, I was so pleased that Chap Bettis included an entire chapter titled “Connecting Your Children to Others” in his new book The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ. Here is a brief excerpt: (more…)

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