Making Biblical Family Life Practical

Seasons of Motherhood – MBFLP 262

There are seasons to motherhood

Ecclesiastes says that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Eccl 3:1) Yet young women are being told that they can and should do all things right now. They’re being urged to set their priorities by the culture’s values instead of their own – unless their priority is “Me first!”

In this special presentation to a mothers’ group in Winnsboro, Louisiana, Melanie offers an encouraging perspective on the opportunities and special needs at different stages of our children’s lives, and the critical contribution that a mother can make in each of those times.

 

Upcoming Events

We’ll be speaking at two conferences this month:

May 6-8, 2021
Teach Them Diligently – Mobile, AL

May 27-29, 2021
Thrive! Conference (North Carolinians for Home Education) – Winston-Salem, NC

If you’re there, come by our booth and say hello! And if you’d like to see us at your nearby event, let them hear from you!

Call our Listener Contact Line – (919) 295-0321

Effective Discipline for Teens – MBFLP 261

 

A reader writes, “I need suggestions how to discipline my 14-year-old son.” She’s finding out what we all discover – if you try to discipline your 14-year-old like he was still six, you’re likely to have a fight on your hands! So what do you do with this young person who’s growing so tall, but still needs a lot of guidance and discipleship?

It’s more than behavior management

With younger kids, a great deal of our training is behavior – “Don’t tease the cat,” “Don’t touch the stove,” “Stop hitting your brother!” Tedd Tripp points out that Ephesians 6:1 is fundamental for the younger set: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

And external behavior is important – that’s what hurts others and damages things! But as they move into the early teen years, our children need more coaching and discipleship to reach their deepest need – the condition of their heart. They need to be confronted with Right and Wrong in a larger sense than, “Honor your father and your mother.” When they realize their failing and sin, they are more likely to grasp their need for a Savior!

And when we recognize that their behavior is more than “You’re on my nerves!” but something rooted on their human fallenness … maybe we can be a little more compassionate and not as quick to react.

As they change, we should too

A lot of parent-teen relationships are strained or broken because parents don’t adapt to their young person’s changes. When they reach adolescence, they’re not kids any more! We need to understand they aren’t the little ones we’ve raised so far, but young adults-in-training. We can’t just continue the old discipline models and expect the same response. Appropriate correction for a four-year-old is humiliating, at best, to a 14-year-old.

More and more, we need to move our discipline to adult responses. What does that look like?

Well, consider what happens when we make a mistake or cause an offense as an adult. Are we sent to stand with our nose in the corner until we say we’re sorry? Does our boss or pastor or neighbor give us a sharp swat on the hand? Of course not. Instead, we are likely to experience “natural consequences.”

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta The Mikado includes the chorus, “Let the punishment fit the crime!” Humor aside, that’s actually quite Biblical. Over and over again in Scripture, you see principles of repentance followed by restitution. We use this as a guide with our teens – if you break it, you fix it – whether it’s a broken toy or a damaged relationship. It’s a hard lesson, but we impress on them that being an adult sometimes means we accept responsibility for things that aren’t strictly our fault. Maybe something happened by accident, or someone took offense by misunderstanding – we still need to step up and try to make things right.

Occasionally the problem isn’t actual sin but rather just high spirits or too much energy. Maybe they really are on your nerves, and that’s most of the problem!

How did Coach handle it?

Sometimes the best correction is just to work it off. How did your high school coach handle it if you were goofing off during practice? What did your drill instructor do at boot camp if you weren’t putting your back into the job?

A bit of strenuous exertion can be a lifesaver here! “Drop and give me ten!” – a call for some push-ups is a good manly punishment for a minor but irritating infraction. You can have them run up and down the stairs, or laps around the back yard. Ask Dad for advice, since he’s probably received similar correction in his time! It’s not offensive or demeaning, but it can use up some energy and help your son focus again.

It’s not supposed to be easy or fun. Hebrews 12:11 says,

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

(continue …)

The most important part

But the most critical thing to remember is the foundation you’re laying for the long term. What sort of relationship are you building with your teenager?

Our relationship with God is more than just crime-and-punishment – that’s part of it and unavoidable, but it’s not the full relationship. If that’s all we know of our heavenly Father, there’s a lot that’s missing!

Likewise with our kids. Of course we’ll have times of conflict or confrontation, but the question will remain – what sort of relationship do we have now, and what sort are we building for tomorrow? … Tune in for practical applications! 

 

MBFLP 260 – Accident-Prone Kids

A reader asked, “What can you do about accident-prone kids who always seem to be breaking things?”

 

“Uh oh …”

We’ve all heard the dreadful sound from the next room – or the sharp crash of breaking glass – or the muffled whump in another part of the house. All kids will have moments of clumsiness, carelessness, or foolishness, that result in something getting broken or someone getting hurt – that’s just normal childhood. But some kids seem to leave a path of destruction in their wake – what do you do about them?

Let’s say up front that we’re not talking about kids who are suffering from trauma, illness, or developmental conditions that lead to destructive behavior – that’s a different situation altogether. We have friends who deal with these things on a daily basis, and they are walking a different path.

But what about your average, healthy, otherwise normal kid who you’d think would know better? How do you deal with them?

First thing …

One of our basic rules of parenting is Don’t Freak Out. We don’t respond at our best when we leap to reaction. It may help to remind ourselves that this world is not our ultimate home and all its things are passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31). All our stuff is actually God’s stuff, and we are just stewards and managers of it for Him (Psalm 24:1).

That’s not easy advice, but it’s true – right? Take a breath, and pray for perspective.

Next step, Triage the situation. Not only answering the question, “What just broke here?” but rather, “Why did something just happen?”

We find there are three basic profiles – (continued … )


Three scenarios

  1. The angry child who acts from rage or malice. This is the one who intentionally hurts someone or damages something, or the one who fails to control his temper and lashes out blindly. This is upsetting but it’s rooted in clear sinful behavior, and you can respond along those lines. Repentance and restitution are the goals here.
  2. The truly innocent child. This one honestly didn’t intend any trouble, and wasn’t inviting it by foolish or careless behavior. In other words, they aren’t to blame – something they did may have triggered a problem, but they didn’t cause it by neglect or malice.  He needs to express sympathy and concern, and even apologize; you may need to convince him that an apology isn’t always an admission of guilt! We try to see this as a multi-victim event – both the one who was injured, and the one who stumbled and caused it. Mercy is our first reaction, and then training in responsibility – if you knock it over, you need to pick it up, even if you didn’t do it on purpose.
  3. The careless child. This is the child who loses school books, forgets to close the gate, or leaves his brother’s bike out in the rain. They aren’t malicious but they are inattentive! It’s important to remember that irresponsible behavior is not the same as rebellion – our response needs to be different. Irresponsibility should bring natural consequences – like replacing a lost book with his own money. It’s appropriate to use these events to remind them to concentrate and pay attention (even while we privately admit they aren’t very good at this at the moment).

And then …

Once we understand what’s motivated the incident, we can respond in a way that will be just and will protect our relationship with the child. Our children are not cookies, so a cookie-cutter approach won’t respect their individual needs, fears, weaknesses, and strengths!


If you have a middle school student and you’re wondering why they are the way they are (you know what we mean), check out our book No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope. You can find it on our website here. 

 

Helping Dad Connect With The Kids – MBFLP 259

A reader asks: “How can we help dads connect with their kids?”

Moms seem to naturally connect with little ones – even before they’re born! It’s not so easy for dads, though. More than one has said, “I can’t communicate with this baby – I’ll let Mama handle it until he’s six or seven, and can understand me.”

That may be common but it’s unnecessary and really, it’s giving up precious time in your child’s life. It’s true, you’ll have a different relationship when they reach that age, but that’s true for every age – and the longer you put off your child, the harder it might become to build bridges later.

So what can be done about it?

First off, don’t let it become a source of contention between husband and wife. If she raises the issue, he needs to step back a bit and ask, “Lord, is it true?” rather than getting defensive.

Recognize that “connecting” isn’t magic and mystical – it’s just a matter of spending time and interacting with your kids.

Train yourself to be intentional about “dad time.” Hal used to de-compress on the commute home, trying to mentally close the office door behind him and re-focus his mind on his roles of husband and father when he got home. That’s not obvious when you’re working from home, though – you have to remind yourself to step away from work and notice your family around you.

Practice some self-denial. The world really plays on our natural desire for our own needs and interests. Certainly there’s a need for some rest and recuperation just to keep yourself healthy and strong! But being available for your children’s needs means your own will have to wait sometimes. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit – it should not surprise us that we don’t naturally abound in it! (continued … )

Disciple Like Jesus Did

Take your kids along when you can. The American theologian Jonathan Edwards had eleven kids and responsibility for several churches in colonial New England. Whenever he traveled to another village, he took a child along. Even when they’re very little, Dad can bring along the baby or the toddler when he runs an errand. Take the opportunity to talk with them about what you’re doing – even if they can’t talk back, they’ll grow accustomed to your voice and they’ll learn more than you realize!

Invite your kids into your work. Men seem to communicate better shoulder-to-shoulder – working together on some project. Whatever task comes to hand, ask one of your kids to join you – “Come on, let’s change the oil on the car,” or “Let me show you how to unstop a toilet.” Allow for additional time and distraction; it won’t be as efficient as doing the job solo, but it’s important time for training and relationship. What if they’re not interested? Keep asking, and sometimes, don’t give them the option – just bring them.

Jesus trained His disciples this way – He lived and worked with them, and He explained and asked and answered questions as they came alongside Him in ministry.

And don’t be shy about inviting yourself into their world, either. “Hey there – whatcha building?” “I haven’t read that book – what do you think about it?” Initiate conversations! Ask open ended questions. Assume that they can understand and respond, and see if you can draw them out.

Remember that you can’t schedule a heart’s opening – you have to be there when they’re ready to share. That means the time you invest simply being with your children and interacting with them will open doors and opportunities for deeper conversation and counsel.

HAVE YOU GOT A QUESTION YOU’D LIKE US TO DISCUSS?

Call our Listener Response Line at (919) 295-0321

Make the Most of Uncertain Times – MBFLP 258

Coming out of the bunker - making the most of these uncertain times

“How do I encourage my young men to look forward to the future?”

In part 1, we talked about the reality of uncertainty as a part of every time and every life, though the immediate upheaval is a very real and very disruptive event!  (see episode 257, “Making Sense of Uncertain Times”)

But how can we provide some practical help to young men whose plans for college, work, nnd relationships have been upended and put on indefinite hold? What can we do as parents to help them make the most of these uncertain times?

Remember the pandemic hits everybody differently. People in stable relationships with established careers may be better able to adjust to the disruptions than young men who are just at the starting point.

Young single adults may be feeling real isolation and loneliness. They may appreciate more contact with family, in real life or online. Reach out! And plan to listen – they may be missing people they can talk through their concerns with.

A new socialization problem

Encourage them to be inventive about socializing online. We have young adult friends who have organized online prayer meetings, held conference calls for fellowship, connected through video gaming platforms, and more. Some video conferencing programs offer service for small groups for free, and messaging apps like Skype and Signal can be used for several people in a call.

If your teens don’t have a social media account, now may be the time to train them how to use it wisely. Social media has its pitfalls, for certain, but it is possible to use it for God-honoring purposes. Your teens will be expected to have some social media savvy when they leave your home; it’s widely used in business and academia as well as peer-to-peer. What better time to coach your teens than right now, while they’re still at home and open to guidance?

For kids too young for social media accounts, we may want to use ours to facilitate fellowship for them and their friends.  It’s worth remembering that our online friendships may be part of our own coping mechanisms; our younger kids may not have that connection for themselves. Maybe you can set up a game meeting, a virtual tea party, or some other way for the elementary and middle school kids to interact … with supervision.

Realize that all our social skills may be rusty – your young people may need encouragement and coaching when they can resume meeting people in person.

(jump to continue … )

What can you do with this time?

Parents and people in a more stable situation may be able to provide perspective. If we aren’t in the throes of the uncertainty faced by our sons, we may be able to think of alternatives and options that they haven’t considered yet. We also may be able to point out that life doesn’t end at 25 or 30 — in fact, the most productive and effective part of their lives and careers is very likely years in the future still. A few months delay at 18 or 23 is not going to stop the world for them!

Some practical ideas to consider: Start a business. Start something online. Begin writing the book you wanted to write. Read up a subject and take a CLEP exam for college credit. None of this has to be permanent or long term, but any of them will encourage you to be active, keep thinking, and avoid just giving up!

Give them hope! Your sons need encouragement and they need the benefit of your experience and your ideas. Remind them this is a just a passing time in their lives and it will soon be past. Rather than despairing, they can make the most of the opportunities they have in these uncertain days!

Resources We Mentioned

Skype messaging app

Signal messaging app

SKRAFTY moderated Minecraft server and more

Our free College Decision Resource Pack – click here to download your copy!

Making Sense of Uncertain Times – MBFLP 257

How can we encourage our young adult sons to look forward to the future?

A listener asked the question, considering the wide-ranging effects of the pandemic response. What can we say or do to give hope to our young adults, when everything seems to have a roadblock? What do we do when college is reduced to online classes, when social opportunities are severely restricted, and many entry-level jobs aren’t hiring?

First, we need to recognize our sons’ struggles may be very different from our own.  Those of us in stable relationships, with family surrounding us and our careers well underway, will weather the storm very differently than the young man who is just starting out.

They need our understanding and sympathy. That’s only Biblical – Romans 12:15 tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who  weep.” Put yourself in his place – how would you feel if suddenly high school graduation wasn’t going to happen, and college would likely be video classes like the last semester of high school, and the great adventure of moving out and meeting new people was postponed indefinitely? It would be disappointing and disorienting, at best. Your son doesn’t have your perspective to give him some balance and patience!

Consider that when Jesus went to the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He wept. Even though He was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead, Jesus could share the immediate grief of the sisters. Surely we can be sympathetic to our sons’ worries before we try to fix them!

We have perspective they (probably) don’t 

This may be the first time your young adult had a total upheaval of long-held plans. It may feel like the end of the world to them. Those of us who have experienced sudden job loss or a health crisis might be able to say, “It’s not just the present trouble – there’s a certain amount of uncertainty in LIFE.” Times of greater or lesser disruption will come, but there are no guarantees about the next day’s plan (James 4:14).  In fact, our response to difficult times reveals our character.

In uncertain times, God intends us to keep going. When the Jews were taken away to Babylon, God acknowledged the disruption but told them to keep on with life – build houses, plant gardens, get married, raise families, and pray for the peace of their place of captivity (Jeremiah 29:4-7). Jesus described the end times (in Matthew 24) as master leaving on a journey and returning unexpectedly – he wants to find his servants watchful but working!

Uncertainty is a part of life, by God’s design – but He wants us to trust Him and keep on doing the best we know how!

Resources We Mentioned

Romans 12:15 – Weep with those who weep

John 11:1-44 – Jesus wept

James 4:13-15 – You do not know what will happen tomorrow; for what is your life? It is even a vapor … 

Jeremiah 29:4-7 – God’s instructions to the Jews in Babylon to live as normally as possible – even as captives and exiles!

Matthew 24:3-47 – Jesus describes the end times and suggests we should keep working until He comes!

Gary Smalley, If Only He Knew (the marriage book Hal mentioned)

The Foundations of Education – A Conversation with Ken Ham – MBFLP 256

 

As we bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4), how can we confidently address the hot button issues in our culture? When the world says humanity is a cosmic accident, society is nothing but structures of oppression, and personal autonomy and self-identification are the highest good – how do we respond?

In part two of our conversation with Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and author of the new book Will They Stand, we talked about how our educational choices for our children have a major, critical impact on their spiritual development and training.

Only Two Options

We talked at length about forming a worldview – the lens through which you see and interpret the world around you. Ken uses the example of building a house. “You don’t build a house by starting with the roof and walls,” he said, “you start with the foundation.” He said that 95% of children in Christian homes are being taught in the public school system, where they are told that all things have a naturalistic cause and explanation – “which is atheism,” he pointed out.  All week they are taught a philosophy and worldview which is not just un-Christian but actively hostile to Christian teaching. Then on Sunday we attempt to teach them about Jesus and Christian doctrines.

“We try to put the roof and walls on a foundation that won’t make that structure stand,” he said. “And we wonder why they leave the church, and build a new structure based on secular thinking.”

“Ultimately we have to understand there are only two foundations to build your way of thinking. You start from God’s Word, [God] Who knows everything. That’s the only way to come to right conclusions about anything, is starting from Someone who knows everything, Who’s given us the key information we need. The Bible is a revelation from God giving us [that] key information.

“If you don’t start from God’s Word, there is only one other starting point — that’s man’s word.”

(continue …)

God’s Design for Teaching God’s Precepts

Answers in Genesis is best known for its presentation of Biblical, young-earth creationism. But Ken explained that so many of the “giants” our children will face, the most controversial issues in the public arena, are addressed in the first eleven chapters of Genesis – the act of Creation is only the first part.

“How do you teach your children about marriage? The gender issue? The abortion issue?” he asked. “You’ve got to start with Genesis 1 through 11.  If you don’t have Genesis 1 through 11 as the foundation, you can’t build the structure.”

Just on the example of marriage, Ken pointed out that Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 demonstrates God’s design for gender, marriage, and family, and when Jesus was asked about marriage and divorce, He referred back to those passages – without hedging or apology. When Paul deal with relationships between the husband and wife, he did the same. God’s word is clear, and we can stand on it with confidence.

God also gave instructions to His people on teaching their children, Ken said – in Deuteronomy 6. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them [God’s words] when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (v. 7)

“Education is not just an hour or two that you do on Sunday,” he said. “Education is twenty-four hours a day. …

“In 100% of what you do, you are teaching your children.”

In the first part of this interview (episode 255, “Building a Legacy”) we talked with Ken about the importance of being intentional in teaching and training our children to know and love Christ. Our personal example is crucial; so is the educational system we chose to occupy so many hours of our children’s lives. As Ken says in Will They Stand, “You will leave a legacy … the question is, what kind?”

Building a Legacy – A Conversation with Ken Ham – MBFLP 255

Welcome to the new year! Glad as we may be to see the old year passing, the challenges to our families never change. As the world around us becomes more hostile to Christian teaching, how do we prepare our children to walk in faith when they leave our home? What sort of foundation can we lay to give them a base to stand on?

We kick off our 2021 season with a conversation with Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. Ken is famous for defending Biblical creationism and the historicity of Genesis, but he also writes and speaks on family issues. His book Already Gone looked at why children and young adults leave the faith they grew up in. A second book, Already Compromised,  examines how colleges and universities drift away from their foundations, too, and how parents should guide their children’s educational choices after high school.

“Parenting Kids to Face the Giants”

But his newest book is a more personal account of how parents can build a godly legacy in their family. Will They Stand shares the importance of raising strong believers from childhood forward, preparing them to hold fast against a hostile culture outside the home and the church.

continued …

<id=”nextpart”>In the first half of this two-part interview, we talk with Ken about the foundation his father laid for him and his siblings, then how Ken and his wife Mally have kept Biblical principles central to their family. He centers his argument on a constant, intentional approach with an eye to future generations:

“Please understand that you too will leave a legacy to the generations to follow. They may not build memorials to you, and it’s unlikely that they will place signs outside of the place of your birth … but what you leave behind will forever impact the hearts and souls of those in your family and beyond. You will leave a legacy; the only question is what kind of legacy it will be.” (from the book, p. 63)

Passages and Resources We Mentioned

Ephesians 6:4 – And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Psalm 78:5 – For he [God] established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children

2 Timothy 3:15 – from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

Colossians 2:2-3 – Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

Answers in Genesis

Ken’s new book, Will They Stand: Parenting Kids to Face the GIANTS

Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It

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