Is Your Parenting on Cruise Control?

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Parenting is inconvenient.

Yes, I just said that.

Once you have a child, your life will be forever changed.

You will be humbled. Humiliated. Screamed at. Loved with abandon. Squeezed with unimaginable strength by those little arms. Amazed. Shocked. heartbroken. Overwhelmed with love. Filled with a newfound awe for your own parents.

Unfortunately, once the baby phase is over, we parents hit burn-out: Continue reading

Entrust: Involving Children in the Important within the church (part 2)

This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.

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image borrowed from greatschools.org

Somewhere in the past, someone concluded the primary reason children were leaving the church was somehow related to it’s boringness. There was a slow movement toward making entertainment more important than education and edification. And yet, in spite of the hyped up programs and entertainment schemes, kids are still exiting the church in droves.

One truth has become abundantly clear: Retainment by entertainment is ineffective.

If we want children and young adults to remain in the body of Christ, they need to be an integral part of it’s work. Continue reading

Entrust: Involving Children in the Important (part 1)

This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.

It is a valuable exercise to read books such as Little House in the Big Woods and In Grandma’s Attic. These stories reveal how children used to be entrusted with so much more than cleaning up their rooms. They had cows to milk, dishes to wash, horses to tether, fires to tend, wood chips to gather and so much more. I highly recommend reading these books with your kids!

Children for the past thirty-plus years have merely been expected to go to school, be involved in activities, and maybe do a chore here and there for mom. I have to restrain myself from eye-rolling when I hear people say, “Why are millennials so lazy? Why do people feel so entitled? Why is our country falling apart?”

It’s elementary, my dear Watson: When we fail to entrust our children with the important while they are young, they won’t see the value of work when they are older. Continue reading

How to Equip Your Children to be Future Christians (Raising #GenNext)

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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Yesterday, we covered why we need to teach our children. Today, we will be covering how to teach our children. This is merely an overview. Entire books have been written on this subject!!

For starters, let me make a disclaimer: I am a youngish parent. My kids are all under the age of 9. What I am about to suggest are principles I have learned from older, wiser people and/or have put into practice myself. Continue reading

Equipping our Children: Raising #GenNext Christians

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

~ Deuteronomy 6.4-8, ESV

The ancient Israelites showcase the rewards of following God and the pitfalls of apathy. We would do well to learn from their mistakes. The above passage from Deuteronomy, while addressed to the Israelites, holds a very important principle for parents and teachers alike: actively teach your children about the Lord and His commands. 

Commit this verse to your memory and to your heart. Write it down and then put it into action—today.

In this series on training GenNext Christians, we have covered two of our 6 E’s—Engage and Exemplify. This next string of posts will cover E number three: Equip: Teach and Train. Continue reading

Do you want your children to follow in your footsteps?

(This article is part of the series “Building GenNext.” You can read the previous post by clicking here.)

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Children are keen observers and imitators. Compliant children will try to do what their parents do in order to make them happy. Strong-willed kids amy try to be little rebels, but even they have a tendency to imitate their parents to some degree. They are always watching how we handle our circumstances.

What we do has a greater influence than what we say. Continue reading

Engage: Building Meaningful Relationships with our Children (Raising GenNext)

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Last week I kicked off a series on raising the next generation of Christians. (You can read it here). In this series, we will be covering the 6 E’s of raising Gen-Next Christians: Engage, Exemplify, Equip, Entrust, Edify, and Entreat. Each “E” will contain about 3 articles as we will address raising children, training new Christians, and helping each other grow. Today’s article will cover building relationships with children in our congregations.

A Barna Group study reported in 2013, states, “Seven out of 10 Millennials who dropped out of church did not have a close friendship with an adult and nearly nine out of ten never had a mentor at the church.” Furthermore, they report “Those who stay were twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church (59% of those who stayed report such a friendship versus 31% among those who are no longer active). The same pattern is evident among more intentional relationships such as mentoring—28% of Millennials who stay had an adult mentor at the church other than their pastor, compared to 11% of dropouts who say the same.”

As that study indicates, relationships are not a guarantee that children raised by Christians will remain in the church, but it is apparent that meaningful relationships influence that choice. Continue reading

7 Marriage Principles We Should Teach Our Children

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Many parents squirm over the prospect of their children dating and marrying—and for good reason. We who have been through that stage of life are well-acquainted with the pitfalls, dangers and temptations. We have observed (or experienced) them and are more than a little reluctant to let our kids face that particular gauntlet.

Because we live in a society in which people choose their marriage partner, it is absolutely vital that we actively teach our children what marriage is and what to look for in a spouse.

#1: Dating/courtship is for the purpose of finding the right person to marry.

Dating/courtship is a vetting process like a job interview. Get character references (not necessarily in writing), get to know that person’s friends, learn how they behave in various situations. We need to remind our children that when they date someone, they need to closely examine that person’s character:

1. Do you they walk with the Lord or do they merely go through the motions?

2. Do they anger easily?

3. Do they have emotional imbalances?

4. How does a man treat his mother? How does a girl treat her father? Odds are they will treat you the same way after you are married.

4. Do they give in to vices—drugs, gambling, overeating, overspending, alcohol, etc.?

5. Are they lazy or hardworking?

6. Do they treat you respectfully or try to lead you into temptation?

7. Are they willing to wait until marriage to have physical intimacy?

Teach your kids these principles in any conversation about potential dating prospects. I saw an example recently in which a mother told her daughter to insert her boyfriend’s name in place of “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and determine whether he possessed some of the attributes (patient, kind etcetera). It was an eye opener for the young girl!

#2: Marry a true fellow Christian.

I am certain there will be many who disagree with me on this one.

I have seen 3 cases in which an unbelieving spouse turns toward Christ and becomes a strong, dedicated Christian. It is possible—all things are with God. However, it is a phenomenal risk. Do you really want to place the spiritual future of your unborn children on the line?

Another thought: it is much easier to pull someone down than to lift somebody up. The relationship between a husband and wife is one of the strongest, most intimate earthly bonds. How can two walk together unless they are agreed? You will each keep trying to pull one another down disparate paths, leading to contention, separation, or one side caving to the other. I don’t care how strong you think you are, you set yourself up for a troublesome path if you choose to marry someone who doesn’t love the Lord.

Lastly, just because someone says they are a Christian does not mean they live like one. Observe their conduct both in worship and when surrounded by worldly people.

#3: Marriage is a lifelong commitment.

Our society has been eroding this concept for decades. The homosexuals didn’t destroy marriage; heterosexual married couples beat them to it. Divorce rates have been high since the 1970’s, with the result that marriage is—to quote Mary Poppins—a “pie crust promise, easily made, easily broken.”

Emphasize the importance of commitment to your kids. If your children promise to do something—no matter how small—hold them to it! If they fail to keep appointments, show up for jobs, fulfill agreements  etc, let them suffer the consequences. If they learn to be committed to their word, they will carry this over into their married life.

#4: Husbands should love their wives.

Duh.

This may seem obvious, but it’s often neglected.

Husbands, take the initiative to set up a date night with your wife away from the house. Show your wife affection in front of your children. I’m not suggesting that you be inappropriate about it, just give her small tokens of affection such as coming up behind your wife to give her a hug, holding her hand when you’re out walking, opening the car door for her when you get ready to leave, or  giving her a kiss whenever you part from each other. Women crave romance and affection, no matter what their love language might be. Random acts of romance are great too!

One last thing: praise her often, especially in front of the kids. They need to see that their mother is cherished and appreciated by their father so they will model it in their own relationships. They need to know that women are not doormats, nor are they goddesses—they are a valued partner in the marriage relationship and ought to be treated as such.

#5: Wives should respect their husbands.

I was surprised to learn that Aretha Franklin’s hit song “Respect” was written by Otis Redding—a man. It wasn’t meant to be a feminist mantra; it was a husband’s plea to his wife!

Just as women crave affection, men long for respect. Our culture has gone out of it’s way to demean men in an effort to promote women. This isn’t equality, folks, it’s selfishness. Why do you have to tear someone else down in an effort to build yourself up? Men should show respect to their wives, but wives should also respect their husbands.

Wives, do NOT demean your husband behind his back or to his face. Speak civilly in front of the children. Find the good that he does and praise him behind his back and to his face. Ask his honest opinion and consider it without rolling your eyes. Build him up, don’t tear him down. This makes a huge difference for your children as well. If a wife disrespects her husband, the kids will also disrespect him. If there is really something irritating you, take it first to the Lord in prayer and then communicate it to your husband privately once you’ve considered the best way to approach it.

#6: Married couples should be a team.

I think two of my three children have tried the “daddy-said-no-so-ask-mommy” routine (or vice versa) at least once. They quickly learned to discard this tactic. If we disagree about something with the kids, we do it behind closed doors. In front of the kids, we are a united front. They’ve learned that we aren’t to be manipulated or turned against each other.

#7: Married couples may disagree, but they do it respectfully.

Have discussions, not arguments in front of your children. I’ve heard people say that kids should see married couples argue so they know that “it happens” and doesn’t mean the marriage is over. I’m not so sure about that. I recommend discussing things (in a civil manner) in front of the kids. Children should see that spouses disagree (it’s reality), but that it can be done without resorting to anger. (Remember:  don’t argue about your kids in front of your kids—keep those discussions private!)


We cannot force our children to choose good partners or to have good marriages. Even in good marriages, there may come a time in which one spouse is lead away by temptation or crumbles under pressure.

Here is what we can do: 

  1. Pray for your child’s future spouse—daily.
  2. Actively teach these principles
  3. Be an example of the above principles!

What if I’m a single parent?

If you are widowed with children at home, you have a challenging job dealing with grief and caring for children. Pray diligently! Seek out families with good parents that your children can spend time with so they can observe good marriages. If you choose to remarry, tread carefully and make sure to do your due diligence in researching that person.

If you are divorced, you have a tough mountain to climb, depending on the age and maturity of your child. Don’t spend all your time running down your ex. You cannot control that person or what they say; you can only control what you do with the time you have with your child. Love them, teach them, and point out the pitfalls of divorce—they see it firsthand though they may not grasp it. Be an example of steadiness and stability. Above all, pray ceaselessly for your children—divorce is hard for them to handle too!

If we want to see stronger marriages, we need to start by strengthening our own and teaching our children these principles.

What marriage principles are you teaching your children? What would you add to the list?

Coffee Chat 8 – Are you putting family or God on the back burner?

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I love a good discussion with a friend over a steaming cup of chai, but since I can’t gather all of you at a comfortable cafe, I’ll have to be content with this little corner of the Internet.

I want to thank each and every person who has come to these coffee chats and commented. I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights and inspiration! Thank you for your time.

Read previous coffee chats under the “discussion” category or click here.


It has always mystified me how a godly parent can have awful children and how awful people end up with godly children. The most common answer is, of course, that people make their own choices in spite of upbringing. While that maxim is certainly true, it still shocks me when I read about Eli, Samuel, David and their children. The accounts of all three families are sobering.

Eli’s sons 1 Samuel 2:12-36

Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.

1 Samuel 2.12

If you click on the passage, it will take you to the full context so that you can read, in detail, the wicked deeds of Eli’s sons. In that scripture, it details how they “treated the offering of the Lord with contempt,” and that they would “lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” Eli rebuked them, but he did not stop them and it was within his power to do so.

Samuel’s sons 1 Samuel 8:1-5

Yet [Samuel’s] sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.

1 Samuel 8.3, ESV

The people of Israel were so frustrated with Samuel’s sons that they demanded a king!

David’s sons

  • Amnon – 2 Samuel 13 (Amnon raped his stepsister)
  • Absalom
    • 2 Samuel 13 (Absalom kills Amnon because he raped his [Absalom’s] sister)
    • 2 Samuel 15 (Absalom conspired to overthrow David and rule the kingdom)
    • 2 Samuel 16:20-23 (Absalom had relations with his Father’s concubines on the roof of his house for all to see).
  • Adonijah – 1 Kings 1:5-7 (Adonijah set himself up as king without authorization from David)

Now, those three men—Eli, Samuel and David—were recognized as godly men, but the state of their households was deplorable! They pleased God, and yet it appears they neglected to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord.

I know of instances in which missionaries, preachers or pastors decide they are going to do some “great work” and they go on to accomplish great things in the name of the Lord… but while they are off changing the world, they leave their families behind to crumble from neglect. Is this acceptable to God? Is this how God wants us to put Him first?

It’s an interesting conundrum. In the book of Matthew, Jesus talks about the need to put God above family.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10.34-39

When two people choose to be married, that relationship is a covenant relationship. Vows are made between two people before God and other witnesses that they would love, honor and cherish one another under every circumstance while they are both living. There will be times in which that commitment requires one spouse or the other to set other obligations aside. When a couple decides to bring children in the world, those children are entrusted to their care (unless for some reason both parents are suddenly killed). We are told repeatedly to train our children in the ways of the Lord. Training children up in the way of the Lord is putting God first while still caring for the needs of those children. The two are not mutually exclusive.

God told the Israelites that they were to teach their children, and we know how well they did that… (sarcasm intended):

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Deuteronomy 6.4-7

Here are some cut-and-dry scenarios:

  • Your kid’s Sports/Extra-curricular activities on Sunday or… worship? (Ahem. Worship, of course!)
  • Your child doesn’t want to go to Bible class because it’s boring. In order to keep peace, you decide to stay home. (Negative! They are under your roof and you are charged with teaching them. Don’t be wishy-washy!)
  • Your child or spouse or parent has a medical emergency or illness and you are missing services or losing out on bible reading or class to care for them. (Yes!)

Here is where the gray area emerges: I have read about (and observed) missionaries and preachers so engrossed in working for the Lord that their families are neglected. Their care for a congregation is phenomenal and the church is thriving, but their children don’t love the Lord. The spouse begins to seek affection elsewhere. They may be doing a great work for the Lord, but what about their family? I read the story of one woman who was sent off to boarding school so her parents could go be missionaries in a foreign country. Apparently this was not an uncommon practice in the early twentieth century. Would you entrust the teaching and raising of your child to someone else so that you could go off and teach the gospel? Which one is right?? If you take your children with you, will you be able to care for them physically and spiritually? I’ve read about it being done successfully from time to time. Again, how do you find balance?

Maybe you aren’t a preacher or missionary, but you are very involved with your local congregation. Are you still meeting the spiritual and physical needs of your own children?

As a blogger trying to share the Word of God with others, are there times you have to set aside your blog to care for the needs of your family?

Maybe you have the opposite problem and you make excuses not to do this or that because you have to take care of family. (I will be the first to admit that I have been guilty of this in the past.)

I firmly believe that our walk with God and care for our family should be intertwined, but the how is not always clear.

How do we uphold our commitments to our families in a way that honors God without neglecting the work that God has for us outside the home?

How do we achieve balance?