Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. The importance of biblical worship and the dangers of the Jesus Culture.

  • Why Christians should be concerned with the wrong theology behind the Jesus culture.
  • What is wrong with the Christian music scene today.
  • Encouraging signs in the Christian music scene today.
  • The importance of biblical worship and practice in local churches.

2. Raising children to be in the world, not of the world.

“A few things come to mind and the first is to raise our children around the Bible, right. To be teaching our children the Bible consistently from their earliest days because the Bible addresses sin in a frank way. We don’t need to expose our children to sin in blatant ways in order to introduce them to the concept of sin. We can just read the Bible, we can introduce them to God through his Word. And there they’ll see sin, they’ll see it described, but they’ll also see the consequences of sin.”

3. Learn how to be an intentional grandparent using the Creation Museum

“This year, a new two-part series of free workshops called Answers for Grandparents is now available during specific weeks at the Creation Museum (learn more and check for dates and times on the Creation Museum website). These workshops are especially for our senior audience.”

4. The need to provide a biblical foundation for children

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” and these graphs emphasize how we need to raise up generations with the right foundation for their worldview.”

Grandparents Are Influential, Second Only to Parents

Excerpt from the book Grandparenting, which releases in December 2018.

Who are the most influential people in a young person’s life? A Barna study wanted to know the answer to a similar question and asked 602 teenagers, “Who, besides your parents, do you admire most as a role model?” According to Barna, the top five influences in the life of young people are (1) parents, (2) other family members, typically grandparents, (3) teachers and coaches, (4) friends, and (5) pastors or religious leaders.

After parents, grandparents are the greatest potential influence in the life of a child—not a peer, not a pastor, and not a teacher. When teenagers were asked why they named a particular person as influential, teens provided the following reasons: The person was worthy of imitation; they wanted to follow in the footsteps of the chosen person; they were there for the teenager; and they were interested in the teenager’s future. For better or worse, young people are imitating the people they know best and who care for them.

It may sound simplistic but the greatest influencers of young people are typically those who invest the greatest amount of time into their lives. The key for grandparents to understand is that the more time you invest into a grandchild’s life the greater the potential influence will be. When I look at Barna’s top five influences it follows that logic: The five greatest influencers are the people who spend the most time with young people over the course of their life.

The five greatest influencers are the people who spend the most time with young people over the course of their life. Click To Tweet

If you want to influence your grandchildren to love Jesus then it makes sense that you must have an active presence in their lives. If you do not, then other influences such as peers or media fill the void. Take a moment and reflect on two areas of your life:

First, add up the numbers of hours you invest monthly in your grandchildren.

  • How much of that time is direct face-to-face interaction (in person or through technology)?
  • How many hours per month do you invest indirectly in your grandchildren’s parents, praying for grandchildren, preparing for gatherings, activities, or other family-related things?
  • What is your total number of hours?

Many grandparents are surprised to see how few or how many hours they actually spend on their grandchildren.

Second, take a moment and think about your own grandparents.

  • What impact did your grandparents have on your life?
  • Were your grandparents active in your life and did they regularly invest in you?
  • Did your grandparents shape your personality, preferences, or faith in any way, or were your grandparents emotionally distant, primarily living an autonomous life?

Whether the impact was significant or lacking, it reminds us that grandparents matter, and rarely do they have no influence on us. If you ask your grandchildren how you influence their life, what do you think they would say? The goal is not simply to be a positive influence with a strong relationship, but to use our influence to point grandchildren to Christ.

When Do Americans Become Christians?

A survey from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found that 63% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 4-14, with the median age being 11. The same survey also found that 34% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 15-29. According to this study, 97% of individuals become a Christian before the age of 30.

In case that didn’t register, that is 97%! That means, if you asked 100 people when they became a Christian, 63 became a Christian between the age of 4-14, 34 between the age of 15-29, and only 3 out of 100 after the age of 30.

There are many implications we should consider such as:

  • Return on investment: The greatest return on ministry investment is a focus on children, then youth, then young adults.
  • Ministry budget: The average church only spends 3% of its budget on children while allotting the majority of its ministry and missions budgets to adults.
  • The family: Parents and grandparents should be trained to share the gospel, pray for a child’s salvation, and nurture an environment where God’s Spirit can work to open a child’s eyes to his or her need for Christ. It is the family that has the greatest opportunity to introduce a child to Christ and nurture the heart.
  • Defense of faith: Parents and grandparents must take seriously the spiritual influences that are present in the early and teen years of a child. Education, media, and peers impact what a child believes about Christ and thus must be taken seriously.

D.L. Moody once said, “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.” Moody understood the importance of the early years and the strategic investment they represent. If the early and teen years are so crucial to the faith development of a Christian, then we would be wise to focus on this time of life in our churches and homes.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. Gender neutral baby names on the rise. 

“That trend, of gender neutral names, particularly for the girls, seems to be on the rise,” said Doctor Sarah Eiser, an OBGYN with Lancaster General Health. Some popular unisex baby include Corey, Tyler, Logan and even Jayden, according to thebump.com.”

2. A growing number of parents allow their child to accept or reject their biological gender, reinforcing gender dysphoria.

“Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide. The Cambridge, Mass., couple represent a small group of parents raising “theybies” — children being brought up without gender designation from birth. A Facebook community for these parents currently claims about 220 members across the U.S.”

3. Learn about a movement that threatens to negatively influence the church called the “Woke Movement,” a phrase used to describe an awakening to issues of race, gender, and sexuality.

“Unless you have been living in seclusion somewhere, you will have noticed that a radical putsch is currently underway to get evangelicals on board with doctrines borrowed from Black Liberation Theology, Critical Race Theory, Intersectional Feminism, and other ideologies that are currently stylish in the left-leaning secular academy. All of these things are being aggressively promoted in the name of “racial reconciliation.” This has suddenly given rise to a popular movement that looks to be far more influential—and a more ominous threat to evangelical unity and gospel clarity—than the Emergent campaign was 15 years ago. The movement doesn’t have an official name yet, but the zealots therein like to refer to themselves as “woke.”

Five Things To Say to a Loved One Before Death

My mother died from ALS ten years ago on June 11, 2008 (which also happens to be my wedding anniversary). Lots has happened in life since then and I sometimes wonder how my mom would respond if she knew all that happened in my life. I can see the shock on her face when she learns I have five kids and got a PhD — a couple of the many things that she probably never expected to occur in my life. I’m guessing she would be surprised in a good way.

ALS is a nasty neurological disease which slowly causes a person to become paralyzed. Death occurs when an individual loses the ability to breath. I wanted to be intentional with the limited amount of time remaining with my mom. I spent two weeks of concentrated time with her, asked her dozens of questions about her faith and life, and then recorded them in a book for the Mulvihill family. The book has been a blessing for my children as a way to learn about their grandmother.

I also wanted to make sure our relationship ended with no regrets and in a great place. My mom and I had a strong relationship, but I had heard stories from numerous friends who had relational regrets with a parent who died and I didn’t want to be one of those individuals. I spent some time developing a list of five things that must be said before my mom died:

  • I love you
  • Please forgive me
  • I forgive you
  • Thank you
  • Goodbye

Just reading the list brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I had some sweet moments with my mom that strengthened an already strong relationship. Good gave me the opportunity to whisper goodbye in her ear the morning she died. I am grateful that God gave me the time to have these conversations with my mom and write this to encourage you to consider if there is anyone in your life, sick or healthy, that needs to hear one or more of these things from you?

Three Misleading Emotions

Three misleading emotions commonly keep parents from having courageous conversations with their children. Can you relate to one (or all!) of these?

DISQUALIFIED “I didn’t wait, so how could I talk with my children about saving sex for marriage?” No one is more qualified than you! You know from personal experience why sex is best saved for marriage and the natural consequences that come from going outside God’s bounds. You have an opportunity to cast a God-glorifying vision for your child’s life while also helping them navigate around the detours and pitfalls that come from pre-marital sex.

The Bible is full of stories about people who sinned and yet went on to represent God and uphold His holy standards (i.e. King David, the apostle Paul, etc). To disqualify yourself from speaking Truth to your children because of your past sin is to give victory to Satan. He will do anything he can to get you to focus on your mistakes, your mess, and your inadequacies rather than watch you lay your sins before the Cross and receive forgiveness that’s yours in Christ Jesus. It sounds trite but it’s true – if you step out in faith, God will take your “mess” and turn it into a message.

DISTRACTED – “With everything else we have going on at home, we don’t know when we’d fit this in. Honestly, we wouldn’t know what to say if we did find the time!” Don’t let busyness rob you of valuable conversations with your kids. Whether it’s at the dinner table or before they head to bed, capitalize on every opportunity you can find. Let go of the pressure and expectation that you should have all the answers. If you don’t have an answer to one of their questions, be honest and tell them you will get back to them. Then make sure you do! If you don’t know where to begin, check out my website www.sexbydesign.com to learn more about my film series Sex by Design: Unpacking the Purpose and Practice of Purity. It was designed to give you a road map for having ongoing conversations with your kids about sexuality. It could very well put to rest the misleading emotion(s) you’ve been feeling and give you the courage to press in. It doesn’t take a PhD to positively influence your children – it just takes the committed and loving presence of parents fully invested in their children’s life!

DISCOURAGED “When I bring up the topic, my child gives me one word answers and changes the subject.” This is a normal response especially if you’ve just recently broached the topic. Ask God to soften your child’s heart and provide you with opportunities to try again. Consider starting with a different topic (just as valuable but maybe less awkward) like modesty or dating and see where God takes it. Consider going out for coffee, ice cream or dinner for uninterrupted time together.

Reflect and Respond:

  • Do any of these misleading emotions ring true to you personally? If so, share your thoughts with your spouse and ask him/her to help remind you of the Truth when the misleading emotion rears its ugly head again. Commit your misleading emotion(s) to prayer and then be on the watch for how God will transform your heart!
  • Read the article “Teaching Your Kids About Sex When You Have Sexual Sin in Your Past.” (http://www.intoxicatedonlife.com/2013/11/14/sexual-sinners-teaching-sex-ed/) What Truth stuck out to you? Consider writing it on a notecard to be posted on your bathroom mirror, the dashboard of your vehicle or in your personal journal. Review it regularly so it becomes part of your belief system!
  • Commit to praying about how to move forward as you invest in your child’s Biblical understanding of sexuality. Again, check out my website (sexbydesign.com) for practical help.

What’s the Gospel?

There is no more important message to understand in life than the gospel. Yet, for many Christians there is a fog of confusion that surrounds the gospel. If someone says the gospel is the way of Jesus, the kingdom of God, positive thinking, or compassion toward others would you be able to explain why each of these explanations of the gospel is insufficient? The gospel has been the recipient of massive distortions and over simplifications. In relation to the gospel you should have a four-fold aim: (1) clearly understand it, (2) concisely explain it, (3) culturally connect it, and (4) confidently proclaim it.

Greg Gilbert wrote a helpful book called What is the Gospel where he used four words to summarize the gospel: God, man, Christ, and response. Remembering these four will help us understand, explain, and proclaim the gospel. The gospel is the good news because it addressed the most serious problem that humans have. R.C. Sproul summarizes this problem by saying, “God is holy and He is just, and I’m not.” Here is the gospel in a nutshell.

God is creator and he is holy. He is perfect. He has not sinned. He is just; he will not ignore or excuse the sin of others. The Bible teaches that all humans are accountable to God. He created us; therefore, he can demand we worship him.

Man has rebelled against God. We have placed ourselves on the throne of life. Romans 1:23 says we have exchanged the glory of God for idols. We are glory thieves, yet God will not share his glory with another. We have fallen short of God’s demand for perfection. At the end of your life you will stand before a just and holy God and be judged on the basis of your righteousness. Romans 3:19 says that when we stand before the judge, every mouth will be silenced. No one will offer a defense or any excuses. That is a sobering image. You have rebelled against a holy God that created you. That is the bad news.

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a perfect life of righteousness and offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God. God’s solution to humanity’s sin is the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can be saved from the condemnation our sin deserves through redemption in Jesus (Romans 3:24). The gospel is news, not advice. It is news that something has happened and we must respond to it. All religions are advice.

A response by faith is needed. The great lie of our day is that God forgives everybody; that he is a loving God who sweeps our sins under the carpet and grants forgiveness to those who are good people. The Bible is clear that we are not justified by our works, our efforts, our deeds, but by faith alone. Salvation comes “through faith in Jesus Christ” and it is “for all who believe” (Romans 3:22). How is the good news for you? Believe in Jesus Christ and repent of your sins. When you do that you are declared righteous by God, you are adopted into his family, and forgiven of all your sins. God acted in Jesus to save us and we take hold of that salvation by repentance of sin through faith in Jesus. That’s good news. And that is the gospel.

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

Family Talk: News and Resources for Family Discipleship

1. How to navigate technology in your home with twelve practical ideas and helpful research. 

“When talking about teens and screens — or “screenagers” — we need to get concrete. So let me offer twelve practical suggestions to stir into the discussions you’re already having in your churches and homes.”

2. A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandchildren, which brings a unique set of challenges. Learn more about these families and ways you can support them.

“More grandparents than ever are being put in a position like Barb and Fran—becoming full-time parents again, often with fewer resources and more health problems than they had the first time around. The arrangement is not new, of course — people raised by grandparents for at least part of their childhood include Maya Angelou, Carol Burnett, and two former presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama—but it’s more common than ever these days.”

3. New research on evolution provides opportunity for parents and grandparents to teach children the trustworthiness of the Bible.

“The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. ‘This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could,’ Thaler told AFP. That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 percent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age?”

What is Vaping?

What is vaping? Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol, often referred to as vapor, which is produced by an e-cigarette or similar device.

A new wave of smaller vapes has swept through schools in recent months, replacing bulkier e-cigarettes. It’s now common in some schools to find students crowded into bathrooms to vape, or performing vape tricks in class.

  • The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine.
  • They’re marketed to smokers as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, but officials say they’re making their way to teens with surprising ease.
  • Vaping devices are notoriously difficult to detect for schools, often leaving behind only a quick puff of vapor and a light fruity scent.
  • Students get awaywith it in bathrooms, halls and even classrooms, where some say they exhale the vapor into their shirts.
  • Although buyinge-cigarettes is illegal under age 18 — and some states have bumped the minimum age to 21 — students say they can buy them online or from older friends.”
  • Some say there are dozens available for sale in school hallways at any given time.
  • Some schoolshave been inundated by the Juul, which dispenses a flavored vapor containing higher concentrations of nicotine than tobacco cigarettes.

Why it matters: Vaping has become increasingly popular with teenagers. While high schools have typically experienced the most problems, some schools say vaping is spreading to middle schools. Have a discussion with your child about vaping, ask what they have seen, and talk about the addictive and harmful results of vaping.

Parents Matter Most

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Parenthood surveyed 1,000 teenagers and asked them what the number one factor was in shaping their decisions on sex. Was it social media? their friends? siblings? sex education? No! The majority of the teens said their parents were the greatest factor. Praise God!

Unfortunately, when the parents of these 1,000 teens were asked how their teens answered this question, fewer than 1 in 4 answered correctly. I think this reveals that many parents are being deceived and discouraged by the enemy and all things media. They are having a hay day getting parents to believe their influence doesn’t have lasting impact and that their voice can’t compete with culture’s.

The truth? Y-O-U matter most! Not the government, not the school, not even the church. You have been called by God and know/love your child better than anyone. Don’t believe the lie that your voice doesn’t make a difference – because in reality, it makes the biggest difference of all!

It will require patience (as you may not see fruit develop immediately), persistence (to not give in or give up but keep pursuing your kid even when they hold you at arm’s length) and prayerfulness (because you cannot transform your kid’s heart – only God Almighty can do that).

The best part is that God is just asking you to be faithful in talking with your children about sexuality. The results? Well, He wants you to leave that to Him! Will you accept His invitation?

Reflect and Respond:

  • On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 = lowest, 10 = highest) how would you rate yourself on the three P words I mentioned above: patience, persistence and prayerfulness? Choose your lowest rated word, and commit to working on that this week.
  • Check out the resource page on my website for quick access to articles, books and downloadables you can use in conversations with your kids.
  • Consider asking other parents to get together monthly with the purpose of encouraging and praying for one another. Where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there! (Matthew 18:20)