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Archive for the ‘Reaching Our Children.’ Category

3 Tips to Preserving Your Child’s Online Life.


 

Are you aware of what your child is surfing on the Internet?

Are you aware of what your child is surfing on the Internet? (IStock photo)

While the Internet brings a wealth of information instantly to our fingertips, it also throws our children into an ocean of risk. Too often our kids navigate those waters without a life preserver and become bait for the enemy’s piranha-like feeding frenzy to attack the weak.

Parents today have more than their neighborhoods, schools and kids’ friends to worry about. The enemy is cleverly casting nets online fishing for their souls and God’s men must be aware of where their kids are swimming.

For example, social media has brought the world together, while giving predators tools to connect while disguised in sheep’s clothing. Online video gaming, once a harmless recreation (remember Atari?), now provides realms of obscene and violent behaviors. And with every online search, marketers of all kinds of dangerous material get closer to home.

The lesson from 1 Peter 5:8-9 is as true as it ever was, saying “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

As our kids tune into social media from morning to night on any device, posting, tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting etc., and online gamers disappear from the “real world” to indulge in fantasy worlds, God’s man must be alert, sober minded and resist the enemy.

Here are 3 tips to managing your kids’ online lives:

1. Engage. Your kids need you to “be alert” as “Big Brother” online. Get engaged in their online worlds, whether it’s social media or video games.

Find out what social media they are involved in. Friend them on Facebook, follow their Tweets, become Instagram friends so you can see who they are following and who are following them. And, you can monitor their posts. For the online gamers, spend 30 minutes or so a week to do your own “scouting” of your kid’s “progress” in the game world.

2.  Enlist Support. We need help. We need other people, including our kids, to watch out for us and who courageously confront us. It’s mission-critical to have additional eyes and ears online, and who will bring issues to the table, help find Biblical answers and share Godly wisdom to sensitive parenting challenges.

Additional practical tips include monitoring their email, download parenting control software to prevent unwanted illicit material from showing up on screen, use privacy settings on your child’s profiles, create safe screen names, keep the computer in open sight, limit data usage on mobile devices, and make sure your kids know what information to keep private i.e. Social security numbers, address, phone numbers and bank, credit card information.

Being of “sober mind” is not just talking about intoxication. It also means to have a  “serious attitude or quality.” Managing your kid’s online life is serious business, not to be taken lightly.

3.  Encourage Communication. God’s man must nurture an environment where openness and honesty are welcomed, for good and bad behavior. It’s best if ease of communication is established in your kid’s early years, but it’s never too late. Talk with your kids about what’s going on online—good or bad. Make your values and beliefs a common topic, and compare them with behavior online.

At my house, our values are 1) love God, and 2) we help people. My kids know this. So it’s easy to ask, “is what you’re doing online accomplishing either of these values?” If so, that’s great. Kudos. If not, then dive deeper into the values and why they are important, and imagine the risks created should those values be removed.

That’s being alert, sober minded and resisting the enemy. If that doesn’t help, try throwing a life preserver over the keyboard.

For the original article, visit everymanministries.com.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

EVERY MAN MINISTRIES

4 Ways to Respond to the Teen Sexting Problem.


What would you say to the members of your church youth group about sexting?
What would you say to the members of your church youth group about sexting? (Ambro)

Think back when you were a junior high or high school student. What would’ve been the equivalent to sexting?

I’m guessing it would probably be flashing. The only difference between the two (besides the obvious) is that a quick flash would only be talked about after it happened. Sexting pics are forever; therefore, people have visuals to add to the conversation for years to come.

If you think sexting is about students just getting a quick fix of sexual gratification, you are mistaken. There is a lot more going on. Guardchild.com did a very detailed survey on sexting, and the results were interesting:

  • One in five teens has engaged in sexting—sending, receiving or forwarding sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude photos through text message. And over a third knows someone who has either sent or received messages like this.
  • 38 percent of teens confessed to someone sharing with them what was sent to them.
  • 34 percent of the girls that have participated in sexting say they did it to feel sexy.
  • 23 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys say they were pressured by a friend to send the inappropriate pictures.
  • Most participants say they engage in sexting because their boyfriend/girlfriend ask them to or to have fun.
  • 52 percent of girls said they did it as a present.
  • 29 percent of teens believe those exchanging sexually suggestive content are “expected” to hook up or date.

These statistics say a few things that we in youth ministry need to pay attention to:

  • These statistics change the face of the person who’s sexting. When you think of a flasher, you think of an old pervert who walks around in a trench coat all day. Well, when you think of sexting, you may think of an older, porn-exposed student who’s been a troublemaker for most of their life. These statistics suggest that’s not the case. These statistics normalizes the profile of a sexter to look a lot more like your everyday teen in junior high or high school who may or may have not viewed porn before.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming normalized within boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is becoming more normal and culturally acceptable in the world of teens.
  • These statistics suggest that sexting is a gateway to getting into more sexual activity.
  • These statistics suggest that it’s impossible to shield your child from sexting.
  • These statistics suggest that there is a deceptive identity/power piece that sexting gives to girls and guys.

So, what should be our response?

Sexting is a complete lie embedded in the mindset that it’s innocent or that it’s not worse than having sex. Here are four ways I feel we should respond:

1. Prayer. We should be interceding for our students and for the students at our local schools. Prayer in our ministries needs to be proactive, not reactive. Keep your ministry connected to the power source—God.

2. Educate parents on trends and technology. About two out of every five teens say their parents have no idea what they are doing online. So we must take the initiative and help parents become more knowledgeable with trends and technology. Let’s be the support they don’t know they need.

3. Talk about it in youth group. I wrote a post on this (click here). Add sexting to the list because it’s becoming the norm. And right now, students don’t get a choice whether they are exposed to it or not.

4. Challenge your students. I think sometimes we may feel like a good talk is enough, but actually talk is only half the battle. You need to challenge your students to take action and stand against cultural norms that are slowly destroying their generation. Give them action steps that will give them confidence in the stance they take. Teach them how to move in righteous anger. Be creative in what you give them the opportunity to do. I would grab a few students and let them help you shape the challenge. I love getting students involved in stuff like this, because it gives them ownership.

What are some other ways we should respond to sexting?.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Aaron Crumbey oversees pastoral care for the high school ministry at Saddleback Church. He cares deeply about sharing Christ with students and seeing them reach their full potential in Christ. He’s married with three children, loves family time, sports, movies and all things musical among some other things. He also runs http://www.yoacblog.com.

For the original article, visit morethandodgeball.com.

10 Ways to Teach Your Children Humility.


Father and Daughter
(Imagery Majestic/Free Digital Photos)

Humility, dictionary definitions say, is marked by modesty, meekness, diffidence and an unassuming attitude. Dictionaries also contrast humility with arrogance and pride.

Yet we live in a culture where pride is celebrated and arrogance is almost a prerequisite to be taken seriously in business, politics and sports. Ideas such as “Nice guys finish last” are touted as “No duh!” truth.

Well, listen up! If we think humility is only for wimps and losers, then we really don’t know what the word means. Humility can only come from those who actually have something about which to be humble. The humble are those who could crow but choose to keep their beaks shut.

Humility is also a close associate of gratitude, and it’s an attribute that simply oozes class. Here are 10 ways to teach humility to your kids and (maybe) ramp it up a bit in your own life:

1. Modeling. Never underestimate the power of teaching through example. Humility must be consistently modeled as a lifestyle, not an on-again, off-again example.

2. Build them up. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s important to understand that humility always comes from a position of belief, strength and self-assurance.

3. Encourage and help them to be the very best they can be—no matter what they do. Humility works best when your child has actually achieved something. Help your child achieve with confidence.

4. Make sure they understand where their real value comes from. It’s easier to sidestep pride or arrogance when children understand they are valued simply because they are your child, not because they win the race, have a prettier mom (and a smarter dad!), earn a higher income or score the most points.

5. Never humiliate your kids. Humility cannot be imposed. It’s important not to confuse humiliation, bullying and beating down with an education in humility.

6. Expose your child to the great teachers and their stories. Jesus, Mother Teresa and Eric Liddell are all wonderful role models.  or Jesus, there are lots of great children’s books about Him, as well as about Mother Teresa. Eric Liddell is the man who inspired the movie Chariots of Fire, a great film for your whole family.

7. Teach them to serve.

  • Serve the homeless.
  • Serve the poor.
  • Serve their family.
  • Serve one another.

8. Coach them on how to respond. Kids need to be taught to say “Please” and “Thank you” as much as they need to be taught to brush their teeth and to stay out of the street. So why expect them to know humility without guidance? Here’s an example: “Look, Jr., that’s a great job you did on your science fair project. You deserved to win the prize. Now, this is how you handle it in class tomorrow … let’s practice saying:

  • ‘Thanks!’
  • ‘I like the way my friend, Matt, did his project, too.’
  • ‘I don’t think I could have won without the help of my teacher.’”

You get the idea.

9. Teach them how to apologize. The well-timed and sincere apology is a key component of humility. Sometimes they’re wrong; they need to acknowledge that. Sometimes they over-reach and it’s time to back up. Sometimes they receive unintentional consequences they need to smooth over.

10. Teach them to give thanks. A genuinely grateful heart is a key building block for humility. Gratitude, practiced and eventually owned, enhances humility at every turn. The person saying “Thank you” affects a posture that is unassuming and modest. Try this: Every time someone offers a compliment, simply say, “Thank you.” It’s the kind of response that eventually soaks in, grows roots and blooms humility.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

All Pro Dad is Family First’s innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a byproduct, the hearts of the children with their dads. AtAllProDad.com, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include daily emails, blogs, Top 10 lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. FromAllProDad.com, fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities onFacebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Letting Go of the Bully in You.


child crying in mother's arms
(© szefei iStockphoto.com)
During two years of an overly distracted life, I communicated more to a screen than to the people in my family. My schedule was so tightly packed that I constantly found myself saying, “We don’t have time for that.” And because there wasn’t a minute to spare, that meant no time to relax, be silly or marvel at interesting wonders along our path. I was so focused on my agenda that I lost sight of what really mattered.
Calling all the shots was a mean voice in my head. My internal drill sergeant was continually pushing me to make everything sound better, look better and taste better. My body, my house and my achievements were never good enough. Holding myself to such unattainable standards weighed heavily on my soul, and my inner turmoil eventually spilled out at people I loved the most.
Sadly, there was one person in particular who bore the brunt of my discontent: my firstborn daughter.
She could not make mess without me shaking my head in disappointment.
She could not forget her homework, her jacket or her lunchbox without me making a big deal about it.
She could not spill, stain, break or misplace without being made to feel like she’d made the worst mistake in the world.
Although it pains me to write this, I remember sighing heavily in annoyance when she fell down and hurt herself because it threw me off my “master schedule.” My daughter was not allowed to be a child who learned by trying and, yes, sometimes failing.
The truth hurts, but the truth heals … and brings me closer to the person and parent I want to be.
Every time I came down hard on my daughter, I justified my behavior by telling myself I was doing it to help her—help her become more responsible, capable and efficient and preparing her for the real world. I told myself I was building her up. But in reality, I was tearing her down.
I vividly remember the day my mother was visiting from out of town. The children were playing alone in the basement. My younger daughter began crying hysterically. I ran downstairs, fearing she was seriously hurt.
The first question out of my mouth was directed at my older daughter. “What did you do?” I asked angrily.
My child didn’t bother to explain that her little sister had slipped on the library book that was sitting on the bottom step. There really was no point. My beautiful child with humongous brown eyes that once held so much optimism looked defeated. Silent tears of a broken spirit slid down her face. My daughter knew it didn’t matter what she said, she’d still be wrong; it would still be her fault.
And there was my mother standing beside her, a silent witness to the whole ugly scene.
As my older daughter ran off to the sanctity of her bedroom, an unexpected question came out of my mouth. “You think I am too hard on her, don’t you?” I snapped.
My mom, who’d experienced her own difficult parenting moments and struggles, held no judgment in her eyes, only sadness. Her simple response of “yes” only confirmed what I knew in my heart.
I mustered up the courage to find the words that needed to be said. Apologizing didn’t come easily for someone who strived to make everything look perfect all the time, but I knew what needed to be said.
I found my child crumpled up like a dejected rag doll on top of her bed—her face puffy and red from crying.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
My daughter didn’t move.
I sat down on the edge of her bed and began saying things I’d never said to another human being—not even myself. “I feel mad inside a lot. I often speak badly about myself in my head. I bully myself. And when I bully myself, it makes me unhappy, and then I treat others badly—especially you. It is not right, and I am going to stop. I am not sure how, but I will stop. I am so very sorry,” I vowed, trying not to cry.
My daughter looked unsure as to what to do with this confession, this unusual offering from her mother who rarely admitted any wrongdoing. I didn’t blame her for the skeptical look she gave me. I understood why she didn’t say anything back, but somewhere in those eyes I saw hope—hope that things could be different.
I desperately wanted things to be different too. It was time to stop being so hard on my child; it was time to stop being so hard on myself. I prayed I could stand up to the inner bully. I knew I needed an easy first step. I decided to use one simple word: Stop.
Within the hour, I had a chance to try it. The first critical thought that popped into my head arose as I was preparing to leave the house: I looked at my reflection and thought, “You look fat. You can’t go out looking like that.”
Stop!” I assertively thought to myself, shutting down any further criticisms. Then I quickly turned away from the mirror and recited these words: “Only love today. Only love today.”
I used the same strategy when interacting with my child a few minutes later. Before any harsh words came out of my mouth about the way she was sloppily packing her bag of things, I cut off my inner critic by saying, “Stop! Only love today.” Then I swallowed the hurtful words and relaxed my disapproving face.
Within mere days of using the “stop” technique, I noticed a change. With a more positive thought process, it was easier to let go of the need to control, dictate and criticize. In response, my daughter began taking more chances and began revealing her true passions.
She started movie-making and website design on the computer. She made doll furniture and clothing to sell in the neighborhood. She began baking new recipes without any help.
Nothing she did was perfect. Nor was it mess-free or mistake-free, but the moment I said something positive, I saw her blossom a little more. That is when I began to clearly see beyond the mistakes and messes to what was truly important.
I began noticing my child’s inner beauty rather than looking for perfection on the outside.
I began paying more attention to the person she was rather than the successes she achieved.
I began letting her be who she was meant to be instead of some idealistic version I had in my head.
When I stopped being a bully to my child and myself, opportunities for growth and connection opened up. Over time, significant progress was made. In a little less than two years on my journey to let go of perfection and distraction, I received the confirmation I never thought I would receive.
My daughter was outside before school, tending to a garden she created smack dab in the middle of the yard. I watched from the kitchen window as she lovingly tended to her miniature plot. I was captivated by the utter joy on her face. She was clearly at peace.
Since my dad loves to garden and had taught my daughter a few things, I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the gift I would receive in return.
My parents wrote, “Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”
My friends, I have the following message to offer anyone who wants to believe today can be different than yesterday:
If you think that criticizing, belittling or critiquing yourself will make you smarter, fitter or more valuable, please reconsider.
If you think badgering, bullying or constantly correcting your child will make him or her more likable, more confident or more successful, please reconsider.
Because the truth is this:
It’s hard to love yourself with a bully breathing down your neck.
It’s hard to love yourself when the one person who’s supposed to love you unconditionally doesn’t.
It’s hard to become the person you’re supposed to be when you aren’t allowed to fall down and get back up.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

3 Tips to Preserving Your Kid’s Online Life.


Every Man Ministries

While the internet brings a wealth of information instantly to our finger tips, it also throws our children into an ocean of risk. Too often, our kids navigate those waters without a life preserver and become bait for the enemy’s piranha-like feeding frenzy to attack the weak.

Parents today have more than their neighborhoods, schools and kids’ friends to worry about. The enemy is cleverly casting nets online fishing for their souls and God’s men must be aware of where their kids are swimming. For example, social media has brought the world together, while giving predators tools to connect while disguised in sheep’s clothing. Online video gaming, once a harmless recreation (remember Atari?), now provides realms of obscene and violent behaviors. And with every online search, marketers of all kinds of dangerous material get closer to home.

The lesson from 1 Peter 5:8-9 is as true as it ever was, saying “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

As our kids tune into social media from morning to night on any device, posting, tweeting, instagramming, snapchatting etc., and online gamers disappear from the “real world” to indulge in fantasy worlds, God’s man must be alert, sober minded and resist the enemy.

Here are 3 tips to managing your kids’ online lives:

1.  Engage

Your kids need you to “be alert” as “Big Brother” online. Get engaged in their online worlds, whether it’s social media or video games.

Find out what social media they are involved in. Friend them on Facebook, follow their Tweets, become Instagram friends so you can see who they are following and who are following them. And, you can monitor their posts. For the online gamers, spend 30 minutes or so a week to do your own “scouting” of your kid’s “progress” in the game world.

2.  Enlist Support

We need help. We need other people, including our kids, to watch out for us and who courageously confront us. It’s mission-critical to have additional eyes and ears online, and who will bring issues to the table, help find Biblical answers and share Godly wisdom to sensitive parenting challenges.

Additional practical tips include monitoring their email, download parenting control software to prevent unwanted illicit material from showing up on screen, use privacy settings on your child’s profiles, create safe screen names, keep the computer in open sight, limit data usage on mobile devices, and make sure your kids know what information to keep private i.e. Social security numbers, address, phone numbers and bank, credit card information.

Being of “sober mind” is not just talking about intoxication. It also means to have a  “serious attitude or quality.” Managing your kid’s online life is serious business, not to be taken lightly.

3.  Encourage Communication

God’s man must nurture an environment where openness and honesty are welcomed, for good and bad behavior. It’s best if ease of communication is established in your kid’s early years, but it’s never too late. Talk with your kids about what’s going on online — good or bad. Make your values and beliefs a common topic, and compare them with behavior online.

At my house, our values are 1-love God, and 2-we help people. My kids know this. So it’s easy to ask, “is what you’re doing online accomplishing either of these values?” If so, great. Kudos. If not, then dive deeper into the values and why they are important, and imagine the risks created should those values be removed.

That’s being alert, sober minded and resisting the enemy. If that doesn’t help, try throwing a life-preserver over the keyboard.

*Every Man Ministries was founded by Kenny Luck, men’s pastor at Saddleback Church. Kenny created the Sleeping Giant program as a way to give men the tools and resources to make the most of their own men’s ministries and make the most of their walks with God. Watch Kenny’s teachings at EveryManMinistries.com.

One Way Love and The Phone Store.


When it comes to the raising of children, one-way love is both the easiest thing in the world and the hardest. How many of us have responded to the experience of becoming a parent for the first time by saying, “I finally understand how powerful and profound of a thing it is that God considers us His children!” The relationship we have with a baby, after all, is about as one-way as it gets. They need and we give, period. They have no illusions about their own power. The very idea that a baby might do something to deserve our love–other than exist–is laughable. It’s no coincidence that Jesus speaks so highly of children; he praises their ability to receive love.

It’s once our kids grow up that understanding the difference between law and grace becomes so difficult—but also so urgent. I’ll give you an example.

My wife and I had a rough year last year with one of our sons. His hardheartedness and willful defiance was not only affecting the rest of the family (sound familiar?), it was breaking our hearts because he was enslaving himself and he didn’t know it. Needless to say, he was not as convinced of the gravity of his misbehavior as Kim and I were. His unrepentant attitude was driving us crazy, so it was decided that he would be put on social lock-down. No car, no phone, no nothing. If he wasn’t at school, he was to be at home. No exceptions. The law had to do its crushing work. He needed to realize the seriousness of what he had been getting involved in. Being the social butterfly that he is, social lock-down was his worst fear, so that was what we chose. To make things even worse, we sold his smartphone.

He wasn’t happy about any of this, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for Kim, me, or the other kids either. It actually made things harder. Without his phone and his friends, he haunted the house like a drug addict going through detox. He couldn’t help out by giving his brother and sister rides, so Kim and I had to go back to serving as chauffeurs.

A month or so after the clampdown had gone into effect, I was traveling back from speaking at a conference. Before I left, I had told my son, in my most earnest, authoritative-father voice, that there was only one thing he needed to do while I was gone and that was to not give his mother a hard time. If he didn’t give her any unnecessary headaches, when I got back, we might revisit the phone issue. Midway through my 48 hour trip, I received a call from Kim, who told me that my request was not, shall we say, being respected. I couldn’t believe it. One thing. 48 hours. He couldn’t do it. I was furious.

I spent the plane ride home battling with God. I mean, really going back and forth with Him about what I should do. I knew I had to deal with the situation as soon as I returned. I was angry with my son for putting me in this situation, and I was tired of dealing with his ingratitude. Clearly my son had not learned his lesson. As far as I was concerned, more law was needed. Yet as I prayed about it, I had this haunting sense that God was telling me it was time to relent. Time to, at least, give the boy his phone back. What? No way, God. Every fiber of my being was resistant to that idea. Not only did the law afford me control over my son (a boy who had proved that he didn’t know how to handle his freedom), he didn’t deserve to get his phone back. The one thing I had asked him to do, he hadn’t done. He’d understood the condition before I left: be good, and you’ll get a phone. Well, he hadn’t been good. So no phone. Very reasonable to me. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to keep the handcuffs on. That I was flying back from a conference where I had spoken about one-way love was not lost on me.

Well, I got home, called my son out of his room, and told him we needed to talk. I reminded him of everything I’d said before I left—the conditions under which he would get a phone. He looked at me very sheepishly, knowing he was guilty—again! I talked to him for a while about life and choices and sin and how much we loved him. He listened intently–really listened. In fact, it was the first time he had looked at me in the eyes and really paid attention to what I was telling him. I could tell that what I was saying was finally making sense to him. After we were done talking, we prayed together. First me, then him. When we finished praying, I looked at him and said, “Now go put your shoes on, and let’s go to the phone store and get you a new phone.” He was completely shocked. His lip started to quiver, and he finally burst into tears. In the months since we first caught him doing the stuff that originally got him in trouble, he had shown no remorse, no sorrow. This was the first time I had seen tears. Real tears. I asked him what was wrong. With tears streaming down his face, he looked at me and said, “But, Dad, I don’t deserve a phone.” He was right. He didn’t deserve a phone. He didn’t deserve a pad of paper and a stamp. His words revealed that God knew a lot better how to handle my son than I did. The contrition was genuine. The law had leveled him. It had shown him who he was in a way that left no doubt about his need. It was time for a word of grace.

Notice that his humility did not precede the invitation. The chronology is crucial. His admission was not a condition for mercy; it was its fruit! I looked at him and said, “Listen, son. God takes me to the phone store ten thousand times a day, and I have never ever deserved one…so go get your shoes on and let’s get you a phone.”

It was a happy day.

Now, before you line up to give me the father-of-the-year award, know that the reason I tell the story is because it was such a surprise to me too. My son had come by his rebelliousness honestly, after all. One of the main reasons his behavior bugged me so much was that he reminded me so much of myself when I was his age! I only tell the story for three reasons: One, it illustrates that the law is useful. Grace could not have done it’s curing work if the law had not first done its crushing work. But two, it illustrates how resistant we are to grace. We feel much safer with our hands on the wheel. I was so afraid that he would go nuts, that he would prove himself to be his father’s son once again. It was as hard for me to give up the sense of manageability the law provided as it was for him to lose his phone. It had to be taken from me. And three, the emotional response at being let off the hook was a powerful reminder that only grace can inspire what the law demands. The law was able to accuse him, but only grace could acquit him. The law was able to expose him, but only grace could exonerate him. The law was able to diagnose him, but only grace was able to deliver him.

God showed me one more time that, when it’s all said and done, love (not law) is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience.

[Excerpted from One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.]

Tullian Tchividjian
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Visit his website at www.liberatenet.org. and follow him on Twitter @PastorTullian

4 Ways to Coach Your Son Through the Dating Years.


What are you teaching your son about dating?
What are you teaching your son about dating? (imagerymajestic/Digital Free Photos)

Your son is 13, and testosterone is running wild in this young man. He’s changing mentally, physically and emotionally. The girls around him are too. His friends are dating, and he has an interest in it as well. The “fun” of fatherhood is about to begin!

Your son may be uncomfortable talking to Mom about what he’s going through, so he looks to you. The stories I’ve heard my friends tell of conversations with their dads around this time are pretty … let’s saystrange.

What are you going to say? How will you coach your son through the dating years? Here are four ways to coach your son through the dating years. And if you have a daughter, here’s how to teach her the difference between boys and men.

1. Ongoing dialogue. When your son reaches this age, you begin to think of “the talk.” But “the talk” implies one conversation will take care of it all. How wrong you are if you think that. “The talk” should be called “the talks” because they should be ongoing conversations and “counseling” sessions. Your son will have new experiences and feelings on a regular basis, and those will require new dialogue and new answers to his questions. Make sure you make it a point to discuss as much as needed.

2. Complete honesty. Don’t talk about the birds and the bees. If you have to get a book to get the proper names and explanations, then do it. Have no pride in this. Also, be honest and open about your experiences—the good and the bad. This is also a good time to discuss the dangers and pitfalls of pornography that is introduced to many young men at this age.

3. Model it for him. Are you dating your wife, his mother, or someone else? When you do, make sure you speak to him about it. Share what you are doing. Share why you are excited or uneasy about something. Your example in dating and the dialogue about it will model the right way to date.

4. Discuss the future. Have real conversations about the consequences of sex—the possibility of STDs, pregnancy and ties to a person he may never have any plans to be with in the future. You don’t want teenage boy “locker room” talk being his frame of reference for this.

The most important part to remember is your son needs a male, his dad, to be there during these new experiences and thoughts. Just like a coach does, work with him, encourage him and challenge him so he can be best prepared for this season.

Are your sons (or daughters) in this season? How comfortable do you feel about coaching them through this season?

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ NEW MAN.

All Pro Dad is Family First’s innovative and unique program for every father. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and, as a byproduct, the hearts of the children with their dads. At AllProDad.com, dads in any stage of fatherhood can find helpful resources to aid in their parenting. Resources include daily emails, blogs, Top 10 lists, articles, printable tools, videos and eBooks. From AllProDad.com, fathers can join the highly engaged All Pro Dad social media communities on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Guidelines for Success in Raising Obedient Children.


Kay Camenisch

Do your children occasionally shock you with antics that are entirely outside their training? Most homeschool families take seriously the admonition to “train up a child in the way he should go.” When a child’s behavior is outside acceptable boundaries, conscientious parents notice.

I experienced one such occasion when I took our youngest children to the mall. Daniel was almost 2 and Jonathan was barely 3 years old. My normally calm, obedient children squealed and chased each other around counters and wrapped themselves in hanging garments. They then played Hide and Seek among clothing racks. I was horrified and couldn’t shop because I was too busy correcting and corralling.

Finally, I realized that the boys had never been in a mall. To them the store was a stimulating playground. They weren’t going outside their boundaries—I’d never given them guidelines for behavior in clothing stores.

I called them to me, squatted down to their level, and looked them in the eye. I told them I needed them to stay close to me, keep their voices quiet, keep their hands by their sides, and so forth. I then asked questions to check their understanding.

After our chat, the boys became perfect little shopping companions. They did exactly what I had asked. We all enjoyed the excursion, and I found what I was looking for. As we walked to another store, a little hop-skip in Daniel’s step mirrored the joy in my heart.

I thought about my impatience in the past. In how many of those instances had I been the problem because I failed to set boundaries or tell my children what kind of behavior would be appropriate? Because other responsibilities demand attention, it’s easy to overlook preparing children for what lies ahead. How can they succeed if they don’t know what is expected of them?

Children Need Guidelines

Even in everyday activities, children need to know what is acceptable behavior. For example, do your children know what you want from them when:

  • They have a question or important need while you’re talking with someone?
  • They are asked by a peer to do something they know won’t please you—or God?
  • They have to wait for you in a public gathering, like after church?
  • They are overwhelmed by a task or a situation?

If our children don’t know what is expected, their disruptions lead to frustration, misunderstandings, wasted time, and possibly missed goals. Even in familiar settings, such as church, we’ll get better cooperation if we explain what we expect during the service and why, rather than constantly whispering, “Shhhh!” and “Be still!”

In new situations, it’s even more important. How could Jonathan and Daniel have known how to act in a mall when they had never been to one? If it is something that is unusual to us—like end-of-the-year testing—we’re likely to prepare them. However, what about things that are familiar to us, but not to them?

Knowing what is expected will help children succeed in strange situations, such as these:

  • A visit to the doctor
  • An encounter with strangers or a relative they tend to pull back from
  • A trip to a nursing home, a museum, or a field trip
  • A first birthday party when the other child gets all the presents

When possible, we need to make time to tell our sons and daughters what to expect, how to act, or what to say in a new situation. When appropriate, we can build internal character by explaining whysof an expectation. It takes very little time and can save embarrassment, conflict, and/or lost time later.

Social grace is a learned skill. For the shy child—or the hyper one—it’s especially helpful to have a strategy ahead of time. They will learn more quickly if we teach them how to be polite and appropriate rather than expect them to know intuitively or to absorb training by osmosis.

We home educate our children because we want them to adopt our faith and values as well as succeed in life. Taking time to give specific guidelines builds toward that goal. If a child doesn’t follow instructions, there’s an additional benefit.

An Added Bonus

We tend to confront disobedience with reprimand or ask, “Why did you do that?” Either approach immediately puts a child on the defensive. However, if we’ve given instructions, we can say, “What did I ask you to do?” Answers to that simple question can reveal lack of understanding.

A friend, Paul, had bedtime prayers with his young daughter. One night after Susannah prayed, he instructed her to begin her prayers with thanksgiving instead of making requests. The next day, he went on a trip. When he returned, just as in the past, she began with, “Dear God, bless Mommy, and Daddy, and…”

He said, “Susannah, how did I ask you to start your prayers?”

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Ummm. Was it with Halloween?”

Susannah heard her father’s request, but she didn’t know “thanksgiving” was an expression of gratitude. She thought it was a vacation!

The question “What did I ask you to do?” gave opportunity to hear her lack of understanding.

Further Bonuses

If a child understands but does not obey, rather than reprimand, ask, “Can you help me understand why you didn’t do what I asked?” The question puts responsibility for obedience on the child without placing blame.

The question gives opportunity to learn if there is a legitimate reason for noncompliance. If your spouse had told him to do something different, it is good to have shown trust, rather than having blamed. However, if the child is guilty of willful disobedience, he/she will indict him/herself if answers show noncompliance without a reason.

If we constantly correct our children and rein them in, we focus on negative behavior and tend to address only external actions. It instills negative self-image and doesn’t build character or relationship. In time, the child will resist.

On the other hand, if day by day we take time to prepare our children for things they face, it will build confidence to embrace life. If we correct them without judgment and blame, they will not be as quick to resist us. If we consistently communicate a desire to help them succeed, they’ll learn to welcome our input, and it will also build our relationship with them.

Train Up Your Child  

One of the definitions for train in Proverbs 22:6 is “to initiate.” As we train our children, we initiate them for life. It is quicker, easier, and more productive to initiate correct performance than to change unacceptable behavior. Instruction and guidelines help children start on the right path—thus helping them succeed in the situation at hand and in the life ahead of them. The initial investment of time and attention is well worth the reward.

As we communicate expectations, we join our children in anticipation of coming events. It helps them be successful in new or difficult situations, thus preparing them for success in life.

When we seek activities to teach Godly character, we tend to get complicated and think of a planned activity or program. However, we can encourage character and relationship if we simply look from our children’s perspective and give guidelines to help them be successful in daily situations.

Kay Camenisch, a pastor’s wife, has four children and eleven grandchildren. She began to homeschool in 1989. Besides articles and dramas, she also writes devotions for cbn.com. Her search to help couples find freedom from anger led to the publication of Uprooting Anger: Destroying the Monster Within, a transformational Bible study that addresses the roots of anger.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps atwww.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Publication date: September 27, 2013

How to Protect Your Kids from Sexual Abuse.


Pam and Bill Farrel

Sexual abuse is almost a daily headline, so all parents need to have their eyes wide open to vigilantly protect their children from sexual predators. In 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex, we help parents be aware of this potential danger and be informed on various was to better protect a child from harm. The statistics are heartbreaking: 1/3 of all girls and 1/4 of all boys will be sexually molested between the ages of 4 and 9. Only 7 % of children are molested by strangers, 93% by people the child knows. Most molesters are male, typically over 30, (however more females are becoming aggressors). Most sexual abuse is by a family member or extended family member.

Unfortunately, the likelihood of sexual abuse doubles in a blended family. Step brothers and step fathers are statistically the most likely perpetrators (The most frequent type but least talked about is an older brother molesting a younger sister– it is five times more common than the most publicized type: a father molesting a daughter). And the sadness of this is the cycle of abuse – the abuser is also often a past victim of child molestation himself. Other factors that raise the possibility of abuse are: those living in poverty and children with no father or an absentee dad.

Profile of a Pedophile

Law enforcement looks for an MO (Modus Operandi) or the method of operation a person uses to gain better access to the child. Look for:

  • Pedophiles often have a specific age of child they target. Some prefer younger children, some older. He often seeks out children of the same age he was when he was victimized. Many pedophiles often prefer children close to puberty who are sexually inexperienced, but curious about sex. Often his environment or a special room will be decorated in child-like decor and will appeal to the age and sex of the child he is trying to entice.
  • The pedophile will often be employed or volunteer in a position that involves daily contact with children. And it will often be in a supervisory capacity such as sports coaching, unsupervised tutoring, or a position where he has the opportunity to spend unsupervised time with a child. They could be chaperone camping or overnight trips; frequent video arcades, playgrounds or shopping malls; offer babysitting services; participate in internet gaming with children; join social networking websites such as Facebook, and other social media. They may frequent children’s events even if they have no children or grandchildren
  • The pedophile often seeks out those who come from troubled homes or under privileged homes. He then showers them with attention, gifts, taunting them with trips to desirable places like amusement parks, zoo’s, concerts, the beach and other such places.
  • Pedophiles work to master their manipulative skills by first becoming a friend, building the child’s self esteem. They may refer to the child as special or mature, appealing to their need to be heard and understood then entice them with adult-type activities that are often sexual in content such as x-rated movies or pictures. They offer them alcohol or drugs to hamper their ability to resist activities or recall events that occurred.
  • Many times pedophiles will develop a close relationship with a single parent in order to get close to their children. Once inside the home, they have many opportunities to manipulate the children – using guilt, fear, and love to confuse the child. If the child’s parent works, it offers the pedophile the private time needed to abuse the child.
  • Pedophiles work hard at stalking their targets and will patiently work to develop relationships with them. It is not uncommon for them to be developing a long list of potential victims at any one time. Many of them believe that what they are doing is not wrong and that having sex with a child is actually “healthy” for the child.
  • Pedophiles often take and collect photographs of victims while dressed, nude, or in sexual poses. He may collect a variety of child-adult pornography. Many of them also collect “souvenirs” from their victims. They go to great lengths to protect these collections.

Sex offenders can be tough to spot on the surface as some are married and hard-working, employed within a wide range of occupations, usually well-liked, can be well- educated and respected community members. A more reliable sign that you might be concerned is that he relates better with children than adults.

Pam and Bill Farrel are the Directors of Love-Wise.com and are the authors of numerous books on parenting including 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make and their newest 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex.

Publication date: September 13, 2013

Trusting God for Peace When Kids Go Back to School.


kids going back to school
(© perkmeup/www.istockphoto.com)
Anticipation of school supply sales used to be such fun. Now all those bins of erasers, pencils and index cards are making me feel slightly woozy. I’m not ready for school supplies! I have no definitive plan for my children academically this fall. I’m trying to figure out options for everyone, and my head is pounding from the sheer weight of my decisions.
Why do I struggle so with decisions? Why can’t I simply make a decision and be done with it?
Each of my five children are in different situations for school, and none of them are where I want them to be. I wish I knew what the best option was for them. At the moment, there are five children, five plans, 500 decisions … and one confused me.
The bummer is that I’ve always enjoyed school supplies shopping! That’s one of the things I loved about home schooling—school supplies, craft supplies, paper, pencils and markers!
Now I have two little girls who are a little too enamored with writing their names on everything with markers, so the markers have lost their allure. I’m trying to organize and declutter, so purchasing more colored pencils to add to the two shoe boxes full we already have seems a bit redundant. And if I add any more paper or spiral-bound notebooks to this house, people might think it’s an office supply store.
This year, those school supplies didn’t bring a lot of excitement—just panic!
Decision-making is so difficult for me. And these education decisions seem huge! Huge. It feels as if every decision has major repercussions for the present and the future. My head is spinning, and my heart is heavy. I feel anxious.
Which reminds me of Philippians 4:6-7. I have it memorized in one version, but this is it in the Amplified Version:
“Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
“And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I know that verse by heart; I wish I really took it to heart. I’m a whirling dervish of anxiety right now. That’s not how God wants me to be. He wants me to trust Him with it all—every big and little decision, every short-term and every long-term decision.
The best way to combat my anxiety is to answer it with Scripture. To preach the gospel to myself. God cares more about me and my children than I can imagine: “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” (Is. 54:13, ESV).
God knows exactly what my children need, and in His perfect timing it will happen. I have to let go of wanting everything to happen in my timing: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6, NASB).
I’m choosing not to be anxious. To pray. To trust God and His Word. To move forward with faith. And maybe I’ll just make some decisions already!
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SpiritLed Woman.
Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids that range from 4 years old to 17 years old. Her book, When Happily Ever After Shatters (Tyndale House), is in bookstores. This is adapted from her blog, uptomytoes.com.

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