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Mom

Purity (Parent Video)

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This video is for the parents to watch in preparation for the conversations to follow. How often have you been overwhelmed by this topic and the awkwardness of what is to come? Well, good news – bad news… This video won’t take the awkwardness away, it won’t make it suddenly easy to talk about. BUT. It will help you embrace the awkwardness.

Worship

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Trying to help our children understand what worship is starts with us having an appreciation and understanding of it ourselves. What does it look like for us to worship God with our whole heart? Let this video help you get your minds and hearts around this important topic.

Preparing For Adolescence

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Few things in life come with more anxiety than raising teenagers. Too many of us feel entirely unprepared for this season of parenting. Let the tools presented in this video help ease your nerves as you prepare to lead your teen through these important years.

Launch

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Will your child be prepared to head out on their own? What are you doing to intentionally prepare them to make wise, Godly decisions with their life? This video seeks to boil down all the thoughts, fears, and confusion swirling around this topic.

Family Time

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“Help! I need help! How do I lead my family in Bible stuff? Where do I start? What do I say? Help?” If you have ever felt this way, then this video is for you.

Parents, Require Obedience of Your Children

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I am writing this to plead with Christian parents to require obedience of their children. I am moved to write this by watching young children pay no attention to their parents’ requests, with no consequences. Parents tell a child two or three times to sit or stop and come or go, and after the third disobedience, they laughingly bribe the child. This may or may not get the behavior desired.

Last week, I saw two things that prompted this article. One was the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, California, by police who thought he was about to shoot them with an assault rifle. It was a toy gun. What made this relevant was that the police said they told the boy two times to drop the gun. Instead he turned it on them. They fired.

I do not know the details of that situation or if Andy even heard the commands. So I can’t say for sure he was insubordinate. So my point here is not about young Lopez himself. It’s about a “what if.” What if he heard the police, and simply defied what they said? If that is true, it cost him his life. Such would be the price of disobeying proper authority.

A Tragedy in the Making

I witnessed such a scenario in the making on a plane last week. I watched a mother preparing her son to be shot.

I was sitting behind her and her son, who may have been seven years old. He was playing on his digital tablet. The flight attendant announced that all electronic devices should be turned off for take off. He didn’t turn it off. The mother didn’t require it. As the flight attendant walked by, she said he needed to turn it off and kept moving. He didn’t do it. The mother didn’t require it.

One last time, the flight attendant stood over them and said that the boy would need to give the device to his mother. He turned it off. When the flight attendant took her seat, the boy turned his device back on, and kept it on through the take off. The mother did nothing. I thought to myself, she is training him to be shot by police.

Rescue from Foolish Parenting

The defiance and laziness of unbelieving parents I can understand. I have biblical categories of the behavior of the spiritually blind. But the neglect of Christian parents perplexes me. What is behind the failure to require and receive obedience? I’m not sure. But it may be that these nine observations will help rescue some parents from the folly of laissez-faire parenting.

1. Requiring obedience of children is implicit in the biblical requirement that children obey their parents.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). It makes no sense that God would require children to obey parents and yet not require parents to require obedience from the children. It is part of our job — to teach children the glory of a happy, submissive spirit to authorities that God has put in place. Parents represent God to small children, and it is deadly to train children to ignore the commands of God.

2. Obedience is a new-covenant, gospel category.

Obedience is not merely a “legal” category. It is a gospel category. Paul said that his gospel aim was “to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). He said, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience — by word and deed” (Romans 15:18).

Paul’s aim was “to take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). He required it of the churches: “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

Parents who do not teach their children to obey God’s appointed authorities prepare them for a life out of step with God’s word — a life out of step with the very gospel they desire to emphasize.

(If anyone doubts how crucial this doctrine is, please consider reading Wayne Grudem’s chapter, “Pleasing God by Our Obedience: A Neglected New Testament Teaching” in For the Fame of God’s Name, edited by Justin Taylor and Sam Storms.)

3. Requiring obedience of children is possible.

To watch parents act as if they are helpless in the presence of disobedient children is pitiful. God requires that children obey because it is possible for parents to require obedience. Little children, under a year old, can be shown effectively what they may not touch, bite, pull, poke, spit out, or shriek about. You are bigger than they are. Use your size to save them for joy, not sentence them to selfishness.

4. Requiring obedience should be practiced at home on inconsequential things so that it is possible in public on consequential things.

One explanation why children are out of control in public is that they have not been taught to obey at home. One reason for this is that many things at home don’t seem worth the battle. It’s easier to do it ourselves than to take the time and effort to deal with a child’s unwillingness to do it. But this simply trains children that obedience anywhere is optional. Consistency in requiring obedience at home will help your children be enjoyable in public.

5. It takes effort to require obedience, and it is worth it.

If you tell a child to stay in bed and he gets up anyway, it is simply easier to say, go back to bed, than to get up and deal with the disobedience. Parents are tired. I sympathize. For more than 40 years, I’ve had children under eighteen. Requiring obedience takes energy, both physically and emotionally. It is easier simply to let the children have their way.

The result? Uncontrollable children when it matters. They have learned how to work the angles. Mommy is powerless, and daddy is a patsy. They can read when you are about to explode. So they defy your words just short of that. This bears sour fruit for everyone. But the work it takes to be immediately consistent with every disobedience bears sweet fruit for parents, children, and others.

6. You can break the multi-generational dysfunction.

One reason parents don’t require discipline is they have never seen it done. They come from homes that had two modes: passivity and anger. They know they don’t want to parent in anger. The only alternative they know is passivity. There is good news: this can change. Parents can learn from the Bible and from wise people what is possible, what is commanded, what is wise, and how to do it in a spirit that is patient, firm, loving, and grounded in the gospel.

7. Gracious parenting leads children from external compliance to joyful willingness.

Children need to obey before they can process obedience through faith. When faith comes, the obedience which they have learned from fear and reward and respect will become the natural expression of faith. Not to require obedience before faith is folly. It’s not loving in the long run. It cuts deep furrows of disobedient habits that faith must then not infuse, but overcome.

8. Children whose parents require obedience are happier.

Laissez-faire parenting does not produce gracious, humble children. It produces brats. They are neither fun to be around, nor happy themselves. They are demanding and insolent. Their “freedom” is not a blessing to them or others. They are free the way a boat without a rudder is free. They are the victims of their whims. Sooner or later, these whims will be crossed. That spells misery. Or, even a deadly encounter with the police.

9. Requiring obedience is not the same as requiring perfection.

Since parents represent God to children — especially before they can know God through faith in the gospel — we show them both justice and mercy. Not every disobedience is punished. Some are noted, reproved, and passed over. There is no precise manual for this mixture. Children should learn from our parenting that the God of the gospel is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:7, 29) and that he is patient and slow to anger (1 Timothy 1:16). In both cases — discipline and patience — the aim is quick, happy, thorough obedience. That’s what knowing God in Christ produces.

Parents, you can do this. It is a hard season. I’ve spent more than sixty percent of my life in it. But there is divine grace for this, and you will be richly rewarded.

Parenting Reminders

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Some of my greatest joys in life stem from being a parent to two delightful children. However, some of my greatest struggles in life also stem from being a parent to these same two children. There are days that I cannot imagine anything more rewarding and other days that I want to get into the fetal position and remain there for a week. Here are a few reminders for me and all the other Christian parents out there:

Affection and Love: We can never show our children too much love. I have yet to meet the adult who tells me, “My parents just showed me too much love!” But sadly, I have often heard the reverse. Shower your children with affection. May they know our warm embraces and messy kisses!

Have the Right Goal in View: As Christian parents, our goal in raising our children is not primarily to prepare them for going out into the world as fully functioning adults. Our goal, as Christian parents, is to prepare our children for eternity! This should shape all that we do in our homes.

Focus on My Responsibility: But having said that, we can’t “force” our children to be faithful, less sinful, or more righteous. That isn’t our responsibility. Our responsibility is to be faithful in our own charge as parents. In that regard, I can surely hinder or help their sensitivity to Christ, growth in sanctification, understanding of grace, and maturing in character, but I can’t guarantee it, secure it, or determine it. Let’s be faithful in what we do have responsibility for and spend less energy trying to control that which we don’t have responsibility for.

Keep Your Eyes Forward: We can be prone to look over our shoulders. What will OUR parents think? What will others at church think? What will my pastor think? Our children are disobedient and we find ourselves cringing inside and looking to see if anyone else was watching. And when we see others looking on, immediate concern grips our minds. Will they think my children are disobedient or bad? Will they think I am a terrible parent? Stop! We aren’t parenting for others’ approval. We are parenting for the good of our children to the glory of God. Let’s keep our eyes looking forward and heavenward for the good of our children and the glory of God.

Don’t Get Too High nor Too Low: Children change, so let’s not get too high or too low by what we see in our child’s character, actions, or soul in any given day or during any given period. Let’s rejoice some. Let’s mourn some. But let’s do so with restraint.

Tomorrow has Enough Worries of its Own: We can’t control today, let alone tomorrow. Be faithful today. My son taking a toy from his sister today doesn’t mean he is a good candidate for robbing convenience stores at age eighteen. We can get caught up in what they will be like next week, next year, or when they are twenty-one. Let’s just be faithful in our parenting today.

Run the Right Direction: God knows a thing or two about wayward children, so let’s seek Him who has an understanding ear. What grace we need in parenting and what grace is given in Christ. May we run to Him with our frustrations, struggles, trials, and failures. He should be our first counselor and comforter.

Parent on Your Knees: Oh for an army of parents who exercise as much energy in prayer for our children as we do in lecturing them. Prayer may be the most important and most neglected of parental responsibilities. Let us pray for and with our children–not just before bed–not just over meals, but throughout the day and for all their lives.

Show and Tell: Let’s not just tell our children about the Christian faith, but show it. Let us ask for their forgiveness when we have been irritable or have yelled at them, lead them in family worship, talk much about Christ, extend grace, be quick to point out God’s good providence, joyfully lead them to church, pray for and with them, and sing a few hymns in the shower!

Christianity not Morality: Morals are good, but not in and of themselves. Let’s teach our children and pray for a morality that flows from a heart changed by God’s grace. For many of us, our default is to slip into morality parenting, rather than Christian parenting. The former is focused solely upon outward behavior, the latter is focused upon inward change which will manifest fruit  in moral outward behavior.

Lastly and Most Importantly, Count the Blessings: Let’s thank God everyday for our children. Even on those hard days, find the blessings amidst the chaos! Count every blessing that comes as a parent. Let it fill us with wonder that the Lord of the Universe has given us the privilege of having these little souls under our care. What a blessing. Thinking on that may even help us get out of that fetal position.

This post was written by Jason Helopoulos and can be found here.

The Unbaked Biscuit

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I’ve had this thing going lately about biscuits. It is probably due to the colder (delicious) fall air. This is the season of comfort food. But to have comfort food, there needs to be a comfort person. This is not just the season to have a hot dinner hitting the table, it is the season to have a person who loves you putting it there. In my life (prompted by the cute faces that travel about my home at half height) this has somehow become a burning need to perfect biscuits. Of course there are other things too, but biscuits are just so symbolic.

Biscuits make up a small part of the culinary world. They are easy and quick, and have been satisfying children leaving honey trails on the table for generations. But biscuits have to be made. It isn’t enough to think of biscuits, because having thought of them doesn’t make a childhood more full. Having thought of them doesn’t give the dinner table that wonderful allure that having actually made them does. Your thoughts alone will not play into the memories of your children.

A little guilt cycle often happens in the life of a mother. It usually goes something like this, and could take anywhere from two minutes to two years to complete itself:

I thought of biscuits. I would like to be a person who makes biscuits for my hungry children. I do not feel like making biscuits right now. I will make biscuits another time. I will have time when I am not tired and feeling fat. The kids won’t know. I wish I had made biscuits. I could have made biscuits. I’m such a bad mom who doesn’t make biscuits. I am not as good as all the moms who are everywhere in this stupid world making biscuits. People who talk about making biscuits are self-righteous. I hate biscuits. They make me feel guilty. Jesus loves me! Biscuits or not! Jesus doesn’t care that I didn’t make biscuits. Home free! Biscuit-free!

Of course the conclusion here is perfectly accurate. Jesus doesn’t care in the abstract whether or not you are making biscuits. And of course biscuits are only an example of something that you could do for your children, might not want to do, wish you had done, and then feel stricken with guilt over not doing. It could just as easily be decorating your kids’ room, sewing a dress, making the birthday cake they wanted, talking to them in the evening longer than you wanted to, quitting your job to prioritize spending time with them, cleaning the bathroom, or any other thing that could actually be done — anything that could qualify as a work.

The thing is, works-righteousness is a damning theology. Jesus did the work for us by living sinlessly and dying for our sins. We cannot earn anything by doing, so it is dangerous to start talking about anything that Christians should be doing. If you could be the most accomplished mother in the world on your own strength, it wouldn’t matter in the end. There is no freedom from sin that you can find by doing something. Jesus is all. His blood is sufficient, and there is nothing you can do that will change that.

But His blood will change you. When Jesus is all, things happen. When you believe to your core that you are forgiven and loved, one of the first things that happens is you start doing things. Fruit is intimately connected with forgiveness. When we are forgiven, we do not gallop out into a life of ambiguity and indifference. We do not become great negotiators of whether or not it matters that we aren’t doing things. We become filled with gratitude, love, joy, and peace. And then, having a firm foundation of another’s righteousness, we are free to go out and do.

Jesus does not care even the tiniest bit what you do for your salvation, because there is nothing you can do for it. But He cares very much what you do with it. Having been given it, go out and . . . reflect on all the things that you don’t have to do? be embittered by every appearance of work? despise anything that doesn’t come easily to you, that might be difficult? choose to be above the physical world? look down on sisters who are getting more done than you?

What is fruit but the outworking of our salvation? Take what you have been given, and turn a profit on it. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is quite relevant here. The master gives gold to his servants before he leaves on a journey. Two of them use the gold to earn more. Their investment pleases the master. He says, “Well done!” But the man who is given one talent and merely keeps it safe does not please him. “Why would you bury what I gave you? Why would you sit on it in fear? What I gave you was to be used. Turn a profit on it.”

Is this us? Are we always guarding the gold we were given, always afraid of losing something? Are we storing up an arsenal of unbaked biscuits with which we will feed no one? And when our Master returns and asks us, “What have you done with what I have given you?” will we point at the other servants and say, “Look at them! They thought the gold you gave us wasn’t sufficient. I knew it was, so I hid it, to keep it safe for Your return”?

Our Master did not give us this gold of forgiveness so that we might hide it. He wants us to use it. He wants us to make things happen with it. He wants us to take our salvation and turn it into biscuits, hot on the table. He wants us to take our salvation and turn it into contagious joy, into sacrifice for others. He wants us to use it.

The love of Christ is not the reason that we don’t have to do things. It is the reason we get to do things freely. If you had no gold, there would have been nothing to invest. If your Master gave you gold, you should not be sitting on it.

In Christian circles there is constant talk about free salvation. It is free, thank God. But it is only free to usGod paid a great price for it. Jesus paid with His blood. It is free to us because someone else paid a great deal. And this is why we do not work out our salvation by never doing anything that might be hard or difficult to us. We imitate Christ, and we make sacrifices for others. We do things that are hard, that cost us much, because we want our gifts to be free to others.

It is so easy for us as mothers to look at the work we do on behalf of our families and resent that it is free to them. Look at those kids, thinking that the clean clothes just appear magically. Look at these people, not valuing the cost of my work. Look at this ungrateful family who just takes the food and eats it. Like it was free! But it is very important that we see the damage that this kind of thinking brings with it.

When we want the cost to be shared by all, we are not imitating Christ. When we imitate Christ, we want to give what costs us much, and we want to give it freely. Of course we have short-term vision, and often we feel like when we freely give, we need to see right away that it is being used responsibly. We worry that our free sacrifice will make our children greedy takers.

We think that we can see how wrong it would be if they thought that our making of biscuits was in any way easy. We want to know, within the next fifteen minutes, that everyone saw what we sacrificed, acknowledged it gratefully, thanked us profusely, reflected on it quietly, and came up with a way to repay us. But God thinks in much, much bigger story lines.

So imitate Christ in your giving. Do it daily, do it in as many little ways as you possibly can. Find a way to imitate Him in the folding of the laundry, in the stocking of the fridge, in the picking up of other people’s socks. And then decide consciously that you are giving this meal, this clean room, this cheerful Christmas — that you are giving it all freely. And much later, maybe thirty years later, you would like to see your children turn a profit on it. You would like to see your kids taking what they were freely given and turning it into still more free giving. This is because God’s story is never little. He works in generations, in lifetimes, and He wants us to do the same.

So if the very suggestion of something you might do makes you bristle, if it makes you feel judged or threatened or angry, you need to look to Christ. Your salvation has been paid for; this isn’t about that. Stop and be grateful. Thank God things to bake have nothing to do with your salvation. Thank Him for loving you. Thank Him that He has given you so much to use.

Then, after you have remembered the strength of your salvation, go out and do something with it. Find ways to use what you have been given to freely bless those around you. Tie on an apron and dust yourself lightly with flour. You are not here in this world to work your salvation in (thank God), you are here to work it out.

There are a million different ways to use this kind of gold. As much as God wants us to be using it, He wants us to be using it in different ways. We don’t all need to be making biscuits, but we should all be doing something. We should be getting our hands into stuff to give. We should be blessing others, thinking of others, giving to others. And we should be doing it so freely that we don’t remember it, because we are willing to wait to see what is done with it. We are willing to see, years down the road, what kind of interest accrued on those biscuits.


This blog post is chapter two from Rachel Jankovic’s new book, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood (Canon Press, 2012), 19–25. Posted by permission of the publisher. The book is available exclusively from Canon Press as a pre-release special (order by December 7th to have in time for Christmas). The book officially releases in late January.

Raising Kids the World Will Hate

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When I was a boy, my dad asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” To which I frankly answered (quite adorably no doubt), “A daddy.” When my relentlessly realistic dad informed me that no one would pay me to be a father, I told him that I would gladly pay myself.

In 2011 my dream of being a father came true when my son, Oscar, was born. Since that day my hopes and dreams have shifted to what Oscar will be when he grows up. Of course, I like to imagine him growing up handsome, talented, godly and kind, but there’s no way to really know yet. I can be fairly certain he’ll have an affinity for Texas A&M and the Green Bay Packers. There’s little doubt that he’ll have a disappointing hairline, love to eat and sweat even when it’s cold. For the most part, however, I’ll just have to wait and see who he grows up to be.

I often daydream about what a great guy he might be and how well loved he’ll be by others. I daydream that coaches, teachers and pastors will approve of him and even be impressed by him. I envision his peers holding him in high esteem, wanting him around all the time. I imagine that the generation that follows him will admire him. I hold tightly to the thought that, as he becomes a man, he will grow in favor among any and all he comes into contact with. Some of these desires are healthy, and some are prideful.

I have a strong, and certainly not uncommon, desire for my child to be validated by the love of other people. Most parents want their son or daughter to be a lovable person, and it’s that desire that makes John 15:19so important and so transformative when it comes to the way we prepare our children for the future. Christ tells His disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” It’s not just John 15:19, either. There are many Scriptures that describe the adversarial relationship that God’s followers will have with those who are not believers.

Reading this, I realized that if God answers my prayer for my son to be a follower of Christ, people will hate him. People will absolutely, unquestionably be repulsed by my son.

If God graciously saves my Oscar, people will call him a bigot and a homophobe. Some will ridicule him as a male chauvinist as they scorn his “sexist” beliefs. He’ll be despised as closed-minded for saying that Jesus Christ is not only God but the only God. He will probably meet a girl who insults his manhood or considers him old fashioned for waiting until marriage to have sex. His peers will think him a prude. Bullies will call him a coward. His integrity will draw insults like “goody two shoes” (I don’t even know what that means).

Teachers will think that that my son ignores scientific facts about our origins, prompting his classmates to mark him an idiot. People will tell him he has been led astray by his parents down an ancient path of misguided morality masked as a relationship with God. Financial advisors will think he’s irresponsibly generous. When he takes a stand, there will be those who will not tolerate his intolerance. He will be judged as judgmental. He will have enemies, and I’ll be asking him to love them, and even for that he’ll look foolish.

If you’re like me and hope for your kids to be fully devoted followers of Christ, then we need to be raising up a generation who is ready to be distinctly different from their peers. In a lot of ways, that’s the opposite of my natural inclination in how to raise my son. Raising kids who are ready to be hated means raising kids who unashamedly love God even in the face of loathing and alienation. Regardless if the insults of the world are naive or legitimate, I pray our children will be ready to stand firm in the midst of a world that hates them.

 

This post is from the Village Church blog and can be found here.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Quit Giving A Rip What People Think About You

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I write this post at the risk of becoming the world’s first male mommy blogger (even that combination of words makes me feel uncomfortable). But, at the encouragement of my wife, as well as my friend and fellow author Trillia Newbell, I’m going to write one more post. Deep breath…feeling secure in my manhood…here goes.

Moms, you really need to stop giving a rip what other people think about you.

I know that it’s tough. You go on Facebook and  see comments like, “Any mom who bottle feeds her baby must be devil spawn!” Or,  you’re in the moms and infants room at church, and someone says, “I just can’t see how any godly, loving parent could send their children to public school.” Or someone includes you on an email that includes a rather shakily researched article about how all processed food absolutely causes cancer. The email concludes by saying, “We can’t stand for this any longer!” You happen to be eating a bowl of Lucky Charms as you read the article.

When you read these things and hear these comments, my guess is that you’re tempted to think, I’m an absolutely terrible mother! And everyone knows it! Everyone knows that I bottle feed my kids, send them to public school, and regularly feed them Lunchables! And God is probably displeased with me too, because I’m not loving my kids enough. You can feel the opinions of others breathing down your neck. You start making plans. Only organic from here on out. Homeschool, or unschool, or private school…or military school. No more television. Ever. Unless it’s an educational documentary on PBS, and even that is questionable. Awww shoot, you already vaccinated your kids! Is there a way to unvaccinate them?

Stop. Okay? Just stop. Finish your Lucky Charms, eat a big bowl of gluten, then come back and finish this article.

Now please understand, this is not an article in favor of or against schooling, vaccinations, organic food, bottle feeding, breastfeeding, television or anything else. This is an article AGAINST sinful fear of man and being overly concerned with what others think about you.

Moms, your security and identity are not found in a particular practice of parenting. Your security and identity are found in Jesus Christ. If you have trusted in Christ as Savior, you are joined to Christ. If you are joined to Christ, that means that God wholeheartedly, unabashedly, without reservation approves of you. He delights in you. You are his daughter. He sings over you. You can rest in that. It doesn’t matter what other moms think of you. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like the fact that you feed your kids bologna sandwiches for lunch. You have all the approval you need in God, through Christ.

Your job as a mom is to first and foremost, love God with all your heart. Run hard after him. Pursue holiness and godliness. Read the Bible and pray your heart out. Your second job is to love others. If you’re married, worry more about pleasing your husband than pleasing other moms (husbands should do the same, but that’s for another post). If you and your husband come to the conviction that you should feed your children organic food, great! If the two of you realize that you can’t go hard core organic for cost reasons, that’s also great! Whatever you do, don’t let the fear of what others think guide your actions.

When it comes to your kids, your main job description is to raise them up in the ways of the Lord. It would be better to feed your kids Lucky Charms than to spend hours researching a particular subject and neglect this primary duty. Focus on raising your kids to love Jesus. If you come to the conviction that you should send your kids to private school, that’s fine. But don’t do it out of fear of what others think. Let your thinking be shaped by God’s word, not the words of others.

Remember, the fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25). It will actually snare you as you seek to be a mom. So rest in Christ. In Christ, God approves of you. Completely. 100%. Not 99.9%, 100%. Obey God’s word, pursue holiness, love your spouse, love your kids, and hold the rest loosely. If people don’t approve, who cares?

The next time you’re tempted to worry what others think about you, remember that you are secure in God, and that’s all that matters.

 

This post was written by Stephen Altrogge and can be found on his blog, here.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Run

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2

There is an article by Stephen Altrogge making the rounds on social media this week titled “Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You to Chill Out.” It is a great post, reminding moms that the yoke of legalism is a heavy burden to bear, and that majoring in the minors does nothing to help us love God, our spouses or our children better. I applaud Altrogge’s insight into the comparison-plagued mind of the typical Christian mom, daily sailing between the Scylla-and-Charybdis scenarios of motherhood (doctor or doula? Bottle or breast? Gluttony or gluten-free? Public or private? And on we sail…) Modern moms are so often characterized by (and crushed by) the side-long glance of comparison.

But are all comparisons to others harmful to our mothering?  I don’t think so. In Hebrews 11-12, scripture challenges believers to look to those who have gone before – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab – those who endured great hardship and opposition for the sake of doing exactly the thing Altrogge (and Jesus) want us to do: Grow in holiness by loving God and others. What is mothering, if not a race for holiness? Hebrews 11-12 gives us a comparison that is worth our time – a comparison not to those who majored in the minors of legalistic one-upsmanship, but to those who majored in the majors of faith-bolstered preferential love of God and others. And it calls them as witnesses to our own efforts.

That makes this mom want to get off the couch.

It makes me want to redouble my efforts to fix my eyes on Jesus and on the faces of those he has entrusted to my care, to fix my thoughts on the transforming grace of the cross so that my life models holiness to my kids, to fix my efforts on creating a home that celebrates what God celebrates – shared time, shared faith, shared affection. Moms, daily remind yourselves not to major in the minors, but do something else as well: daily remind yourselves to major in the majors.

In matters of legalism, rest – yes – but in matters of holiness, run. Run like your hair is on fire. Cast off everything that hinders: all false measures of righteousness cloaked as homemade bread or spotless kitchen surfaces. But let your newly-found chill mentality toward Pinterest and June Cleaver free up energy to run the race that counts. Because this good work of loving God and loving others is a race for the fit and the fleet, particularly if you’re a mom. Psychologists tell us that a child’s moral framework – the way they view right and wrong – begins forming at eighteen months and is set by around age eleven.  So if you thought you had eighteen years to train them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, you might want to bump up your timetable. You might want to run.

In the faith-fueled race of holiness, some days you will run well and some days you will run out of steam. There is grace for that, and majoring in the majors will require you to draw on it constantly. But get up and run again. Your family does not need you to bake the perfect pie, but they do need you to run with endurance the race marked out for you—a race that we run for the joy set before us: the joy of running in the very steps of Christ. Not an easy race, no, but a course we can surely complete because of the completed work of the cross. Dear moms, Jesus wants you to run.

 

Jen Wilkin is a wife, mom to four great kids, and an advocate for women to love God with their minds through the faithful study of his Word. She writes, speaks, and teaches women the Bible. She lives in Flower Mound, Texas, and her family calls The Village Church home. You can find her at jenwilkin.blogspot.com. This post was originally found on the Gospel Coalition blog.

The Dangerous Worlds of Analog Parents with Digital Teens

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This is rather old in the online sense, but it is a good starting point for parents looking to catch up to their kids or the world around them. The following is a post by Dr. Al Mohler and can be found on his website here.

 

Parents cannot be spectators in the lives of their children, but should set rules, establish expectations, enforce limitations, and constantly monitor their teenagers’ digital lives. Anything less is a form of parental negligence.

Sunday’s edition of The New York Timesgave front-page attention to the problem of adolescent bullying on the Internet. There can be no question that the Internet and the explosion of social media have facilitated the arrival of a new and deeply sinister form of bullying, and the consequences for many teenagers are severe. For some, life becomes a horror story of insults, rumors, slanders, and worse.

Meanwhile, many parents are baffled about how to help — if they are not completely out to lunch.

As Jan Hoffman reports: “It is difficult enough to support one’s child through a siege of schoolyard bullying. But the lawlessness of the Internet, its potential for casual, breathtaking cruelty, and its capacity to cloak a bully’s identity all present slippery new challenges to this transitional generation of analog parents.”

These “analog parents” are often vastly outgunned in terms of expertise with social media as compared to their digital offspring and their adolescent peers. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the bullies are winning the war.

One New Jersey lawyer asked a room filled with seventh-graders if they had ever been “cyberbullied.” Out of 150 students, 68 raised their hands. She then asked, “How many of your parents know how to help you?” Only three or four hands went up.

As the article reveals, many parents do not even seem to know that the “smart” phones they have given their children are actually mobile computers. Other parents seem oblivious to the fact that these devices both send and receive messages. Still others cling to a dangerous and irresponsible notion of adolescent privacy.

Parents must take control. Arming themselves with knowledge is the first step but summoning the courage to establish clear boundaries, rules, and consequences is of equal importance.

Just two weeks before the cyberbullying story, the paper ran another front-page article on the distracted nature of digital adolescents. Reporter Matt Richtel told of teenagers who were seemingly unable to do their homework and reading assignments, simply because they could not put away their digital devices.

For 17-year-old Vishal Singh, the book always seems to lose out to the computer. Representative of millions of his peers, Vishal feels much more at home in the virtual world of his digital life than in the real world, where books must be read, tests must be taken, and grades will be assigned.

Consider these paragraphs:

[Vishal] also plays video games 10 hours a week. He regularly sends Facebook status updates at 2 a.m., even on school nights, and has such a reputation for distributing links to videos that his best friend calls him a “YouTube bully.”

Several teachers call Vishal one of their brightest students, and they wonder why things are not adding up. Last semester, his grade point average was 2.3 after a D-plus in English and an F in Algebra II. He got an A in film critique.

“He’s a kid caught between two worlds,” said Mr. Reilly [his school principal] — one that is virtual and one with real-life demands.

Both Vishal and his mother agree that he lacks the self-control to turn off the computer and open the book. He is not alone. Richtel tells of Allison Miller, 14, who “sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month, her fingers clicking at a blistering pace as she carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time.” Sean McMullen, a 12th-grader, plays video games for four hours a day on school days and doubles that on weekends. These teenagers are not isolated cases — they represent what constitutes a new normal among American adolescents.

This sentence from the article is particularly haunting: “He [Sean] says he sometimes wishes that his parents would force him to quit playing and study, because he finds it hard to quit when given the choice.” Are they listening?

Both articles are worth a closer look, but the imperative to parents is clear enough. Parents of adolescents and young people cannot afford to be stuck in an analog world with outdated expertise, even as their offspring are digital natives living in an increasingly distracted and dangerous world.

Parents cannot be spectators in the lives of their children, but they should set rules, establish expectations, enforce limitations, and constantly monitor their teenagers’ digital lives. Anything less is a form of parental negligence.

When a teenage boy tells a newspaper reporter that he wishes his parents would force him to turn off his digital devices and do his homework, we can only wonder if his clueless parents will ever get the message.

The New York Times deserves credit for two truly important reports on the digital lives of America’s teenagers. These two reporters have been doing the work every parent of teenagers should have been doing all along.

The last word belongs to 16-year-old Katherine Nevitt, who wrote a letter to the editor in response to the Richtel article. She had decided on her own to limit her digital exposure and decrease her distractions. “I can only urge my fellow teenagers to do the same,” she wrote. “That is, the three of you reading this.”

 


 

I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at mail@albertmohler.com. Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AlbertMohler.

Matt Richtel, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” The New York Times, Sunday, November 21, 2010.

Readers Respond, “Generation Text, Living on a Screen,” The New York Times, Thursday, November 25, 2010.

Jan Hoffman, “As Bullies Go Digital, Parents Play Catch-Up,” The New York Times, Sunday, December 5, 2010.

Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out

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FACT: If your children can’t read by age four there is a 95% chance they will end up homeless and on drugs.

FACT: If your children eat any processed food there is an 85% chance they will contract a rare, most likely incurable disease, by age 12.

FACT: If  you’re not up at dawn reading the Bible to your children, you are most likely a pagan caught in the clutches of witchcraft.

FACT: If your children watch more than 10 minutes of television a day there is 75% chance they will end up in a violent street gang by age 17.

Obviously, the “facts” listed above are not true (at least, I don’t think they are). But, I’ve noticed that the Internet has made it much easier for people, and moms in particular, to compare themselves to each other. Now, just to be clear, this is not a post against “mom blogs”, or whatever they’re called. If you write a mom blog, that’s cool with me. This is a post to encourage the moms who tend to freak out and feel like complete failures when they read the mom blogs and mom Facebook posts.

Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.

Your job description is as follows:

  • Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
  • Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
  • Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.

Moms, Jesus want you to rest in him. He wants you to chill out. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Don’t try to be something God hasn’t called you to be. If the mom blogs are making you feel guilty, stop reading them. Be faithful to what he has truly called you to do, and know that he is pleased with you. When your kids are resting, don’t feel guilty about watching an episode of “Lost”, or whatever your favorite show may happen to be.

Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.

This post was written by Stephen Altrogge and can be found on his blog, here.

+photo by pedrosimoes7