Parenting with Josh Mulvihill on Moody Radio and MyFaith Radio

It’s helpful to have a plan, whether that is for retirement, building a new home, or parenting. Join me for two short discussions on parenting. The first is with Ken & Deb from Moody Radio and the second with Bill Arnold from MyFaith Radio as I discuss the importance of being intentional in parenting, through the book 50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does it Mean that a Pastor is a Shepherd?

God has given pastors a very clear job description in the Bible. Central to that role is shepherding. Peter provides instruction regarding what the shepherding role of a pastor is to entail: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

As someone who was a pastor for nearly twenty years, I read these words and feel the weight of responsibility to the Chief Shepherd. The word that should jump out is the word entrusted. Pastors are entrusted with a great responsibility—the souls of people in a congregation. Sadly, we are all to familiar with pastoral malpractice where a pastor neglects, abandons, abuses, or uses a congregation for his own selfish gain. Equally as common is the pastor who functions as CEO and operates a church like a corporation. The larger a church gets, the further away from the sheep a pastor becomes. Shepherds need to have the smell of sheep on their hands.

I was prompted to think about the role of the pastor shepherd after a recent conversation with a pastor. The pastor is making a philosophical shift from a discipleship-oriented ministry to an evangelism-focused, seeker approach. All pastors feel a tension between evangelism and discipleship, but one of the two will always lead the way in preaching, program details, and primary audience. The seeker-model moves the focus from congregation to community and operates on pragmatism, consumerism, and a faulty theology of the church. It is a proven church growth strategy, so many pastors are attracted to it like a pig to slop because it will help them grow their numbers. Of course, all this happens under the banner of reaching the lost. Therefore, no sacrifice is too great, including the loss of individuals already under the shepherding care of the pastor. They are the sacrificial sheep on the alter of ministry. Pragmatically, it is fine to lose individuals as long as the church regains more. In their mind, growth justifies the decision. Nothing could be further from the shepherding heart of God than this mindset. Let us all rejoice when a new individual comes to faith in Christ, but this is not justification to abandon some of the flock.

It is important to have a clear theology of the church and understand God’s purpose for the gathered community. When the church is gathered its primary purpose is the exaltation of God and the edification, equipping, and encouragement of believers. Preaching done well will always be gospel-centered, but with a focus on calling the believing community to grow in Christ and reach the lost. The great commission is not a summons to come and see, but a call to go and tell. When the church is scattered throughout the week, they are given the responsibility of being salt and light to the community and sharing the gospel with those who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. With all of that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to briefly explore what the Bible says about the role of the pastor shepherd in the Bible.

Examples of Shepherd Leaders

Throughout the Bible we see examples of shepherding to care for God’s people. The Old Testament gives us human examples to keep watch over God’s people. God said to David, “You will shepherd my people Israel and you will become their ruler” (2 Samuel 78:72). Moses “brought his peoples out like a flock; he led them like sheep through desert” (Psalm 78:52). Isaiah says of Moses, “He brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock” (Isaiah 63:11).

God used shepherd-leaders such as David and Moses to guide and care for Israel. The Old Testament Prophets called back the sheep that had gone astray and pointed to the God shepherd to come. Those who lead in the church are by definition a shepherd. If you are in a leadership role, what kind of shepherd are you? If you serve in ministry under a shepherd’s leadership, what kind of sheep are you?

Shepherd leadership is manifested in God

If I asked you “Who is God?” Would shepherd rise to the top of your description of him? One of the names God chooses for himself is shepherd. In Psalm 23:1 we are told that the Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. God is the ultimate provider, protector and guider for his sheep. “I shall not want.” Nothing is lacking in his care for us. The Psalmist calls us to worship, in part, because he is a good shepherd who loves us, “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker; He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” What does God’s shepherding care look like? “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40:11). God is tender, gentle, and loving toward His sheep.

Shepherd leadership is modeled in Jesus

Jesus declares “I am the Good Shepherd I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” Jesus demonstrates for the disciples the model to follow. It is our responsibility as leaders to carry on in obedience the call to protect, provide, and guide Christ’s sheep. Jesus is the true shepherd and we are completely dependent on Him. You are to know God as shepherd and rely on Him for ministry. We cannot lead apart from Him. Of Jesus we read “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Jesus modeled what a shepherd is to do. There is a great price to be a shepherd. It will cost you your life. Every time you lead and bring forth the Word of God to others, you are dying to self. The model is sacrificial service.

Shepherd leadership is motivated by love

The problem with human shepherds is we always fall short. We abuse power. We act selfishly. The frailty of human shepherds was a major theme in Israel’s history. Ezekiel 34 contains detailed charges against the under shepherds of Israel, who should have been caring for God’s flocks. What are the characteristics of a poor shepherd leader from this passage? They fed themselves rather than the flock (34:2). They failed to strengthen the sick, heal the diseased, bind up the broken and seek the lost (34:4). The result was that people were scattered to foreign lands and became food for beasts. These shepherds failed at their most basics tasks. They were harsh rather than gentle (34:4). Eventually, God removes them and promises his shepherding care (34:7-10).           

Faithful shepherds are not self-serving. God speaks strongly against the selfish motives of leaders who neglect, exploit, and prey upon others. The Bible condemns those who act like owners over a ministry rather than stewards of the sheep entrusted to them. There is responsibility language in Ezekiel 34 and lots of sins of omission, what shepherds aren’t doing.

More good shepherds are needed

Maybe God is calling you to shepherd a flock. We need godly men to take the mantle of leadership and say “Here am I Lord, send me.” Has God given you a desire to lead? Has he gifted you to lead? Have others spoken into your life in this way? We need leaders like 1 Peter 5:2-4: self-giving leaders who willingly provide oversight of the flock, are gentle, and not motivated by their own gain. Sheep are precious because they have been purchased by the blood of Christ.

The five functions of a shepherd:

  1. Know the sheep. From the moment we are born we want meaningful relationships. Loneliness, depression, and isolated people in the age of social media are reaching epidemic proportions. Once again, God provides the model for us. Just as God initiated a relationship with us, shepherds are to pursue sheep to know them (Psalm 100:3). What does it mean to know our sheep? We must know who is in our flock and know the details of their life enough to shepherd them. Peter reminds us that each sheep is “entrusted to your care” (1 Peter 5:3) and we will be held accountable for how we shepherd each person.

  2. Feed the sheep. Provision is the second need met by the shepherd. Sheep always depend on the shepherd. What does the shepherd feed the sheep? Matthew 4:14 tells us that it is the living, powerful Word of God. The Word of God is what satisfies the soul. Shepherds are to feed the whole council of God’s Word. It is the Word that will nourish and encourage the sheep. “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart who will feed you on knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15). The Bible suggests the following need feeding: (1) Young and weak (Titus 2). (2) Those who labor under sin (1 Peter 1:3). (3) Declining Christians in serious sin and losing zeal (1 Thessalonians 5:14). (4) The strong. They need encouragement to keep on.

  3. Lead the sheep. The psalmist states, “Then he led out his own people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock” (Psalm 78:52). Jesus is the Good Shepherd. “He leads me beside quite waters.” Good shepherd leaders do the same. Our people face decisions and crossroads in life. Shepherds show them the right path to take. How do they lead? Not lording it over. Shepherds always lead the flock from the front. They never drive them from behind. They stay ahead, show the way, and protect, but not too far ahead. Shepherds are told to be an example to the flock (1 Peter 1:3). Leading begins with Christ-like character. Failure here sabotages the rest of ministry. It must be clear that you know Christ and burn for Him.
  4. Protect the sheep. Sheep need safety from wolves (Acts 20:29). Sometimes wolves come from outside the church and sometimes they come from within. Both require strong leadership. Shepherds are commanded to “be alert” (Acts 22:31). They are told, “Watch out for false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but they are ferocious wolves (Matthew 7:15). Shepherds have a responsibility to address false doctrine, distortions of the truth, and erroneous teachings. Sheep are vulnerable creatures. They easily wander, which is why protection is critical for shepherds. We are to be like David who fought the lion and bear (Ps. 23:4-5) and the apostle Paul who addressed false doctrine and sin in the church.

  5. Gather the sheep. If a sheep goes astray, a shepherd is to make every attempt to go after it. God gathers his people. He leaves the 99 to find the one. God has given shepherds important tools and they are to be used. Shepherds have the staff and rod for discipline and defense. They have a voice so that sheep may know and follow. They have fences to keep sheep from wandering.

God’s call to shepherds is to pay careful attention to your flock. If shepherding is something leaders are called to do. It is important to have a well-considered strategy to accomplish the task. Do you have a plan to shepherd your flock? Is there a system so that you do not miss people? Is it comprehensive to include all those under your care? Is there training for leaders so they know how to shepherd?

Diagnose each sheep: Consider which category each sheep falls into. Healthy sheep: Regular attendance at worship, ministers to others in some way, seeks to live in obedience to Christ and the Bible. Weak sheep: Attend worship, but do not serve. May have absorbed worldly ideas or priorities other than Christ. Their main concern is limited to themselves or they may have relationship struggles that prevent fruitful ministry. Stray sheep: Uninvolved in ministry and sporadic attendance. Pursing sin or making foolish choices. Lost sheep: Forsaken the church and Christ. They have wandered away. Inactive sheep: Would like to be here, but cannot. This could include the elderly, college students, or someone who is sick.

Shepherding must be relational. We must know our sheep. The business of the shepherd-leader is the sheep. May it be reflected in how we operate as the church.

 

 

 

 

 

New Resource: My Story Guidebook for Small Groups or Sunday Classes

In Psalm 78, God instructs older generations to tell younger generations about the work of God and His nature so young people will set their hope in God and keep His commands. The Psalmist states, “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders He has done. He established a testimony in Jacob.” God wants us to report to future generations what God has done in our life. God wants us to share our story and talk about our experience with God. God is very specific regarding what we are to talk about: His deeds, His might, and His wonders. Our story isn’t the point, it’s the pointer.

According to the Bible, our story is a means of describing the work of God and His nature. It is our testimony recounting what God has done and who God is. We read, “God has established a testimony in Jacob” (Ps. 78:5). God has also established a testimony in every Christian and He wants us to tell it. We can ask questions such as, “How has God worked in our life? How has He proven faithful? How has He provided for us? What have we learned about God throughout our life? Do our children or grandchildren know about our God stories?”

One method to tell our story is to create a written record to pass on to our children and grandchildren. The Bible utilizes this method to encourage future generations to praise God, “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18). God has chosen the written Word as the key method to draw us to Christ and deepen our faith (2 Tim. 3:15; Col. 1:28) and we can do the same by recording our story in writing for our children and grandchildren.

Are You Looking for Help Writing Your Story?

My Story Groups are designed to help Christians write their faith story and capture meaningful memories that will strengthen their children’s and grandchildren’s faith in Christ. My Story Groups were created because many individuals have the best intentions to write their story, but sometimes struggle to accomplish this goal on their own. Recently, my father presented my children (his grandchildren) with his written testimony and the details about not knowing Christ in his childhood or teenage years, coming to faith in college, growing in faith as a young man and newly married couple, and wisdom he wanted to pass on to his grandchildren. My dad’s faith story is a wonderful gift to my children that I pray God uses to draw them to Him and establish a deep faith in their heart. My Story groups help you to write your story and pass it on to your family as a tool to grow their faith in Christ.

The My Story Guidebook is designed around community. Gathering in community with other Christians helps us complete the task of writing our story because we are cheered on by others, inspired by other people’s stories, and supported when we get stuck. The My Story Guidebook can be used in a small group setting, a Sunday School class, or even by Zoom. The guidebook provides details about how to launch and lead a My Story Group. It walks you through how to facilitate, plan, and promote your group. The resource provides sessions and topics of discussion, a group covenant, tips to start and finish writing your story, resources, and some ideas about how to share your faith story with your children or grandchildren. 

The My Story Guidebook is available as a digital download for $7.99 or as a book for $9.99

We have seen My Story Groups become transformative for those who wrote their faith stories and those who received them, bearing fruit and impacting individuals in countless and unseen ways. When we share our story, we are honoring the biblical command to tell the next generation about God. Gather with a group of parents, grandparents, or fellow believers and write your story today and bless your family tomorrow. 

Doing Math, Indoctrinating Children, and Lies Children Believe

Doing Math to the Glory of God

A new school year is upon us. I’ve begun to see first day of school pictures on social media so I thought it would be good to think about a school related topic: math. Math was one of the most difficult subjects for me as a child. I received poor grades and needed extra tutoring just to pass. I never loved math. Because I went to a public school for half of my education, I never learned why math works or the motive for learning math. Math makes sense because God created an orderly world. The laws of math are a testimony to God himself. The Bible itself talks a lot about math. In fact, it has a book of the Bible titled Numbers and has a lot of guidance about how we are to be good stewards with money and resources. Math became more bearable for me as I student in college when I was given some reasons to learn it — to serve God through engineering (so we can build a bridge to be a blessing in our city or to reach an unreached people group) and personal finances. The Bible calls us to do all things to the glory of God, including math. In this article, John Piper provides some valuable thoughts that may be worth reading and sharing with your child as you start a new year of math. 

Indoctrinate Your Children or Someone Else Will

Allie Beth Stuckey wisely recognizes that children are always being indoctrinated. Indoctrination isn’t the problem. The bigger question is who is doing the indoctrination and what children are being encouraged to believe and act upon. Allie suggests that children are being encouraged to love self, which is the opposite is what the Gospel calls us to in Scripture. Allie asks parents to consider what worldview we want our children to have and how media and education are shaping their beliefs. The good news is that God has given us the tools we need to accomplish the tasks He has called us to. Through the help of a Bible believing local church and a commitment to making Christ the priority of our lives and hopes, we can saturate our children in the truths of Scripture and entrust them to Lord. To read the article, click here. 

7 Lies Our Children are Encouraged to Believe

We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our children. In any battle, it is always helpful to know the tactics of the enemy or any details of the strategy to win a war. Elizabeth Urbanowicz shares some of the more common lies from our society that children are in danger of absorbing. It is helpful to recognize these messages so that we can discuss them with our children and help them to reject them as they are encountered. One of the goals we have had with our children is to the be first and loudest voice and to help them understand the truth so that they can reject lies. This video is a little over an hour in length, perfect to watch while folding laundry, preparing a meal, or watching after the kids go to bed (or even with older children). 

Stand to Reason’s Reality Apologetics Conference

A few of my children have attended Stand to Reason’s Reality Student Apologetics Conference for middle and high school students and it has been extremely valuable to strengthen their faith.

Stand to Reason offers an unmatched student conference that equips young people to understand and defend their faith from some of the biggest challenges today. Stand to Reason has conferences in California, Washington, Minnesota, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. If you live near one of these locations and have children or grandchildren in this age range, you should consider attending. 

Our church, Grace Church of Eden Prairie, will be hosting the Minnesota gathering on November 12-13. Here is a short description of the event.

Whether we realize it or not, everyone has a worldview. It’s your set of beliefs about the way world the world actually is. It’s your picture of reality. And this belief system helps you answer the big questions of life: Where did I come from? What’s wrong with the world? Is there a solution? Why am I here?

Christianity is a worldview, but its not the only worldview. It has competition. So how do we know which worldview, if any, is actually true? The answer isn’t complicated: check to see if it matches up with reality.

At STR’s Reality Conference, we show students that Christianity matches up with the way the world really is–with reality. It makes sense of the origin and design of the universe and life; the existence of objective truth and morality; the purpose, meaning, and value of human experience; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and the existential longing of every human heart. In other words, we have reality on our side. 

Unfortunately, many students are under the impression that Christianity is make-believe for grown-ups. At Reality, we’re changing that by using our greatest ally: reality. Christianity isn’t a made up story divorced from reality; it’s the true story of reality. 

 

How Do You Know if Critical Race Theory is Taught in Your Child’s School or Church

Critical race theory is infiltrating corporations, Christian organizations, and educational institutions all over American. You know it is getting bad when Dr. James Dobson addresses critical race theory as a problem and tells parents to protect their children from it. In Minnesota, the concepts of critical race theory have been taught in some locations, such as St. Paul schools, for nearly a decade. We simply did not know it. Now we are waking up to the reality of what critical race theory is and how destructive it is for individuals and organizations. 

The darkness hates the light, so it is very good that critical race theory is being exposed for what it is. The light is a sanitizing agent. So it is no surprise that many organizations and educational institutions are claiming that critical race theory is not present in their school or building. I would love for this to be true; however, I experienced this tactic in our local school district when a group of parents pushed back against the racial agenda of the school. We were told that critical race theory was not taught, encouraged, promoted, or part of the curriculum. And it is true, I never heard the district mention the words “critical race theory” nor did I ever see these words in print. Instead, the school used different words to convey the exact same concepts. 

Like my school district, I’m beginning to hear more and more organizations state that critical race theory isn’t present in their school or church. I thought it would be helpful to provide a quick list of terms and buzz words. If an organization is using any of these words of phrases, they may be teaching critical race theory (thanks to Kevin Roberts for help with this list). 

Equity—This has replaced “equality.” Instead of ensuring that every American has an equal opportunity to succeed, equity demands equality of outcomes. Equality of outcomes is another way of saying socialism. It utilizes the same oppressor and oppression framework of critical race theory. 

Implicit or unconscious bias—The relentless search to find racism in every aspect of American life. If it’s not immediately evident, look harder. 

Social Justice or Restorative Justice—The belief that society must be torn down and remade in order to fully root out racism.

Systemic racism—According to critical race theory, racism is the original sin of America, and it persists everywhere to this day. Every institution is designed, “to maintain the dominance of white people in society.”

Microaggressions—These are “subtle insults (verbal, nonverbal and/or visual) directed toward people of color, often automatically or unconsciously.”

Antiracism—This is critical race theory’s go to phrase, the practical outworking of its central ideas.

White privilege—According to this doctrine, white people derive incredible benefits from being white. According to one theorist, “America needs to be honest about how race has driven every decision from education to homeownership, and everything in between.”

White fragility—This makes critical race theory non-falsifiable. Any objection to any tenet of critical race theory is said to be white fragility.

Colonialism—Jean-Jacques Rousseau would recognize this as his “noble savage” concept—it’s the notion that most human societies lived some kind of idyllic existence until explorers from the West arrived. One scholar states, “colonialism, as a project of bringing the backward races into the universal history, bridged enlightenment with modern constructions of race.” In other words, colonialism was the seedbed of race and racism. Critical race theorists demand that we decolonize—reject all that the west brought with it, including enlightenment ideals.

Identity—Everything is about what you are, not who you are.

Ally or Allyship—According to Harvard an ally is “Someone who makes the commitment and effort to recognize their privilege (based on gender, class, race, sexual identity, etc.) and work in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice.” Critical race theorists demand nothing less of the rest of us.

Social construct—Race is made-up; it’s fiction used by oppressors to control the oppressed. Race is also real and immutable. It’s the one thing you can’t change about yourself, and it’s all that matters (see identity).

Educators or organizations may claim that they’re not teaching critical race theory, but look closer at what they are saying before you believe them.

 

 

 

Speaking Schedule Over the Next Three Months

I would appreciate your prayers that God would do a divine work in the hearts and minds of those I have the privilege of speaking to over the next three months. I have more than 35 talks and 15 trips, so it’s going to be a very busy stretch. Here is a quick summary of my summer and fall speaking calendar. If I’m coming to your church, city, or state, I would love to connect!

Southeast Homeschool Expo in Georgia

Jen and I fly to Atlanta for a two day event called the Southeast Homeschool Expo where we will speak six times on July 30-31. I’m excited that Jen and I have the opportunity to do this together!

Parenting With a Plan in Virginia

Jen and I are providing a two day parenting conference on August 27-28 based on our new book 50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home and then I’m preaching at the Sunday services at EastLake Community Church. 

Parenting Getaway for Pastors and Christian Educators in Tennessee

We are hosting 26 couples at Manderely camp in Tennessee. This event is specifically for pastors or Christian educators to help them design a discipleship plan for their children and implement family ministry in their organization. There is no cost to attend, other than paying airfare. We have space for about six additional couples, if interested, let me know. Dates are September 8-10. 

Parenting Event in Minnesota

Woodcrest Church is providing a parenting event on Sept. 15 and 22 to equip their families. I will be speaking on Expanding Your Family Discipleship Vision and Discipling Children: 8 Spiritual Practices Every Parent and Grandparent Can Do. If you are in Minnesota, would love to see you there. No cost to attend. 

Parenting Conference, Grandparenting Events, and Preaching in Virginia

I will be speaking at a Friday night and Saturday morning parenting conference, preaching on Sunday at Parkway House of Prayer, and providing a grandparenting event on Sunday evening September 24-26 in Roanoke, Virginia. 

Mega Con Children’s Ministry Conference in Tennessee

I’m looking forward to being at Mega Con for the first time. Approximately 2,000 children’s pastors and staff will gather for a couple of days of encouragement and equipping. I’ll be at the Renewanation booth and providing a couple of breakouts on Discipling Children. If you are in children’s ministry and attending, make sure to stop by and say hi! October 5-7.

Lake Region Christian School in Minnesota

I get to travel to northern Minnesota on Oct. 15 to speak at grandparents day for the school. I may also have to see if the fish are biting!

Legacy Grandparent Summit in Alabama

I will be gathering with over 1,000 of my closest grandparenting friends in Birmingham, Alabama on Oct. 21-22 for the fourth national grandparenting conference. This event will be simulcast to more than 30 locations. I had the joy of helping launch the Legacy Coalition a number of years ago, so I’m excited to see everyone! I will provide a main stage talk on Shaping the Worldview of Grandchildren.

Mid-America Association of Christian Schools Conference in Missouri

I will be a main stage speaker at the 38th annual educators conference and hosting a table at the event on Nov. 3-5.

Intentional Grandparenting Conference in South Carolina

I’m joining a handful of other speakers including Cavin Harper and Larry McCall to speak to a group of grandparents in South Carolina on Nov. 5-6. 

Parenting Conference in Texas

As the weather gets cooler in Minnesota, it’s nice to escape to some warm destinations. I will head south to Katy, Texas where I will provide a parenting conference at BridgePoint Church on Nov. 12-13. 

If you are in any of these locations, would love to see you. And would love your prayers that God would work in each of these events in the hearts and minds of those I interact with. If you are interested in bringing me to your church, school, or city let me know! I’m currently booked through April 2022 so taking requests for summer and fall of 2022. 

Latest Edition of The Review Magazine Now Available

The Review is a full-color magazine filled with insightful articles that present and defend biblical worldview and the importance of training the next generation to know, love, and serve Christ.

This issue features:

  • How to Help Children Understand and Defend Their Faith
  • Foundational Principles of Biblical Earth Stewardship
  • Navigating the Digital Landscape: How to Help Our Children Handle Screen Time Wisely
  • What Is Justice?

Bulk orders are available to churches and schools at no charge (only pay shipping). Click here for bulk ordering. Individual copies are available for $2.50. Click here for individual orders

Young people will not remain faithful to a faith they do not understand and cannot defend. In a post-Christian culture, it is more critical than ever for young people to be prepared to defend themselves from attacks on their faith. Our feature article, How to Help Children Understand and Defend Their Faith, gives real-life tips to help children detect errors and discern truth.

Discover purposeful actions to communicate gospel truths to our children and grandchildren in Swimming Against the Current of Our Culture.

Navigating the Digital Landscape: How to Help Our Children Handle Screen Time Wisely details practical ideas to help families confront the swiftly changing digital world.

Read how the church can play a significant role in discipling children through education in Every Church an Educational Center.

Also in this issue

What Is Justice? A biblical overview of justice, how to recognize counterfeit justice, and biblical applications to do justice.

Solzhenitsyn’s Prophecy. At the heart of moral confusion and collapse is a loss of faith and the virtue of courage.

Foundational Principles of Biblical Earth Stewardship. Exploring what human dominion over the earth means according to the Bible.

Praying for Our Young People. Praying Paul’s prayer for believers in Ephesians 3:14-21 for our young people.

The University System Is the Progressives’ Seminary. What’s happening at colleges isn’t education; it’s indoctrination.

The Power of Biblical Worldview Immersion. Biblical modeling and an immersive environment promotes transformational learning.

Ten Ways the Free Enterprise Economic Model Aligns with Scripture

50 Things Every Child Needs to Know Before Leaving Home

2021: A Pivot Year for Charitable Giving

The Future of Christian Marriage

Breaking the Fallow Ground

Single Parent Statistics, Education Alternatives, and Discipling a Drop Out

I have a handful of resources that I wanted to let you know about as I found each of them helpful in different ways. 

Single Parent Statistics

The number of single parent homes in the United States continues to grow. Today, more than one out of every three children will be born to a single parent home. The impact this will have on children, families, and society is significant. Ministry leaders must be mindful of supporting and ministering to single parents as they will need additional help. Parents should work extra diligently to help their children understand the consequences of an out of wedlock birth or divorce. One of the biblical methods to detour young people from negative choices is to show them the consequences and allow them to feel the weight of sinful decisions. Grandparents are given a God-designed surrogate role to step into the family when there are needs such as single parenting. If you are interested in seeing single parent statistics, click here. You can search by state to get a clear picture of the need in your area. 

Education Alternatives for Public School

I recently read that California, New York, and Detroit will require children to wear masks when they return to school this fall. I imagine additional cities and states will be added to the list. In Minnesota, where I live, parents are fighting hard right now to ensure masks are not worn this fall, but that is yet to be determined. Parents are also waking up to many of the radical and unbiblical things their children are taught at school. If there was a silver lining to Covid, the shift to online school allowed parents to see what children were being taught. The LGBTQ agenda, comprehensive sex education, critical race theory (also called equity), and an anti-American agenda are a sampling of what public school has become. As a result, public school attendance dropped by 2.36 percent nationally, which equated to over 1.5 million children. The initial indication is that more parents are removing children for this upcoming school year and, I believe for Christians, this is a wise choice. There are three great options for families to consider: homeschooling, Christian school, or live online classes

How to Disciple a Church Drop Out

Jared Wilson has written a helpful article called How to Disciple Your Kids Into Church Drop Out Status. This isn’t a feel good article, but for any parent who wants to see their children grow up with lifelong faith in Christ and faithful commitment to a local body of believers, then this is an article worth reading. There is no shortage of research available about drop-out statistics. Depending on the study, you will find that anywhere between 45-80 percent of children drop out of the church. It was once believed that many of these individuals would return later in life. But that is becoming less and less the outcome. Of course, there are many factors that cause a child to drop out of church and walk away from Christ. Jared mentions a handful of them. Most of Jared’s items are focused on the local church. Infrequent attendance, church hopping, and no corporate worship (only children’s and youth ministry) are problematic. I will add to his list divorce of parents, secular education, and parents who prioritize something other than Christ in the home. For parents, these topics are helpful to think about so that we can do everything in our power to eliminate barriers that our children may experience to know, love, and serve Christ.

Building A Child’s Morality with Literature: Find a Christian Alternative for Scholastic Books

Scholastic Books are a large publishing company with over $1.5 billion in revenue and known for distributing educational books to schools, teachers, parents, and children. They have over three thousand books in print, a well-established book club for schools, teaching collections, and guided reading programs that are widely used by public and private schools.

Recently, two Scholastic books found their way into our home. My son earned two books of his choice from our local library for completing a summer reading challenge. Both books were from Scholastic Books and part of the I Survived series, which is meant to bring history to life for grades 2-7 with books on the important moments in American history.

We have a policy that we always preview what our children read and watch, so my son handed me I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 and I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001. I began reading I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 and learned that it told the story of two planes flying into the buildings and centered around the heroic efforts of a firefighter who responded by selflessly saving lives.

I quickly learned that Scholastic books present a distorted version of history. I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 did not mention who flew the planes into the buildings or why the event happened. Children cannot understand this event in history without knowing that nineteen radical young Muslim men believed they were pleasing their god by flying a plane into a building for the purpose of killing Americans. In this instance, Scholastic Books omitted critical information in an attempt to shape a child’s moral views.

Good literature always feeds a child’s imagination. It transports a reader to new worlds, different places, and creates exciting adventures. In stories, children are placed into difficult situations or challenging dilemmas and inevitably wonder, “What would I do?” “What should the character do?” These types of questions are not meaningless or unimportant. They are moral and ethical questions. As children read a book about the attack on 9/11 or the American Revolution, they are daydreaming about being there and in those dreams they must make moral decisions about the situations they are presented in literature. Subtly, children are also given instruction about what is right or wrong by the decisions the characters make or the outcome of the story.

Literature shapes a child’s moral imagination

Literature stretches a reader’s moral imagination and ethical muscles. That is where problems arise with Scholastic books. Children are reading books for fun, but in the process the morality of the author and publishing company is shaping the reader through the characters that walk onto the pages and provide a model how to respond to the life situations they face.

Views of morality are in every Scholastic book. We could point to many examples of positive choices modeled for children in Scholastic books, but the unbiblical views are overwhelmingly high and are poisonous to the faith development of impressionable and vulnerable children. A quick glance through the most recent Scholastic book catalog reveals the morality of the publishing giant is nowhere close to the morality of the Bible. In Star Crossed, Mattie likes to play with Gemma and wonders if she might have a crush on boys and girls. In Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees children are to imagine that they are the refugee trying to escape a war zone and the country they want to come to doesn’t want them. Witch Boy tells the story of characters who do not fit in with others and learn to gain the courage to be themselves – a witch. What Should She Do encourages feminism by teaching girls to challenge inequality, gender stereotyping, body shaming, and bullying.

What should you do?

Here are four suggestions to consider:

  1. Parents must monitor everything a child reads. If you are not doing that already, that is step one. It takes diligence and time, but it is a critical aspect of helping children develop a biblical worldview. If you see a book published by Scholastic, assume there is an unbiblical morality weaved into the story.
  2. Find a Christian alternative for Scholastic Books. Scholastic is a publishing company, so begin by identifying Christian publishing companies with great moral books for children and purchase books from them. Some of the Christian publishing companies that we return to often include Grace & Truth books, Rabbit Room Press, Master Books, New Growth Press, Leaf Publishing House, P&R, and Shepherd’s Press. You could also look at who published some of the books you love and see what else they offer.
  3. If you are a Christian school, use a Christian publisher for your book club. Most publishers offer a print catalog and I’m sure if the publishing company was contacted directly, a discount could be established if your school wanted to create a book club using their catalog.
  4. Locate vetted reading lists. There are entire books devoted to this such as Honey For a Child’s Heart, The Read Aloud Family, Books that Children Love, and Books that Build Character. These are a good place to start and will likely lead you to more sources. We have personally benefitted from Carol Joy Seid’s book lists, which recommend the best books from many publishers. There are so many books published today that we have a simple principle — only read great books. You won’t find Diary of a Wimpy Kid on our shelves. Good books are easy to find. We want the best of the best! 

Are your children reading scholastic books? If so, it’s time to find an alternative. Choose books that build a child’s morality from a biblical perspective instead.