It’s been a while … forgive me. Here are some things that I have found good lately….
Read, Read, Read, to Your Children – I appreciate this article by Marty Machowski author of The Gospel Story Bible. I’m so thankful for my wife, the mother of our children, because God convicted her before we had children to cultivate this habit in our home. Our children would rather have their parents read to them on most days rather than watch a TV show. I highly recommend the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.
Recently I had the privilege to preach on the 5th commandment. I believe this commandment has an important word for parents, not just children. I invite you to listen here.
Perhaps there is no greater threat to this generation of young people than gender identity. This issue is compounded by a variety of factors. Here in the South (my context) you are considered a man if you hunt, drive a truck, have a pretty girl on your arm, and go to football games on the weekend. In the South to be a man means you don’t pray out loud, don’t sing in church, and you darn sure better not cry!
Pop-psychology has taken its toll as well on manhood in our culture. Raising children has become all about making sure you don’t hurt the self-esteem of a child. Furthermore, you are a successful parent if you child literally does not get physically hurt.
Furthermore, worldliness has had its say in the matter. Men are told not to be “too manly” because they might offend someone. Worldliness, is in effect, emasculating our sons.
John Piper says, “The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this deprecation of male and female personhood is a great loss. It is taking a tremendous toll on generations of young men and women who do not know what it means to be a man or woman. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic. The consequence of this confusion is not free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.”
How do we encourage healthy, biblical masculinity in our sons? Here is some biblical and practical advice.
- Model manhood. Randy Stinson says that, “Manhood is not forced – it’s forged! What are some things you can start doing to build manhood in your son? Camping, serving, building, how to treat women are some ideas. Invite your sons to do the things that you do.
- Encourage masculinity. Show your sons what men do. Show them how to build something, how to shave, how to grill, how to sing in church, etc… Give him responsibility. Teach him to be a leader and a protector.
- Use warfare language when describing the Christian life. Particularly waging war on sexual immorality. Battle-language is built into the DNA of a boy – exploit that when teaching him about godly living.
- Teach biblical manhood. Start in Genesis and teach your son how God created Adam to work, to provide, to protect, to lead.
I highly recommend this short book: A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas. They have helped me tremendously in this arena.
For almost a year now I have been recommending Marty Machowski’s Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God. Now I’m thankful that Machowski has put out another excellent resource to add the to arsenal of solid, biblical family worship resources. His new work, The Gospel Story Bible.
There are too many “Bible story books” out there on the market that have little teaching and instruction on the Gospel. Machowski takes the guess work out for parents when it comes to relating biblical narrative to the Gospel. Each story is creative, easy to read, and does an excellent job of pointing our children to Jesus in the Bible stories that we all know and love. Order a copy for your family today!
I recommend this book for families with Children 3-8 years old.
See my previous post on resources for family worship.
I recently discovered a gem in the world of parenting in a new work called Time for the Talk – Leading Your Son Into True Manhood. I cannot recommend this resource enough for fathers seeking to raise godly sons in a world that distorts true biblical sexuality. Time for the Talk is authored by Steve Zollos who is a medical doctor and a Christian dad with four sons. He does an excellent job of walking parents through “The Talk.” I highly recommend you pick up a copy.
Gleaning from Zollos work, I wanted to share with you some biblical and practical wisdom for parents when it comes to thinking through having the sex talk with a teen or pre-teen.
- When? Is your teen emotionally, spiritually, physically ready for the sex talk. Begin before hormones kick into gear. Continue after hormones are in gear and their bodies are undergoing changes. For some it will begin as early at 10 or 11 and for other it may be that they’re not mature enough till 15 or 16. Notice changes in their body and changes in their behavior/interest of opposite sex.
- Location. Plan an individual time with your teen. Location is key! The place should be relaxing, non-threatening, and not a chance of interruption. It needs to be a significant time and your teen/pre-teen needs to pick up on this. It should be natural (don’t have the sex talk your first time camping).
- Talk, not lecture. Make sure it is a conversation, not a lecture. Remember that you are in authority over them – parent them through the conversation (don’t act like a peer).
- Assure them that this is normal and that they are normal. It is a scary thing for a teen/child to hit puberty and have no idea what is happening to them.
- Ask me anything. Let them ask questions. No questions should be off limits.
- Maintain confidence. Assure them of your confidence. The conversation will remain private between the two of you.
- Use the Bible. Go to Genesis 1-3 to explain a biblical view of sex. Use the creation/fall/redemption paradigm when explaining God’s creation of sex.
- Discuss Male and Female Anatomy. Discuss the basics: body hair, body odor, muscles, voice, etc… Then discuss more personal anatomy like: new body hair, male/female reproductive parts, and other pertinent information about male and female anatomy (make sure to give appropriate warnings here!).
- Focus on the beauty of sex & sexuality. Always try to draw the conversation back in a biblically positive direction.
- Preach Self-control. Talk about the importance of self-control with regards to our sexual nature. Natural does not necessarily mean neutral when it comes to our sex nature. Uses passage like 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Thessalonians 4 to help.
- Discuss the dangers of sexual sin. Hebrews 13:4 is very clear about this.
- Discuss safe sex. Give appropriate warnings about temptations, STD’s, birth control & abortion. Balance with joy, and God’s plan for sex and marriage.
I hope this helps!
I’ve had the privilege and blessing of teaching a class on Wednesday evenings to parents of teenagers called Just Tell Me What to Do! I know, I know, I set myself up for failure with a title like that. Anyways, last week we looked at healthy communication with teenagers. I think these tips can be helpful for both parents and youth workers. Here are the barriers:
- Failure to realize you (the parent) are in charge (see Eph. 6:1). My favorite illustration of this came from an ESPN analyst on Twitter after the PSU students rioted when Paterno was fired. His wise words, “This is the reason why there are adults in charge of this world.” Teens need authority. That is the Creator’s design.
- Busyness! Your business and your child’s business (sports, activities, etc…) can be a huge barrier to quality time and heathy communication. As parents we have got to quit killing ourselves and learn to say “no” somethings (probably a lot of things).
- Lack of understanding/knowledge of teen culture. As parents, we have to be on our game when it comes to social media, technology, hormones, etc…We’ve got to study and learn their world so we can reach them.
- Unwholesome talk (see Eph. 4:29, 6:4). Your tone, your mood, your language, are all important factors when talking with a teenager learning to become an adult. Are you demeaning your child in front of siblings & friends? All of these facets are important.
- Lack of Affirmation. Are you constantly negative with your child? Is there any honesty and a sense of building-up when talking with you child? Practice daily compliments with your teenager. Seek to build them up! My friend shared a great illustration of this from a Desiring God interview with Sam Crabree. Please go to 16:40 – 19:10 on the video. Click here!
If you are like me then you are starting to think about New Year Resolutions. I really do believe that this is a great time to start thinking about spiritual goals for 2012. I have a few ideas/suggestions below to help you this new year.
- Start a Quiet Time: My best suggestion for you is to get up early in the morning and spend time in your Bible. I know this is easier said than done so here is what you need to do to accomplish this goal: 1) go to bed early the night before, 2) set an alarm across the room from your bed, 3) make your coffee/tea/diet coke the night before, 4) clear off a place before you go to bed to have your quiet time, 5) make a plan for your quiet time today (what are you going to read, study, mediate, etc…). Personal experience has taught me that to accomplish this discipline I need to be more mindful about everything leading up to a morning devotion.
- Start Discipling Your Family: If this is fresh on your mind and heart and you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend Intentional Parenting by Tad Thompson. This is a short and straightforward read with great advice for parents.
- Start Family Devotions: My best suggestion for you here is to do this after dinner (at the dinner table) or before the kids go to sleep. Click here for some suggested material.
- Start Reading Good Christian Books: There are a lot of good ones out there but I will recommend four (in order of difficult to easiest): Knowing God by J.I. Packer; The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges; Kings Cross by Tim Keller and Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll. Read for 15-20 minutes before you go to bed – you will be amazed at how much you can get read in a few weeks! Free Tip: move the TV out of your room – you don’t need it there – and move distracting electronic devices away from you.
- Start Saying No: Whether you are single or have a family, what can you say no to this year? Better yet, what do you need to cut out of your life/schedule so that you can accomplish your spiritual goals?
I hope there are a few things to motivate/help you as you get started on your spiritual goals for the 2012!
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalm 143:8 ESV)
I love this article and this youth pastor’s assessment of what it takes to keep youth in the church when they become adults. His assessment is practical, Biblical, and strikes right at the heart of the relationship that the Church and the Home must have to reach the next generation.
Read it here!
One of the greatest privileges and joys that I have in over 10 years of student ministry is discipling young men. Often times in the past when I began to meet with teenagers on a consistent basis there has been a struggle to keep the conversation going – especially in a direction that involved encouraging them in their walk with God by using His Word. Unless I was pastoring them on a signficant issue like dealing with pornography or dating relationships, I would struggle to find biblical ground to disciple them. Have you ever felt this way?
A man who discipled me years ago gave me some of the best advise I’ve ever heard about discipleship and I still use this advise today.
Wilson, whatever you do, whatever you say, whatever you teach – find a way to get their [the student] finger on the Word of God and let the Bible work in their hearts.
Often times it is easy to let conversation with students fall into talking about sports, girls, movies and then we miss the opportunity to talk about the things of eternal value. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to know the lives of teenagers – to know what their interest are and what is going on in their day to day lives, but not as important as their souls.
To help guide me in the discipleship process I came up with a four-week discipleship program that involved reading, memorizing, and talk about Scripture with students while I met with them. I hope this resource can be of some value to you. It is not just for youth workers. Parents can use this to memorize Scripture and talk about the Bible with their children. The key is to have a plan and this plan with give you a guide to have a meaningful discipleship encounter. It will help you stay on track and stay consistent with biblical discipleship.
Below are links to the Four-Week Discipleship Guide that I have created. The student guide is for you to copy and give to your disciplee. The leader guide has some instructions and suggestions for leading the discipleship time. Please copy and use them with my permission.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)