Discipling Children: 8 Biblical Practices Every Family Can Do. Handout for Mega Con

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • “Get wisdom, get insight” (Proverbs 4:5)
  • “Among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age…We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Cor. 2:6, 13).

What is wisdom?

Wisdom is _______________ _____ _____________. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matt. 7:24).

Wisdom also means _____________ _________ ___________ _____ ___________.

Why is wisdom important for a child?

The book of Proverbs provides three compelling reasons.

  1. Wisdom leads to ____________________________. “Happy is the man who finds wisdom” (Prov. 3:13)
  2. Wisdom is the path to ___________________________. “He who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 8:36)
  3. Wisdom is _________________________. (Prov. 16:16)

Key Tools

 

  1. ___________ ______ ____________ the Bible
  • “Teach these things to your children and children’s children” (Deut. 4:9)

The primary method to teach and disciple young people has been called ___________ _____________.

Consider a few practical thoughts:

  • Read ____________________________________
  • Read ____________________________________
  • Read ____________________________________

Your goal is to explain the Bible passage clearly and biblically, engage children in the process, and help them apply God’s truth to life.

Key Tools

 

  1. _______________ Telling
  • “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeps of the Lord, and his might and the wonders he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob” (Ps. 78:4-5).
  • “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18).

Key Tools

 

  1. Sharing the ______________
  • Aim for __________ ______________.
  • Have a _____________________.
  • Learn to communicate the __________________.

Key tools

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • Your goal is two fold:
  • Examples from the Bible include:

Key Tools

Gather good questions.

  1. What made you sad or happy today?
  2. What was your favorite part of the day?
  3. What made you laugh this week?
  4. What are you looking forward to this week?
  5. What rule was the hardest to follow this week?
  6. What is your favorite color, hobby, city, smell, food, vacation, drink, game, sport, movie, show, music group?
  7. If you had a safe, what would you keep in it?
  8. If you could afford anything at this moment, what would you buy?
  9. What is one thing you love about your mother or father?
  10. What is the best adventure you’ve had with a friend?
  11. What are three characteristics you look for in a friend?
  12. What is an animal that best describes you?
  13. What is a lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
  14. What is a memory that makes you laugh?
  15. What is something that you are afraid of?
  16. What is a challenge that you are facing?
  17. What is a dream that you have for the future?
  18. If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?
  19. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
  20. If you could be anything you wanted, what would you be?
  21. If you could ask God any question, what would you ask him?
  22. If you were stranded on an island, what three people do you want with you?
  23. What are you thinking about lately?
  24. What has influenced your thinking on this topic?
  25. How do you know that is true? What if you are wrong?

 

  1. __________________ ___________________
  • “talk of them when you sit in your house” (Deut. 6:7).

What makes these times valuable?

 

Key Tools

 

  1. _______________
  • Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

 Key Tools

 

  1. _________________
  • Meaningful __________________.
  • Message of _______________ ______________.
  • Picture of a _______________ ______________.

How To Help Children Develop a Biblical Worldview Handout for Mega Con

 

Colossians 2:7-8 mindset, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

 

Christianity                                                                                           Secular Humanism

God exists. He is the center of all things.

God does not exist. Man is the center of all things.

God created the world.

The universe came about by random chance. There is no designer.

God created humans in his image for a purpose. Humans exist to glorify God.

Humans exist for no ultimate purpose other than their own happiness.

Humanity is totally depraved and has rebelled against a perfect God.

Humanity is good.

Morality comes from God and is revealed in the Bible.

Morality is relative. There is no absolute standard of right and wrong.

Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus.

Jesus is not God. Humanity has the power to save.

Death ushers us into eternal life or eternal death.

Death is the end of all existence.

 

Worldview is created when a persons answers four basic questions:

1.

2.

3. 

4. 

 

What is Biblical Worldview?

 

Biblical Worldview is:

 

Biblical Worldview in 4 Words:

 

  1. ________________ : God made the _____________ ___________ (Gen. 1:1).

 

  1. ________________ : Sin made the _________ _________ (Rom. 3:23; 8:20-22).

 

  1. ________________ : Jesus paid the __________ _____ __________ (John. 3:16).

 

  1. ________________ : God will make the ___________ _________ (Rev. 21:1-8).

 

Identity in Christ: How the Bible Answers the Question “Who Am I?”

“Who am I?”

Every young person asks themselves this question. It is the challenge of childhood and hunt of humanity to discover ones identity. Society shouts to our children, attempting to convince them that they can create their own identity through the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the cause they support, their tattoos, music, job, and the sexuality they embrace. As a result, identity can change with a new pair of clothes, a new accessory, or a proclamation of gender expression.

Children are told to explore and construct their own identity based on their preference. Due to the importance of this topic, every church, school and family should address it with children. This document will introduce you to identity in Christ so that we may achieve the goal of helping young people understand and live out a God-defined, Jesus-centered, and gospel-driven identity.

Identity is a clearly defined definition of self. For the Christian, identity formation is when a young person seeks to understand who he or she is in relationship to Jesus. Few young people know what the Bible says regarding their identity in Christ and, as a result, substitute an identity from society, peers, achievements or failures, or from family. When we do, an identity-crisis is bound to result.

A Case Study on Identity

The book of Daniel provides a case study regarding the enemy’s identity-forming tactics. Daniel was a young Israelite taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and transported to Babylon. The King used three methods to attempt to transform Daniel from a God-fearer to a Babylonian. Nebuchadnezzar targeted Daniel’s beliefs, desires, and identity.

  • Belief. Daniel and his companions were taught the literature and language of Babylon for three years. What we think matters. Education shapes. It forms. American society has changed its views on gender identity, marriage, and sexuality because the literature and media of America has shaped their thinking.
  • Desire. Nebuchadnezzar let his highly valued captives eat the best food available from the King’s table, which was the second tactic to transforming them into Babylonians. According to the book of Daniel, the King provided food that Israelites were prohibited from eating. American culture provides sexually appealing temptations to young people and encourages them to explore, enjoy, and embrace whatever they desire.

  • Identity. Part of the Babylonian strategy was to change the names of Daniel and his friends. Nebuchadnezzar changed Daniel’s Hebrew name, which meant “God is my judge” to a Babylonian name Belteshazzar, which meant “Bel has protected the king.” The obvious parallel in our time is homosexuality and transgenderism where young people are encouraged to embrace a new gender identity and even change their name.

Just like in the time of Daniel, our young people are encouraged to take on a false identity. Many young Israelites were assimilated to the Babylonian culture as they embraced the Babylonian teachings, ate the King’s food, and accepted their new identity. Only a small number, like Daniel, were able to remain faithful to God. Daniel rejected the cultural-shaping influences and did not waver in his faith. Daniel’s example is applicable for today as our children face the same tactics that seek to shape their identity. Thousands of years later the enemy is using the same methods and targeting what our children think, their appetites, and identity. Let us be aware of the identity-assimilation process that is occurring.

Identity in God’s Story, His Character, and His Son

The Christian is to live with a God-defined, Jesus-centered, gospel-driven identity. Any other source and any other identity is a false identity and will lead to a faulty way of living. Our ability to navigate all the messages of the world is tied to our understanding of who Christ is and who we are as a result. Only as we understand our life in God’s larger story of redemption will we begin to live God honoring lives as imitators of Jesus Christ. Who I am is rooted in three areas, only in the context of these themes will our identity make sense.

God’s Story

The Christian narrative, specifically salvation and judgment, establishes our identity in Christ as part of a new humanity. Those who come by faith to know the Lord Jesus Christ are incorporated into the life of the church as a foretaste of the fullness of life in Christ that will be fully known in the kingdom to come. The Bible describes our identity in straightforward terms – we are lost, dead in our sins, and the very enemies of God. But thanks be to God, we are not left there. The Gospel of Jesus Christ declares salvation and redemption to all who believe in Him.

  1. Creation: I am created. I am not god. I am dependent. I am not self-sufficient. I am human. I am not animal. I am created in God’s image. I am not created to be any other.

  2. Rebellion: I am sinful, corrupt, depraved, blind, and lost. I am not good by nature or spiritually alive. I crave glory that does not belong to me. I am not the center of reality. Sin makes us glory thieves. There is probably not a day that goes by where we do not plot to steal God’s glory in some manner. We don’t need help because of something we did or something that was done to us, but because of who we are. Sin is our hearts desire for something or someone other than Christ.
  3. Salvation: I am saved. I am not a child of wrath. I am a son of God. I am Satan’s enemy. Christ broke the power of sin over us (Rom. 6:1-14) but the presence of sin remains.

  4. Restoration: I will be made new. I will have a new home. I am not made for this world. I have a purpose in this life. I am God’s ambassador and His steward in this world, working for His good and glory in all that I do.

God’s Character

We receive our identity from God. It is the divine that defines. Who God is determines who I am. The way our children get their identity has everything to do with God and nothing to do with them. He called us out of darkness, He loves us, He possessed us, and He set us apart as holy by God (1 Peter 2:9-10). God gave us our identity by virtue of His irresistible call. Therefore, we cannot understand who we are until we understand who God is. When we finally realize that God is holy and I am not, that is when God’s identity becomes our identity through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Christian self is not defined in terms of who we are in and of ourselves. It’s defined in terms of what God does in us and the relationship He creates with us. Christians cannot talk about our identity without talking about the action of God in us, the relationship of God with us, and the purpose of God for us. Identity must be God-centered, not self-focused.

God’s Son

Identity is simply an understanding of myself in relation to Christ and living out this gospel-reality. This is why we can say that the most significant quest is to ground ourselves in the gospel and to teach our children to do the same. Our lives are either shaped by indulging the sinful nature or by abandoning ourselves to the sovereign grace of God. When identity is sought internally it leads to confusion, selfishness, and sinfulness. When identity is pursued externally in Christ, self is defined by another and rests on what Christ did and who He is, not on our accomplishments, preferences, or character.

There is much talk of self-identity and self-esteem. These notions must be rejected as these aspects of personhood can only exist apart from Christ. The only individual who needs self-identity is the person who has no identity in Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us “to live is Christ.” Identity is always rooted in Jesus and is Christ-centric not man-centric. Our identity is correctly captured when our gaze is fixed on Christ. Our self-focus and self-centeredness must be confronted at its roots.

What is the Purpose of Our identity?

Our identity is not an end in itself, but for the sake of service to the King (1 Peter 2:9-10). God made us who we are so that we might proclaim the glory of who He is. Our identity is for the sake of making known His identity. We are given our identity so that God can be seen in us. Therefore, being a Christian (our identity) and making God’s greatness known (our purpose) are closely tied to one another.

Who we are is for the sake of God. God made us who we are to show the world who He is. Ones identity in Christ radically redefines ones agenda, values, priorities, passions, and purposes in life. Ultimately, the Redeemer lived, died, and rose again so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for Him and His glory (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

6 Ideas to Help You Train Your Children to Worship Corporately

Over the course of the next few months, most families will return to church. If your church is anything like mine, it is going to look different for a while. Currently at my church, children’s classrooms are closed and all children must accompany parents into worship. If your children are new to corporate worship, here are a few suggestions that may be helpful as you train your children to worship corporately:

  1. Discuss worship expectations with your children. Jen and I use to tell our children that we expected them to be calm (because we have three boys who couldn’t sit still), quiet (because we children who do not understand what an indoor voice is), and pay attention. Three things. That’s all we needed them to remember. Calm. Quiet. Pay attention. Some of our children learned quickly. Others tested boundaries and needed loving guidance with a whisper in the ear, a squeeze on the thigh, or even an invitation to join me in the hallway to be reminded of expectations. Children who did well were praised generously. If children are brand new to corporate worship, expect that quick learners will do well after a few weeks and slow learners will take a few months.
  2. Provide tools not toys. We want children engaged, not occupied. It’s great that children are present, but our goal is their participation. Rather than bringing cars, coloring books, or legos bring a notebook, Bible, and pen. We encourage young children who cannot read to draw pictures of what they hear. Older children are expected to take notes and listen attentively. For accountability, we often have our children go down to the senior pastor and show him notes. We attend a church of 5,000 people, so this can happen in small or large churches.

  3. Teach your children the music you sing at church. We purchase songs that we sing at church and listen to them at home. It’s not forced, but informal. We play worship music while children eat breakfast or clean and in the process they begin to become familiar with the worship music. Guess what happens at church when they hear music they know and like? They sing! You can help your child by sitting in a child-friendly location so they can clearly see the front of the worship space. We allow our smaller children to stand on a chair when we stand to sing.
  4. Suckers! Our goal for children was always busy hands and quiet mouths. When the pastor began his sermon, we would pass out a sucker to each of our children. The sucker usually helped a child pay attention for about ten minutes. If a child was particularly squirmy, we would provide a second sucker or even a piece of gum. We would also strategically place the youngest children closest to a parent and the older children at the end.

  5. Say no to bathrooms and screens. We learned quickly that some of our children suddenly had to go to the bathroom and couldn’t hold it during the sermon. We made it a practice to encourage children to go to the bathroom before the worship service and only gave permission to use the bathroom in rare instances. We initiated the “Are you going to wet your pants?” test to determine if the bathroom was necessary. We also do not allow screens during the service, unless it is to access the Bible or use an app to take notes. As parents, we try to set a good example by not texting, using social media, looking at fantasy football scores (particularly hard for me during football season), or checking email. Our children learn the value and form of worship by watching us. We want the affection of our heart and the focus of our mind to be on worshipping Christ and; therefore, we try to eliminate all distractions.
  6. Ask questions on the ride home. Invite your children to share what they liked most about the sermon or a comment that stuck out to them. Sometimes our children will laugh about a funny story that was shared and this is fine! It means they were listening. Other times, children will ask a clarifying question about what a word or concept means. This is simply an opportunity for you to see how your children are processing the sermon and to see what really grabbed them.

Like learning anything, it takes time for young children to learn how to worship corporately. If worshipping as a family is new to you, just getting your children to sit quietly without embarrassing you or distracting others is a big win! As a father of five, I’ve been there. I’ve been given the evil eye as someone glanced over their shoulder at me due to a loud child. If that happens, just smile and don’t take it out on your child. Be gracious to yourself, your children and others who have children. This is a season where extra grace is required.

While we need an orderly worship service, the sounds of children are a sign of health for families and churches as it is a means to pass on faith to the next generation. If you are willing to do the hard work to teach and train your children to worship corporately, your children will reap the benefits of being part of the larger church body and learning to worship.

If you want to learn more about worshipping corporately as a family I encourage you to purchase the book Parenting in the Pew, which has many practical and helpful ideas. Truth78 created a children’s worship notebook that helps children follow along with a sermon and our children have found this resource helpful. Of course, if you haven’t purchased a Bible for your child, consider getting one so the child can bring it to church for worship. May the Lord bless you as you train a child to worship God!

Discipling Your Grandchildren is available now!

As a grandparent with a passion to impact your grandchildren for Christ, do you sometimes struggle to find fun and meaningful ways to disciple them and leave a lasting legacy of faith? Help is at hand in Discipling Your Grandchildren, which contains lots of suggestions and ideas to help you do just that. We wrote this book to help you apply the biblical methods of family discipleship from Deuteronomy 6 into everyday life by providing hundreds of ways to help grandchildren know, love, and serve Christ.

You can order Discipling Your Grandchildren here.

What Others are Saying

“Every one of the 30 million Christian grandparents in America should have a copy of this inspiring book in their homes. Every church should have it available in their library.” Valerie Bell, CEO Awana

“This is a treasure trove of ideas that will revolutionize how your grandparent and the impact you will have on your grandchildren.” Cavin Harper, Founder of The Christian Grandparent Network

“There is no more loving or sacred role than that of being a godly grandparent to the children entrusted to your family—this book shows you how!” Dr. Wess Stafford, President Emeritus, Compassion International

Overview of the Book

Discipling Grandchildren is organized around eleven topics that most grandparents experience with children and grandchildren. There are ninety-six different sections, with hundreds of ideas all designed to help you be an intentional disciple-making grandparent. Each chapter contains a list of ideas, concisely explained, often in bullet point format.

The ideas in this book are not random or purposeless. They are a means to a greater end. Of course, disconnected from the biblical purpose of discipleship, they become just another activity with a grandchild. We encourage you to read each idea with discipleship in mind and utilize them toward that end.

Table of Contents

  1. What Does the Bible Say About Grandparenting?

Five Characteristics of a Disciple-Making Grandparent

  1. Gifts, Encouragement, and Prayer

Gift Giving, 10 Graduation Gift Ideas, The Gift of a Bible, Connect Through Texts, Build Your Grandchild’s Library of Good Books, Books to Give and Enjoy Together, Giving Gifts of Experiences, Journaling Together, Praying for Each Other, 30 Scriptures to Pray for your Children and Grandchildren

  1. Intentional Meals

Long Distance Dinners, Bake a Simple Recipe Three Different Ways, Checklist for Successful Meal Times with Small Children, Practice Mealtime Manners with a Tea Party, Learn About Missions by Enjoying an Ethnic Dinner, Preparing Dinner with Bible Ingredients, Thanking Parents with a Dinner

  1. Teaching God’s Word and Telling God’s Work

Disciple Grandchildren Using a Good Book, Wonderful Things in God’s Word, Utilize Your Skills by Teaching What You Know, Participate in Education, Being a Good Friend, Teaching Biblical Manhood to Boys, Go on a Virtual Tour of Israel, Take Notes in Church, Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, Biblical Worldview Detector, Tell about Past Generations, Share Your Faith Story

  1. Reading and Memorizing the Bible

Check Out Unusual Verses, Make Magnets to Memorize a Verse, Use Objects to Memorize, Bible Character Biographies, Memorize the Books of the Bible, Summarize the Books of the Bible, Discuss the Sermon, Study the Bible Together, Take Photos to Illustrate a Verse

  1. Sharing the Gospel

EvangeCube, The Wordless Book, Romans Road, Share the Gospel Using Five Fingers and Five Verses, Dirty Water Experiment, Challenge Children to Think About Their Faith, Answer Hard Questions, Share Your Faith Story, Teach Children to Make Right Choices, Write a Psalm

  1. Serving Together

Get Involved in their Activities, Practical Service Opportunities, Develop a Talent or Skill Together, Take a mission trip together

  1. Relationship Building

Build Traditions Together, Make an Unfinished Photo Album, Send Unusual Mail, Celebrate the Start of a New School Year, Rubber Band Fight, Backyard Camping, Nerf Gun War, Family Fantasy Football League, Connect with Grandchildren via Social Media, Celebrate Major Milestones, Listening to Your Grandchildren, Visiting Great-Grandparents, Relating to Teens, Respect the Wishes of Non-Christian Parents

  1. For Your Home

Checklist for Successful Overnight Visits, Host Grandparent Camp, Welcoming Grandchildren into Your Home, Make and Use Prayer Cards, Honor Grandchildren in Your Home, Explore Your City, Stay Home Together, Write Notes while Visiting, Share Bedtime Stories from a Distance, 21 Activities With Grandchildren

  1. For Your Church

Launch a Grandparent Ministry, Participate in National Grandparents Day, Include Grandparents in Child Dedications, Participate in GrandCamp, Start a G@P group, Organize a Photo Scavenger Hunt

  1. Holidays

New Years Ideas, Valentine’s Day Ideas, St. Patrick’s Day Ideas, Easter Ideas, Ideas for the Spring, Memorial Day Ideas, Mother’s and Father’s Day Ideas, Ideas for Summer Vacation, Fourth of July Ideas, Ideas for Fall, Halloween Ideas, Thanksgiving Ideas, Christmas Ideas, Birthday Ideas, Ideas to Celebrate Spiritual Birthdays

Example from Chapter 1: 10 Graduation Gift Ideas

Be creative and share your faith heritage through your gift giving this graduation season. Above all, think memory with meaning. If possible, be there to celebrate with a grandchild in person.

1.     Personalized photography: frame a memorable event of the graduating grandchild, even better if you are in the photo together.

2.     Overnight bag: invite your grandchild can come see you, especially if he or she is going away to college.

3.     Heirloom jewelry: pass on a special piece to your college bound grandchild and write a note that it is a reminder that you are with him or her.

4.     An experience: purchase tickets around what interests your grandchild such as music or sports. Be creative. continue to make memories, even as they grow older.

5.     Talk time: ask your grandchild to teach you how to use Skype, Marco Polo, or Zoom so you can stay in communication. Choose the method that works best for you.

6.     Handwritten letter: tell them you love them, are there for them and you will be praying for them during this next season of life. You may want to include specific Scripture you will pray.

7.     Scrapbook of memories: create a book of photos and journal things you did together.

8.     Family memento: share its meaning, when you received it, and why you are passing it on to your grandchild.

9.     T-shirt quilt: order or make a quilt using a grandchild’s old t-shirts. You will need to collect a grandchild’s shirts from camp, school, and family trips. You can find a company online by googling t-shirt quilt. Send them the t-shirts and they do the rest.

  1. Gift cards for gas, restaurants, clothing or electronic stores where they shop.

I’m having a really hard time finding godly people to date. Where can I find them? FAQ Blog Series (Part 3)

Don’t be discouraged that you’re not finding a godly person to date. God sees your situation and knows the desires of your heart. Stay engaged in community, join different interest groups and continue to grow in your faith right where you are. Deepening your walk with God is the most important focus of your life, so keep it central to who you are.

The young adult years are a huge time of transition and finding your place in the world, so be patient. God is using this time to mold you and shape you to join Him in the work He’s prepared for you. A side benefit of this is that you will better understand what you bring to a relationship and the kind of person that would be a good match for you.

Knowing who you are in Christ will also ground you in whatever season of life you find yourself. I know this may be hard to believe but there are hard aspects to every season of life. Marriage is a beautiful thing but it also comes with its own set of trials. (more responsibility, divided focus, less time) You have advantages now while you’re single that you won’t have again. Make the most of this time and take advantage of the unique benefits right in front of you. (more time, undivided focus, less stressors because you have less people dependent on you)

Ultimately, don’t spend too much time focused on what you don’t have. Spend your energy being thankful for what God has already given you. Discontent people are not very attractive – grateful people are! By all means, keep your heart soft and your eyes open for when God brings someone into your life – but don’t stop living until then!

Scripture for further encouragement: Ephesians 3:20, Philippians 4:19, 1 Corinthians 7:32-35, Proverbs 3:5-6

During a Pandemic What a Child Needs Most is Hope in God

Hope is one of my favorite words. Hope is the promise of a great future. It is the confident expectation that all things will work out for us. Hope is full assurance in a certain future. Right now, it is easy to lose hope because the future appears uncertain and the outcome of the next few months are unknown.

I’ve had numerous people reach out to me and state, “I’m scared” or “I’m surprised I’ve been so anxious.” If we are honest, most of us have had moments of worry. Most of us face uncertainty in some form right now. We all have something to lose such as health, home, finances, a or a job. I’ve joked that my 401k is now a 201k. It can be hard to have hope when the rhythm and routine of our days has been interrupted and the future looks dark.

Let us remember that we have an enemy that wants to steal our hope, but God assures us in His Word that we have a great future. Christians are to be hopeful people because we trust in a good God. Our hope should radiate the brightest when the world is the darkest and the most important place this needs to happen is in your home. Hope manifests itself as joy (Rom. 12:12), love (Col. 1:4-5), boldness (2 Cor. 3:12), and perseverance (2 Thess. 1:3). 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 says that the foundation of our confident hope is the grace of God.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Right now, all of us want comfort for our heart. I encourage you to take a moment of self-reflection and ask yourself this question: Where am I looking for comfort and hope? For many of us, we are looking to the wrong source. Psalm 42:5 is clear, “Hope in God!” This is the most important thing your child needs to hear during a pandemic, or for that matter, at any time. Everything may not turn out exactly how we envision and we may face temporary trials, but we can have unshakable confidence in a great future because we have a good God.

A Word About Fear

Anxiety and fear is the result of trusting in self or others. Fear is born out of a desire to control the future. We cannot control the future and that’s why we become anxious. The Bible lists many causes of fear, which are future-oriented. They are things we cannot control such as dread of disaster (Prov. 1:33), death (Heb. 2:15), physical attack (Gen. 32:11), natural disasters (Ps. 46:2-3), and evil (Ps. 23:4). Take time to read and discuss these passages with your child. Ask them if any of these examples are causes of fear in their heart.

Remind your children of the great truth of Isaiah 41:10, which states, “Do not fear.” This is a bold, strong command. There are no conditions that make fear acceptable, other than in God alone. It is important to note that if God commands us not to fear, then the presence of fear in our heart is sin. If we have been fearful during the pandemic, let us confess this sin to God. Why is it a sin to fear? Fear is the manifestation of unbelief in God. Will God keep His promises? Is God trustworthy? Is God good and gracious? The answer to all these questions is YES!

The biblical answer for fear is trust in God. As a family, open up God’s Word and read God’s solution for fear in these passages: Prov. 29:25 (trust in God), Ps. 56:4 (trust God), Is. 26:3 (Focus on God), Ps. 112:1, 7-8 (Fear God), Prov. 3:21-24 (Wisdom and obedience), Phil: 4:7-8 (prayer), and Ps. 55:5-8 (Take shelter in God).

Praying as a Family

Prayer is form of trust. In prayer we admit we are dependent upon God and we seek His care and His help. The best thing you can do with your family at this time is pray. During difficult times regular family prayer reorients our focus, reveals our dependence upon God, and reduces our fears. Prayer may not feel remarkable, but it is God’s answer in times of need. Philippians reminds us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer is not an extra, but an essential habit for our home. Our excuses for prayerlessness have been removed. We have time and our calendars are open. The Coronavirus may limit our ability to be physically present with our friends and extended family, but our prayers transcend time and geographic location and are an important form of ministering to others. In addition, the ministry of prayer is something that the youngest child can do. In Psalm 8:2 we are reminded that age does not limit the effectiveness of prayers, “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” God accomplishes his purposes through the prayers of the young and old.

So parents, pray. Gather your children and invite them to pray. What should you pray about? Let us pray with our children for God to heal those affected, provide wisdom for leaders making decisions, give peace to our heart, fill us with calm assurance in God, and for the gospel to advance.

Fill Your Child With Hope in God

The Bible tells us that we can be confident in God and can have full assurance in Him

because He has good plans for us. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11). God has plans for each of his children and it is a good plan! No one can hinder those plans. Nothing can thwart those plans, not even the coronavirus.

Colossians 3:21 provides a specific command to fathers (but equally applies to mothers), “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” The goal of a good father is to raise children who are not discouraged. To be discouraged means to lose heart, become disinterested, or have an unmotivated resignation toward life. We are not to raise that kind of child. We are to raise the opposite of discouraged, which is hopeful, joyful, and confident.

If fathers are given a command to avoid one kind of parenting, then it implies we are to pursue a different kind. We are to pursue the kind of fathering that gives hope instead of discouragement and confidence instead of fear. So fathers, don’t discourage your child in this time of uncertainty, rather fill them with hope in God! Teach your child that they can rejoice in times of suffering, knowing that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” in God (Rom. 5:3-4). Don’t discourage them. Teach them to hope in God. Help them fix their gaze on God, not on the uncertain circumstances that surround us.

The Coronavirus provides you the opportunity to talk about where we put our trust and where we look for hope. Use this opportunity to build up your child’s God-confidence. Work to root out self-confidence, government-confidence, money-confidence and replace it with God-confidence. Our hope is not in the government. Our hope is not in our money. Our hope is not in ourselves. We trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the most common phrases in the Bible is the phrase, “Do not be afraid” and it is often followed with the words, “For I am with you.” Our confidence is in God, for He is with us. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). He offers His help to us right now.

When the world is broken and all else fails, God will be there. We have a reason to hope. Our hope is rooted in the character of God. He is our refuge in time of need. The Coronavirus will pass. The days of social distancing and quarantine will come to an end. Not because an elected official out smarted the virus, but because God is sovereign and He is on the throne. God has not abdicated the world to sickness. He has not left the throne. God is in control. We are to put our trust in Him and Him alone.

Remind yourself of these biblical truths and teach them to your children. Let the promises of God’s Word and the unchanging character of God’s nature wash over your household at this time, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant” (Ps. 35:27). Be glad in our good God today and filled with hope for tomorrow!

Is it ever okay to date/marry a non-believer? FAQ Blog Series (Part 2)

Many think it’s narrow minded to discourage Christians from marrying someone outside their faith. 2 Corinthians 6:14 is very clear though that God doesn’t want believers to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Here are five dangers to dating/marrying an unbeliever:

1) As a believer your relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important part of who you are. If you are not able to share that with the person you’re with, then you can’t share ALL of who you are. A healthy relationship should connect on every level – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Being with someone who doesn’t believe what you believe will hinder your transparency and will create a huge gap in your intimacy. Even worse, you could lose your passion and zeal for Christ because you decide it’s better to compartmentalize your faith so you aren’t isolated from your spouse.

2) Many think marriage is for earthly happiness but God created it for an even greater purpose – eternal holiness. In Ephesians 5, the husband is called to love and serve his wife in order to encourage spiritual growth and transformation in her. Women, if you marry an unbelieving man, his ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

In Genesis 2, the first role God gave wives was to be the man’s helper. This is a huge responsibility and privilege because it means coming alongside him and spurring him on to become the godly man he was created to be. Men, if you marry an unbelieving woman, her ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

3) Marriage is also for raising godly children. A godly husband and wife have a shared mission and that is to raise godly children. If the two of you are not on the same page about your faith, your children will receive mixed messages and likely find themselves confused about what to believe.

4) If the person is a believer but there is a large gap in their level of spiritual maturity, I would suggest a few things:

– Seek the advice and input from a few strong Christians you know and trust. Invite them into the process of getting to know the person you’re dating. This   will enable them to discern whether or not they feel the spiritual gap can be        bridged or not.

– Get involved together at church; attend services, join a Bible Study or small group, do service projects. The goal here is to see if the other person is eager to grow and if you can grow together. This will also help you see whether      you’re headed in the same direction.

5) Above all else, trust that the Lord knows best and lean on Him instead of your own feelings or thinking. He won’t ever lead you astray!

Scripture for further study: 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:25-27, Genesis 2:18

 

Navigating Three Grandparenting Landmines

Larry and Sarah sat in my office, visibly frustrated. Tears came to Sarah’s eyes when she spoke, “I think the discipline of our grandson has driven a wedge between us and our son. We used to be close, but that has changed.”

Larry began to explain what happened, “Our son and his wife went away for a seven day vacation to Hawaii and we offered to take their three children. We thought it would give us some extended time with our grandchildren.”

Sarah chimed in, “Yeah, but instead it’s caused a lot of problems. We learned we were not prepared to deal with media and food choices as well as discipline.” Larry stated, “There was some misbehavior from our oldest grandson Nathan and I had to deal with it. Nathan snuck out in the middle of the night and was out half the night. Someone called me and made me aware that it happened.”

Sarah jumped in, “We never expected to have to deal with this sort of thing as a grandparent. It kind of caught us off guard.” Larry continued, “When I found out it happened I sat him down and told him he betrayed our trust and that he was not going to be able to go out with his friends until his parents got back.”

“And that isn’t all,” Sarah added, “We were shocked how much time our grandchildren spent on their phones texting friends and watching stuff, so we had them put their phones away after dinner each night. Two of the three grandchildren were picky eaters and refused to eat half of the meals I served. I wish I would have known about their media and eating habits before they arrived.”

The frustration was evident on Larry’s face, “The most difficult thing was when Nathan texted his mother, who said he was allowed to go out with friends and use his phone. It caused a big disagreement. I told Nathan that his mom and dad had given us the authority while they were gone and we were going to stick with our decision. We were given the responsibility and authority and we acted upon it. We had hoped to build memories with our grandchildren, but instead we experienced conflict that’s caused division in our family.”

Larry and Sarah’s boundaries were appropriate, but they were not on the same page as their children. Grandparents are partners with parents working together to encourage a child to know, love, and serve Christ. In order to successfully partner together, parents and grandparents must be on the same page regarding numerous topics including how and when grandparents are to enforce boundaries while watching a grandchild. This article will equip you to partner together by having a conversation with your adult child that focuses on three sticky subjects grandparents often face: discipline, media, and food.

Discipline

The first topic to discuss with your child centers around what to do when a grandchild is under your care and is disobedient. The more time you spend with a grandchild, the more important it is for clarity around this topic, especially if you watch grandchildren weekly or for an extended period of time. Here are two examples of questions you might consider asking your child.

How would you like us to navigate discipline? In general, you want to learn if your child wants you to administer some form of discipline or wait until the grandchild goes home and allow the parent to deal with the child’s disobedience. If a child prefers that you do not discipline a grandchild, then ask your child how he or she envisions boundaries being enforced at your home. If your child wants you to administer discipline, then it may be helpful to talk about specific examples such as what to do if a child refuses to go to bed or is repetitively disrespectful. Ask a couple of questions about “What should I do if…?” The goal is not to insinuate that grandchildren have behavior problems, but rather to communicate expectations and reduce surprises.

What discipline methods do you want us to utilize? Your aim is to arrive at an agreement about the methods you can utilize to discipline a grandchild in your care. What is your child’s preference about time outs, grounding, taking away a personal item like a phone, or other methods you might use? Do you have the freedom to spank a younger grandchild or does your child view this as their responsibility? Most grandparents do not want to spank a grandchild, but some grandparents watch grandchildren on a weekly basis and have been asked by their children to do so in order to maintain consistency in a grandchild’s life. You want clarity about how you should discipline a grandchild at your home.

Media

When my oldest two sons were in preschool, they were blessed to spend a couple afternoons each week at their grandparent’s house. One day, they came home and begun talking about a Star Wars movie that they had seen at grandma and grandpa’s house. I was disappointed because I had envisioned watching Star Wars at some point in the future as a fun father and son activity. I asked their grandparents if the boys had watched Star Wars at their home. As it turned out, the boys had only watched a commercial for a new Star Wars movie. It reminded me not to jump to conclusions and helped me realize I had expectations about television and movies that I had not communicated. It led to a productive conversation about media usage when grandchildren were at their home. If you have never discussed this topic, here are some questions you can ask to clarify media expectations for a grandchild:

  • What movies and shows is a grandchild allowed to watch?
  • What video games can a grandchild play?
  • How much time do you allow your child to spend on devices such as iPads or smart phones?
  • Would you like us to ask permission before watching something a grandchild has never seen?

If parents are conservative in their media choices, air on the side of caution with the use of technology in your home. If parents are liberal in their media consumption, do not speak poorly to a grandchild or be condescending to adult children about their choices. If you are going to establish media boundaries that a grandchild doesn’t have in his or her own home, you can do this by stating that at grandma and grandpa’s house we only watch television for an hour per day because we want to spend time having fun together.

Your goal is to learn parent preferences, discover unstated expectations, and arrive at an agreement about what is acceptable and unacceptable regarding screen usage at your home. For younger grandchildren, invite your child to provide a list of parent-approved shows or send movies that a grandchild can watch. For older grandchildren with a phone, ask your child to share how the phone is used at their home. Is the phone allowed in the bedroom at night? Can the grandchild text or call others? Is the grandchild allowed to go on the internet? You will build trust if you let your child know that you want to honor his or her media preferences when a grandchild is at your home.

Food

Craig approached me with a big smile on his face and asked if I wanted to see a picture of the vegetable drawer in his refrigerator. His mischievous smile told me that I wouldn’t see carrots or lettuce. “Sure,” I said, intrigued by what I would find. Craig pulled out his phone and showed me a picture of a fully extended vegetable drawer that was halfway filled with full sized candy bars of all varieties. “I love to feed my grandchildren vegetables and they love to eat them,” he said with a chuckle.

While there is nothing wrong with feeding grandchildren “vegetables,” have you ever asked yourself where this idea of grandparenting comes from? Who decided that a grandparent’s job description includes spoiling grandchildren with large amounts of sugar?

The truth is that Craig longs to be a good grandparent. He’s doing what he thinks grandparents do and that comes with a daily quota for sugar distribution. Craig loves his grandchildren and he wants them to love Jesus. But without realizing it, Craig’s approach to grandparenting created frustration because his son purposefully limits the amount of sugar his children consume.

Craig’s experience with sugar and Larry and Sarah’s experience with picky eaters is not uncommon, which is why a third topic to discuss with your child revolves around mealtime and food preferences. For some parents, food is a major issue due to food sensitivities, allergies, or eating habits. Generally, if there are food issues that matter to your child or grandchild, it should matter to you. Here are a handful of questions that you can ask your child to gain clarity about what food to serve to a grandchild at your home:

  • What are your food preferences?
  • How can we accommodate specific eating habits?
  • Are there any special diets, allergies, or sensitivities we should be aware of?
  • What meals, snacks, and drinks are your children’s favorites?
  • How much sugary foods and beverages are allowed?
  • What would you like us to do when a grandchild refuses to eat a meal or does not eat everything on his or her plate?

If your adult children or grandchildren have different eating habits or preferences than you, accommodate as possible. One of the secrets to making grandma and grandpa’s house special is food that everyone enjoys and feels good about.

Initiate a conversation

Larry and Sarah were not prepared for some common problem areas that grandparents often experience with grandchildren. I hope that Larry and Sarah’s painful experience encourages you to initiate a conversation with your adult child about some sticky subjects that often are overlooked, but are important to discuss so that you can be on the same page with one another. You can do that by simply inviting your child to grab coffee or casually bringing up one or more of these topics on the phone.

God designed parents and grandparents as partners working toward the same biblical goals, but with different and complementary roles. Wise grandparents do what they can to learn parenting expectations and implement parenting preferences. These three topics should help you get on the same page with your adult child, avoid common problem areas, and strengthen your family by being a disciple-making grandparent.

The Problem with Keeping Quiet

There are many reasons parents aren’t talking about sexuality with their kids. Do any of these ring true for you?

  • “It’s an embarrassing Maybe if I don’t bring it up, it won’t come up.”
  • “We have such a busy schedule that I couldn’t possibly tackle a tough topic like that right now.”
  • “Sex is private and personal. I don’t talk about it because it is a sacred matter.”
  • “I made so many mistakes when I was young that I’ve been disqualified – my voice doesn’t matter when it comes to this topic.”
  • “I’ve had ‘the talk’ with my child, isn’t that enough?”
  • “My parents didn’t talk with me about sex and I turned out just fine. I’m taking the same approach with my kids.”

Here’s the problem with keeping silent on sexuality: By keeping silent, the worldly perspective becomes all the more enticing. We must understand that the world we grew up in is nothing like the world our children are growing up in today. The sexual temptation, experimentation and deception they face (or will face!) are unlike any other time in history.

Plus, if we keep silent, this teaches our children that God must be silent on the topic as well. This couldn’t be further from the truth! The Old and New Testament books are chalked full of bold teachings on sexuality. Howard Hendricks once said, “We should not be ashamed to discuss what God was not ashamed to create.”                                                                   

The culture isn’t embarrassed, too busy and surely doesn’t feel disqualified to train our children to view sexuality from a worldly perspective. In fact, it is their mission to talk as early and as often as they possibly can. Yes, the culture’s voice is loud but your voice is stronger. Take a stand and boldly proclaim God’s truth – it never returns void!

Reflect and Respond:

  • How have you approached the topic of sexuality with your children to this point? Spend some time thinking back on these encounters and ask the Lord to point out ways you can grow and stretch yourself in having courageous conversations with your kids.
  • Silence on sexuality is not a “parent problem” but has been a problem of the Church for centuries. The tide is beginning to turn but we still have a long way to go. Read the article “Sex and the Silence of the Church” to learn more and then ask God to help the Church find her voice.