How We Should Be Talking to Our Kids

Ephesians 4:29-30 “Let no (not a single one!) corrupt (rotten; worthless) communication (more than your words–your tone of voice, your expression, etc.) proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying (building up spiritually; encouraging), that it may minister grace (help; kindness; good will; favor ) unto the hearers.”

I’d like to address a topic that has consumed me lately: the way parents ought to talk to their children. I think this Ephesians passage is a good place to start: as parents, we ought not let a single word come out of our mouths that will tear down our children. Instead, every word should be spiritually encouraging, edifying, and helpful to them.

One way I believe parents “corrupt” their children is in the way they handle discipline situations. Most of us would probably agree that it is important to teach our children to obey and to correct them when they do not. But some parents seem to believe that obedience can be taught at any cost: through yelling, screaming, belittling, manipulating, etc. Oftentimes, we employ these “corrupting” methods because we are viewing their disobedience as more of a personal offense against us (“Why do you put me through this?” “Why do I have to tell you this over and over again?”, “Can’t I just have some peace and quiet for awhile?”) rather than an opportunity to teach and guide our children.

From John Younts’s book, Everyday Talk:

“Parents, when you give in to anger, resentment or self-pity at your children’s bad behavior, you make yourself the center of the problem. You are loving yourself first and most. You must love your kids enough to show them the danger of their behavior. They need to see that their first problem is with God, and only secondarily with you. … You must be more concerned for them than for yourself, and you must be concerned most of all for God. By modeling patience, love, self-control–and all the fruit of the Spirit–you teach your children how extraordinary God is.”

From Tim Kimmel’s Grace-Based Parenting:

We need to “realize that (our) children will struggle with sin. …Consider it an honor to be used by God to show (your) children how to find true forgiveness in Christ. (Don’t be) intimidated by the dialogue that brings the discussion of sin into the light. In fact, (be) grateful to be able to come alongside (your) children with an unconditional love during some of their toughest hours. ”

I believe there’s a better way to correct our children when they’re disobedient, rather than anger, manipulation, exasperation, or belittling. And I believe it’s the biblical way:

Proverbs 16:20-24 “He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy is he. 21 The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning (persuasiveness). 22 Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. 23 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 15 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly… 4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.… 28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

If you are a parent, grandparent, youth worker, or anyone who leads children or teenagers, I urge you to shed the tough-guy, heavy-handed approach and adopt the gentler, more pleasant, biblical approach which, perhaps, has not ever occurred to you before. The “corruption” that comes from yelling, belittling, or manipulation may not be evident  until your children are older and no longer hiding their true problems behind a facade of outward obedience.

*I’ve struggled over how to construct this post for days, and I’m still not satisfied with it. I think this is a HUGE issue, and I keep seeing and hearing antecdotes that make me want to share God’s Word far and wide on this topic. Maybe at some point I’ll be articulate enough to do it justice, but for now here is my feeble attempt to share the treasures of what God has been teaching me lately. May it spur you on to further thought and study.

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On Priorities

I read a few good posts this week about priorities that I’d like to recommend to you:

Wendy Alsup blogs about “Accomplishment vs. Relationship

And Carolyn Mahaney has two thought-provoking posts about a mother’s priorities here and here.

Published in: on March 25, 2009 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Thoughts on Toys and Playtime

What are the best toys for children? The most enjoyable? The ones that hold a child’s attention the longest and make the best memories? As I think about that question, I think about one childhood which I happen to be an expert on—mine!

What are your favorite memories of playtime as a child? One of mine is of playing “restaurant” with my next-door neighbor, Christy Belcher. Mud, of course, was chocolate cake, grass was green beans, rocks were baked potatoes, crunchy leaves were chips while green leaves were paper money, and rose petals (Sorry, Mom!) were strawberries. I also loved playing kickball in the street with the neighborhood kids, “statues” or “tag” in one of our back yards, or the spontaneous water fights we had where all the neighborhood kids ganged up on Tom Coil, the single firefighter who lived two doors down from me. My brother and I enjoyed turning our bedroom into a roller-skating rink (Yeah, my parents were laid-back—thanks Mom and Dad!) or our bunk beds into apartments. When I think about it all, I almost wish I could go back and enjoy those days again.

Did you notice that all of my favorite memories involved next to nothing by way of material goods? And, probably, your favorite memories are similar to mine. All the glittery, high-tech stuff that lines the toy aisles is not nearly as entertaining as the little-bit-of-nothing my best memories are made of.

So, what makes for good playtime? I think the best toys are ones that have limitless options for creativity or “transformations.” For instance, a piece of paper or a lump of play dough can be transformed into a million different things, limited only by a child’s imagination.

Here are the kinds of toys that helped me make the best memories as a child and ones that my own children enjoy:

  • Art stuff: construction paper, scissors, markers and crayons, felt, pipe cleaners, glue, glitter, googly eyes, paint, empty toilet paper rolls, etc. I keep all these supplies in a large bin along with a plastic tablecloth, which I use to cover the kitchen table whenever the kids are working on art.
  • Play dough (add cookie cutters, plastic knives, etc.)
  • Building/ construction stuff: Legos, Tinker Toys, blocks, etc.
  • Dramatic play items: costumes, dishes, kitchen sets, dolls, etc. We’ve contributed old phones, an old keyboard, etc.
  • Outdoor gear: bikes, balls, buckets, shovels, etc.

Speaking of outside toys, there’s no better play place than the great outdoors. There are so many wonderful natural materials to play with: mud, leaves, rocks, sand, water, etc. Purposely put your kids in play clothes and be willing to let them get messy!

If your kids aren’t used to being creative and don’t know what to do at first, get them started. Sit with them and start making or building something—maybe something you remember that you enjoyed creating as a child. Before long, your kids will catch on and will come up with ideas of their own. When you’re outside with them, help them mix up the mud. Teach them the games you enjoyed as a child. Play with them! After all, if you’re longing to go back and enjoy those simpler days, there’s one way to do it: Enjoy them with your children!

Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Bible Story Books and Verse Memorization for Young Children

We’ve used several books for Bible reading time/ verse memorization with our young children. I thought I’d share with you some of the resources we’ve used, and you can feel free to respond with some of your favorites. Also, I’ve put these in developmentally appropriate order. We used the first book when our children were barely talking, and we’re using the last few resources now with our two pre-K children.

1. The ABC Memory Book: Our children learned several verses around the time they were also learning their ABC’s: “A- All we like sheep have gone astray. B- But He was wounded for our transgressions. etc.” We would recite these verses and talk about them at breakfast each morning. I was amazed at the number of verses our toddlers learned.

2. The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor: I should mention that there is a new version of this classic book with more cartoony pictures, which I don’t care for. The original pictures are beautiful and, in my opinion, needed no update. Each Bible story is short enough to hold the attention of even young children, and they love to look at the pictures.

3. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones: This is a unique, gospel-centered Bible story book. The thing I love about this Bible story book is that each and every story, including those in the Old Testament, points to Jesus. I just love it. Now, I know a lot of people who love the art in this book, but, personally, I’m not overly fond of it.

4. Kids4Truth: My church hosts a Kids4Truth club with incentives for memorizing verses. Kids4Truth is a unique, doctrine-based program that includes not only verse memorization, but also catechism-like questions and answers to teach children about 12 basic doctrines of the Bible. If you have no Kids4Truth club near you, you can still use the resources in your own family. They’re excellent.

Feel free to comment and share with us some of your favorite resources!

Djubi Sale- Order Yours Today!

In an earlier post I introduced you to a fun new game called Djubi. This is the coolest twist on “pitch and catch” that you’ll ever see. For a limited time, Djubi is offering an online special for $24.99. Don’t miss out on this sale! Order yours today!

*And if you’d like to learn a little bit more about my brother-in-law, go to his business website at www.j4studios.com or his family website at www.ethihopeia.com

P.S. Greenville friends, stop into O.P. Taylor downtown or The Elephant’s Trunk to see Djubi for yourself!

Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 1:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Christians and Generosity

There are certain places here in Greenville where I’m highly likely to run into scores of Christian friends: consignment sales, used book sales, Dress-Like-A-Cow-And-Get-Free-Chick-Fil-A Day, etc. Just say the word “sale,” or, especially, “free” and I and my fellow Greenville Christians will be there, ready to snatch up the good deal. There’s a grocery store in town that holds a sidewalk sale once a month–six bucks a box. From what I understand, folks have to stand behind a line until a whistle is blown, and then it’s every man for himself–pushing and grabbing to fill your box with the best stuff. Though I haven’t been there, I can almost guarantee it’s a hot-spot for my Christian friends. We certainly do love a good deal. There is virtue to all of this bargain-hunting. Following the example of the Proverbs 31 Woman, we’re trying to provide wisely for our families. We’re trying to make our little paychecks turn into pretty clothes, reliable cars and yummy meals for the whole family.

But if you’ll look a little more closely at the Proverbs 31 Woman, you’ll not only see frugality and resourcefulness, but you’ll also see generosity:

Proverbs 31:20 “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Frugality is good and virtuous, but if I were to look up all the verses on generosity/ giving to those in need and compare them with the verses that extol being economical, I think the scales would be tipped in the direction of giving. Penny-pinching is good; generosity is even better. And when I picture what we Greenville Christians must look like to other people, I see a lot of grabbing for the best food- holding my good place in line- I’m lookin’ out for me and mine sort of images rather than the I’d like to give you mine- I’m willing to be last- Who can I help sort of images.

There’s a story that’s been affecting me for days. I read the story on CNN, watched a few associated videos, and bawled my eyes out. Though God’s name is not mentioned as the motivator for this giving, I think we can see His character manifested through the generosity of this woman.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/10/28/foreclosed.home/index.html#cnnSTCText

If you haven’t run across it yet, it’s worth the read and the time to watch a video clip or two. May God help me to be more generous for His glory!

Published in: on November 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm  Comments (3)  

Weapons and Little Boys

Several months ago my 3-year-old little guy was exposed to toy guns and swords at a friend’s house, and it was love at first sight. Instantly, he began “shooting” his sister, mommy, and daddy. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought a lot about how we would handle weapons at our house, but I knew it was time to formulate a plan that would help us teach good virtues to our children.

We’re book-lovers in our house, so of course I turned to stories to help me teach my son about virtuous weapon-use. After much searching, I found some delightful books that have not only entertained us but have also taught us some wonderful lessons about bravery, duty, following wise counsel, etc.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our new book-friends:

St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges: This is a Caldecott winner. Though the vocabulary is way out of my son’s range of understanding, the pictures are magnificent and keep him looking at this book over and over again.

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien: This story chronicles the life of a boy who desires to one day be a knight. After serving faithfully as a page and then a squire, his dream becomes a reality. This is a good book for learning the terminology (What is a lance? jousting? a squire? etc.). And the theme that James’s faithfulness in the little things led to his eventual knighting is a good lesson in faithfulness to responsibility.

Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur by Hudson Talbott: This is one of a series of books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest, because this is my favorite of the three I’ve reviewed here, and my son loves it too. My 3-year-old son understands that King Arthur didn’t listen to wise counsel and behaved foolishly, which resulted in his precious sword being broken. But Arthur’s repentance brings a special blessing: the Excalibur sword. With this blessing comes a great responsibility to use it wisely.

And my son’s favorite weapon story is the story of David and Goliath. We tell this one over and over again. We have several different story Bibles that we use with our children, and I think that, in each, the “David and Goliath” pages open on their own by now!

What are your favorite “weapon” stories that teach good virtue? How have you handled this situation in your house?

Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 3:25 am  Comments (8)  

When I’ve Been Falsely Accused- Part 3

While I’m discussing false accusations, I can’t help but think of the One who never, ever sinned against anyone, yet took the punishment for the sins of the world. His was the ultimate false accusation, and He responded with the perfect example of humility.

Isaiah 53: 7-10 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

I Peter 2:21-24 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

My false accusation pales in comparison to Christ’s. And He endured the agony from that false accusation for my benefit! May I respond more like Him as I express the gratitude I owe Him!

Published in: on September 30, 2008 at 2:41 am  Comments (1)  

When I’ve Been Falsely Accused- Part 2

As I looked for wisdom from God’s Word, I found Psalm 7 to be a great comfort and source of guidance. (Thanks, Bob Bixby, for your series on “The Song of the Slandered Saint.”)

Psalm 7

1 O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
2
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
3
O LORD my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
4
If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
5
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
6
Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
7
So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
8
The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
9
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
10
My defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
11
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
12
If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
13
He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
14
Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
15
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
16
His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
17
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

I knew I needed to search my heart and ask God if my accuser was right about me. Sometimes others can see our faults more clearly than we can see them ourselves. Though my faults were exaggerated by my accuser, I knew there were elements of truth in his/her claims. I’ve prayed that the Lord would use the rebuke for good in my heart (verses 3-5 and Psalm 139:23-24).

After much soul-searching and advice-gathering, I was still convinced that the accuser was wrong on many accounts and had falsely accused me as a way of pridefully protecting himself/ herself. But my accuser seemed just as convinced that I was wrong and that he/she was right. It was hard for me to leave that unresolved, but I found great comfort in verses 8-10. God will settle the accounts in His timing; He is a just God, and I have no better defender than Him. As long as my conscience is clear before Him, I have nothing to stew about.

Still, though, I struggled with bitterness in my heart, and I knew my attitude wasn’t quite right. I found further help from Luke’s gospel:

Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 35 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. … For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. …But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.”

It’s easy to love those who love me and treat me well. It’s really radical to love those who hurt me. But God calls us to that radical kind of love–the kind of love He has for us. And I knew that in order to get over the hump of bitter feelings, I’d need to reach out and purposely do something loving for the person who had hurt me.

Romans 5:8 “But God (showed) his love toward us, in that, while we were (his enemies), Christ died for us.”

I’ll take one more post with this topic next week. I hope this series will be an encouragement and a help for any of you who are struggling with forgiveness/ bitterness as a result of a false accusation.

Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 3:26 am  Comments (2)  

When I’ve Been Falsely Accused- Part 1

This summer I faced an accusation that kept me reeling for weeks. I couldn’t tell which way was up and needed godly advisers to help me put my feet back on solid ground. Through the trial, I’ve found comfort and guidance from the Word.

First of all, a fog-clearing quote from Charles Spurgeon:

“He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.”

As I formulate my attitude those who have hurt me, I have to remember how much God has forgiven me for far greater, in light of His holiness. In gratitude for the great debt I have been forgiven through Christ, I find the strength to forgive others.

Col. 3:12-13 “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

Eph 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Here’s a quote from a sermon delivered by John MacArthur:

“Nothing is more godlike than forgiving someone. And never are you more like God than when you forgive. If it is your heart’s prayer to be like Christ, to be as God’s children, beloved children who manifest His character, then you must necessarily be characterized by forgiveness.”

Tomorrow I’ll share a Psalm that has brought me particular comfort and guidance through my situation.

Published in: on September 26, 2008 at 4:48 am  Leave a Comment