Well, we’re back! This week we talk about our vacation, Teen Vogue, a kidney transplant, sleeping in church, and more!
Click here to go to my Facebook page and enter the giveaway we talk about!
I remember reading about Felix Manz when I was in college. I read about how he was taken out to a freezing river in the middle of a bitter Zurich winter, how he was tied up and thrown into the frigid waters, the “third baptism,” they called it, for the Anabaptist who had dared to teach adult baptism. Like most Christian young people, I was fascinated by the stories of the martyrs and spent quite a bit of time reading the dramatic accounts of their steadfast faith, even to the point of death. I suppose when you are a young, spoiled American Christian, it can help put things into perspective for you to read about what Christians through history have endured. And, today, to see what kind of persecution is so rampant all around the world. It will cause you to sit up a little straighter. To consider how easily that you are distracted and led astray. It will cause you to wonder what you would really do if it were you. You, kneeling on a beach someplace, about to be beheaded for believing with all your heart that Jesus is real, that the Bible is true, that real truth is worth dying for.
Yet, it wasn’t Felix Manz’s death that intrigued me so much. It was a different part of the story that has caused his last day to stay firmly planted in my mind for all these years. While Felix was being led through the streets of Zurich to his certain death, his mother was nearby, watching the nightmare unfold. And, all the while, the crowd that had gathered could hear her crying out to her precious son, encouraging him to stand firm, to remain true to Christ is this hour of such great temptation. There she stood, I imagine, in horrible agony as she watched them tie his arms to the stick they had jammed up behind his knees, singing out all the while for him to go into his cold, watery grave with complete trust in Jesus. And, then she watched as they tipped him into the water, disappeared from her life forever. I wonder how many scenes of his childhood pulsed through her mind at that moment? Yet, she never wavered. She knew, as she had taught her dear son, that a man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.*
It takes an all-consuming faith to produce Christians like Felix Manz and his mother. It takes a singular focus. It takes soul-encompassing commitment to living a life that sings out the refrain every day: This is all that matters. This is all that matters. Unless we beg God to transform us into people who are passionately driven to glorify Him in every move, then I fear that we are not becoming and are not producing in our children the kind of Christians who would stand for Christ to the difficult end of a persecuted life.
Lately I have felt such a sense of urgency. Why are Christians continuing to treat this faith as if it is a poorly producing side business in the middle of a hugely prosperous life? Why are Christians abandoning their church families so their kids can play baseball on Sundays? Why are Christians refusing to teach their children the hard truths of Scripture, and why are they reluctant to learn them themselves? Why are Christians satisfied with a faith that only vaguely informs their decisions, that only mildly affects their thinking, that only produces warm feelings and never heart-crushing, soul-wrenching grief over their sin?
It’s probably because many who claim to be Christians actually aren’t. When real persecution comes, those people will fall away quickly. Their half-hearted attempts to live as Christians will turn into no attempt at all, and they will no longer identify with the Bride of Christ.
But, the rest of us. We must think about where the trajectory of our current faith life will lead us and our children. Are we giving ourselves over completely to the God who saves, saying with our every breath that He is all, that He is worthy of our life and our death and anything else in between? Are we beginning now to build a faith within our family that will truly be able to withstand harsh and terrible and cruel and unreasonable persecution, should it come knocking at our door? Are we teaching our children how to live for Christ and how it is an honor and a joy to suffer with Him, even to die for the glory of His name? If we should ever be called to sacrifice our lives for this Truth that we know, will our hearts and souls and minds be prepared, because of an all-consuming, life-long obsession with Jesus Christ, to die for His sake? To cheer our children on to stand firm if they are called to lay down their precious bodies that we love?
I fear that most of us are so far removed from that type of faith that we hardly even understand what it would look like.
Our children are facing a different world than we have known. Their faith is going to have to be real and alive and immune to the mesmerizing but useless distractions of this world. Our children are going to need a faith that devours their entire lives, that dominates every thought, that changes the way they see and hear and understand everything around them. We simply cannot continue to categorize our lives, badly arranging our priorities around things that don’t last. If we keep sending the message that this faith is just part of our lives and not the only thing that matters, then our children will continue to believe us.
They will settle for a version of Christianity that will not stand. That will not speak. That will not mean much more to their lives than a basic hope of being rescued from Hell. And, when persecution comes, it will be a faith that doesn’t lead them into obedience and courage and self-sacrifice, but rebellion and fear and self-preservation. And, the truth is that such a faith offers little hope of salvation. Is it possible that we are leading our children into a counterfeit faith?
We love our comfort too much. Our entertainment. Our popularity. We prioritize happiness over Godliness. We see no joy in suffering. We see no reason to deny ourselves. And, we are thrilled if we make it to worship twice a month.
It will show. When persecution comes. It will show.
Now is the time to decide that this faith is all or nothing. This is how we lead our children into holiness, into steadfastness, into perseverance. We live it now so that we can live it on the day that persecution comes. We live it now so that one day when we are long gone, if our children are called to lay down their lives for this great and glorious faith, they will still hear our voices crying out: Stand firm. Remain true to Christ, even in this hour of great temptation.
**This giveaway has ended. See winners and get an exclusive discount code here.**
One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about being a parent is introducing my kids to music. Now that Sawyer and Adelade have discovered Spotify, they’re constantly finding old music that is blowing their little minds. The day they first heard “Jesus Freak” was a great day in our house. And, seeing them walking around with their little tablets listening to Buddy Holly or Elvis or Keith Green is just too much fun.
I love sitting next to them in church during worship. I look down the row to watch them sing along, all of us praising God together, and I’m struck by what an incredible gift that music really is. God created so many things in this world for us to enjoy and to use as a means to know Him better and glorify Him more. He didn’t have to do that. But, He did, because He’s so incredibly good.
I want to instill a love for worship music in my kids. So, imagine how excited I was when I learned about a collection of hymns and worship songs for the nursery! Yes, you read that right. Tried and true hymns and our favorite modern worship songs, blended together beautifully without an ounce of contention, and orchestrated to soothe and calm babies and young children. You must go and listen to the peaceful renditions of some of your favorites at Worship Lullaby.
A worship leader created this collection of 24 songs because he has a passion for seeing the church pass down songs of faith to our young ones. You’ll hear everything from “Be Thou My Vision” to “Oceans,” played with whimsical sounds and soothing chimes.
I can’t think of a better or more meaningful gift for the babies and children in our lives. If we want to soothe them and uplift them, why not use worship music? It’s never too early to share the gift of music with our little ones.
The sweet people at Worship Lullaby are doing a giveaway for my readers! TWO of you will win the entire collection on CD! If you can’t wait, you can order CDs or buy an instant download here. To enter below, just leave a comment and tell me who you would give this music to.
The contest ends next Monday, October 31st, at 10pm. Winners will be announced on November 1st! Be sure to check back to see if you won AND to get an exclusive coupon code for Your Mom Has a Blog readers.
This week I was browsing the comments on a friend’s Facebook page. Her son has just suffered a spinal injury and is now at the beginning of a long road to recovery. A wise occupational therapist advised her to keep in mind that even though she and her son are going to have lots of intersecting points on their journeys through this hard time, they are, in fact, each on their own journey.
At first glance that might look like a bunch of psychobabble to some. But, the more I’ve thought it over, the more I’ve come to decide that there is deep truth in what this man wrote. In fact, the truths that he alludes to are much deeper than an occupational therapist’s advice to a patient. What he said is startlingly true for parents and children of all ages, stages, and circumstances. And, Christian parents especially need to consider this man’s advice.
It’s easy for us to impose our own feelings and wants and needs onto our children. We get frustrated when our kids don’t desire the same outcomes that we do. But, in the end we see them as little extensions of ourselves, and because of that we tend to gloss over their sin problems and assume that God is working to sanctify them.
But, what if He isn’t?
What if we need to be on our knees, begging God to save their souls? What if we considered the fact that they are on a completely different journey, and that God may deal with them in a completely different way?
Too often Christian parents assume that our kids are going to be okay. We spend more time praying that they stay healthy than we do praying that He will bust their hearts wide open and set up residence there. We have to begin thinking of our kids as more than extensions of ourselves. They aren’t guaranteed to come to Christ just because we did. They aren’t necessarily going to be rebellious just because we were or goody-goodies because we were. We must deal with our children as individuals, and we must remember that God has His own plans and ways of speaking to our children.
In short, their journey is separate from ours.
Their hurts are different. Their temptations are different. Their weaknesses are different, and so are their strengths. There are many places on the road to sanctification where our paths will cross. Where our journeys will intertwine. But, make no mistake: our kids are on their own journey. It may be a short road to Jesus or a long and winding one, but let us never assume that our prayers aren’t needed. That our witness doesn’t matter. That our kids know how we “really” feel, even if they see us behaving in ungodly ways.
Let’s stop thinking of our parenthood as a way to drag our kids along on our path. Once we recognize that they are on their own journey, that we can’t force them to love Jesus, I guarantee that it will change the way we pray. The way we talk to them about the things of God. The way that we live in front of them. Are we walking our own path in a way that would make our kids want to go the narrow way of Jesus? Or are we unwittingly encouraging them to take every wide and busy and dangerous road that leads far from Him?
Chad told me about an exchange that he overheard between a missionary and her little child in Ecuador. The little girl asked, “Mama, when are we going to get a new car?” The dear mother answered, “We can pray for a new car, but for now Jesus is sustaining this one.” That’s a parent who understands how to instill a love for Christ in her babies. Can she force that sweet little girl to follow Jesus? No. But, by making her own journey one of authentic love and appreciation for the Savior, that mama is helping her little girl along in her journey toward Him.
Are we walking the path set before us in such a way? I feel a deep conviction that I am not. Ever the rule follower, am I satisfied to see my kids have a relationship with rules when I ought to be on my knees praying that God will show Himself to them in such a real way that they are never the same? Am I speaking about others in a way that makes them wonder what is so Christian about Christianity? Am I grumbling and complaining more than I am praising and encouraging?
Here we are, you and I, standing on the path that leads to glory. Are we acting like it? And, are we desperate to see our children experience the miracle of a real and authentic love for Jesus? Their journey is their own. Are we doing all we can to bless their pathway? Or are we sending them down all the wrong roads, assuming that it’ll all work out in the end?
When our children stand before God, they will do it alone. We won’t be there to make excuses or to argue in their defense. This is our time, right now, to get serious about our kids’ salvation. To get desperate to see them commit to Christ and follow Him down whichever path He has laid out for them. Just the mere thought of that day of judgment should inspire us to give up our lukewarm Christianity in favor of a reckless faith. We can’t be satisfied in thinking that they will be good, church-going Christians someday–we have to want more for ourselves and more for them.
Everyone is on a journey. Our children may be walking in their own way and at their own pace. But, one thing they should never wonder is what their parents’ journeys are all about. If it’s anything other than adoring Christ and living for Him, we are giving our kids a faulty roadmap that leads to noplace. They may find their way regardless, but their road is likely to be long and rocky and painful. Let’s bless their journey by walking in true faith, love, repentance, and soul-deep prayer for their salvation and perseverance in their walk.
And if, despite everything, our kids still choose to take the wide, smooth roads that lead away from Jesus, we will at least have the assurance that we are journeying in the ways that please God, and we will trust Him to bring them back to the narrow way.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. Matthew 7:13
This week Chad has been out of the country. In Ecuador, to be exact, teaching indigenous pastors church history. These are pastors who are laboring to share the gospel with little or no education. Some can’t even read. Yet, they are being faithful to the calling that God placed on their lives, and Chad has become one small part of that calling by helping to equip the pastors to do the work.
Meanwhile, I am trying to stay true to the calling God has placed on my life: taking care of little human beings who look an awful lot like their temporarily absent daddy. In many ways it’s been a trying few days for my people. Emerald cried and cried the night before he left, begging him not to go, and tonight she cried again, like her heart was breaking into a million pieces, declaring through her tears that she “can’t last” until Daddy comes home. She wants him home tomorrow, and is worried that he will somehow get hopelessly lost and never find his way back.
I didn’t tell her that he has no sense of direction.
Instead, I assured her that he is with people who know exactly where they’re going, and they won’t let him get lost.
To add to Emerald’s trauma, today I was just trying to get into my mom’s car when I somehow slammed the corner of the car door right into my brow bone. Of course, it left a huge gash. Of course, I had to get stitches. I think Emerald was certain I would never recover, but here I am, beat up, but still going, wondering when my “awkward phase” is going to pass. I messaged Chad to tell him what I had done, and he wasn’t the least bit surprised.
Adelade has also shed some tears this week. Yesterday she arrived at school a little bit tear-stained, and her sweet friend took note. When we got home from dance class last night, this dear little girl arrived at our door with a gift–chocolate and a precious letter written to cheer and encourage her out of sorts friend. It was filled with words of faith and life and assurance.
As I read and re-read her incredibly wise words, I thought about how a little over a year ago, this sweet child, Adelade’s buddy, had made a profession of faith in Jesus. And, here I was, standing in our living room, looking at her words which so clearly expressed the faith that she has been living out in the past year. She was an instrument of God’s peace and compassion at eleven years old. The words she wrote were true, about God’s loving kindness, His sovereignty, His goodness.
And, I was struck by my own lack of faith. I think that I know who God will use, and then a sweet brown haired sixth grader shows up and God radiates out of her like early morning sunshine. I forgot that God has a history of using the least likely people. He has spent forever passing over “important” people in favor of the small folks. In fact, He spoke to little Samuel when grown priests slept closeby. He named a little shepherd boy the king of His people when mightier men stood ready to serve. He chose a teenaged girl to be the mother of His only son.
Why is it that I don’t tend to think that God will do enormous and miraculous things through children? Why do I insist on thinking that adults are more likely to have a clear understanding of who God is, when He obviously values the big faith that children are so good at maintaining?
When I saw that little letter from Adelade’s friend, written in big, girly print on typically bright pink paper, I had to repent for my own lack of understanding. Surely I should have learned by now that God looks not at the outward appearance, but at the heart. And there is where He begins his work, one little child, one homeless man, one stay-at-home mom, one unlikely source at a time. And, all we really have to do is sit back and watch Him do His wonders.
Adelade ate three squares of an enormous Hershey bar while she read her sweet friend’s letter. And, despite her rough day, she smiled. It was like God had infused her spirit with His hope, peace, and love, all because of one little girl who acted on the idea that the Holy Spirit surely whispered into her willing heart.
You may be young. You may be a little person in the middle of a great big world. You may be the hot shot that everyone expects to do great things for God. You may be a mama who feels invisible or a senior adult who feels tired and useless. The truth is, each and every one of us is an unlikely vessel for God’s work. Yet, every one of us can be used by Him. He is that good.
Chad is off doing amazing work for Jesus while I am checking homework and trying to learn how to open car doors safely. But, Adelade’s sweet friend reminded me that we are all capable of being used by Him. I’m grateful that he sent a darling junior high girl to minister to our family. Maybe He knew how much we all needed to remember that He looks at the heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Parents, if you weren’t aware that you are engaged in a battle with the world for the hearts and minds of your little children, it should have become crystal clear to you the moment the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend hashtag surfaced. For too long we have been living in a sort of twilight sleep, telling ourselves that the culture around us is benign. That it’s not so bad for our kids to listen to that music or watch those TV shows. That funny movies are, of course, going to have some off-color stuff in them. But, honestly, our kids will hear worse than this at school tomorrow. That cell phones aren’t a temptation to sin for our kids because THEY would NEVER look at things they shouldn’t.
And then one morning we wake up to a hashtag and we finally start to understand that everything about this culture is lined up in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches. What took us so long?
Things have changed, dear parents. The way we live has to change. Christianity is about to become the most radical mission we were ever a part of, if we’re doing it right. We aren’t culture warriors anymore–the culture is lost and we aren’t getting it back. But, our children are still ours. And, I propose that it’s going to take some radical reform in our homes in order to lead them in Christ’s way.
The hashtag isn’t really about Elsa. At least, that isn’t what should concern us, even if our house is filled with her (and ours is). It’s really just a symptom of the enormous, dark, devastating problem of a culture that has grown more and more convinced that the Bible isn’t true. So convinced, in fact, that the Bible really isn’t even a consideration anymore.
I’ll be surprised if Elsa actually ends up with a girlfriend. But, it’s only a matter of very little time before a gay princess emerges. Or until a character on a teen show on Nickelodeon is speaking against Christian beliefs the way they speak against racism or bullying. The dark, godless culture that our kids are growing up in is coming for them. The worst part is that it looks like love and acceptance, like kindness. Satan disguised as an angel of light.
So, how do we combat the coming darkness? How do we plant God’s word in our kids’ hearts? How do we make sure that our teachings take root and the culture’s lies don’t?
We have to live the truth.
We have to walk in love.
We have to be committed to living in opposition to a culture that lives in opposition to Christ.
I’m not talking boycotts or protests. I’m talking about living what we say we believe. I’m talking about examining what kind of influences we allow to stream into our homes. And, I’m talking about having the courage to make some radical changes in our lives and our kids’ lives. What will it take? Getting rid of kids’ cell phones, maybe. Getting rid of TV? Saying no more often. Being in our kids’ business. Teaching theology at home. Learning the why behind what we believe and teaching it to our kids.
Let’s stop allowing a godless culture to yell its “truth” at our kids all day while we barely croak out a whisper about Jesus Christ and His Truth. I don’t know if Elsa will get a girlfriend, but it doesn’t really matter. The next princess will. What this hashtag shows us is that we have been fooling ourselves for too long about this world’s intentions for our kids. We buried our heads in the sand until one day, we looked up and wordly wisdom was gunning for our four year old Elsa fanatics. The battle for the culture is over. But, the battle for our kids’ hearts and minds and very souls is just getting started. How far will we go to show our kids the foolishness of this world and the wisdom of our good God? I hope we don’t care more about cell phones and pop culture and funny movies than we care about our kids’ knowledge of Christ. Radical changes need to be made. In our habits. In our hearts. In our homes. If we don’t teach our kids the truth of the gospel, if we don’t show them that sin is bad for them and that Christ’s way is the best way, then this world will teach them the opposite. The culture isn’t a friend that helps us reinforce the truth anymore. It’s a direct enemy of the Truth. And, our knowledge of that reality needs to start showing up in our parenting.
The battle for our kids is real. And, it’s raging, whether we admit it or not. Let it be known that our families live according to the truth of God’s word. And, as that idea gets more and more radical in a culture that hates God, let’s keep going, living lives that prove to our kids how serious we are about living according to His word. This battle isn’t about hating anyone. It isn’t about getting the last word or yelling louder or boycotting. It’s about living quiet lives that are truly dedicated to the Truth. It’s about loving people enough to show them what Christianity looks like, lived out in a hostile culture. It’s about refusing to compromise our families for the sake of entertainment or popularity or ease. We can be warriors and still be good neighbors and friends. But, we can’t afford to spend any more time trying to convince ourselves that the culture belongs to us. It’s over, dear Christians. But, the truth of God’s word is eternal. Cling to the truth, and anchor your family to it. In the coming days, it will make all the difference.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 10:22
Today I saw a hilarious video that shows three mothers talking about all of the ways they’re failing at motherhood, according to all the articles and videos that have been passed around on Facebook.
I’m a terrible mom, one laments. I told Valerie she was pretty.
Oh no! another scolds her. Didn’t you get that article I sent you?
I know! I forgot! says the bad mother. I’m not supposed to comment on her appearance. I’m just supposed to say, “You exist.”
And, they go on and on confessing all of the ways that they are messing up this parenting gig, according to the internet. We mamas laugh at the video because it is true that being a mother these days is fraught will all kinds of ridiculous warnings and threats that we are ruining our children. We really do live with constant panic over all the things we are or aren’t supposed to be saying and doing.
But, we have got to stop, and here’s why.
The majority of the articles and parenting advice that float around the internet are dispensed by people who have a completely opposite worldview of the one that we have as Christians. So, we Christian mamas need to stop letting people who have no understanding of our values or priorities decide how we need to be raising our kids. We wouldn’t go down to the office of an atheist professor and ask him for parenting advice. We would go to our pastor or to a trusted church friend or to our parents. So, why do we read a bunch of articles written by people who are lost and wandering and clinging to nothing but humanistic psychology and worldly wisdom and then get all worked up if we aren’t doing things the way they say we should?
We have a guide for raising our children: it’s the Bible. We have a community for supporting us and offering help and advice when we need it: our church. And, if we want to take to the internet to seek parenting wisdom, let’s go to people who have the same goals in mind as we do: raising godly, kind, humble kids who are confident that they are children of the one true God, and are poised to do great things for His kingdom.
Everything else is just fuel for unwarranted mom guilt.
It’s time to filter, mamas. It’s time to consider the source. Then we’ll begin to break the chains that have been forged between our hands and feet and the world’s ridiculous, kid-centered wisdom. We’ll remember that we, dear mothers, are the hands and feet of Christ, in our homes, and in the lives of our kids. And, He has perfectly equipped us to do His work here.
Click on the video below to see the hilarious parody of modern motherhood, which is just a little too close to reality.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a senior girl took it upon herself to tell me about her sexual experience. She knew that she was speaking to someone who was notoriously naive and inexperienced, and I could tell that she relished the opportunity to educate me in these few minutes at the end of a study hall. I’ll never forget her telling me:
Of course, we don’t have sex when I’m on my period, because I don’t want to get pregnant!
I smiled and nodded, wondering how a girl could get to be 18 years old and sexually active with so little understanding of how procreation actually works. She honestly thought that the week of her period was her most fertile week of the month. By some miracle, she made it out of high school without getting pregnant, but it wasn’t because she was being smart about it. She had obviously been misinformed, probably by another girl or her boyfriend, all because their parents assumed that kids find out how this stuff works SOMEWHERE, and they were personally far too embarrassed to bring up the subject with their kids.
To top it off, this girl had no notion at all that what she was doing might be the wrong thing. She certainly didn’t seem to think having sex with her boyfriend was something to keep quiet about. She was proud of what she was doing.
That was back in the early 90s, which were utterly wholesome times compared to the world that our kids are now growing up in. Internet pornography has changed everything about our culture, and our children are more vulnerable than ever before, to experience abuse, unexpected pregnancy, sexual addiction, and unhealthy and damaging views of sex.
Christian homes should be the most open, honest, and comfortable places for kids and teens to learn and ask questions about sex. Let me make my case, Christian parents. If you are embarrassed to talk to your kids about sex, get over it. Here’s why.
The world is already teaching our kids about sex.
It’s teaching them that sex is casual. Selfish. It says that sex is purely physical. That it means nothing. That it is about feeling good and getting what you want and nothing more. The world tells our kids that they are sexual objects. That they are only worth as much as another person’s level of sexual desire for them. It says that if they aren’t having sex they’re worthless, and that if they are having sex, they’re sluts. This world tells even our youngest little ones that they are defined by their physical attributes. It tells them that they exist for sexual pleasure and that they are even identified by what kind of sexual desires that they have.
As Christian parents we MUST be the very first people in our kids’ lives to educate them about sex. We need to explain from the beginning what God created it to be. About the sacred beauty of marriage. And, we need to work to de-emphasize the all-encompassing sexual obsession of our culture. The only way we can do that is by talking honestly about sex with our kids, from younger-than-you-think ages. It’s our job to place sex in the proper context, to provide our kids with a God-centered view of themselves and what sex was created to be. If we don’t teach our kids about sex, plenty of other people with a completely different set of values and an opposite worldview will gladly step up to do the job.
Pornography is coming for our kids.
The pornography industry wants to get our kids hooked, like it got so many boys in my generation hooked. It is a huge, insidious machine that wants nothing more than to continue raking in billions of dollars at the expense of families everywhere. If you think your kids are immune, that they “would never look at that,” then you are sadly mistaken. As Christian parents, we should already be talking about pornography before our kids are ever exposed. We should be warning about the dangers of the internet, and we MUST install internet filters on ALL devices that our families own. If we aren’t doing this, we’re throwing our kids straight into the waiting jaws of the pornographers.
We are pro-life.
We may sign every pro-life petition that comes our way. We may constantly preach about the sanctity of life. We may donate money to a crisis pregnancy center. But, if we aren’t talking to our kids about sex (not just once, but throughout their childhood and teen years), then we are truly failing to live out our pro-life views within our own family. We can’t send our children out there with no sense of what sex was designed to be and with no real knowledge of how their bodies work or how reproduction happens. We MUST be open with our kids and acknowledge how strong sexual desire is and how hard it can be to wait until marriage. We need to instill in our kids a reverence for marriage and for their future spouse, and above all, we must show our kids that holiness is a life-long pursuit that includes the difficulty of denying ourselves sexual pleasure until marriage. A huge part of the pro-life movement is and should be sex education. It starts with us.
Sexual orientation isn’t a given.
In this strange culture that our kids are growing up in, many will begin to question their sexual orientation or even be told by others that they are gay. They need to be able to talk to us when these questions come up. We should be there to reassure them, to guide them in working through their fears, and to constantly be streaming the word of God in their ear, always leading them back to the holiness and goodness of God. The last thing I want is for my children to feel like I am not where they can turn if these feelings come up. I want to be the first place they run to, and I will be if we have a long history of talking openly about sex.
If we start young, we can easily keep the conversation going.
If your child is a teenager and you haven’t opened up a conversation about sex, just do it. It will be awkward and weird, but don’t miss your opportunity to influence him, here and now, while you have him in your house. Invite him to share his struggles with you, and give him godly guidance, even if he doesn’t act like he wants to hear it. He needs to hear it.
But, if you have younger kids, you have a golden opportunity to open this conversation during a phase of life when they aren’t self-conscious and embarrassed. Start small in age-appropriate ways, and begin an open-ended, on-going discussion that leaves plenty of room for questions and honest talk. And, don’t stop talking. Just keep it going. Check in every once in awhile. Ask questions about what she has heard. Find out if she has questions to ask you. If you are especially feeling awkward about it, talk in the car so that you don’t have to look each other in the face. You may both talk more easily that way.
As Christian parents, we want to disciple our kids and lead them in the ways of God. We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that sex education isn’t a huge part of discipleship. Sexual sin is dangerous and rampant, and it always has been. We can’t help our kids deal with the incredible pull of sexual desire unless we talk about it. Will it feel awkward? Maybe, at first. But, it’s nothing we can’t handle. Sex shouldn’t be a dirty word in Christian homes. If we want our kids to think biblically about sex and about their own worth, then we have to teach them what the Bible says about it, one conversation at a time.
Tonight I was filling cups with ice in the kitchen for our Wednesday night meal at church. Three year old Emerald and her buddy Kendall were sitting on the counter next to me, chatting. When it was time to bless the meal, I told the girls to bow their heads and close their eyes. They did. But, right as the prayer started, I peeked at the girls just as Emerald leaned over toward her friend and whispered, I don’t like praying.
I shushed her again and giggled to myself about the pastor’s child feeling the need to say that out loud during the blessing. But, in my younger years as a mother, a comment like that from one of my kids would have shook me up. I probably would have wondered what I’m doing wrong or if she is already beginning to resent church. But, the longer I have mothered and the longer I have watched my children grow and change, the more I have learned that comments like this mean very little about the spiritual health of my kids. So, I thought it might be helpful to compile a small list of things that should NOT make you panic as a Christian parent.
Christian Kids Having Doubts
This topic comes up from time to time in our house. Our ten year old has been a Christian for several years, but she will occasionally come to us and bring up some objections that people have to the truths of Scripture. She will ask us how we know that God is real, and that Christianity is true. This is not something that should cause us, as parents, to freak out and decide that if our kids are bringing up these questions, then they don’t truly believe.
The fact is that it’s great for kids to ask these questions and to have their faith strengthened by the answers. Christian parents sometimes live under the false notion that if kids want further proof of the truth of Scripture, then they don’t have enough faith or they don’t understand their salvation. This is not necessarily true. Children, like all people, grow in knowledge when they ask questions, especially weighty questions. When my kids ask, What about this? What about that? it shows me that they aren’t just blindly repeating back to us what they’ve heard in Sunday school, but they’re critically thinking through their faith and what Christianity means and how it came to be and why it matters. Christianity is not just a faith of the heart or soul. It’s also a faith of the mind, and we shouldn’t be worried when our kids want to engage in discussions that show they’re thinking. In fact, we should be encouraged by it.
Kids Not Wanting to Go to Church
We would all love to have our kids cheer with excitement when we say we’re going to church, but that doesn’t always happen. It doesn’t mean that our kids are being scarred for life or that they are having a bad experience in church.
Sometimes kids just aren’t feeling it. They would rather stay home and play with their toys. They find parts of church boring. When Adelade was a baby, she actually had a personality conflict with another baby in the nursery. It was the weirdest thing. But, it happens.
It’s always a good idea to talk with your kids and make sure that nothing is going on at church that needs to be dealt with. But, in most cases, kids are just moody little beings, and they don’t always want to go where we want them to go. We don’t panic when our child who loves McDonald’s is in a funk and insists that he doesn’t want to eat there. So, there’s really no reason to read too much into a child’s protests about going to church. Our job as parents is just to be faithful to have our kids there, and if the programming needs improvement, if we can see why our kids are complaining, then we should step in, volunteer, help out, and try to make it a better, more fun, more inviting environment for them.
Kids Lying, Talking Back, Being Stubborn, Being Selfish
Sinners are gonna sin. We should absolutely hold our kids to high standards of behavior. But, we can’t and shouldn’t decide that because eight year olds will occasionally tell a lie to try to get themselves out of trouble, that they are not being called and changed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t care. We should care more than anyone else when our kids are sinning. We should care, and we should establish firm limits and we should be consistent in our discipline. But, we should not blow things out of proportion because of our fears or our embarrassment. As Christian parents, we always have to keep in mind that our kids need grace just as much as we do. Not a lack of discipline, but understanding in conjunction with the discipline, because we all know how it feels to sin, to disobey, to be corrected. When we panic about our child’s behavior, we tend to overreact, get sinfully angry, and fail to teach the appropriate spiritual lessons that would point our kids toward Christ.
Kids say and do lots of things in the course of their childhoods. Not everything is a red flag. If we parent with prayer and backbone and grace and lots of deep breaths, then I think God can use us to consistently direct our kids in His ways. We are called to this job, so that means if we keep seeking His face, He will equip us to do what’s best. Happy panic-free parenting!
Recently I saw a video online that was made by an angry mother. Her daughter had been getting in trouble in class, and this mother decided to go to school and sit in all of the girl’s classes with her. Now, as a former teacher I have seen this happen, and generally when a mother or father comes to school to sit in class with their child, their mere presence is enough to embarrass the child and make them think twice before acting up again.
But, this mother not only went to all of her daughter’s classes, she videoed herself walking behind her daughter, mocking and taunting her all the way from one class to another. The mother was extremely proud of herself for being at school. She made fun of her daughter, praised herself, and basically bullied the child in front of the other students and whoever happened to watch the video on the internet.
I’ve seen this and other videos of this type floating around, usually with titles like, “Now THIS is a Great Mother” or “This is What Real Parenting Looks Like.” But, unfortunately this type of social media spectacle isn’t really about parenting or thinking about what’s best for the child. It’s about vanity and pride in parents.
Truthfully, Christians are called to live a life of humility. It’s a difficult thing to emit humility while you are in the throes of parenting. But, there is a delicate balance in the Christian life between humility and confidence. Think of Moses. He was known as the most humble man on Earth, yet when he was called to speak boldly to the Israelites (and for their own good), he did it with the confidence that God was behind him.
So, it is possible in parenting to walk humbly while also displaying confidence that sometimes you have to do what you have to do for the good of your children and for their social and spiritual health. Going to school to sit in the back of your child’s classroom shows confidence that God has called you to discipline and correct your child. Following her with a video camera while you mock and shame her shows pride and a greater concern for how people perceive you than how they perceive your child.
I think a good rule of thumb for Christian parents is to discipline fairly and firmly without being mean. And, we won’t get it perfect every time. But, mocking and shaming our children is no way to help them understand God’s love, and for most children it won’t be an effective disciplinary tool. Let’s not sacrifice our children on the altar of social media, just because it makes us feel smart or because we think it’s funny. Kids are people, too, and no one likes to be bullied or made fun of, especially by their own parents.