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Discipling Your Kids Is More than Family Devotions

Discipling Your Kids Is More than Family Devotions

By Derek Brown

A couple of months ago I was in the kitchen preparing lunch and caught a familiar tune wafting from the living room. My son was singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” along with an interactive Christmas book. Particularly delightful was his substituting “morning” for “glory” and mumbling incoherently the “peace on earth” section. He didn’t have any trouble with the following phrase: “God and sinners reconciled,” my 3-year-old bellowed with joy. As I laughed to myself and squeezed mustard onto a slice of wheat bread, my wife—ever ready to seize on teachable moments—turned immediately to the living room. “Do you know what reconciliation means, Colton?” After he indicated he didn’t understand the significance of what he’d yelled across the house, she proceeded to explain, in simple terms, the nature of our relationship with God and our need for a Savior.

But wait: hadn’t Colton heard these things before? Wasn’t he familiar with the idea of sin and holiness and the need to be right with God? Ever since bringing him home from Ethiopia two and a half years ago we’d incorporated family worship into his nightly routine. We’d read The Jesus Storybook Bible several times and talked a good deal about God, Christ, and the cross during our nightly treks through Scripture. Wasn’t that enough?

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Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

There are moments in everyone’s life where they are pushed to stand for what they believe in or are put to the test through adversity. Four moments in particular are:

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.
2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.
3. The year when they don’t feel God’s presence at all.
4. The day when their fiancée breaks off the engagement, even after they have remained abstinent.

In this article the author tackles each of these moments and how we should be preparing our students to face them.

Four Moments I’m Preparing Students to Face

By Cameron Cole

Ministry to children and youth for both parents and church workers focuses on cultivating followers of Christ with sustainable faith. Basically, we want the faith of our young people to stick when they leave our homes and churches to live as independent adults.

As I listen to and observe the faith journeys of former students and young adults, I often see pivotal moments along the way that constitute “make or break” tests of their faith. Discipling my students, I am preparing them for these four moments.

1. The semester with the persuasive, atheist philosophy professor.

Whether in college or in a coffee shop, every young Christian will meet people who do not believe in the truth of Christianity and can argue persuasively against it. Particularly in college, students will encounter professors with an ax to grind against Christianity and with a desire to use their classroom as a platform against the religion. Many times, students without a deep theological base have their faith wrecked by slick arguments.

I want my students to ask hard questions and to have experience logically arguing for their belief in the veracity of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So we dedicate much time in our youth ministry to working on apologetics. In particular, we focus on the validity of the Bible as God’s Word, the historical facts surrounding the resurrection, and the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the life of Christ. I have found Tim Keller’s video series The Reason for God to be an indispensible tool for giving students both exposure to and practice in engaging arguments against Christianity.

2. The day their best friend dies in a car accident.

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4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

In the world in which we live, parents must engage in the battle for their children’s hearts, minds, and attention.  There is too much at stake to assume that they will “be okay.”  Ministering to students, whether that be as a parent or a pastor, is a full contact sport.  We must engage. We must to go war.  We must not sit idle by and watch our children’s lives unfold.

The linked article gives good practical recommendations on how to put a wall around your child’s internet access.  Something that must be considered when raising teenagers, especially boys.  It is a follow-up to a previous article written by the same author that I highlighted earlier this week.

4 Ways to Protect your Kids Online

By: Brian Howard

A few months back I wrote a post entitled, A New Way to Keep Pornography Out of Your Home, where I reviewed a Router from Pandora’s Hope. The post was quite popular and continues to be read daily. Since writing the post I have become increasingly aware of the range of ways that are available to help protect families from pornography. I recently read an excellent article on Yahoo’s new technology site that motivated me to do more research into this area. The post, entitled 3 easy ways to protect your kids online, reviews some excellent tools to help families stay proactive with the Internet. Here are the 3, my take, and a link to the Pandora’s Hope router as well.

1. Norton Family Online

Norton Family Online allows you to monitor every site that your kids visit, see everything that they search for, and track their activity across social media. Norton offers a a free version and a paid version. The paid version ($50 per year) adds instant message monitoring, video monitoring, and also monitors mobile devices. On the surface it looks fantastic. Reviews say that the software is buggy at times but it definitely is worth a look.

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A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home

Keep Pornography out of your home

Move the computer to the living room.

Download covenant eyes.

Gain access to all of your students password protected sites.

All valid ways to help keep pornography out of your home but all are also limited.  No one technique is going to be able to provide perfect protection for your students.  That doesn’t mean you stop trying, but it means you take a multifaceted attack.  This article is a new tactic in the war again porn.  One that I think is worth adding to your arsenal.

A New Way to keep Pornography out of your Home

By Brian Howard

Like many of you, I am intensely concerned to keep all forms of pornography out of my home. Over the years, I have repeatedly witnessed the destructive force of pornography in the lives of men, marriages, kids, and the victims of sex industries.

We have four kids that range in age from 8 years old to 14 years old. Between the 6 of us, we have a dozen different devices connected to the web in our home. For years we have used software filters or accountability software to screen out porn. When we recently learned about a new device that promises to keep Internet Porn out of our house, we were excited to give it a try. The device is a router manufactured by Pandora’s Hope. The company promises that it’s router is easy to set up, works on computers and mobile devices, stops pornography at the “Gateway”, and causes no noticeable loss of browser speed. Today, I plugged in my new Pandora’s Hope Router for the first time. Here is my review:

Setup:

The Pandora’s Hope router was a breeze to set up. I plugged it in to my cable modem and one minute later, the lights on the front turned green indicating that it was ready to go. Next, I went to wi-fi on my computer and clicked on the wi-fi network called “Pandora’s Hope Wizard.” It took about 2 minutes after this to configure a username and password and setup was complete. The final step was clicking on the wi-fi Network “Pandora’s Hope”, entering my password, and boom goes the dynamite, I was set up in less than 5 minutes. Setup Grade: A

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5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Another great article from the guys at YM360.  A site full of great resources and articles.  In our ministry we are constantly trying to figure out how to “get the word out” to students and parents.  Here are 5 good ideas to use.

5 Tips For Communicating With Your Students’ Parents

Communicating with your students’ parents is a vital part of any youth ministry. We know this.

And so, here are five suggestions for being awesome at communication.

Use MailChimp

I say use MailChimp because I think it is hands down the best email client out there. I also love their corporate culture. (But you could certainly use Constant Contact or ay of the other email campaign providers.) It will take a little playing around with to get used to but it’s actually very easy to figure out. And the benefits are tremendous. Not only do they offer some really cool template building tools that will save you time (once you get your template “set”) and add an air of professionalism to your communication, but MailChimp will allow you to track exactly who is opening your emails and who isn’t. Which is huge.

Be Consistent

You need good habits in your communication. Send an email twice a month (or weekly if you’re feeling super awesome) no matter what. This creates a habit of expectation in your students’ parents. They will begin to look for (even subconsciously) your timely updates in their Inboxes. You’ll be surprised how consistency leads to higher open rates.

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Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

self-esteemI feel less qualified than usual in writing this post.  I do not have daughters, nor have ever claimed to understand the opposite gender.  Although I do believe this article is very relevant for parents of teenage daughters.  One of my favorite parts of this series is the emphasis on the power of words.  While I agree that words have an effect on guys, I believe that they have a much more powerful effect on girls.  While there are guys who struggle with self-worth and self-doubt, it seems to plague girls.  Words of worth from parents go a long way, especially from a father to a daughter.

ARTICLES

Words are Powerful

Ideas for Creating Traditions

More ideas for Traditions

Other Rites of Passages

Creative Traditions Build Relationships

Simple Influence

Rites of Passage for Your Daughter

by Pam Farrel, Doreen Hanna

The conversation with the group of young women that day had been one of excitement and laughter as they planned the upcoming special Night of Celebration. Each girl’s family would join in a special rite-of-passage ceremony that would culminate with each princess’s father reading a personalized blessing over his daughter. However, after the meeting, one princess was not as excited as the rest of the girls, so I [Doreen] initiated a conversation with her.

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Darla shrugged her shoulders with frustration as I asked if she would please reconsider asking her father to impart her blessing at the ceremony before she asked her youth pastor. With exasperation she began to blurt out her reasons for not wanting to give her father this privilege: “He spends all his time on that dumb computer! I can tell my parents are not happy. I feel like they might be talking about divorce. I wish he’d spend time with me. I know he used to be a Christian because he used to go to church. I hate being at home. I look for something to do every day just to be away from there.”

It was evident that the power of her parents’ words — talk of divorce, as well as a lack of loving words — had begun to kill hope in Darla’s heart.

My heart grieved for her, knowing also that at just 13 years of age she was already dealing with depression. However, I spoke quickly, reminding her that this might be an opportunity to hear her father publicly say things she never thought he knew or noticed about her. I told her that this would be a day she would remember for the rest of her life and, if possible, it would be best remembered with her father.

Lastly, I asked her if she would allow him this opportunity. She begrudgingly agreed and said she’d let me know of his decision within the next few days. The following day, she called.

“Mrs. Hanna, this is Darla.” (Long pause.) “Well, he said yes.”

Her tone of voice reflected an irritated disappointment that he had agreed to participate. However, she changed the subject and with excitement told me of the dress a girlfriend was going to let her borrow and how she was looking forward to celebrating with some of her friends.

After we hung up, I called and spoke with Darla’s dad, Rick. I explained what he needed to do to prepare to impart her blessing. I sensed sincerity in Rick’s voice and felt assured that God was at work.

The night of the ceremony I happened to be standing at the front of the church when Darla and Rick arrived early. As she stepped out of the car, she looked radiant in her beautiful navy blue formal. She ran to find the other girls who were applying their last touches of mascara, lip gloss or blush. All of them were complimenting and helping each other. In the meantime, Rick had searched and found a parking place, then rushed in asking where he was to sit. I saw that he had a yellow pad of paper in hand. The moment he sat down, it was evident he was still jotting down notes in preparation for Darla’s blessing.

The evening moved along smoothly and I soon found myself introducing Darla and Rick. They stepped forward, taking their respective places at the podium. Then Darla folded her arms across her midriff and looked over the heads of the audience. It was so obvious that she was still not happy to be sharing her special moment with her father.

Rick began speaking his blessing with a tone in his voice that reflected tenderness. As Rick’s endearing words poured out, Darla’s arms soon dropped to her side and she looked directly into her father’s eyes. His words were warm, loving and sincere, bringing life back into Darla’s heart. It was evident he truly loved Darla and recognized the importance of this opportunity with his daughter. Darla’s eyes filled with tears and a smile brightened her countenance. Rick, with great delight in his eyes, crowned her with her tiara. Then Darla hugged him warmly. You could hear the sniffles of joy in the audience!

As this celebration came to a close and we headed to the reception, I overheard someone affirming Rick, complimenting him for the powerful words he had spoken into Darla’s life.

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Rites of Passage for your Son

One of my favorite shows that the Discovery channel ever produced was their Human Planet series.  It was a 8 week series that highlighted how different people all over the world live.  My favorite story was from the mountains episode.  It highlight a rite of passage for a 13 yr old boy from Mongolia.  In order to become a man in his culture he must capture, train, and hunt with an eagle.  In the episode you see him climb down the side of a cliff to kidnap a baby eagle from its nest.  You see him train his eagle.  Then you see him while riding horse back through a foot of snow, go hunting with his eagle for a fox.  It has to be one of the most epic and amazing things I have ever seen, especially from a 13 yr old boy.

In all teenagers I believe there is an innate desire to prove themselves.  To show to themselves and others that they have what it take to move up to the next phase of life and responsibility.  Rites of passage do this for both teenage boys and girls.  The next two weeks I will be highlighting two posts from Focus On The Family that address this very issue.  This post and the episode from Human Planet are a reminder that our teenagers can sometime accomplish far more than we give them credit for.  And by creating rites of passage that give them the opportunities to prove themselves we are telling them that we believe in them and see how incredibly awesome God has made them.

I can’t wait to help Maddox and Jonas kidnap their first eagle and go fox hunting in Mongolia.

In this first post I will highlight Rites of Passages for Your Son. It contains 6 articles that give great ideas for each stage in a teenage boys development.

ARTICLES

Initiating Sons Into Manhood

Puberty: The ‘Page’ Stage

High School Graduation: The Squire Stage

College Graduation: The Knight Stage

Marriage: The Promise/Oath Stage

Your Son Wants You to Notice Him

 

Rites of Passage for Your Son

by Robert Lewis

David Wills faced a monumental task. Governor Andrew Curtin of Pennsylvania appointed him to oversee the burial of thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers at Gettysburg. In addition, the 32-year-old attorney was to plan a dedication ceremony for this pivotal Civil War battle.

The task was daunting. Following the July 1863 conflict, Gettysburg had taken on the appearance — and the stench — of an open-air mortuary. Thousands of human bodies lay scattered over the fields and hills, decaying in the heat. Others were buried but, as Willis reported to Governor Curtin, “in many instances arms and legs and sometimes heads protrude, and my attention had been directed to several places where the hogs were actually rooting out the bofocus-logodies and devouring them.”1 Human scavengers picked at the exposed bodies for anything of value. Meanwhile, grieving relatives scoured the fields, searching for fathers and sons. Gettysburg had become a “carnival of carnage.” Like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, the grisly features of death were pervasive, revolting, visceral.

Something had to be done. David Wills did it. But at every turn, he was like a man stumbling in the dark. He started by forming an interstate commission to finance the project. Seventeen acres were purchased for a cemetery, and a company was retained to exhume, prepare and bury the bodies. (Willis had hoped to have the burial completed before the November ceremony, but it wouldn’t be finished until the following spring.)

Having resolved the pressing issues of burial and hygiene, the agent turned his attention toward the ceremony itself. Willis desired to memorialize the sacrifices of these brave men by staging an elaborate ceremony. According to the conventional wisdom of his day, this entailed securing a powerful orator who could lend dignity to the event, someone who would speak for two hours (as was the custom) and bring a lofty perspective to the proceedings. Without question, Edward Everett was the man.

An Ivy League scholar and former Secretary of State, Everett was considered the preeminent orator of his generation. He had dedicated the battlefields at Lexington and Concord as well as Bunker Hill. Almost as an afterthought, David Wills also extended an invitation — two months later — to President Lincoln, with the request that Lincoln deliver only “a few appropriate remarks.”

On November 19, 1863, an estimated 20,000 people gathered for the ceremony. They had traveled by horse, train and carriage from as far away as Minnesota to participate in the event. Under a blue sky, Lincoln and Everett, along with a host of other dignitaries, sat on a raised platform amid a sea of onlookers.

The ceremony began. First there was music. Then a prayer. And more music. Then it was time for the keynote address. Edward Everett’s presentation was worthy of his reputation. For two hours, he held the crowd in thrall with his fiery language, his childlike animation and his detailed description of the battle.

Following a hymn, Lincoln stepped to the podium. “Four score and seven years ago,” he began … and before anyone knew it, he was finished. The crowd, which hadn’t expected much, was still surprised by the brevity of his speech. Historian Garry Wills, in his much-acclaimed book Lincoln at Gettysburg, alludes to the story of a photographer who, expecting the president to be at the podium for a while, missed his shot while he slowly set up his camera.2 In 272 words, the president said what he wanted to say and then sat down. The choir sang a dirge, the Reverend H.L. Baugher gave the benediction, and it was over.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Parenting: The Hats You Wear

From the guys at “More than Dodgeball” here is a simple post that re-enforces most of what you read on parenting.  Notice that none of the hats you wear as a parent are “friend.”

Parenting: The Hats You Wear

by: Kurt Johnson

As a parent, you will find yourself wearing multiple hats, playing a variety of roles in the life of your child(ren). I’d like to list a few of the more prominent hats you will wear as you raise your kids. This list is both linear, in that there is a sort of progression through these roles as your children grow, and completely non-linear in that you will also find yourself constantly jumping between roles, wearing multiple hats at one time, etc. regardless of the age of your children.

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Tips for Parenting Teenwolfs

Raising teenagers is like trying to tame a wild animal, at least, so I’m told.  I find it ironic that I’m going to attempt to equip parents on how to be a parent to teens, even though I don’t have a teenager and am a long way from having one. (10 years)  So while I’ll acknowledge that irony, I will still pursue this effort because it is needed.  As a theme within this blog, I ascribe to know very little, if anything at all, but rather will attempt to point you to someone who does, namely Jesus.

Today’s post comes from Focus on the Family.  Focus on the Family is global Christian ministry dedicated to helping families thrive.  They provide help and resources for couples to build healthy marriages that reflect God’s design, and for parents to raise their children according to morals and values grounded in biblical principles.  They have a “teen” section on their site that is full of articles and tips to help parents navigate the murky waters of raising teenagers.

I’ll do my best to highlight the ones that I find most helpful, practical, or encouraging.  This series is titled, “Tips for Parenting Teens.”  It is a 6 article series with very practical tips on parenting teens.  The first article is an overview of the series and then each following article highlights a different aspect of parenting teens.  Instead of breaking this post into 6 separate posts, I’ve linked each of the 5 main articles below, not including the overview.  I will later highlight specific sections of some of these articles in a later post, but not all 5.

Articles in the Series

Walking Alongside Your Teen

Being Available for Your Teen

Tools for Listening to Your Teen

How to Talk to a Reluctant Teen

Being a Diligent Parent

While I don’t have experience being a parent to teenagers, I do have experience being a parent.  I also have experience working with teenagers.  That doesn’t me an expert, just a student of both, just like you.  A reoccurring statement I hope you notice is the idea of working intentionally, not perfectly.  Parents must be intentional.  Leaders must be intentional.  Do not get discouraged if you are not perfect, but strive to be intentional.  Not perfectly, but intentionally.

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Tips for Parenting Teens

An old Ozark Mountain “hillbilly” friend shared some wisdom with my dad a few years ago: “The older I get, the less I know for sure!” That’s how I felt when I was raising my teen girls. I couldn’t figure out the intricacies of dad-and-daughter psychology. But I worked and prayed and cried over it more than I care to remember!

Don’t get me wrong: My daughters were my pride and joy, and I tried every way I could to be the perfect dad. But, man, how many times I failed! I was clumsy and always seemed to be “say­ing it wrong.” I give God and their mom all the credit for the amazing, godly young ladies they were and are today.

During those turbulent and often disillusioning days, all I knew to do was spend time with my girls. Fortunately, that turned out to be the key to the relationship I wanted so badly.

My connecting point with daughter Courtney was on her early morning jogs. She wanted to run three to six miles at 6:15 A.M., so we hit the pavement together. I had to follow her rules, though:

  1. We ran at her pace.
  2. She did all the talking.
  3. I did all the listening.

When I tried to change the pace (a mistake I only made once) or tried to give unsolicited advice (probably more than once), I was quickly corrected and reminded of “the rules.”

I still look back on those early morning “joggers” as some of the most important hours I’ll ever spend in my life. That’s when I learned how vital it is to walk (or run) alongside our teens.

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Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

Top Ten lists are great because you can read the list and then read only about the one’s that you are interested in.  Here are 10 mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make.  If you’ve made a few or all of them, repent, refocus, and get started.  Remember, you don’t have to be perfect, just intentional.  This list is not ground breaking, but it is a good reminder of what not to do when it comes to teenagers.

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

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It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make

10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

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