Pouring into Our Kids in 2018: Game On

God wasn’t our number one for most of our marriage. If you would have asked my husband and I, we would have said that He was. But He wasn’t. We were very much striving for the American Dream.

We were raising our daughters to be good people because we were good people. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to be doing? Wasn’t that enough?

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We taught them to say please and thank you. We taught them to be nice and polite and do what they’re told. We took them to church on Sundays to learn about God. We taught them the importance of a good education and how to be successful in American culture.

As my kids grew up, I started to think about what I really wanted them to be when they left our house.

Happy? Confident? Intelligent? Driven?

To a certain degree, yes, those things are useful. But, they are secondary values. As I pondered these things I began to question the values on which I had been so focused.

I realized that if I want my kids to have a lasting faith and a heart for God, then I needed to shoot for more than raising our kids to be good people.

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When I found myself with teenagers, my thinking started to shift from the day to day issues with my kids, to the adults they would become. As my mind flashed forward, what I saw gave me pause.

My mind didn’t flash to them as hobos living on the street and begging for food. My mind didn’t flash to my daughters being porn stars or drug addicts. My mind flashed to their faith and character.

Who would they become? Would they continue to follow Christ as young adults?

What greater focus could there be this coming year than the spiritual lives of our kids? I challenge you to commit to being intentional about3D cover passing on a personal faith in Christ to your kids this year. Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids will empower you in this noble endeavor.

We go to church, you may say. Isn’t that enough? According to numerous studies, it isn’t.

Did you know somewhere between 60-75% of our kids leave the church when they leave home?

Did you know 85% of youth from Christian homes who attend public schools do not embrace a Christian worldview? (The Last Christian Generation, Josh McDowell, p.14)

2018 is here, and many of us have made New Year’s Resolutions. Losing weight, exercising, and reading the Bible are all noble goals. However, We have the rest of our lives to improve ourselves. How much time do we have left with our kids?

Do you see your kids wrestling with spiritual issues? Are you a regular part of their journey toward discovering the truth? Have you done everything you could this past year to build up faith in Christ in your children? If not, what better resolution could there be?

It’s a new year and anything is possible. You have a clean slate.

Game on.

Man, I saw a lot of the mistakes that I made early on and I see a lot of the things I’m doing well now, and the difference this book would have made for me 28 years ago…I actually had a hard time putting this one down!  —Jim

In this book, you will learn…

  • why a majority of kids leave the church after they leave home
  • why churched kids’ lifestyles often aren’t consistent with their religion
  • the reality of what kids will encounter in college
  • which things actually cause faith to stick to kids
  • how to encourage your kids to depend on God
  • 3 ways to nurture your kids so they will be open to the gospel
  • 5 questions all teenagers must answer as they move into adulthood
  • 11 mistakes Christian parents make that lead kids away from faith in Christ

Pouring in comes out in the next couple months. Pre-order your copy for just $12 today!

Pre-order Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids

I’ve seen it in your eyes. Christian parents have been watching their teens turn away from the faith for decades, and you fear your kids will do the same. It is never too late to tip the scales in favor of your kids developing a personal, passionate, and permanent faith in Jesus Christ.

$12.00

 

 

 

5 Reasons to be Excited about the New Year

TempThis morning I woke up to find it was negative fifteen degrees! What? In Indiana? I understand if you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan—those up there states—it is par for the course. But, Indiana? Brrrrrrr!

I just got back from the grocery store. It’s a deceivingly beautiful day. The sky is blue and the bright, beautiful snow is sparkling in the sunshine. It’s delightful to look at from the inside. However, I had to take my heavy duty gloves off walking back to the car because I bought Starbucks and I couldn’t grip my cup with them on. My hands throbbed all the way home. It’s rough being me.

Anyway, now that I have thawed a little, back to my post.

Happy New Year! If you are anything like me, New Year’s day is a relief. The holidays just about kill me, so I am glad they are over. And now, I can look to the future.

Are you expecting great things in 2018? I am. Want to know why? Even though I’m not an especially optimistic person, I know that God is already holding this coming year in His hands. 2018 belongs to Him. He’s got this.

5 reasons to be excited about the new year:3D cover

  1. Regardless of how short the days seem, they are getting LONGER
  2. Christmas is over
  3. There are 43 days until we have to buy anything for anyone for a “holiday”
  4. This is the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2). God has good things in store for 2018.
  5. Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids comes out in January or February!

I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, but since I know how flawed I am, I always have a list. My list, usually revolves around the theme of more thankfulness. I need to work on having a thankful attitude. I need to work on complaining less. More thankfulness, less complaining.

This is my WIP (Work In Progress) list.

  • more thankfulness
  • less complaining
  • more love
  • less complaining
  • more grace
  • less complaining
  • more joy
  • less complaining

Are you noticing a pattern? I look at it this way: Basically, I need more of Him, and less of me.

He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30

If I made New Year’s resolutions, this verse would be mine every year. I am so thankful that we have a God that loves the “works in progress.”

For my fellow works in progress, I look forward to our journey together in 2018! I look forward to becoming more like Him together with you. Thank you so much for subscribing to my blog. I so appreciate you.

Blessings.

4 Ways to Resemble the Whos from Whoville Instead of the Grinch

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” sang the Whos from Whoville. Even the happy little tots of this euphoric town belted it out joyfully. It wasn’t about the stuff, the lights, or the decorations. No, their joy was not dependent on what they saw when they woke up Christmas morning. They had joy in their hearts.

I wouldn’t mind living in Whoville this time of year. Where is it? Can anyone tell me? Most of what I see seems to be about the shopping, the stuff, the decorations, and of course, the peppermint mochas.

If you came to my town and took away our Christmas decorations, our trees, and our presents, you probably wouldn’t hear singing on Christmas morning.

Every year as I get older, the month of December seems to get harder. Is it just me? As I look in the mirror, it is Scrooge looking back at me. Or, is it the Grinch? Is my heart two sizes too small?

My Christmas challenge every year is to exude more joy and peace, and less frustration and doom. More of the positive, less of the negative. The more my eyes are opened to the truth of God the more my eyes are opened to the truth of this world. And it is hard not to let the darkness overwhelm me. Baby steps, I tell myself.

If I remember to do four things this holiday season maybe I can still inspire joy despite the darkness inside.

Christmas is loving

Christmas is about loving. Honestly, everyday should be about loving. How well am I loving my neighbors? How well am I loving my parents, siblings, spouse, or kids? How well am I loving the homeless guy on the street? The waitress at the restaurant? The guy at the toll booth on the freeway? The baggers at the grocery store?

Jokingly, I sometimes refer to myself as the grim reaper. I know I have a dark side. However, I can’t be loving and the grim reaper at the same time. They don’t go together. I have to choose one or the other.

So, I will choose love.

Christmas is giving

If you get annoyed with the materialism of Christmas, I feel your pain. A great way to combat the negativity is to give, then give, then give some more. Channel your irritated energy into passionate and wildly generous giving.

I will choose to give.

Christmas is inviting

If I invite someone into my home, as a gesture of goodwill and compassion, my heart and attitude change. I am not talking about Grandma Nibby, or the family I expect to see at Christmas, unless I am trying to reconcile an estranged relationship. I am talking about someone that doesn’t belong.

Invite someone to Christmas that isn’t necessarily your favorite person. Invite someone into your small group of friends that you haven’t wanted to include, but could use some friends. Give someone a chance that isn’t necessarily the most polished candidate.

I will choose to invite.

Christmas is letting go

My daughter is home sick from school. When she isn’t feeling good, she reverts back to her four-year-old self. This morning she was on the couch watching Frozen. “Let it go” echoed around the house.

What can I let go of this year? I can think of a few things. I can let go of anger, let go of judgement, let go of complaining, and do my part in letting go of division and alienation. Why wait until January to let go of the sin that weighs us down?

What are you holding on to?

Do you need to let go of that fight that caused you not to speak to your sibling for the last decade? Or, let go of political views for the holidays for the sake of peace? Or, do you need to let go of being right?

Let’s make a pact to let it go. Whatever your “it” is.

Merry Christmas and bah humbug! It’s a package deal this year.

 

What Have We Become?

After finishing “Stranger Things Season 2,” which was fun, family friendly, and just plain great writing, my husband and I were looking for a new series to watch on Netflix. Gotta love December, when the days are short and the evenings are long.

There has to be something good with all these new shows, we figured. So we gave Amazon’s “Mr. Robot” a try. I enjoyed it until the third episode had a scene that was so disgusting I couldn’t turn it off fast enough. And there it was. I couldn’t “unsee” what I had seen. The image was seared in my brain.

Next.

This time we triedUntitled design (8) “MindHunter” on Netflix. Within the first ten minutes, a man stripped naked and blew his own head off with a shotgun. I squirmed in my seat as the image of the blown off head stuck like chewing gum in my mind. Why is it when we see something gross and disturbing we can’t stop thinking about it?

I tried to keep watching and had to fast forward during a sex scene, which twenty years ago, would have been called porn. It doesn’t shock us anymore, we see it everywhere. The last straw was toward the end when the FBI agents and a cop were describing a crime scene. It was more than just dead bodies—it was sexualized. It was vile. It was over the top.

My older daughter watches “Game of Thrones” with her friends. We don’t have HBO, so I checked it out on IMDb. Here is what the parent guide said:

Nudity and brief sex acts are frequent throughout the entire series. Scenes of topless women, bare buttocks are regular occurrences in almost every episode throughout the entire series. Male and female full frontal nudity while not as common as topless women occurs often. Examples include: implied oral sex, numerous sex scenes within brothels, sex involving multiple people, prostitutes’ bare breasts, people fighting over sex, and people bathing naked.

Awesome.

Sounds like a great thing for my teenager to be watching. Like the rating TV-MA means anything at all. We’ll produce a show that contains porn, slap a TV-MA rating on it, and call ourselves socially responsible. It’s bull! And we all know it.

I can almost hear Satan laughing about some of these shows as if to say, They don’t even know this is from me. They have no idea that I am poisoning their minds. Satan is having his way with us and our kids. We’ve been had.

My youngest daughter, who is fifteen, likes to watch movies in the evenings with us while she is doing homework. She is like sunshine and unicorns, happy and innocent. We love that she hangs out with us. But what we have to do to find movies that we can watch with her is exhausting. And anything we do watch I have to be on guard with the remote in hand, ready to fast forward.

It is exhausting sifting through the garbage.

Hearing of Matt Lauer’s firing from NBC last week was shocking. Sexual misconduct? No way, I thought. I remember watching him on the Today show when I shared a house with four roommates shortly after college. He seemed like the boy next door.

When I heard about the accusations against Bill Cosby for sexual misconduct several years ago, I was heartbroken. He was such a great role model in the 80s and 90s. And now, almost every week we hear about a new sexual harassment case against someone in Hollywood, the government, or on the news.

The thought hit me, Why are we surprised? 

Do we not live in an extremely sexually charged and perverted culture? Are there any sexual ideals or morals that we have not flushed down the toilet? It seems that anything goes these days.

We have so thoroughly screwed up sex in our society that sometimes I feel totally helpless as a parent. Is it possible to raise kids who wait to have sex until marriage? And if they actually do wait, is there any chance of them finding spouses someday that have waited? It’s almost an absurd thought.

I am fed up! I am over it! What our country has been reduced to in the name of sexual prowess is pathetic. Can we not control ourselves? Can we get any farther from God’s design?

But what do we do? Move to Alaska? Build a wall and a moat around our homes and get rid of electricity? Is that the only choice we have?

Lots of questions. Few answers.

The bottom line is, I am outraged. We all should be. We are Sodom and Gomorrah all over again. Have we not evolved past that? It would seem not. We have been reduced to behaving like animals.

Shame on us.

 

So Thankful for My Teenagers

Sitting in the car on a cold November day while Jess was at her guitar lesson, I prayed, please, Lord, don’t let this put a wedge between us. Outside, the giant ornamental grass was waving back and forth in the wind as if it were mocking me. I looked out the other window at a mom and little girl who were getting out of their car. I watched as the sweet child followed her mother like a baby duck. And my heart ached a little. Gone are those days.

My oldest daughter and I had an argument just before we left the house. Leading up to this, we had been enjoying a few weeks of harmony in the house (sort of). I was feeling good about my relationship with Emily. Needless to say, we were due for some conflict.

The disagreement had to do with coloring her hair. I wasn’t telling her she couldn’t color her hair. I was telling her she couldn’t do it at her boyfriend’s house.

A couple months ago, she was gone all the time. She spent just about every waking moment at her boyfriend’s house. If you have had teenagers, you know drawing boundaries is not their strong suit. God created us to have boundaries. They keep us safe and they keep us healthy. The teenage years are the prime time to teach kids about boundaries.

My husband kept saying, “don’t worry about it, I was never home when I was in high school.” So, we let it go on too long. And eventually, we had to pull in the reigns. We sat her down and told her the new rules. She had to come home after school. She was not to shower, nap, or change clothes at her boyfriend’s house. And she had to be home after school until evening, be home one full day a week, and be home by five on Sundays. In other words, she needed to be reminded that she lived HERE. And that her home, where she lived, needed to be her home base.

The incident began when she mentioned she was going over to her boyfriend’s house to color her hair as she was walking out the door. After thinking it through, I texted her, telling her that if she was going to color her hair, she needed to do it at home, or with girlfriends. Not at her boyfriend’s house.

A text argument ensued until she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, so she called me. As I paced around the house, debating with my seventeen year old, I felt as if I was walking a tightrope. The words, and my tone of voice had to be perfectly placed. Preserving the relationship was so important. I continued to say no in a calm and controlled manner, and explained why. After she gave up and our conversation ended, she texted the following:

“You can punish me, but there is literally no reason. If I was doing something wrong, I would feel bad, but I don’t, cuz I’m not doing anything wrong.”

It was such a perfectly teenagery thing to say, that I had to chuckle a little. This wrong thinking of my daughter is why she has parents. If it feels good it must be okay, right? Wrong. This age is the perfect time to teach our kids that feelings cannot be relied on, and that they must know the truth and stay connected to the vine.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

After the matter had been settled and she knew what the consequences would be if she disobeyed, Jess and I left for guitar lesson. I texted her something sweet, hoping to smooth things over, and prayed and prayed. And the next morning, we were okay. And I felt so very blessed. Emily and Jessica are the loves of my life. I never imagined how in love with them I would become seventeen years ago. I am so lucky and priviledged to be their mom. I am so thankful. Even in the tumultuous teenage years, I wouldn’t trade this time for the world.

I am so thankful for the family that God has blessed me with. I am thankful for a God who’s love endures forever and who died for me. I am thankful that God is good. I am thankful for the conversation about faith that we had with our kids the other night. I see God working in their lives. I see Him drawing their hearts to His. And I see wisdom and maturity growing. God is so good!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

The In Between

With the fireplace crackling, eggos in hand, and Christmas lights hanging on the wall, my girlfriends and I watched season 2 of “Stranger Things” the night it was released. I have been obsessed with it since I first saw it a couple of months ago. I have a problem, I know.

ST 2 Night

For those of you who haven’t watched it, the story takes place in 1983. I was eleven in 1983 —just sayin! (Eleven is one of the main characters) It is filled with amusing characters who are decent to each other. And it is true to the 1980s.

I loved the high-waisted jeans, glasses that were as big as your face, and the telephones with cords. I remember the days of the feathered hair style made popular by Farrah Fawcett, dungeons and dragons, classic eighties music, and mix tapes. And, it is scary. It is not like the blood and guts, sawing body parts, over-the-top horror movies there are today. No, it is the old fashioned kind of scary that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

A boy, Will Byers, vanishes in the first episode of season 1. They spend the rest of the season looking for him. In one of the scenes, Will’s mom, Joyce, is trying to explain her son to the chief. “He’s not like you, Hopper, He’s not like me, He’s not like . . . . .most.” Will’s friends, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin get picked on by the school bully.

Most of the characters are weirdos, nerds, or just plain “different.” These are my people.

Eleven (El) is the main weirdo. This shaved headed wonder knows more than anyoneEleven about what is going on in the small town of Hawkins, Indiana. She is the key to it all. She is the weirdo on Maple Street. And she is extremely powerful.

Most shows today depict people behaving badly. It is almost tiresome. However, in episode 6 or 7 of season 1, Lucas apologizes to El with such sincerity. He says, “I was wrong, and I’m sorry,” to which El replies, “Friends don’t lie, I’m sorry too.” And when Mike and Lucas are fighting, the very insightful Dustin explains their relationship and how each one of them needed to apologize.

Then, there’s the Upside Down. It is an echo of this life, it may look like the real world, but it is cold, dark, and dangerous. The Upside Down is familiar, but at the same time, it isn’t. It’s wrong. Sometimes my life feels upside down. Maybe that is why “Stranger Things” is so appealing to me.

NancyI can relate to the Upside Down. However, what I am experiencing I would call the “In Between.” Since finishing my book (that will be out soon), I have been in a weird space. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every bit of writing Pouring In. But now, I am stuck in the In Between.

Writing a book is a high—spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. But all good things must come to an end, and the high becomes a low. I wasn’t prepared for the In Between. Like the Upside Down, everything about the In Between feels wrong. It is cold and lonely and dark. And I can’t seem to get my feet on the ground.

What now? I wonder.

As I wander around the In Between, I remember that God is always looking for me—always pursuing me. Whenever I find myself in a dark, scary place far from home, God finds me there. He sees me and brings me home.

I have to trust God with whatever is next for me. There are no demogorgons or shadow monsters here, just God, with me, in the In Between. He is here in this strange space with me, a weirdo, so I can rest confidently. We all have seasons. God loves us through it all, even in the spaces in between.

 

The “Good” Gap: Believing in the Goodness of God

A couple weeks ago my husband and I decided to watch The Shack by William P. Young. The book was captivating and beautiful, so I couldn’t wait to see it. As my husband made popcorn, I decided check out the bonus material. It began with Young talking about how the book came to be a movie and the impact it has had. I was crying before the movie even started. And, of course, I sobbed through the whole thing.

This beautifully written book and movie profoundly illustrates our misunderstanding of God’s character. In the story, “Papa,” or God, says that many people don’t believe He is good.

I have often looked at the many lukewarm Christians in American churches and wondered, how are they not in love with Jesus Christ? To know Him is to truly adore Him. So, what is missing?

Most Christians believe there is a God who created everything and revealed Himself in scripture. They believe that God hears our prayers and occasionally performs miracles. They don’t have to be convinced of that.

While not fully understanding, they know and have heard that He loves them. The concept of love is elusive, though. It is the most overused word in the English language and therefore, has lost its meaning. However, they still know that God loves us.

We hear preaching about our guilt as human beings and the grace we have been freely given. We know that God sent his son to die for us and by the blood of Jesus we have been saved. Most of us are familiar with the idea of grace and know the gospel story well.

To some in the church, their idea of God might look like this.

God created → God loves → we were Guilty → God saved → end of story

Each one of these statements are true and important elements of God’s story. But something is missing.

Being in love with someone does not come from head knowledge alone, it also comes from the heart. What is the missing piece? What is keeping so many Christians from radically falling in love with Jesus Christ?

We may believe in Him. We may believe that He is all powerful and all knowing and created our world. But, do we believe that He is good? The gap between being a lukewarm Christian and radically following Christ exists when we don’t believe that He is good.

Knowing that God is good is everything. Most of the people I know that are radically following Christ use the phrase, “God is good.” God is ALL good in ALL things at ALL times and gives peace and hope to an otherwise hopeless world.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Psalm 107:1

For our faith to be radical, to be sold out Christ, we need to get to the “God is good” part.

God created → God loves → we were Guilty → God saved → GOD IS GOOD

Who is God to me?

God is loving, merciful, forgiving, and the great comforter.

I could say that He is loving and merciful, but that leaves out His great compassion.
I could say that He is kind and forgiving, but that leaves out His faithfulness.
I could say that He is strong and powerful, but that leaves out that He is perfect peace.

God is just so many things. One could say He is everything!

In other words . . . . . He is soooo good! Saying that God is good encompasses everything about His character. All the things of God fall underneath the umbrella of His “goodness.”

So, if your faith seems stale. If you can’t muster up the passion for Jesus that others seem to be able to. Focus on His goodness. Meditate on it. Pray that God would reveal His goodness to you. Everything He has for you is good. Everything He has for you is better than anything in this world.

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been over the last month and a half, why the blog has been radio silent, it’s because I’ve had my own dark path to navigate. My own cold and rough ” green mile” to traverse. However, I have been led by the promises of God’s goodness. His love and mercy illuminated my path. Hope told me that what’s on the other side is good, even better than before. And I trust in a God that has never left my side. I trust in a God that is good.

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

The good He has for you may be packaged in trials. His good for you may be on a rough road or walking through the valley of the shadow of death. His good for you might be facing piles of pain that you have carried your entire life. However, the road of His goodness, regardless of how messy or dark, leads to freedom. There is nothing better in this life than freedom. And true freedom only comes through one source, Jesus Christ.

 

The Nature of Truth and Why It Matters to the Faith of Our Kids

No other religion emphasizes the importance of truth like Christianity. God in His infinite wisdom knows the high value of truth and does not hold back from us. Truth holds power and truth is necessary. And as sons and daughter of God, truth is our right.


As I’m wrapping up my manuscript and preparing it for publication, I thought I would post one more excerpt. This is from “Chapter 14: Apologetics and Worldviews” of my upcoming book, Pouring In, Inspiring a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation. (Greg Schrock also contributed to this chapter)


What do our kids need to know to be able to give a reasoned defense for their faith? They need to be able to answer these five questions.

  1. What is truth?
  2. Why do I believe God exists?
  3. Why do I believe Jesus is the Son of God?
  4. Why do I believe the Bible is true?
  5. How does being a Christian affect my life?

 

What is Truth?

Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler in their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, claim that “truth is a casualty of our popular culture. And when truth goes, the authority of the gospel is undermined.”[1]

According to dictionary.com, truth is the true or actual state of a matter, or, a proven or verified principle or statement. If truth is proven and verified, it is absolute, not relative.

Think about it: if truth is relative, why should our kids go to school? If they can just decide their own truth, than what is the point of learning math, science, or history? Without objective, absolute, truth, nothing they learn in school is relevant to anyone except the person teaching it.

Our entire civilization is run by the objective truth of numbers. We count on numbers for finances, temperature, speed, time, grades, taxes, etc. If we didn’t agree on a set of objective truths about numbers, our society could not function.

Truth, by its very nature is exclusive. If something is true, it means that contradictory statements are necessarily false. Nobody doubts this when it comes to the hard sciences; people believe that the statement “gravity exists” is objectively true, and that the statement “gravity does not exist” is objectively false. But, when it comes to religion and worldviews, people have no problem saying “Christianity may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

However, truth is objective, meaning, it is attached to the object, and it is therefore unchanging. What people are claiming today is that truth is subjective, meaning, it is attached to the subject. They claim for each individual person, or subject, there may be a different truth.

For example, take the sentence “Doug caught the red ball.” In this sentence, Doug is the subject, and the ball is the object. There is an inherent truth about the ball—the ball is red. It makes no difference what Doug, the subject of the sentence, believes the color of the ball to be. Doug might sincerely believe the ball is blue, but that does not change the fact that the ball is red. The subject’s beliefs are irrelevant to objective truths.

Religion is perceived as something that helps one get through life; and if that indeed is its purpose, then of course each person will have their own religious beliefs that are useful to them. It can be likened to a therapy session; in order to help a patient, the counselor tailors the session to the subject they are counseling.

It is this misperception of religion that has led so many people to believe in the relative truth of religious worldviews, rather than in absolute truth. One of the most critical lessons we need to teach our kids is that absolute truth can be applied to religion as much as it is applied to chemistry, economics, and mathematics.

Religion is not a matter of opinion, convenience, or utility. It is an objective reality of the universe. There is one set of facts about God that is objectively true. Any view of God that doesn’t correspond to these truths is necessarily false.

There is one view of attaining salvation that is objectively true; all other views are false. There is one view of the spiritual world that is objectively true. There is one view of our eternal destiny that is objectively true. All views contrary to these truths are as false as the statement two plus two equals five.

To illustrate, consider common statements that we hear in our culture, and replace key terms with words of a different subject matter. Consider the following statement that I mentioned earlier:

How can you believe that Christianity is the only right way? How close-minded and intolerant!

Now let’s replace Christianity with, say, geography.

How can you believe that seventy-one percent of the earth is covered in water? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try mathematics.

How can you believe that eleven, seventeen, and twenty-nine are prime numbers? How close-minded and intolerant!

Let’s try biology.

How can you believe that the heart pumps blood? How close-minded and intolerant!

These statements suddenly sound so absurd! When you accept that religious truths are just as objective as these other sciences, you realize there must be one true worldview. If there is one objectively true worldview, then all contrary worldviews must be false.

Determining which worldview is true is a different matter.

Which worldview is true? Maybe it is Atheism, which believes there is no God. Maybe it is Hinduism, which believes there are three hundred thirty million gods. Maybe it is Mormonism, which believes that we can become gods. Maybe it is Christianity, which believes that there is a Trinitarian God.

Each person must answer this question, through further study, for themselves to determine which religion is actually true. But first, we need to establish that there are objective truths in religion.

I believe the Bible is the absolute, objective, truth. But don’t take my word for it. Study and discover for yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.

God gave us His Word, so we would know the truth and would not be deceived. Without the existence of objective truth, the Christian faith has no power. Truth is foundational to our faith.

“Two-thirds of Americans now deny there’s any such thing as truth.”[2]—Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith

Our kids must leave our homes with the keen ability to identify and defend truth. Establishing that truth is not relative or subjective, but rather, objective and absolute, is essential to our kids’ faith.

[1] Frank Turek, Norman L. Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 8.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case For Faith, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 146.

Feeding Our Kids A Law-Based Faith

The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Pouring In; Instilling a Personal, Powerful, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in The Next Generation.


Sam Williamson, who writes for The Noble Heart, said, “It’s virtually one hundred percent predictable that we are converted by one message and then preach another. We are converted by the unbelievable hope of God’s love for the undeserving, but we lecture on behavior.”

I am so glad there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Praise God! There would be no hope for me if it weren’t for grace. I would be hopelessly heading to Hell. And so would you. And, so would our kids. We can’t save ourselves from our humanity. We all need a Savior.

The story of Jesus’ life is about a love so great that we can hardly fathom and a pardon so outrageous that none of us deserve.

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14

Robin Roberts from the morning show, Good Morning America, recently quoted her mother as saying, “God does not love us because of who we are, God loves us because of who He is.” Wow! Right on Robin’s Mom!

There isn’t anything greater in this world than God’s love and grace we have been freely given in Jesus Christ. The gospel is about God’s love and grace. Grace is everything. Let’s celebrate that in our homes and in our churches.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

It is the foolishness and simplicity of the gospel that makes it irresistible. A man died in my place, and therefore, I live. It’s lunacy! It’s the crazy, radical love that God has for us.

As Christian parents, we seem to focus on what our kids should or shouldn’t do when it comes to the faith. I have fallen into this trap myself. Why? Do we focus on the law in our own relationship with God? I certainly don’t.

It’s natural for parents to lay down the law. That is what we do. We keep our kids from breaking the law, eating themselves to death, and flunking out of school. They have to follow rules, eat in moderation, and study, study, study!

We do this out of love. And we do it because we know what’s best for them. However, when it comes to teaching our kids faith, we have to take a different approach.

A couple years ago, Emily and I were fighting about what she was allowed to wear to school. Yoga pants and leggings have been the bane of my existence since my girls were in middle school! We have struggled and fought with our girls for years about dressing modestly. Modesty is not a popular concept.

Emily was really into hair, makeup, and fashion then. She put a lot of time and energy into her beauty regimen and it concerned me. I didn’t want her to mistakenly think that she was in any way defined by her beauty. Or that her beauty brought her power.

During our devotions one Saturday, I decided to have us study Isaiah 3:16–17.

The Lord says, “The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, strutting along with swaying hips, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. Therefore, the Lord will bring sores on the heads of the women of Zion; the Lord will make their scalps bald.”

The passage goes on to talk about how vain and seductive women can be. It talks about how women use their beauty as a source of power.

You can imagine how well that went over. It was clear to whom I was directing this teaching. Dumb!! I should have known better.

A couple weeks later, I realized that I was teaching her a law-based faith. I went up to her room and I apologized for focusing on what she was doing wrong.

It’s so hard as parents not to make this mistake. What is parenting for the first decade of our kids’ lives if not teaching them right from wrong?

Obedience to Christ must be taught within the context of extreme love and grace.

Kara Powell, coauthor of Growing Young, discusses a helpful method for teaching kids faith that avoids the behavior-based model. She takes the basic “Guilt—Grace—Gratitude” model of the Heidelberg Catechism from Reformed theology, and adds the topics, God’s Goodness, God’s People and God’s Vision, to make it a complete picture of the gospel. She calls it “grounding moral obedience in the invitation of grace.”

Guilt is only one small part of the gospel story. We must overwhelm our kids with the message of God’s love and grace through the blood of Jesus. And teach them all aspects of the gospel story.

Powell’s method is a great way to teach the gospel to our kids. If we try to keep this progression in mind, they might have a better chance of understanding the true gospel.

All aspects of the faith are important. We must not get stuck on guilt and obedience.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. 2 Timothy 1:9

We must demonstrate the beauty of grace in our parenting. This is crucial. Just as the king forgave the debt of his servant who owed him money in Matthew 18, we must extend grace to our kids.

Young people won’t be won to Christ by pounding the rules into their heads. Or, by shaming them. It’s our job to teach them about God’s abundant love and grace. We must show them the beauty of the gospel.

The Empty Next

My daughters were recently on a mission trip in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. I was so proud of them. My husband and I prayed they would experience spiritual growth and that God would break their hearts for what breaks His.

They were gone, in another country, without me. The house was quiet, and the days were long. I missed them terribly. And it didn’t help when my husband kept talking about the fact that our kids we be gone in three short years.

My husband and I are approaching the “empty nest.” As I was typing, I accidentally wrote, the “empty next.” As I looked at the words in front of me, I realized, this was exactly how I felt about it.

Three more years and both girls are off to college. At which time, I will have been a stay-at-home mom for twenty years. Twenty years is almost half my life. I hardly remember who I was prior to having kids.

I love being “mom” to my girls. It’s been a joy and I don’t want to give it up—not that I have a choice.

How do I create a whole new person with a whole new life, practically overnight? And what if I don’t want to?

I was getting a taste of life without them, and I didn’t like it. There are seasons, I know. It’s just more comfortable being in the middle of one, than at the end. It’s hard to say goodbye.

My book, Pouring In, comes out toward the end of the year. This project has been a blessing to me. And I know God is laying the foundation for my next ministry. However, for me, nothing compares to my role as mom.

After a few days of the kids being gone and feeling sorry for myself, God brought to mind the scripture where the Lord called Abraham to go to another land.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1

He had to leave everything behind, everything that was familiar and comfortable. And Abraham didn’t know where God was sending him.

The thought occurred to me, am I willing to do the same?

After contemplating what God asked of Abraham, two words came to mind; joyful and expectant.

God is calling me to be joyful and expectant about the good things that are waiting for me around the corner. But, I have to be willing to turn the corner, and leave the street I love and am so familiar with.

The next season of my life will be just as good as this one. Of course, I can’t imagine it. Nothing could be better than this. Even though it hasn’t been easy, and we have had many ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade these last seventeen years for anything.

So, while my girls were mixing concrete, building walls, playing with Honduran kids, and drawing closer to God as they served a thousand miles away, I decided to be joyful and expectant of what God was doing in their lives, and mine.

Even though I couldn’t be with Emily and Jessica for those ten days, He never left their side. He is a good, good, Father.

They are now back safe and sound, and life is good again. As I cherish the next three years with my girls, I will also be joyful and expectant about what God has for me in the next season of my life.

My girls don’t belong to me, they belong to God. How easily I forget. I only get them for a time. A precious season. And I thank God for every moment I have with them.

Our job is to teach them how to follow their true Father, their true Master. Then we let go because we have returned them to their rightful Owner.  —Francis Chan, You and Me, Forever

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