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

unnamed 9

How Important Is Self Esteem?

A few years ago, my daughter went on a junior high retreat. When she got home, I asked her what they talked about in their large group sessions. The only thing that she could remember was self esteem.

Self esteem has been a hot topic since I was a teenager in the ‘80s. Anywhere there is a gathering of kids or youth, this seems to be a hot topic.

I have always been a people pleaser. Humility is a natural thing for me almost more than pride is . . . almost.

Am I always humble? Absolutely not. I will always struggle with pride, with wanting what I want, and being selfish. I am human.

However, I had many challenges in childhood that caused me to think less of myself, or have “low self esteem.” Is this a curse? Or is this a gift?

Is it possible that I am capable of more humility than most people because I started out with such a low image of myself? If that is the case, then thank you God for low self esteem!

Because of my humble beginnings, I have been open to seeing how enormous God is. I didn’t have to “get over myself” quite as much when elevating God in my life. I was never as much about myself to begin with. And God has been showing me my great worth in Him and because of Him.

God has not built me up through the years, He has been revealing more of Himself to me. I no longer care how small I may be. He is great and mighty and that gives my soul peace and freedom. Yes, I still believe that I am wretched, but I have been redeemed by an almighty God.

Self-confidence, popularly conceived is not a virtue. It is a vice. It has at its root pride. —Paul Gould

We must teach our kids to highly esteem God, not themselves. That is what God asks of all of us. He asks us to be a servant to all. Just as Christ was.

He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:7-8 (NIV)

While self esteem focuses inward, God teaches us to focus outward and upward.

Those on the self-confidence bandwagon are placing their identity in the wrong thing! We ought not to be so confident in the self.  —Paul Gould

Are we teaching our kids to love themselves? Do we realize that God’s Word teaches the exact opposite?

Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25

Teaching our kids to love themselves contradicts the Word of God. And it can lead to pride.

Instead of teaching kids that they should think highly of themselves, we should teach them about the greatness of our God. Instead of focusing on praising our kids, we need to focus on glorifying God who above everything and everyone. What if we taught our kids not to focus on themselves, but on the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ?

All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. Philippians 3:8-9 (The Message)

If we taught kids mainly about God’s worth and the joy of knowing Him instead of loving themselves, the emotional health of future generations would greatly improve.

So, I am not going to teach my kids to love themselves, or worry about their “self esteem.” I am not going to go over the top with praise, or continuously feed their egos. I am going to teach them the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. And that because of Him, they have great worth as God’s beloved children.

Our kids’ worth should come from being sons and daughters of the King. And their worth should come from knowing that God loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for each one of them.

3 Ways to Feed the Souls of Teenagers and Emerging Adults

The following is an excerpt from Kim Kurtz’s upcoming book, Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation.

———

Pouring in is probing. Pouring in is listening. Pouring in is seeking to know our kids at a soul level. It is searching for the child of God that is in each one of our kids.

In addition to being loved, three of the greatest longings of the human soul are to be seen, heard and known. It is no different for our kids, whether they are five, fifteen, or twenty five.

1) The human soul longs to be SEEN. God sees us.

Whether it is in the joys and the celebrations of the soul, or in the difficult times of life, we all long to be seen. This desire makes us human and unites us all.

I recently watched the movie, Hidden Figures, about African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA in 1961. They were “computers” before there were computers. Three in particular were pivotal to the space program, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan.

At the time, however, segregation was still very much a part of American society. What must it have felt like to be these brilliant woman and not be seen? Or, not be recognized for their contributions?

Every human being longs to be seen. God made us that way and He sees us.

Or in the movie, Avatar, the Na’vi people who inhabit the alien world of Pandora, say “I see you” instead of “I love you.” This shows the power of being seen. Being seen is equated with love.

There are many names of God, however, the most beautiful to me is El Roi, The God who Sees.

This is illustrated in the story in Genesis where Sarai couldn’t conceive a child and in desperation, offers, Hagar, her slave, to her husband, Abram.

What ensues is a mess, which is usually what happens when we take matters into our own hands instead of waiting on God.

Sarai mistreats Hagar, so she flees. And God finds her beside a desert spring.

After a conversation with God, Hagar calls Him, El Roi, The God Who sees. She was the only person in scripture to give God a name.

He sees me, and He sees you.

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

We need to make an effort to really see our teenagers and young people in the church and the community. They are beautiful souls made in the image of God.

Young people . . . don’t want to sit passively on the sidelines but are drawn to churches and leaders who help them get in the game.
—Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, Growing Young

 

2) The human soul longs to be HEARD. God hears us.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them.  Psalm 34:17

I was with a friend recently who had just been to at a family reunion. She teared up when she told me that she often spends days with her family without anyone asking her what is going on in her life. She said “Not being heard crushes your soul.”

According to writer and speaker, Steven Argue, who has a PhD from Michigan State University and is the Applied Research Strategist for the Fuller Youth Institute, the three most important words to use with our children and youth in general, are “Tell me more.”

I think we need to remember as parents that the first question isn’t as important as the second or third question. A first question usually comes from our own agenda—we want information, clarity, or context. Second and third questions are responsive questions that emerge from the conversation. They show our kids how well we’re listening and really seeking to understand, rather than just interrogate. . . . Maybe for us, “Tell me more” is more of a posture than a solo question!

We must hear our kids. This means not just listening, but hearing and sometimes probing. We must turn off our devices, or the TV when our kids are talking to us. They deserve our time and undivided attention. This is how we feed their soul.

And young people must be heard in our churches.

3) The human soul longs to be KNOWN. God knows us.

The human soul longs to be known. Known to our bones. We want someone to know the good, the bad, and the ugly of who we are and still love us.

We don’t have to hide with God, because he knows us intimately.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Jeremiah 1:5

Being truly known, loved, and accepted is what we all long for.  —David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Good Faith, Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Being Irrelevant and Extreme

Do we take the time to really know our kids? Do we seek to know our teenagers? Do we desire to know the young people at our churches? Or, do we dismiss them because they are young?


Pouring into our kids requires that we see them. It requires that we hear them. And it requires that we seek to really know them. These are the things that will feed their soul, and cause them to be open to the gospel.

Look for Pouring In, Instilling a Personal, Passionate and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation in bookstores this fall.

3 Things We Told Our Teenager When She Got Her Driver’s License

My daughter recently got her driver’s license. For me, this milestone in parenting has been about as much fun as potty training. It’s been nerve racking, stressful, and sometimes has caused contention between my daughter and I.

My husband once told me about a boss he had who gave his kids a brand new car at sixteen and said “here, go do your stuff.” In other words he was tired of driving them everywhere.

I’m sure he wasn’t quite so callous when he said it. And, I get it—driving our kids around is exhausting. I have two teenagers who always want to go somewhere. The requests are endless. And it feels like you live in your car.

So it is tempting to let your kids get their driver’s license without giving it much thought. That is what we did with our oldest daughter.

However, I realized something. As parents, we do not owe our kids a driver’s license simply because they turn sixteen. As far as teenagers go, driving is a privilege, not a right. And many factors play into the decision of whether kids should get a driver’s license or not.

As long as teenagers live in their parents’ home, driving is a privilege, not a right.

Looking back, I wish I would have slowed things down a bit and thought things through. I wish I would have thought about what I could leverage for the privilege of driving our car. Car keys are a great leveraging tool. And, oh, the lessons that come with car keys!

Here are three things we told our daughter when she got her driver’s license.

1. If you want the privilege of driving our car, you are expected to go to church and youth group.

When our kids are practically adults (16 or 17), it is often no longer productive to force them to go to church. Teenagers often become resentful if they are forced to go. And, at this age, they must start taking ownership of their faith.

Telling them that driving the car and going to church go hand in hand might alleviate stress on Sunday mornings. If they choose not to go to church, than they choose not to drive the car that week. But the main point is, it’s their choice.

Teenagers feel more empowered if they are given choices. If they can choose whether they go to church or not, it is more likely to be a positive, not a negative.

2. If you drive to school with a car we have provided, you will drive your siblings as well.

It seems like my oldest daughter wants everything to be perfectly “fair” between her and her sister. And it isn’t “fair” that her younger sister doesn’t have to ride the bus as a freshmen like she did. Therefore, she didn’t want to give her a ride.

What a perfect time to dispel the “everything has to be fair” myth. Life isn’t fair. The earlier our kids learn that, the better off they will be. Maturity is accepting life as it is, which is less than ideal.

As long as we have provided a car to drive to school, she is not going to leave the house without her sister. Especially since they go to the same school.

3. You will obey ALL of the laws regardless of how stupid you think they are.

When my daughter got her driver’s license, we learned that there are a lot of probationary restrictions right off the bat. In Indiana, teenagers can’t drive with anyone other than their family members for the first six months. They also have curfew. And they aren’t allowed to use a device, such as a phone, in the car.

My daughter complained about these rules saying, “that’s dumb,” or “nobody else cares about that rule.” With this attitude came a lot of teaching moments.

In this country, we don’t get to pick and choose which laws we follow. We are expected to follow all of them or face the the consequences. If my daughter is pulled over, a cop will never say, “Oh, you think that law is dumb, OK, then you can go.” Or, “Oh, you’re right, no one else pays attention to that law, never mind then.” Cops don’t care if you like or agree with any law, they only care if you break it.

Parents often make the mistake of assuming that once their kids are sixteen, they have the right to drive a car. Driving, for teenagers, is a privilege. Parents can leverage it, and use it in positive ways to reinforce mature behavior.

Sexing Up Our Teenagers

I sit in my sun porch as the warm breeze caresses my face. It has been deliciously warm and sunny the last couple weeks. The birds sing their lovely melody, the trees rustle in the wind, and the smell of freshly cut grass fills the air. And life emerges once again.

As I breathe in the delightful air, I think to myself, “What could spoil this perfect spring day?” And then my teenage daughter walks in and tells me she wants to go swimsuit shopping. And it hits me. “Oh yeah . . . swimsuit season, that’s what!”

I dread swimsuit season. And not just because I am a middle age woman who has birthed 2 kids (that’s another post altogether!), but because I have teenage daughters.

I don’t need to tell you that modesty is not a culturally popular concept in this country. Anyone who walks the streets, watches tv or social media, or goes in the juniors department of a clothing store, can see it.

Much like chivalry, modesty is a lost art. Super sexy, super skimpy swimsuits and shorts fill the shelves at stores where teenagers shop. And the sexy stuff is always in the juniors departments. Is it just me, or is this totally backwards?!

Why does our culture want teenage girls to be super sexy and show as much skin as possible? It doesn’t make sense.

Most people would probably agree that we shouldn’t be encouraging teenagers to have sex. Yet, the message that we put out there says the exact opposite. Why do we market the sexiest things to teenagers?! It’s crazy!

Being a conservative Christian family, we talk about God’s model for sex in marriage. Let’s go a step further and say that “sexy” not just “sex” is for marriage too.

“Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10

Teenagers flaunting their sexuality just invites trouble.  Let’s not encourage our daughters to hang out on the cliff of temptation.

The last thing parents want to do is create an environment where teenagers are constantly thinking about sex. But, that is exactly what we are doing.  Young girls in skin tight jeans, ridiculously short shorts, and yoga pants that leave nothing to the imagination are the norm. This only creates distraction for the boys and objectifies the girls.

What does God’s Word have to say about modesty?

pig-nose-ringLike a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.  Proverbs 11:22

I don’t think that any teenage girl would appreciate being compared to something in a pig’s snout! Ha!

Most teenage girls have adorable, cute bodies. Ahhh, I remember those days! Perfect time to show it off, right?! Wrong! We want our daughters to become women of character. And modesty will get them there.

Teenage girls need to learn that even though they could wear the shortest shorts or the string bikini and look sexy, it is far more valuable to be a young woman of character.  “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” the old adage says.

Wearing skimpy and provacative clothes can lead to a misguided self-worth.  If girls are getting a lot of attention because of their bodies or their pretty face at a young age, they may never really learn their God-given value. And they may struggle with their identity for the rest of their lives.

This has been a huge struggle in my life. And, to this day, I have a really difficult time feeling like I have value beyond my appearance. It is sad. And I don’t want my girls to struggle like I have.

Teenage girls need to know that they don’t have to show off their bodies to be OK.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

My daughters, however, see what the stores sell and what most of their friends wear. They wonder, “Why shouldn’t I be able to wear a bikini when everyone else is?” I wonder, “Why aren’t there modest choices?”

As a parent of teenage girls, I feel like David and Goliath when it comes to modesty. And I’m not sure the slingshot is going to do the trick.

In the midst of our sex-crazed society, how do we teach our daughters the importance of modesty?

Passing On Our Faith: The Danger Of Complacency

I was recently talking with a good friend of mine. I wanted to get her thoughts on the issue of passing on our faith to our children. She is a great mom, which is evident if you look at her kids. Not only is she a great mom, but she is a single parent. I have great admiration for people who parent alone, yet still parent well. Parenting is hard enough without having to do it alone.

She comes from a long line of faithful people in her family. Her parents raised her to value her faith. But more importantly, to live her faith. They raised her to treasure scripture and to spend a lot of time on her knees. The legacy passed from generation to generation in her family was a legacy of a strong and active faith.

A couple years ago I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study. The topic of the study had to do with breaking strongholds. One particular section was talking about family legacies and how to break free from them; family legacies that included things like abuse, rage, alcoholism, and unforgiveness.

We were asked to think about what our family legacy was.

Although my family history included some brokenness and dysfunction, it did not include abuse, or problems with drugs/alcohol, or anything quite so extreme. The legacy that my family passed down from generation to generation was a legacy of complacency. Basic faith may have been passed down through the generations in my family, but not a radical surrender to a living God.

Although, not as obviously destructive as some of these other strongholds, complacency is a detestable thing.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

Satan has many tools in his toolbox. Obviously, he is pleased with the abuse, neglect and dysfunction of so many families across the country. However, maybe even more dangerous are the tools that we don’t see or recognize. The ones that lurk just under our radar. Ones like complacency.

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.   Ephesians 5:14

I very much desire to pass on a radical, deep, surrendered faith in Christ to my kids, but have felt woefully unequipped in the past. I had the legacy of complacency in my family of origin. I wasn’t mentored, or encouraged to be a disciple, and I certainly wasn’t shown how to pass on a legacy of passionate faith to my children.

Many of us were not brought up in a passionately faithful family.

Is it possible to change a family legacy? Is it possible for people with my family history to raise kids who radically and passionately seek Christ?

With Christ, there is always hope. With Christ, anything is possible.

There are two aspects of passing on our faith to our kids that we need to address. First, what are we speaking into our kids’ lives? And second, what they are hearing and perceiving?

The following is a student quote from David Kinnaman’s book, You Lost Me.

I want you to be someone I want to grow up to be like. I want you to step up and live by the Bible’s standards. I want you to be inexplicably generous, unbelievably faithful, Untitled design (28)and radically committed. I want you to be a noticeably better person than my humanist teacher, than my atheist doctor, than my Hindu next-door neighbor. I want you to sell all you have and give it to the poor. I want you to not worry about your health like you’re afraid of dying. I want you to live like you actually believe in the God you preach about. I don’t want you to be like me; I want you to be like Jesus. That’s when I’ll start listening.  -Emma Smith

Doesn’t this quote just say it all? How does such simple truth evade us? She is telling us the very way in which we get our youth to listen to us. And not just listen, we want them to hear the truth.

Will we listen? Will we respond? Will we choose to be. . . .

  • radically committed to Christ?
  • radically generous?
  • radically faithful?
  • radically committed?
  • unconsumed with the worries of this world?

In short, we must be like Jesus if we want to pass on our faith to our kids.

Complacency in our faith is a dangerous thing. We must fight it, if for no other reason than the spiritual fate of our children. And in Christ, we have the power to change our family legacy to one that passionately follows Christ.


This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Pouring In, Instilling A Personal, Passionate, And Permanent Faith In The Next Generation due to come out this fall.

A Plea To Parents of Teenage Boys

A month ago, Jessica my youngest, a freshman in high school, rode the bus to school. It was a very cold morning with wind chills in the single digits. As she was waiting in line for the bus, shivering, a bunch of boys walked up and cut in front of her in line. I guess they were joining their friend who was already in line ahead of her. The boys got on the bus first, one by one, as she waited behind them shivering in the freezing cold.

Gone are the days of chivalry. Gone are the days of teaching boys to be respectful to girls and women.

There is more to being a young man of integrity than holding the door open. Although a good thing for boys to be taught to do, young boys need to be taught to treat girls delicately and respectfully.

Chivalry starts with opening doors, and occasionally letting a girl go first in line. Or giving up their seat for a female classmate. And they should never push or shove girls in the hallways of schools.

“What is she smoking?” you might be thinking. This is 2017, chivalry went out the window a long time ago. 

A majority of what I have seen through my daughters is teenage boys treating teenage girls like objects for their enjoyment. Teenage girls are not treated with respect. What I have seen is boys hurting and taking advantage of girls, not protecting them or keeping them safe.

Did you know that according to Kholofelo Mashiloane, “The term (chivalry) was originally coined in Medieval times, describing a knight who followed a code of conduct. That code had far less to do with the doors he opened, the bills he paid, or the romantic words that gushed from his mouth–and far more to do with his character and his heart.”

A true man of chivalry was a man who protected the rights of the weak, displayed strength, character and courage. A man of chivalry was known for his integrity, his loyalty, his faith, and the way he feared his God. A man of chivalry was defined by his respect and honor for women, and his willingness to lay down his rights.  ~Kholofelo Mashiloane

And how does a man get to be a true man of chivalry? He needs to be taught these things, as a boy, primarily by his father.

Fathers need to step it up. It is my plea. Please, fathers, teach your sons the right way to treat girls. Teach them to cherish, value and protect them. Not to use them. Teach them to see teenage girls through God’s eyes. I beg you, as a mother of two teenage girls.

Are fathers of boys teaching them chivalry? Are they teaching their sons the correct way to treat girls? Are fathers teaching boys how to be Godly men?

I don’t see it.

Don’t get me wrong, teenage girls can be pretty awful too; to each other and to boys. But when it comes to matters of the heart, girls are often preyed upon. The heart of a teenage girl is so fragile, so tender. And I have seen teenage boys stomp all over a girl’s heart when he is bored of her.

And I am not just talking about unchurched boys.

Currently, I am writing a chapter entitled, “Are we Different?” for my book, Pouring In, exploring that very question. Most teenage boys in the church and probably girls too are not different because of their faith. Our teenagers have blended into the culture . . . just like we have.

What if there are boys who are predators within the youth group at church? Who is going to protect the girls in the church from the boys? Do we have a responsibility to protect them?

A friend of mine from church who has all boys once said to me. “I really wish parents of teenage girls would make them dress modestly. It’s really hard for teenage boys when girls walk around in next to nothing!”

Ever since she said that, I have tried to enforce rules of dressing modestly for my girls. I have tried to support her as a mother of teenage boys. Parents of girls should be teaching them about the importance of not causing their brothers in Christ to sin. That is my job as a mother of girls.

Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.  1 Corinthians 8:13

It seems to me, at 14 and 16, Christian boys—boys in the church—should be treating girls with more dignity and respect. They are old enough to have been taught what it means to be a young man. They are old enough to handle relationships in a more mature manner.

But, I don’t see it.

Kholofelo Mashiloane writes in his blog post, “A Real Man Of CHIVALRY,” the following.

A real man may open your door but more importantly, he opens his heart, his feelings, and gives of his life.
A real man may pay for your meal but he’s also willing to selflessly lay down his rights.
A real man may carry your bag but more than that he will gently hold your heart.
A real man may offer you his coat in the cold but he will ultimately offer you his respect, honor, and loyalty that’s displayed in how he lives his life.
A real man is one who imitates Christ in the way he loves.

Christian fathers must teach their teenage boys what it means to be “a real man.” If fathers are silent about this, the world will teach them plenty. And that’s mostly what we see. Boys misusing their sexuality and taking advantage of girls.

So, my plea is to fathers of teenage boys. It is up to YOU to teach your son the appropriate way to treat girls. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to treat a girl in a dating relationship. It is up to YOU to teach your son how to restrain his sexuality, and to protect and preserve the purity of girls around them.

I write this out of desperation, out of frustration, and out of anger for how boys have treated my daughters, boys in the school and in the church. I feel helpless and sad for them that this is the world I have brought them into. A world where a majority of teenage boys are selfish at best and predators at worst.

 

To Date or Not To Date

Just when you think you know what you are doing as a parent. Just when you think “I’ve got this.” Just when you think you are a decent parent, your kids start dating. Then everything you thought you knew goes out the window. And you start over from square one.

Should we let our teenagers date? How old is old enough?

Kids in this country often start dating at such as young age. Kids are “dating” in middle school and even elementary. And by high school, they are playing house.

American culture has defined dating for teenagers as kissing, having sex, and using the word “babe” after every sentence. They try to act like they are practically married. It’s scary that this is the “norm.”

The emphasis of dating is on the physical not the relational or the spiritual.

A girl should get so lost in God, that a guy has to seek Him to find her.
~John Piper, Desiring God

There are two reasons why teenagers shouldn’t date in high school.

First, the obvious reason of teens and sex. It is hard to think of how many years my girls have before they will likely marry. If they get married at the same age I did, it will be in eight to ten years. That is a long time not to have sex in this culture.

Unless you live under a rock you probably know that most teens are having sex. And that includes those in the church. A significant number of kids from Christian households are growing up and deciding to have sex before marriage.

“80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex.” ~John Blake, CNN, “Why young Christians aren’t waiting anymore”

We are such a sex crazed nation. We have so perverted sex that it doesn’t seem to even resemble what God designed it to be. How do you come back from that? Is there any hope for our kids to remain pure?

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.  Song of Solomon 8:4

If our kids awaken love at an early age, they may do things that they will later regret.

Second, we shouldn’t let our teenagers date in high school because it takes their focus off of God, family and school. Our kids’ jobs as teenagers is to love and obey God and His Son Jesus, to love their family, and to learn a skill or trade (go to school!). That’s pretty much it!

Same sex friends and church are also an important part of our teenagers’ lives. They need to be learning how to love others and participate in a community.

Anything else is pretty much a distraction at their age.

However, each parent has to decide what is best for their kids and their family. You know your teen. If you don’t let them date, are they likely to withdraw from you and sneak around? Or, will they be upset at first, but basically obey you? We should consider these things when making our decision.

We must weigh the risk of a breakdown of communication with our kids. Fostering open communication with our teenagers is crucial. Parenting teens requires a delicate balance. It is like walking a tightrope over a very deep canyon. If you get it wrong, you can fall to your death.

I am not saying that we should parent out of fear. However, very few of the issues parents face with teenagers are black and white.

Sometimes I miss the days when my girls were little and right and wrong was clear and obvious. I was an awesome parent then! But now I realize, even though young parents are physically exhausted and don’t have much time for themselves, it is much easier to know what to do. My husband and I have faced so many gray areas in our parenting lately that we have forgotten what black and white look like! It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I am in no way judging parents who do let their kids date in high school. We did. However, I am realizing that the ideal would have been for our kids to have waited to date. That would have been the ideal.

However, how much of life is ideal? Not much, I find. Especially in parenting teenagers in America in 2017! We do the very best we can, and realize that we are not perfect parents. I am not even close!

Ultimately, only God knows what twists and turns our kids will make on their way to the cross.

But, we can pray, and teach them that there isn’t anything that can separate them from the love of God. And that there is nothing they can do to earn, or lose, the grace that has been freely given to them.

A man 2,000 years ago hung on a cross, bloodied and beaten, for your kids and mine. Their sins have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That is all the hope we need.


Kim Kurtz is writing a book called, Pouring In: Instilling a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in the Next Generation, due to come out this fall. A majority of Christian kids leave the faith after they leave home. She explores why this is happening and what Christian parents can do differently to change the outcome for their kids.