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Turning the Bible Into Behavior

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Parenting

Inappropriate Parents & Kids

1297856847128_ORIGINALThis last week Victoria Beckham posted a picture on Instagram of her kissing her 5 year old daughter on the lips.

And the digital world EXPLODED.

Many criticized her and called her ugly names. Many defended her, posting picture of them kissing their own kids. C’mon, people, is this really what it’s come to? Do we have nothing better to do than debate the parenting style of people we don’t know and will never meet?

Sigh – it seems that distance criticism is what we do best. So let’s talk about the actual issue here – appropriate vs. inappropriate affection between parent and child.

Our society is quickly taking up a position that all sexuality is okay as long as no one is hurt. Not just okay – but encouraged. Media floods our brains with images of same-sex couples kissing at pride events. Celebrities bounce from partner to partner and nobody bats an eye (plus it gives Taylor Swift more song writing material). And I think this oversexualization of society is the root of the problem. We’ve come to the point where many cannot see a kiss between a parent and child without reading sexual content into it. It’s not the parents who disturb me – it’s the people who read into the behavior who disturb me.

Much of what we consider to be appropriate physical behavior is culturally conditioned. Citizens in some countries greet each other with kisses on the cheek. It’s not romantic. In some cultures you sill see two men, best friends, walking down the street holding hands. It’s not romantic – it’s a sign of solidarity and friendship.

How far can a parent go to show affection and love to his/her child? I’m willing to look foolish for the sake of my kids. It reminds me of the story Jesus tells in Luke 15 we sometimes call “The Prodigal Son.” The basic premise is that the young son bails on his family, takes part of the family fortune, and blows it all in a way that would bring shame and dishonor upon his family. So he decides to go home and ask his father for a position as a servant, since he doesn’t deserve to be part of the family any more (but he still needs a job, you know?!) Jesus picks up the story and says:

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

The father saw his son from a long way off and ran to him. In the Ancient Near East, men didn’t wear blue jeans. They had tunics. Running would have meant pulling up his tunic. It would have meant exposing part of his legs to the public so that he could run freely. But getting to his son was more important than what society thought. So he hitches up his tunic and runs to his son. He hugs his son. He kisses his son.

Jesus is trying to teach us something about how God, our heavenly Father, cares about us. There’s also something to be learned about a love so fierce that we’re willing to demonstrate it in front of the whole world. It also says something to our kids when we’re willing to show the affection we feel.

So last night as I was putting my kids to bed I kissed each one of them – my daughters and my son – on the lips. I told them I loved them. Then I said good night.

And I’ll probably do it again tonight, too.

image001
My and my baby girl 🙂

Hey, Moon Jesus, Come Back Soon…

We listen to a lot of Christian music when we’re driving. Yesterday a great one for belting came on the radio: Even So Come.

All of creation, all of the earth
Make straight a highway, a path for the Lord
Jesus is coming soon

Call back the sinner, wake up the saint
Let every nation shout of Your fame
Jesus is coming soon

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing, “Even so come, Lord Jesus, come.”

The 4 year old piped up in the seat behind me, “Did they say, ‘even so come Lord Jesus?'” The conversation then went like this:

Yes, baby girl, they did.

What do they mean “come Lord Jesus?”

God tells us in the Bible that Jesus is going to come back for everyone who believe in him.

(9 year old in the far back of the van): I BELIEVE IN HIM!

(6 year old in the middle): I BELIEVE!

(back to 4 year old): Daddy, is Jesus in the moon?

At this point I’m going to take a break to say that I have NO idea where this question came from. We try to keep the kids away from the weirder heresies and cults… 😉

No, Baby, He’s not in the moon.

No, where is he for REAL?

From there we entered into a brief conversation on the omnipresence of God (funny enough, we had just turned off Obi Wan Kenobi teaching Luke Skywalker all about the Force) and the return of Christ – well, as much as we could on a 4 year old level.

The point of telling this story is not to talk about the imminent return of Christ or about the attributes of God. I really wanted to share this story to highlight the fact that those of us who believe ought to be taking advantage of such opportunities to talk with our kids about God.

Of course, I hear people argue that Christians merely brainwash and indoctrinate our kids into faith when we ought to be letting them figure out their own way.

Hogwash.

We are all conditioned by our worldview. Some of us hold to a Christian worldview. Others, not so much.  Just a few moments ago I saw a friend post this:

Mike Dunger

And it’s true! The point is that we ALL approach life with a worldview, and we pass that worldview down to others. If we’re not passing our Christian worldview down to our kids, the outside world will pass down something else.

Think about faith this way. If I believe something to be true, I would actually be harming people by not telling them what I believed to be true. Is God real? Did Christ die a propitiatory death for humanity? Will we all stand before God again one day?

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Why would I withhold that from my kids? Don’t let opportunities slip by. I’m not saying you need to force it. Don’t bash people over the head with your Bible shoutin’, “YOU NEED JESUS!” But as the opportunities arise, make the most of them. Let your friends and family know the truth you know. Not everyone will accept it, but if you REALLY believe it, why WOULDN’T you share it?

Unless you don’t REALLY believe…

When Middle School Students Are Forced to Study Islam

Tennessee’s Butt is in the news.

Seriously, Tennessee Representative Sheila Butt is making headlines. Go ahead and get the jokes and snickering out of the way right now. I’ll give you a minute.

Ready now?

Cool.

Here’s the deal – parents of middle school students got together to complain about the curriculum used to teach their students about Islam. It seems they thought there was more indoctrination than simple instruction. islamic-educationIf you read the whole article you will see that students aren’t subjected to Islam alone. The middle school curriculum takes them through several of the world’s major religions, including Christianity and Judaism.

Enter Ms. Butt. She’s trying to pass legislation prohibiting schools from teaching religious doctrine to students before 10th grade. Of course, the left is getting fired up over the issue. The Huffington Post politics page wrote about Rep. Butt’s attempt to push this legislation through. The feel of the piece is, “Those Islamophobic Christians are at it again!”

And they’re partly right.

Partly.

The legislation DOES seem to be anti-Islam in nature. But don’t let the Huffington Post article fool you. They quote an educator who lauds the contributions of Islam to the world (like the invention of algebra). The problem is that many of the contributions from Islam were actually from others cultures.

But here’s the thing: Christians don’t need to be up in arms about the world’s religions being taught in schools. Good parents are actively involved in the education of their children and should be having discussions about class material no matter what the content is. The “We don’t want the schools teaching this stuff to our kids” attitude only rears its head when parents take a hands-off approach to their kids’ education. Parents, find out what your kids are learning and talk about it at home. Teach them what the Bible says.

Here’s the other thing: Christians don’t need to be up in arms about the world’s religions being taught in schools (yes, I know I already said that). Jesus is big enough to handle middle school students hearing about other faith traditions. I can’t see the Apostle Paul getting his knickers in a twist when people offered competing world views. This is the guy who once wrote:

If someone who isn’t a Christian asks you home for dinner, go ahead; accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you and don’t ask any questions about it. Your conscience should not be bothered by this. (1 Corinthians 10:27)

He wasn’t bothered by what other people believed – he simply continued to preach the truth that he always preached. I think we can do the same.

So be actively involved in your kids’ education, but trust that God is a big God and isn’t threatened by other faiths.

“Best” Parenting Tips

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So a friend and his wife just welcomed their first child to the world. What an exciting time! I vividly remember our firstborn arriving. I nearly passed out. At one point of the delivery I had more nurses attending to me than were attending to the lady in labor!

In honor of my friend’s new parenthood I enlisted the help of some friends to come up with a list of “best” parenting tips we could think of. I mean, real life stuff that no parenting book or manual could ever teach you unless you go through the experience yourself – the kind of stuff everyone SHOULD know but never talks about.

Here are some of the gems we came up with:

–          In the event of a monster diaper blowout, the garden hose is an acceptable alternative to the bath for cleaning baby

–          When baby is teething the best thing for him to chew on is a frozen Snickers bar (ignore the studies on infant diabetes)

–          You can save money on washcloths and paper towels by letting the dog clean baby’s face.

–          Use of Velcro on baby and wall is acceptable method of watching baby

–          The television is a TERRIFIC babysitter when you and the Mrs. need some alone time.

–          Use Bynadryl & Nyquil to teach the child how to take communion. You might even want to take some, yourself.

–          Chicken wire is a great way to rope off a play area.

–          Place vegetables on the floor when the child learns to crawl. They are more likely to be eaten there

–          When the baby won’t stop crying, if you will cry even louder it will teach them how annoying it is.

–          If the kid wants ice cream for breakfast, give him ice cream. Life is short; don’t deny him anything.

–          Buy the healthiest cat or dog food you can because when baby finds that bowl…

–          You can save money on formula and juice by letting baby drink straight from the bathtub.

–          Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a 4 year old.

Please recognize that these are jokes – don’t get all huffy about mistreating infants.

In all seriousness, caring for kids is a great responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re parent, uncle, aunt, or family friend – whenever we have an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of a child it is an honor and a weight.

The Bible talks about training children from the time they are young. When we do our jobs as caretakers we give kids the best chance possible for a happy, healthy, and productive life.

Never take your role for granted.

Step up to the plate and do right by that kid.

How about you? What “best” tips would you add to the list? 🙂

YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPER!

Curmudgeon

Have you ever had that job that was simply the toughest job you’ve ever had to deal with?

For me that’s parenting. HARD! There’s the constant battling over little, itty-bitty things. Things like simply putting on appropriate clothing.

 

But all kidding aside, the Bible puts responsibility for training kids squarely upon our shoulders. Parents are told to train their kids in God’s ways, to talk about it in the home, on the road, everywhere. The Bible points out that if you do the right things when the kids are young they won’t stray far as adults.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a promise from God. Sometimes parents do everything right and kids still choose the wrong paths. But there is a general principle – a truism – that says when we instill things in our kids then those things will stay with them.

One of my favorite folk songs is Teach Your Children, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by.
And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a good bye.
Teach, your children well, their father’s hell, did slowly go by,
And feed, them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you’re known by.

One thing we want our children to learn and care about is their education (spiritual and secular). So we talk about things at the dinner table. We ask what they’ve been talking about in Sunday School. We ask about spelling tests, books they’ve read – stuff like that.

We’ve found that turning learning into a game has worked really well. For example, we play a game called “First Letters.” We pick a letter of the alphabet. Then we go around the table clockwise and each person has to come up with word beginning with that letter (kids can come up with anything, parents have to come up with a word with at least 3 syllables).

Simple, but it is a fun way to talk about words and learning.

All said and done, school and church can only do so much to train kids. It’s really up to us: the parents (and also relatives, friends, and church families). When we engage kids in their learning they’ve got a much better shot of holding onto it as they grow up.

And for faith and for facts, this is a good thing.

Sound off! How have you helped kids engage in learning (sacred or secular)?

Living Through Transition

You will survive
You will survive

Do you remember the first time you drove a manual transmission vehicle on the streets? I do. It was almost 12 years ago. I was newly married and was going to move us into our first apartment together. I arranged to use an automatic transmission moving truck but when we showed up the only vehicle available was stick shift 20 foot truck. Talk about a trial by fire! For the most part I did okay….for the most part. I knew the mechanics and theory behind it, I had simply never driven a stick shift on the roads before.

Most of the driving was highway driving, so that was not too difficult. The hard part came when I was driving to my father-in-law’s house in California. The highway off-ramp brings you out onto a hill at a stop light. So there I am, stopped at the light, facing uphill, knowing that I have difficulty moving from neutral into first. I literally sat there praying, “God, please don’t let me crush the car behind me!” The light turned green, and I just could not get the timing right to get it into first gear. I rolled back a couple of inches, the guy behind me was leaning on his horn and now I’m starting to panic. So I jammed the thing into second gear and hit the gas. It was a jerky ride but I got up the hill!

When we drive manual transmission vehicles, shifting improperly can result in engine damage. When we shift properly we pick up speed. Similarly, if we handle transitions in life poorly the result can be damaging. When we learn how to transition well, we pick up speed and we’re off and flying!

In Nehemiah 4 we see Israel dealing with transition as a people. Up to this point, the Israelites were exiles in Babylon. Eventually the king of Babylon allowed some of the Israelites to return to their homeland. They found the place in ruins. The wall surrounding the great city was crumbling and had gaps. Enemies could easily come and take advantage of weakened defenses. So the people sent word to Nehemiah back in Babylon about the condition of Jerusalem.

I’m sure there are at least a few of us who can admit that we’re going through transitions and it seems as though the walls are falling down around us. So the story goes:

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious. He mocked the Jews 2before his colleagues and the powerful men of Samaria, and said, “What are these pathetic Jews doing? Can they restore it by themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they ever finish it? Can they bring these burnt stones back to life from the mounds of rubble?” 3 Then Tobiah the Ammonite, who was beside him, said, “Indeed, even if a fox climbed up what they are building, he would break down their stone wall!”

1. In the midst of transition, we may feel or appear weak. Imagine the enemies of Israel watching the Israelites trying to rebuild the city wall. Israel’s enemies are mocking their attempts to build – that they are unable to get the job done and do it well. They appear so incapable that one man even comments that a fox climbing up would knock the wall down. Clearly, Israel’s enemies do not think very much of Israel during this time of transition.

I remember going through one of life’s transitions when our oldest daughter was born. On the first day of our baby’s life we were all in the hospital room together. My wife was exhausted – she was simply trying to rest. The baby had a wet diaper. This was my chance to step up and be a great husband and father. But, as I opened the diaper to change her wet diaper, she started to poop! In my moment of transition I felt weak. I didn’t know what to do and I started to freak out while the baby was freaking out. It was a weakness that my wife did not share and she told me, “One of you has to remain calm and, since you’re the adult, it should be you!”

Sure, it’s a silly example, but there are many ways we face transition and many ways we feel or appear weak as we move through transitions. Sometimes it is the overwhelming size of the task or the difficulty of facing the unknown as we transition that makes us seem incapable. Perhaps we feel discomfort with how we are going to change or what will be expected of us on the other side of the transition. Maybe we do not feel like we have the strength to see the transition through to the end. We should realize that appearances are not necessarily reality. What our mockers do not understand is that we may appear or even feel weak but we serve a God who is not. Israel’s efforts to transition and rebuild made them seem weak to outsiders, but they did not know the strength of the Israelite’s God – our God. And it is because the Israelites know the strength of their God that they turn to Him.

4 Listen, our God, for we are despised. Make their insults return on their own heads and let them be taken as plunder to a land of captivity. 5 Do not cover their guilt or let their sin be erased from Your sight, because they have provoked the builders.

2. In transition, God’s people first respond in prayer. The first thing Israel does when their enemies find weakness in the time of transition – they hit their knees. They asked God to bring justice, to stand up for them against their enemies who would hurt them as they tried to rebuild. In our own lives, as we transition and build, we find that we are insulted, despised, and attacked. Attacks come from different sources. Sometimes outsiders will insult and attack us. This is what happened to the Israelites. Sometimes the insults and attacks will come from insiders. My wife and I have found that any time God starts to do something in a group or ministry the first thing to be attacked is the group’s unity. Insiders start picking at each other, and the transition that God is trying to bring about is sidetracked. We face attacks from outsiders and insiders in our personal transitions too.

Nearly seven years ago I started taking care of what I ate and started exercising regularly. I was going through a personal life transition to get healthy and I ended up dropping quite a bit of weight. Walking into Bible Study one night, one of the ladies commented that my eating healthy and exercising were starting to show results and a good Christian man, a friend of mine, said, “Ah, it’ll come back.” He was not trying to insult or attack me, but it was as though he said, “A fox climbing up there would knock the whole thing down.”

How we respond in moments like that will determine if we succeed or fail in transition. As you go through your own transitions, you will face these kinds of comments, insults, and attacks. As this church goes through an incredible period of transition, it will see attacks. Some will come from outsiders. Some might come from insiders. The question is, “How will you respond when under attack?” Let us follow the example of Israel and have our primary response be on our knees in prayer. “God, this is the transition you are leading me through, so I ask that you will be my covering and my protector.” But then look what happens after they take their struggles in transition to the Lord:

11 And our enemies said, “They won’t know or see anything until we’re among them and can kill them and stop the work.” 12 When the Jews who lived nearby arrived, they said to us time and again, “Everywhere you turn, they attack us.” 13 So I stationed people behind the lowest sections of the wall, at the vulnerable areas. I stationed them by families with their swords, spears, and bows…. 15 When our enemies realized that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall. 16 From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah, 17 who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other.

3. In transition is that there is no sitting on the sidelines. They’ve taken it to the Lord in prayer to address the attacks and criticisms, then they all get busy doing the work that God has called them to do! There is an interesting phenomenon happening here because there is no such thing as a bystander here in Israel. Nehemiah stationed the people by families along the gaps in the wall, and then they all get to work. They build up with one hand and hold their weapon in the other. There is a very practical reason for this: there is work to be done and no one can afford to sit out.

When I played high school football, my team was not a large team. Because we were smaller in number, every player had to have an offensive and defensive position – playing both sides of the ball when necessary. It wasn’t that some guys were glory hogs and wanted all of the action. If we wanted to man all of the positions to the best of our abilities we all had to stand in the gaps and plug the holes. This is what Israel is doing. Everyone has a role in actively building up and fighting because passive neglect allows the wall to crumb and be open to attack. It is no less different in our lives today. As we face transitions, whether small or monumental, and we realize that we feel or appear weak, and we take our struggles before the Lord, we are to then stand up and start working through the transition! Israel did not complain in prayer, but let God know of the problem and then got to work.

We will never get away from transitions – they happen throughout life. Sometimes they have minimal impact on us. A caterpillar gives way to a butterfly. Diapers give way to pull-ups. Teenagers graduate from high school. Sometimes the transition in monumental. The bank forecloses on the house. We lose our job. Death takes a loved one. The church searches for a new pastor. A time of transition may make you appear weak or disoriented, but appearances are not reality. Transitioning well can lead to rebuilding, greater strength, and increased unity!

How about you? Are you willing to get to work to make it through the transitions in your life? The transitions in your family? The transitions in your church? Do not settle for sitting on the sidelines, but get involved in the building up and defending of the transition God is bringing you through! God is calling you to build and defend, to come back to the city with the crumbling wall and make it a stronghold for the Lord once again.

 
 If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines time to get in the game – to build up with one hand and defend with the other. You will survive this time of transition.

Top 5 Areas of Marriage Conflict and How to Manage

Conflict

I teach a 9-week course on developing and maintaining healthy relationships. In the class we regularly do breakout groups of men and women to discuss a certain question or issue. In one of our classes we asked the men and women to split up and, as gender groups, identify their top 5 areas of marriage conflict. Like a couple other issues, both groups came up with the exact same list of conflict areas.

Any guess as to what they came up with?

In no particular order:

1.      In-laws. Not everyone is blessed with wonderful, supportive, and caring in-laws the way I am. Some people have real conflict with their in-laws – conflict that results in fights, hurtful words, and even hurtful actions. One of the problems in dealing with difficult in-laws is that there is only so much you can do when it comes to other people’s behavior. In fact, you can’t do anything about their behavior. But you and your spouse don’t have to do anything with their behavior. What you CAN do is work on your responses to their behavior.

The Bible tells us that the marriage relationship is the beginning of a new family unity. While there are still ties to the old family, we are told that the man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife and the two become one. Simply put, your spouse becomes an extension of you! Now extend the logic – if your parents have a problem with your spouse then you should see it as though they have a problem with you (and vice versa). We need to be supportive of our spouses and “have their backs” even if it means coming against our own parents. If we take the Bible seriously about the unity within the marriage bond, then taking our spouse’s side against family is imperative. Too many “support” until conflict with the family occurs, then we quickly throw our spouses under the bus. Don’t fall into that trap.

Get your partner’s back.

2.      Money Issues. Always a biggie, isn’t it? One word: BUDGET! It’s important for couples to sit down and work out a family budget together. Each one should have a voice and give input for what the budget should look like. This should happen every month. The more you do it together the easier it gets. Also, it is important that spouses do not keep financial secrets from each other. It’s not “my money” and “your money” but “our money.” Remember, the Bible prioritizes marriage as unity.

How we be united if we’re keeping parts of our lives from each other?

3.      The Ex. Yikes. It seems that many people have a lot of problems with an ex. I’ve seen exes do some pretty crummy things. I’ve seen exes intentionally goad the new partner, pushing buttons and being an all-around jerk. My advice? Treat exes like online trolls (people who search for ways to stir up trouble) – all you can do is ignore them. If you engage then you take the bait and get caught in the trap. There is no good way to deal with a troll. They can’t be reasoned with. You can’t convince them of logic or fact. So ignore and walk away.

On a relational level think of the ex in a similar way to the in-laws. The new marriage is what is important. You ought to be supporting your partner above your ex. That person is not part of the unity any more. There might be kids involved. There might be shared property involved. It doesn’t matter. Marital unity is what matters.

Get each other’s backs, and leave the ex out of it.

4.      Child Discipline. This one can bring up a lot of difficulties whether the kids are part of a two-parent household or if you’re in a blended family. The difficulty lies in the fact that we’re trying to get two adults to agree on the best course of action on how to raise and discipline other human beings. There’s no easy way to help to people come to agreement on the best way to raise kids. There are many different theories on the “best” ways. What I can say is that it’s possible for parents to find compromise. Each partner can up with a list of “non-negotiables” and a list of “preferables.” The preferable is where we strive to compromise (yes, that might mean giving in and letting your spouse win the day). This is not going to be a quick discussion, and there might be lots of give and take over the course of years of parenting. Don’t throw your hands up in the air and quit.  No matter what, even in disagreement, always show a united front before the kids.

Stick with it and work together.

5.      Score Keeping. This is sometimes called quid pro quo which means “this for that.” It really comes down to keeping a tally of who did what and using that tally to try to motivate our spouses to do something for us. Healthiest relationships don’t keep score (I did it this time – it’s your turn to do it now). In biblical marriages, each spouse seeks to serve the other no matter who did what or how many times he did it. If I really love my wife I should strive to meet her needs, whatever those needs may be. That means that sometimes I will be the one cleaning the bathroom several weeks in a row (even though I REALLY don’t like cleaning bathrooms). It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it. I will do my best to serve her. And she ought to have the same attitude towards meeting my needs and serving me. It’s mutual.

When this happens we can drop the score keeping and be confident in the fact that our spouses will do whatever they can to love and support us.

What do you think? Have you had personal experience in these areas of marital conflict? Would you add anything to the list?

Related Posts:
~ 8 Things Every Husband Needs to Do

You’re Not Raising Your Kids Well

kids-church

In our family we have found that singing is a useful tool for helping the kids with certain tasks. We have a bedtime song. We have a teeth brushing song. The teeth brushing song is one of my personal favorites. It’s a Christian version of the ABC’s that I remember learning from my mom. It’s a catchy little tune, teaches kids the basics of faith, and happens to be a good length of time for an adequate brushing.

Not too long ago I was singing the song while helping our middle child brush his teeth and I got to a line that says, “Jesus died for sinful men.” My daughter (our oldest) was listening in and promptly responded, “He didn’t just die for men you know, women too.” While I taught her that the use of the masculine was (in the past) used to represent masculine and feminine and that “men” meant “humanity”, I affirmed her correctness. “That’s right, Sweetie. Jesus died for men and women. He died for everyone.”

The lesson ended right there as she was finished with her bathroom routine and turned and walked away. Not a “deep” moment, but a moment nonetheless. It reminds me of Deuteronomy 6, one of the most (if not THE most) repeated lines in Judaism – the Sh’ma.

Here, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

In Western culture today I hear a lot of people complaining about kids, teens, and the younger generations. “Kids today…blah, blah, blah!” But we can’t blame the kids. Kids do what kids do. The ones who should be accountable for the decline of society (or however else you care to phrase contemporary problems) are the adults. Yep – you and me. How can we expect future generations to hold dearly to our values if we have not been regularly and consistently imparting and teaching our values and faith to our kids?

Proverbs tells us:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The other day on the radio I heard an interview with a clinical psychiatrist who told the interviewer that children are pretty much set on their course by the time they hit seven years old. That’s it. After seven the groundwork is laid and everything else in life will (usually) rely on default – the automatic responses set in place from our first seven years of life. Of course people can change – but usually we don’t. Our fall-back; our default, is already there. It’s no wonder we have difficulty reaching kids in middle school or late elementary. They’re default is set by 1st and 2nd grade.

We – the parents – have to do better at reaching kids when they’re young. If we want them to be responsible and moral citizens we need to work on those values early on. If we want them to be people of faith we need to plant those seeds so that, when they are out on their own, their default setting is a righteous and godly setting. Don’t pass the buck. It’s easy to complain about kids while never doing anything to solve the problem.

If you have no kids become a mentor to little ones, a surrogate parent or grandparent.
If you have kids don’t let them free to run their own lives. Kids running themselves only end in chaos. Teach them. Train them. Mentor them. Disciple them. Give them the foundation for a healthy adult life. And when we do what we’re supposed to be doing we can have confidence that the generations to come will be wonderful, caring people.

So let me teach you a little song that we taught our kids; that my momma taught me ~ I think she got it from the Gaithers:

ABCDEFG – Jesus died for you and me
HIJKLMN – Jesus died for sinful men, AMEN!
OPQRSTU – I believe God’s Word is true
V and W _ God has promised you
XYZ – a home eternally.

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