Making Biblical Family Life Practical

Biographies for Book Lovers – MBFLP 254-2

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Biographies that you might enjoy as much as Hal did

Finishing up a listener’s question from episode 245, (“What Are You Reading Right Now?”), this episode Hal is talking about some of his favorite biographies, and why he likes reading this special form of history.

Biography is more than just the facts

Some years ago, Hal started reading biographies to learn more about figures in local history. What impressed him was how, when he’d been reading the life stories of men who had faced challenges and lived life with honor, faith, and courage, it started to show up in his own thinking — “How would such-and-such have handled this?”

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, after all. Paul wrote to the believers at Phillipi,

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, 
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, 
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. 

(Philippians 4:8, NKJV)

A life well and truly lived will show evidence of these things. What better way to consider them than to observe how other humans have applied them to the struggles of life?

People are complex

A well-written and honest biography will include the facts of the person’s lifetime, as well as the cultural context he or she dealt with. Much of the current “cancel culture” betrays an inability to recognize the good that a person accomplished in spite of their times, instead forcing long-passed people through a filter of 21st century sensibilities. At the same time, an accurate biography will acknowledge the faults and failures of the subject. Humans are highly complex and inconsistent beings, which may prevent us from reaching our best potential as well as hindering us from sinking as low as we might!

An account of someone whose life work has been assessed through the lens of time, whose impact has been seen by the outcomes of his actions and words, can be a powerful encouragement and example to follow — or an earnest warning of ways and ideas to avoid! And that’s why biographies can be good for the character and soul. It’s worth considering!

Why reading biographies can be good for the soul

 


If you’d like to know more about biographies Hal mentioned, links are here

(and for history, here are links to books from the first episode )

If you’d like to leave a comment, question, or request, our Listener Response Line is (919) 295-0321

 

 

 

 

History for Book Lovers – MBFLP 254-1

History for book lovers like me

Earlier this year we talked about books and authors the two of us enjoy together (episode 245, “What Are You Reading Right Now?”) and we mentioned that each of us has genres we like personally but separately. A caller on our Listener Response Line reminded us that we hadn’t returned to those books – “You teased us a little bit!” she said – so this week, Hal is sharing some books of history and biography which he’s been reading.

The Value of History

Over half the Bible is historical narrative, and God tells His people to remember the past and talk about it with their children. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people:

Remember the days of old, 
Consider the years of many generations.
Ask your father, and he will show you; 
Your elders, and they will tell you:
When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, 
When He separated the sons of Adam,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the children of Israel. 

(Deuteronomy 32:7-8)

The reference to “nations” and “peoples” says this is more than the history of Israel – it’s all of us as “sons of Adam.” When we learn about history, we’re learning how God has guided people and nations over the centuries, with and without their cooperation or consciousness, and we can learn or take warning by their example.

Hal shares recommendations for books on historical topics!

Our own Benjamin Franklin, whatever his personal theology, observed to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?” (here’s a transcript) … and we know this to be true because it’s in Scripture:

The Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.

(Daniel 5:21)

That’s a good thing to remember during this election year! And it’s a good reason to take a look at history, too.


If you’d like to know more about books Hal mentioned, here are links to all of them … 

If you’d like to leave a comment, question, or request, our Listener Response Line is (919) 295-0321

 

 

 

 

Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 3 – MBFLP 253-3

Part 3 – Building Friendship Between Your Children

We want our kids to be friends and allies, not rivals and opponents, but that takes some conscious effort. As parents, we can make both the positive and negative efforts to build friendship and avoid tearing it down. How can we prevent harsh feelings between our kids? And better, how can we promote affection and goodwill toward siblings?

Practical Ideas

Remember your kids learn from your example – all the time. If you want to raise kids who are kind, you need to live and speak in kindness at home. They are always watching, even when you don’t think you’re teaching and when they don’t realize they’re learning.

Do your kids really believe there’s justice in your family? Unfair treatment from a parent might be favoritism toward one child – the only girl in a family of boys, the “baby” of the family, or anyone singled out (think about Joseph in the Bible!). It can also be one child who gets blamed for everything – the one who’s “the usual suspect” in every situation. One way we provoke our children (Colossians 3:21) is by jumping to conclusions when there’s trouble between the kids – dig deeper and be sure you’ve dealt with both the reaction and the cause!

Protect their dignity in front of their siblings. We made a point, as much as possible, to correct or discipline children privately, not in front of the family. Don’t give ammunition for teasing, or reason for a child to feel defensive and wary around the family.

Encourage acts of service for siblings – look for ways they can bless one another. Whether it’s offered as an apology for past bad behavior, or an expression of love and kindness just because, cultivate a spirit of thoughtfulness between the kids.

Help them understand and look for others’ point of view.  Some kids are thoughtless about how their behavior hurts or offends others. On the other hand, some kids are quick to assume the worst and take offense where none was given. Teach them that intentions are important, but perception and reception are important too and sometimes a bigger problem than the intention!

Suggest activities they’ll want to do together – on the condition they do them togetherBake cookies, provide projects they cooperate on, look for shared experiences and adventures. Shared memories are the ties that draw them together in later life. Often it’s the smaller things

Passages We Referenced

 

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. – Proverbs 31:26

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another … – Ephesians 4:32

… be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 – what love is, and is not

The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression. – Proverbs 19:11

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. – Colossians 3:21 (also Ephesians 6:4)

 

We’d love to hear from you! Leave your comments, suggestions, and requests below,

or call our Listener Response Line at (919) 295-0321

 

Part 1 – [ Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry ]

Part 2 – [ Making Competition Helpful, Not Hurtful ]

Part 3 –

 

Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 2 – MBFLP 253-2

Part 2 – Making Competition Helpful, Not Harmful

Help your children compete without conflict

When you’ve got more than one child, you are going to have challenges. How can you teach them to play together and enjoy games without the older ones overrunning the younger? We had six boys over a twelve-year span, so we had to figure this out! This episode, we’re talking about some practical ways to make family competition helpful, not harmful.

Games, sports, and competition are Biblical. Remember the Bible often describes our Christian lives as a race (Acts 20:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1). The apostle Paul points out that you only win when you play by the rules and discipline yourself by training (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We wrote a whole chapter about this in our book Raising Real Menbut we agree with the old theologians – games can be a great way to learn skills and exercise our minds and bodies, if they’re done in the right attitude.

Ways to Make it Work

Recognize that older siblings and younger siblings may not appreciate how different they are. Depending on the child and the range of ages and development, you will have to coach your older, bigger, stronger kids to take it easy on the little siblings. Teenagers can’t react to their five-year-old brother like he was another teen. We made it a matter of honor for our boys to restrain their impulse to hit back when a little one hurt them. On the other hand, younger ones need to be reminded that bigger kids are bigger, and it’s not wise to treat them like they were elementary-age peers, either. The idea that “We’re all equals in the eyes of God and our parents,” is good, but you have to remember that equality of status and equality of value do not mean equal capability or strength!

“Compete against the clock and your own best time.” We found our boys of all ages like to race the clock on math worksheets. The fact that one is doing third-grade work for the first time, and older brother is doing the same practice sheets he did five years ago, doesn’t matter when each one is racing himself.

Give younger kids a handicap. Let the older kids start further back, or give the younger ones a head start. Or let the younger ones choose or answer first, so the older ones don’t jump ahead every turn. Even up the playing field a bit.

Create teams across the ages. This is really effective with board games. The oldest child is paired with the youngest, and the next oldest with the next youngest – for example, the 15-year-old with the 5-year-old, playing against the 12-year-old and 9-year-old. You can also make the rule that the older team member can’t touch the board; he has to talk with his younger teammate and persuade him to move the pieces or play the cards strategically. Often, the youngest children just want to move the pieces, anyway – it’s the older kids who get the grand design of the game!

Part 1 – [ Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry ]

Next Segment – Building Friendship Between Your Kids

 

Competition that's healthy, not harmful

Part 2 –

Raising Siblings Without Rivalry – Part 1 – MBFLP 253-1

Dealing with sibling rivalry

One of the questions we hear most often is, “How do you deal with sibling rivalry?” 

We had eight children, and six boys in a row, so we had plenty of competition and challenge to work with! A certain amount is normal and can be accommodated even within the family, but it has to be guided and supervised to keep it from becoming bullying or persecution.

Girls have their own temptations too, especially in emotional and relationship areas; we’ve known women who grew up as “mean girls” in their own family, and struggled with broken relationships decades after they left home.

We didn’t want that in our own family – we wanted our children to grow up to be friends – so we tried to take positive steps to build and protect relationships between our kids. And like Tedd Tripp says, we trained behaviors in the youngest, in the process of teaching the hearts and attitudes of all!

Principles for Preventing Sibling Rivalry

Home Should Be Safe – Nobody should feel like they have to keep their guard up when they cross the family threshold. That goes for spouses, too.

Zero Tolerance for Bullying – or Provoking – Bigger kids can tyrannize young kids, but younger kids can cause lots of trouble for older siblings, too. Proverbs 6:16 says God hates one who causes discord among brothers – so bickering and arguing are important, not just kid stuff.

See the Family as A Team – You won’t score together, if you are fighting one another instead of your enemy or opponent. Encourage your kids to pull together and support each other, especially in front of the rest of the world.

Enjoy Teasing and Wrestling but Don’t Cross the Line! – It’s fun until it’s not, for somebody. If you continue after someone calls “stop” then you’ve become a bully – see “zero tolerance” above.

Recognize How Different Your Kids May Be – and Keep an Eye on Them – Some kids can tolerate teasing and rough-housing, and some can’t. Don’t let either set the tone for everybody, but guide their interaction to head off offenses and hurts. That also goes for the child who’s quick to take offense — that’s no help either.

Raising kids without rivalry at home

NEW!

This week we’re trying a new format – three shorter episodes on the same topic! Look for parts 2 and 3 later this week and let us know what you think

And if you have suggestions, questions, or requests, leave us a message on our Listener Response Line – (919) 295-0321

Next Segment – Making Competition Helpful, not Hurtful

 

 

Getting Kids On Board With Your New Homeschool – MBFLP 252

New to homeschooling, and maybe your kid's not thrilled yet?

Are you starting homeschooling this fall? Was it always your plan, or did the pandemic make this an unexpected “best option”? Either way, are your kids on board with the decision?

Parents have the responsibility and the perspective to make this choice for their family, but sometimes the children aren’t thrilled. Even if it’s the best thing for them, it’s always more pleasant if everyone’s in accord about the plan. What can you do to help your kids understand and accept the lifestyle change you’re making? How is it different for young kids, middle schoolers, and teens? This episode, we’re talking about working toward harmony with your new homeschooling project!

An Avalanche of New Homeschoolers

The sudden shutdown of practically all public education in March, and the prospects of very restricted school reopening this fall, have prompted a lot of families to reconsider homeschooling as an option. How many? Several states are reporting double-digit increases in new homeschools, and when North Carolina opened its website for new homeschool filings in July, the rush crashed the site for an entire week. In June, researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 1200 families in Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, and found 12% already planned to keep at least one child at home this fall. Another survey of 2000 families by OnePoll found that 43% are “seriously considering the option of homeschooling” this year. Vermont had a 75% increase already!

With so many new families beginning homeschooling, a large percentage are taking children out of classroom schools. Their kids have already had some experience of school culture, developed friendships at school, and formed relationships with teachers. The change in school approach is going to be more disruptive for them than their pre-school and kindergarten-age siblings. That means you’ll need to approach the idea differently with the older kids. Even elementary school kids may complain, “I haven’t seen my friends in for-e-ver,” — though to be honest, that’s been heard in homeschooling families, too, during the lockdown!

So it’s important to acknowledge that your kids’ fears, concerns, preferences, and objections do matter, even if the decision has been made already. Take the time to listen and engage them on their levels–you’ll be glad you invested in the relationship. This episode, we’re talking about practical ways to address some of those concerns. Not incidentally, we’re also addressing some concerns you might be having as an unexpected homeschool parent, yourself–like socialization, your qualification to teach, and college prospects at the end! So join us —

Skeptical young girl thinking about her parents' idea

Articles Dealing With This Explosive Growth

[Side note: Many of the news reports on this subject have misread or misrepresented the actual findings; for once, they tend to overestimate how many people are choosing homeschooling. Some media reported the UofM findings, for instance, as “A third of parents may homeschool,” but the actual study says 12% plan to homeschool, and 21% were undecided. That’s a different picture. Still, 12% is a huge increase over the 3-to-4% homeschooling rate nationwide last year.]

Comments, Suggestions, or Requests – Use Our Listener Response Line – (919) 295-0321‬

The Problem of Perfectionism – MBFLP 251


A reader asks, “What can you do about an over-conscientious child?”

C.S. Lewis observed that our sins are often forms of virtues which have gone astray. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Colossae, “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)  We should be pursuing excellence–but it’s very easy to let that pursuit turn into self-righteousness, arrogance, and pride. And it can also drive a person to distraction, depression, and despair, as the reality settles in that we can’t truly reach perfection in our own strength.

So what should we do when we see one of our children … or ourselves … leaning on human effort and achievement instead of faith in Christ? When striving for excellence becomes an unforgiving and ungracious pursuit of the unattainable? When our obedience to God is based on appeasement rather than love?

But doesn’t the Bible speak about perfection?

Yes, it does. Jesus speaks of loving your enemies, a supremely unnatural thing to do, and says if you do this, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) While it is true that God is pure and sinless, we aren’t and won’t be until heaven. Yet we can strive after this kind of perfection, which is not sinless but rather, balanced and mature, like James describes: “But let patience [as a result of the testing of your faith] have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

The sort of perfectionism to beware of has several unhelpful fruits:

  1. Pride – if I think I’ve achieved it, or I think I’m capable
  2. Arrogance – if I look down on others who aren’t trying as hard as I am
  3. Inefficiency – putting too much time and effort into unimportant things
  4. Fear – if I’m not confident I’ll succeed, I don’t want to try
  5. Faithlessness – if I don’t realize how desperately I need Christ
  6. Guilt – if I don’t recognize my inability, any disappointment is my own fault

Really, it’s a form of legalism–hoping to earn God’s favor or dissuade His anger by our own diligence. (continued …)

Can we be over-conscientious? 

It’s good to be careful, watchful, observant. Our hearts are still drawn away from Christ and God’s law, so we need to be on guard against our own sinfulness. Our conscience can be helpful – Paul says in Romans that Gentiles who didn’t know the law of Moses sometimes did the right thing anyway,

when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them (Romans 2:14-15)

But our conscience can be mistaken or confused. Paul wrote the church in Corinth, “I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) And the apostle John wrote, “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20)

Romans 14 deals with matters of personal conviction, and Paul says, “Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.” (verse 5) – but we do need to recognize that our conscience needs to be trained by the word of God. And we need to remember that each of us is on life-long road of growth–and we haven’t all reached the same level of maturity yet!

So how should we guide our children in this area?

  1. Our hope and our self-worth are not found in our report cards, our job descriptions, our paychecks, or our prizes — hope and identity come from our relationship to Jesus Christ
  2. Encourage your perfectionist children to try things they might avoid. Encourage your bookworm to learn tennis or dancing. Get your athlete piano lessons or tutoring in French. Help them realize that they can’t excel in everything – and they don’t have to!
  3. Be sure to praise the intangible things. Character doesn’t come with a scorecard, but God is much more concerned with the sort of person we are than the numbers we achieve on the tests.
  4. Help them gauge the real value of quality. If over-exactness makes you late on your homework, you still lose. Sometimes “good enough” is the right answer, and better than “good enough” may actually be a distraction–or worse.
  5. Finally, be sure they understand that By grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Instead, our obedience to God is not meant to earn His forgiveness or love–it’s our loving response to what He’s already done for us. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Motivating Boys to Write – MBFLP 250

If you’re homeschooling a boy (or just helping your son with his homework!) you’ve probably seen his frustration about writing. Yet the ability to put thoughts into words and words onto paper is a crucial skill for life and career. How can you get past his natural hesitation and open up that channel for communication? This episode we talk about some of the reasons why your boy may hate to write, and then, practical ways to overcome those hurdles!

Beating Boredom This Summer – MBFLP 249

Summertime is always a challenge – with the change of routine, it’s easy for our kids (or ourselves) to feel adrift. This year, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, even our backup program may be on hold or cancelled. What can you do to make the most of summertime with your family, when vacation may be postponed, summer camp or youth sports shut down, and even the local pool or gym is off limits? This episode, we talk about things you might consider with your kids and mate, to make the most of the enforced time together this year!


Who knew, when the schools and universities closed in March, that we’d still be home in June and July, with summer vacation upended as well? Camps and programs for missions, music, sports, and more, have been closed by the virus. Travel is still restricted. Entertainment facilities, beaches, parks, and more are shut down or curtailed. Our own son had his honeymoon reservations canceled by the hotel the week of the wedding! (Thankfully, he was able to make other arrangements!)

So many of the things we take for granted and do every summer are in jeopardy – or already gone. Last week, we spoke with a radio host about ideas for “engaging our kids” during this time. There are ways to build memories and build skills – and there are also opportunities to build (or rebuild) relationships, if we’ll take the step.

A New Feature for the Program

Hal was inspired by World Radio’s program “The World and Everything In It” and their listener participation in the daily news podcast. This episode, we’re pleased to announce a new opportunity on our own program – our new “Listener Response Line” at (919) 295-0321. This is our voice mail where you can leave a comment, a question, or a suggestion. We’d love to hear from you!

Raising Them Up – a conversation with Israel Wayne – MBFLP 248

This episode, we’re talking with Israel Wayne, homeschool graduate, father of ten, and author of the new book Raising Them Up: Parenting for Christians. He shares some of the difficulties of his childhood – parents who divorced early, an abusive stepfather, times of poverty and homelessness – and the incredible way that God has redeemed that experience for His glory and the help of His people! You’ll enjoy this surprising and encouraging conversation with Family Renewal’s Israel Wayne.

Starting Over After a Rough Start

“When I got married, I was twenty-three, my wife was twenty, and we started our marriage with a clean slate,” Israel said. “I didn’t bring the baggage with me. I had the opportunity to start out on the right foot, developing the kind of relationship with my wife that my parents never had, learning how to be the father that my father wasn’t able to be. We now have ten children – our oldest is 20, our youngest is 16 months – five boys and five girls. And I think it’s really interesting, fascinating, and ironic in a way, that God has given us this ministry called “Family Renewal.

“This may be surprising to some people because some don’t know much about my back story. But I really believe in the capacity of God to reach families that are broken and families that don’t feel like there’s hope for them, that feel like, “Well, yeah, we’re not that poster family for homeschooling or ‘a Christian family.’ I believe that God’s grace is big enough that God can reach even you, and I believe my background leads me to have faith for those families. It’s part of why I do what I do and why I wrote Raising Them Up: Parenting for Christians.”

Not Available on Amazon!

Raising Them Up: Parenting for Christians is available direct from Family Renewal Ministries

CLICK HERE to order your copy! 


While We’re On The Subject

During this time of widespread shutdown and isolation, a lot of authors, teachers, and publishers are struggling. Dozens of homeschool conventions have been cancelled, including some of the largest in the United States and Canada, and that has made a serious dent in the support your favorite homeschool vendors need to keep going.

When you’re ordering online – and who isn’t, now? – would you take a minute and consider ordering direct from the authors and publishers? You might not know that when you save a dollar on a book at the (ahem) online megastore, 75% of the income from that book goes to the website owner – not the author. In normal times that’s just business reality – but while the crisis lasts, remember the creators who are pouring their heart and knowledge into your family and homeschool, and let’s channel those purchases back to the homeschool vendors you depend on!


GREAT NEWS!

 

Our book

NO LONGER LITTLE: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope

has received the

2020 CHRISTIAN INDIE AWARD

for the Relationships and Family category

“The Christian Indie Awards honor Christian books by independent authors and small publishers for outstanding contribution to Christian life.”

 

Awarded by the Christian Indie Publishing Association (formerly the Christian Small Publishers Association)

CLICK HERE to find out more, or order your copy! Available in print, audio CD, and downloadable formats