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!

New Year Resolutions

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)

Dads! Talk to Your Daughters.

Thanks to my brother Myke for pass ing along this video from Pastor Mark Driscoll.

Tips for Daddies

Oddly enough this well known pastor not only has take the initiative to encourage dads about talk to their daughters but he modeled this by “talking” to his own daughter and asking her, “What should daddies do?” Her suggestions are right on and biblical!

My daughter is only 2 but even now I’m seeing the importance more and more every day how much she needs me, her daddy. Even now I see that she wants me to pursue her, protect her, and love her – even if that means discipline or doing fun things together. Even now I’m seeing the important of “daddy dates.” I’m taking this message to heart and hope that all the “Poppa Daddies” will do the same.

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!

Principle 11: Train Your Child to Redeem Their Time

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

You may have heard the ole saying, “Idleness is the devil’s best friend,” or the old English proverb, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” but how does that relate to our child training?

One of my children’s favorite books these days is The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp.  My boys are fascinated by the outdoors these days and this books wows their imagination.  As I’ve thought through this story, little did the author of this book know that he was teaching about idleness.  The book starts off with Brother Bear and Sister Bear excited that school was out and now they were going to sit around and do absolutely “nothing.”  Thankfully Momma Bear had a plan and it didn’t involve doing nothing.  Momma Bear hands them a brochure for summer camp and so the dreams of doing nothing quickly turn into days filled with fun and adventure; anything but idleness.

Ryle points out that “No created being was ever meant to be idle.”  What he means is that God simply designed us to work.  Left to ourselves we are weak and sinful and we need something to do or we will naturally become idle.  We need something to keep us active or we will find our selves in unhealthy state of mind and being.  Again Ryle exhorts, “We must have our hands filed, and our minds occupied with something, or else our imaginations will soon ferment and breed mischief.”  It doesn’t take long to see a child’s mind “breed mischief” when he or she has nothing to do.

Ryle believes that idleness can lead to more sin than almost anything other habit we could develop.  He goes so far to say that idleness may very well be the mother many of sins: adultery, fornication, drunkenness, and many other deeds of darkness.  “It is still water which becomes stagnant and impure: the running, moving streams are always clear.”  When our minds are active and moving, they are hard targets for the devil to hit.

As parents we are called to set these things before the minds and hearts of our children.  As parents we are called to teach our children the value of time and to be good stewards of the time that God gives them.  Teach them to glorify God and enjoy Him through work: missions, serving others, cultivating the earth, and yes, even play.  Children, as all human beings, are called to redeem the time.

If we are to love our children well, we are to teach them that idleness is a sin.

Practically speaking, this warning against idleness is not to be used as a reason to over-schedule our children with so many activities and sports that the worship of God and the beauty of the Sabbath is neglected. Rather, encourage your children to give themselves whole hearted to pursuing a relationship with God and to glorify God in their play.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 for further biblical encouragement on this matter.

This article has been adapted and updated from J.C. Ryle’s work “The Duties of Parents.”  It is part of a series of articles that look at the practical parenting applications of Proverbs 22:6.

Frantic Family Model

From time to time in our family life we have found it necessary to step back and focus on certain goals.  Many times those goals center around discipleship and how we need to incorporate the means of grace more into our individual lives and the lives of our children.

A great help to this approach of stepping back and examining our goals and striving to accomplish these goals is the Frantic Family Model by Patrick Lencioni.  I highly recommend this tool.  It will help you slow down and figure out what to do with your “frantic family.”

Download the Frantic Family Model

 

For more information about The Frantic Family click here!