Prayer of St. Patrick

Happy St. Patrick Day!  One of the things about St. Patrick that we can appreciate from church history is his recorded prayers.  This is one that I like….

 As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen

Practical Advice for Encouraging Biblical Masculinity in Your Son

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.

Another Great Resource for Family Worship: The Gospel Story Bible

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.

Time for “The Talk” – Biblical and Practical Advise

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. Ask me anything.  Let them ask questions.  No questions should be off limits.
  6. Maintain confidence.  Assure them of your confidence. The conversation will remain private between the two of you.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!).
  9. Focus on the beauty of sex & sexuality.  Always try to draw the conversation back in a biblically positive direction.
  10. 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.
  11. Discuss the dangers of sexual sin. Hebrews 13:4 is very clear about this.
  12. 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!

Five Barriers to Healthy Communication with Your Teen

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Do I have to talk to my 5 year-old about porn?

Tips for talking to your kids about porn:  Important issues for important ages

I’m thankful for this article by David Wever because he raises some important questions and action steps for parents.  Most of us who are parents probably don’t think that we need to talk to our 3, 4, or 5 year-old about porn.  I would agree that we probably don’t need to define what porn is to a 3, 4, or 5 year-old but we do need to begin to put in place safeguards to protection our children.

Please read this article as Wever gives practical helps for parents with pre-schoolers, elementary, middle school, and high school children.

Click here!

Song of the Stars – new book to point our children to Jesus this Christmas

If you know me or have read this blog before you know that I am a huge fan of Sally Lloyd-Jones and her children’s bible The Jesus Storybook Bible.  The Bible is one of the best if not the best Bible story book for children that there is.  It is the best because is very theological sound and every story is not just some cute children’s story with no meaning – it is the best because every story literally points children (and adults for that matter) to Jesus.

Well this Christmas Lloyd-Jones has done it again with her new work: Song of the Stars – A Christmas Story.  I highly recommend this new work!  My wife and I picked up a copy yesterday and we were enamored with it immediately and cannot wait to share it with our children.

Part of being an intentional parent is being intentional about the meaning of Christmas.  This new work by Sally Lloyd-Jones will help you be intentional about pointing your kids to Jesus this Christmas.  Pick one up today!

More Parenting Help from the Proverbs…

When talking, teaching, and learning about parenting, a conversation that always comes up is, “How do you discipline your child?”  This is a tough question that gets a ton of different answers.

First and foremost we want our parenting to be biblical … What does the Bible say about parenting?  In this case, what does the Bible say about discipline?

It is important to remember that discipline is not aways correction with force – it primarily means to teach or to instruct.  Our children need to be corrected and instructed in the “way they should go” (Prov. 22:6).  At times this means correcting with corporal punishment.  Now there is a word that gets people upset!

Corporal means of or relating to the body.  Corporal punishment then is to punish a wrong-doer by means physical punishment.  In the world of child training, this most often means a spanking (or a “pop” in my house).

At risk of saying too much, I invite you to study what the Bible says about this matter. Please see the attached study on Biblical Discipline in the Proverbs and ask God to teach you about this very important area of child training.

Biblical Discipline in Proverbs

Parenting Help from the Proverbs

I’m a big believer that parents should be life-long learners of how to be effective and biblical parents (at least while all the children are at home). To me, this means constantly reading and studying about parenting.  It could be as simple as taking a couple of passages in the Bible about parenting and spending some significant time meditating on them.  It could also mean reading a good book on biblical parenting (see a list here).

A friend of mine recently passed along to me another exercise that I have found to be extremely helpful, practical, and fun.  Please see the attached document Parenting from the Proverbs. This is a simple study of God’s Word that encourages parents to dig into God’s Word and seek His will from the Holy Scriptures.  This is a great way to start being a “learner” when it comes to parenting.  I encourage you and your spouse to dive into the exercise and see what the Holy Spirit will teach you about biblical parenting from the Word.  Enjoy!

Please visit my post on Proverbs 22:6.

Attachement:  parenting from the proverbs

Fathers: What Does Quality Time With Your Children Look Like?

Before I begin I must make a confession, everything that I’m about to write in this blog post (or any of the preceding blog posts for that matter) I need to practice desperately!  Now on to the real content.

I have been meeting with a group of men on Friday mornings for over 6 years now.  This is a small group of guys who are in similar life-stages.  During this time we seek to pray for one another, encourage one another, and study God’s Word together.  This group has been one of the single greatest blessings to my personal walk and ministry.  I’m so thankful for these men.

We are currently studying a book called The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips.  This book has been such a blessing.  In one the chapters Phillips begins to deal with a very serious yet practical issue, “what does quality time with children look like for a father?” Continue reading