8 Reasons Your Kids are Misbehaving

  • I recently became a contributor for All Pro Dad, and organization that helps you love and lead your family well.  I hope this article is a help to you!

kids-misbehaving

Every parent deals with bad behavior from their kids from time to time.

I can remember a time in particular when one of our boys seemed to be repeatedly pushing his siblings and hitting them with whatever he happened to have in his hand at the moment.  What we came to realize was that he was actually playing out in real life what he had been recently exposed to through some action-packed video games and movies.

Sometimes, as parents, we’re guilty of thinking that our kids are just being bad when there may be more going on underneath the surface that we need to be paying attention to. So what are some of the reasons why kids misbehave?

While there may be many reasons for kids misbehaving, here are 8 that every parent must consider:

1. They have an irregular/unhealthy diet.

Bottom line – What kids eat has an effect on how they behave.  Doctors have been saying it for years, but it’s true – healthy eating encourages better behavior.

2. They have a lack of consistent discipline.

Yes, good old-fashioned discipline still works and is a cornerstone of practical and successful parenting. discipline may take on different forms for different families, but nonetheless, it’s…  Continue reading >>

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Struggling to Be Disciplined?… Here’s Why

Understanding the great problem with discipline

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  Romans 7:19

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…”  I Corinthians 9:27

Do you ever struggle with being disciplined?  Well, you’re in good company.

disciplined

What is Discipline? – It’s one of the most valuable resources any person can possess to produce more and lasting results over long periods of time.  

But discipline obviously comes at a price and with some great challenges. 

Here are a few of those challenges that I find difficult to fight against, and I’m sure that you do to:

The greatest enemy to discipline… THE FLESH

The greatest enemy to discipline is the flesh.  This was the case for the Apostle Paul, and it is for us too.  Think about it, anytime you’re tempted not to be disciplined, it’s because your flesh is screaming at you to pursue an easier or more comfortable alternative.

  • When I know I should snack on those raw carrots, my flesh is screaming at me to dig into the gooey chocolate covered cake.
  • When it’s time to wake up and do the morning workout routine, my body is screaming at me to hit the snooze and stay in bed.
  • When it’s time to give my family the best of myself after a long day’s work, my flesh is screaming at me to sit in the recliner and do absolutely nothing.

The greatest enemy to discipline is our flesh.

I just finished a 12 week fitness program that focuses on resistance training to get your health and body back into shape.  And I’ll be honest, getting up on time each morning and forcing my body to do exercises I didn’t even know existed has taken some discipline.  My body screams “No”, but discipline keeps me saying “Yes”. 

I’ve determined that when it’s the difference between what I want now, or what I want most, discipline helps me continue to strive for what I want most.  And that requires that I kick my flesh in the rear end Every. Single. Day.

The main problem with discipline… IT’S NOT REUSABLE

The main problem with discipline is this – I can’t rely on yesterday’s discipline to carry me through today.

Discipline is not reusable.

It can’t be bought in a weekly or monthly dosage. As wonderful a thing as it is, it still must be chosen, one day, after the next, after the next.  Even though I successfully wake up on time and hit the exercise routine today, that does not guarantee anything for tomorrow.  I’ll have to make the same choice once again to deny my flesh, and force it to obey the next morning. 

The same is true with my daily devotions, my eating habits, and how I spend my time.  I have to be disciplined enough to choose those things daily.

Why?  Because you can’t recycle discipline.  

How often has the world seen a once young and fit athlete turn into something far from it in the later years of their life?  How often has a pastor who was once a spiritual giant become prey to addiction or a moral failure? How often has a once strong and vibrant marriage become stale and stagnant?

Somewhere along the way, someone got comfortable, even complacent, about who and where they were, and stopped disciplining themselves to continue becoming better (a better athlete, leader, husband, wife, etc.), and as a result, they actually became worse.  

Sadly, many people don’t realize how far worse they’ve actually become until it’s too late.

The valuable reminder of discipline… IT’S WORTH IT

The valuable reminder in all of this is that no one in any area of life just “stays where they are.”  Discipline is worth it because we are always constantly moving towards something, either forward or backwards.  Discipline helps us to make sure that we are moving forward. 

We are always becoming better or worse, something more or something less – in our homes… in our marriages… in our churches… in our health… in our attitude.  It all depends upon our daily steps that take us in one direction or the other. 

“Your steps today determine your direction tomorrow.”

And it all goes back to discipline.  Discipline of your body and your mind.

Paul struggled like you and I do with the discipline to live out the daily victorious Christian life. Yet he found a way to do it by combining the strength of the Spirit (in the mind) and the discipline of the flesh (in the body) to win this battle.  Who do we think we are to be able to do it any other way? 

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  Romans 7:23  

Jesus faced this same problem with the disciples’ failure to exercise discipline in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus told them…

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is week.  Matthew 26:41 

No matter how disciplined I was yesterday, I must choose it again today… and tomorrow… and the next day.  I must defeat discipline’s greatest enemy, my flesh (much of which takes place in my mind). 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13

Every step of discipline I take, moves me another step closer to where I want to be, and where God wants me to be.  Which begs us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I want to be, and where does God want me to be?
  • A year from now, five years from now… in my home, my health, my spiritual life?
  • And what steps in that direction am I disciplining myself to take on a daily basis to get there?

As they say, “No pain, no gain.”  But the difficulty of discipline now is so worth the benefits (both temporal and eternal) later! 

I’m an Adult!… Do I Still Have to Honor My Parents?

Are the commands of Eph. 6:1-3 applicable to grown children?

From the time many of us were in pre-school up until the time we moved out of the house, the principle of Ephesians 6:1-3 was engrained within us – That it’s right for children to obey and to honor their parents.  

I don’t think that any of us would question this truth or its importance. 

honor-my-parents

We now teach it to our children, as well as the accompanying promises that go with it – That God promises not only a Better life (“that it may be well with thee”), but also a Longer life (“thou mayest live long on the earth”) to those who follow this command.

These promises are given by God to anyone who prioritizes obedience and honor towards their parents.

BUT… What about adult children? 

Do these commands and principles still apply to those who have grown up and now may have families of their own?  Am I, as a grown man, still responsible to obey and to honor my parents?

Well, the answer is quite simple – Yes, and No.

While a child’s obedience is a Biblical requirement for as long as they’re living in their parents home, a child’s honor is a requirement for as long as their parents are living. 

It’s important to understand the difference between obedience and honor:

  • Obedience is submission given to a God-given authority.  
  • Honor is respect shown towards a God-given position.
  • Obedience can be limited by age or the seasons of life.
  • Honor transcends age throughout all the seasons of life.
  • Obedience is done out of a required duty. (Children are to obey simply because it’s right.)
  • Honor is done out of a desire to show respect. (Children & adults who want to respect those who’ve given them life.)

Once a child leaves home and becomes an adult, they are no longer under the parental authority of their mom and dad. (Genesis 2:24)  As a result, obedience is no longer a command or requirement for the adult child, nor something that should be a parent’s expectation of their adult child.  

This doesn’t mean that a parent can no longer speak wisdom into their life, but simply that the there is no biblical obligation for them to submit in obedience. 

Honor on the other hand, it quite different. 

Because honor transcends age, honor is to be given for a lifetime.

If you’re still living, you’re still choosing… As long as a child is still alive, they have the ability and choice to either honor or dishonor their parents, thus making the promises of a better and longer life still in effect.  

But you don’t know what has happened to me…

Many would ask the question – “But you don’t know how my parents have hurt me, scarred me, or wounded me deeply.  How can I possibly give them honor?” 

It is believed that 9 out of 10 adult children have a “father wound” (parent pain) that they have carried into their adulthood and still deal with. 

This raises a very important question – “Does any pain caused by our parents in the past ever lessen or negate God’s command for us to honor them in the present?”

Sadly, we’re facing an epidemic in our society of adults who feel justified in refusing to give honor to their parents. Many of them have alienated themselves from their parents, they have become unwilling to make amends, and they are content with having a distant relationship, if any relationship at all. (Sometimes, this can go both ways.)  

However, I believe that God knew when He gave the words of Exodus 20:12, Deut. 5:16, and Eph. 6:1-3, that obedience and honor towards our parents would not always come easily. Think about it…

  • Obedience is often the greatest struggle for a child in the home.
  • Honor is often the greatest struggle for many adults once they leave home.

Neither one requires a full understanding, but both ultimately require obedience to God.

  • We are to obey our parents as children because it’s the right thing to do.
  • We are to honor our parents as adults out of obedience as well simply because God commands it.

I know that you’ve been hurt.  I know that things weren’t always, and still aren’t perfect in your relationship.  I know that for some, the pain you’ve experienced seems unbearable.  But honor is a gift you give by choice, out of obedience.  

Honor doesn’t have to be deserved…

Honor is not a gift that has to be given because it is deserved.  Often, we have the wrong thinking that honor (respect) has to be earned.  But that is not completely true.  While respect can be earned, and even should be earned, respect can also be given… Given because of someone’s position.  Given out of obedience to God.  Given out of a genuine desire for receiving the promises.  Given to others as it has been given to each of us.

Meditate upon these verses:

Romans 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

II Cor. 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Cor. 8:9  For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.

I John 4:10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Think of all that you and I did to Christ, and how He still honored us to the highest point possible by becoming our sin and granting us the greatest symbol of respect – His own personal righteousness.

Christ loved us when we least deserved it.  Christ honored us by putting us in His rightful and righteous position.  Christ respected us when we least deserved such respect. 

HONOR…

Honor is closely tied to so many other Biblical principles – forgiveness, humility, kindness, not returning evil for evil, unselfishness, mercy, grace, compassion, understanding.  That is what God did for us through Jesus, and that is a beautiful picture of what God wants us to do towards our parents.  

  • You may have had wonderful parents who did things right, and a wonderful relationship with them even today – Honor them.
  • You may have had parents who made some big mistakes, and there is a lingering parent pain there – Honor them.  
  • You may have parents who have hurt you terribly, by what they did or failed to do, and your relationship is distant, maybe even non-existent.  I challenge you.  God challenges you. – Honor them.

Christ came to us.  We didn’t come to Him.  Christ loved us first.  We must choose to love Him back.

I John 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us.

The same is true of our parents.  Our parents also loved us first.  It may just be time for the shoe to be worn on the other foot. 

Someone correctly put it this way… “Love your parents.  We are so busy growing up, we often forget that they’re also growing old.”  It’s important to remember that there is coming a time all too soon when we won’t be able to personally give them honor anymore. 

If you’re an adult with parents still living, are you giving them the life-long honor that God requires?  Can you claim the better and longer life promises that God has offered to you?  

If you’re a parent with children still at home, think ahead… what are you doing right now that could potentially cause a parent pain in your child’s heart and life someday?

God created you to love and honor your parents, both now and forever. Regardless of what they have or haven’t done, they gave you life, and they loved you before you even knew how to love yourself.   Are you returning the favor?  

How to Bless Your Child With the Gift of Thankfulness

Simple reminders for developing a life-long attitude of gratitude

Have you ever encountered this scenario in your home?…  Your kids go into the kitchen for a snack. They open up the cupboards, move around all the boxes, bags, and cans of food trying to find something to eat, and then make this amazing declaration, “There ain’t nothing to eat in this house!”

Oh, my… how I wish I could say that’s never happened in our house before 🙂

November is considered “Thanksgiving” month, but we all know that thanksgiving is not something to be limited to one month out of the year, but something that needs to be present all year round in our families and our homes.

But is it?  How do we cultivate a lifestyle of thankfulness that lasts all year round and ultimately becomes a part of the fabric of our children’s character for life?

Here are some suggestions or reminders for how to bless your kids with the life-long gift of thankfulness:

  1. Don’t give them everything they want.  Overly spoiled kids are usually not overly grateful kids.  It’s important to remember that we do well for both our kids and ourselves not to give them everything their hearts desire.  Some of the biggest enemies to a thankful heart are materialism, instant gratification, and always getting what we want.  However, some of the greatest assets to developing a thankful heart are discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work.
  2. Take whining and complaining very seriously.  Philippians 2:14 is a great verse to memorize and remind each other of as a family.  God commands us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.”  And if God commands it, we would do well to require it in our homes.  Give the members of your family permission to quote this verse to each other when needed, and establish some incentives and/or consequences in your home for when thankfulness is displayed or found lacking.
  3. Regularly serve and expose them to people with less.  There are so many ways that you can do this, but here are just a few ideas:
    • Find families with less that you can serve or give to during the holiday season.
    • Volunteer your family’s time to serve in a ministry at your church or in your community.
    • Save up some money and take your kids on a mission’s trip to open their eyes to how blessed they are.
    • Encourage your kids to look for ways to be generous to other children with what they have.
    • The more our children are exposed to others with less, the more easily they will develop a gracious attitude towards them, as well as a greater gratitude towards God.
  4. Make family prayer a time of giving thanks, not just a time of asking.  Every family would do well to have times of family prayer beyond just praying around the dinner table. Make family prayer a time to celebrate God’s goodness and kindness in your lives. Every once in a while, take time to pray as a family without asking for anything at all, but spending all of your prayer time allowing each person to only pray for what they are thankful for.  Prayer and thanksgiving are often closely linked in Scripture, and for good reason. (Phil. 4:6, Col. 4:2)
  5. Be a thankful person yourself.  No matter what else you do to try and raise thankful children, if you fail to be a thankful person yourself, actions will always speak louder than words.  I’m absolutely amazed sometimes at both the little and big things that kids imitate from their parents, from simple things like mannerisms to more important things like attitudes and character traits.  Never forget that your children are simply mini versions of you.  Whatever you are becoming, so are they.  Be a thankful person.

If you’re serious about blessing your kids with the gift of thankfulness, here’s a great place to start… As a family, commit one or all of these verses to memory in the month of November.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  Psalm 100:4

O Come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.  For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  Psalm 95:1-3

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  I Thessalonians 5:18

As a help, here’s a Free PDF that you can save or print to help your family commit these verses to memory this month.

givethanks

5 Dangers of Brushing Off Your Children

Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4

brushing-off-your-children

“Dad, look at me!  Look at what I can do!”

“Just a minute, son, hold on a second.”

10 seconds later…

“Dad, look at me.  Look what I can do.”

“I’m almost done.  Wait a sec.”

20 seconds later…

Your child stops asking.

Brushing of our children is sadly an all too common occurrence that many parents do without even realizing just how often they do it.  But are there any negative affects for our children when we brush them aside, or is it just something trivial that all parents do and that all kids will just get over?

I would argue that there are some serious dangers for our children when we repeatedly make it a habit to brush them off in the routine of daily life.  Here are 5 of those potential dangers:

ANGER

  • Have you ever gotten angry with a friend or maybe even your boss when you ask for something repeatedly without getting a response or a definite answer?  It doesn’t take long before your anger meter starts to rise.  Do we think that it is any different with our children? Yes, they are more quick to forgive and forget than we adults are, but according to the verse above, kids can be provoked to anger.  What could do it more than being consistently brushed off by their parents.

RESENTMENT

  • The longer a child is ignored, they more that resentment can build towards the one who’s ignored them.  The process of resentment won’t happen overnight, but it can build like calluses over the course of many months and even years. Ignored children often become resentful adults.  (If you serve in the full-time ministry, this is a specific danger that you must constantly be aware of and fight against.)

LOW SELF-ESTEEM

  • One of the greatest dangers to your children when you brush them off is that you are implying with your actions that something else matters to you more than they do.  Over time, this has the potential to create a low self-esteem within your child.  It also produces an unspoken attitude that says, “I really don’t matter to mom and dad as much as they say I do, or as much as I want to.”  Scripture addresses this danger for fathers more specifically in Colossians 3:21, when it lists discouragement as one of the consequences of provoking our kids to anger.

APATHY

  • If our children begin to think that they really don’t matter to us as much as they should, it can cause them to question whether or not they should care about themselves at all either.  While the truth is that we do care, that’s not what they are reading from our actions towards them. Their natural response over time will be one of apathy.  Sad but true, many kids’ attitude reflects what they’ve seen modeled… ‘If my parents don’t care, why should I?’  (This can display itself in misbehavior, poor grades, bad attitudes, and many other ways)

WRONG EXPECTATIONS 

  • When kids grow up getting ignored by their parents, they grow older with the mindset that this is just what parents do, and they often naturally (and even inadvertently) carry these practices into their own future parenting.  By giving our kids the attention they crave, or by failing to do so, we are setting an example that they are sure to carry into the next generations.

While I hope that brushing off your kids is not a habit that you repeatedly do, I’d strongly encourage you to try your best not to do it at all.  How many grown Christian kids have given testimony over the years that while their parents loved the Lord and served Him fervently, they took a backseat to those things when it came to their parent’s time and affection.  What a danger!

Of all the people in the world demanding my time and attention, I want my children to have access to me and my attention more than anyone or anything else in my life, and I want them to know it.

I want my kids to have memories of me sitting around and talking to them, not memories of dad always being constantly busy and drained.  I want them to know that when they want to spend time with me, I’m going to spend time with them.  I want them to have my best of attention, time, and affection.  And I’ll be the first to admit, it’s sometimes hard to do.

Parents, what are your children taking a backseat to in your life and getting brushed aside for?… a job, a to do list, a smartphone?

If it really comes down to it, there are many people who could do your job, who could serve on that board, or who could even pastor your church, but no one else can father your kids.  Prioritize them.  Don’t be guilty of brushing them off.  And don’t feel guilty to anyone for putting them first.

These dangers listed are certainly the end result of an ignored childhood, but remember that such dangers can only happen one instance at a time.  Strive to give your children the very best you have… every moment, every day, every time.

Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.  Proverbs 3:27

Law vs. Grace – An Amazing Analogy for Parents from Sunday’s Game

Following church on Sunday night, our family came home and watched some of the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks.

law-vs-grace

To say the least, it was a history making game in more than one way, ending in a 6-6 tie after overtime where both teams attempted potentially game winning field goals that could have easily snatched the victory.  However, both kickers missed their close-up field goal attempts (24 & 28 yards), ending the game in a dead tie.

What was most interesting about the game though was the reactions of the coaches in the post game press conference concerning their kickers’ failures that cost them the game.

Both coaches responded.

In completely different ways.

And that’s where the great lesson is to be learned.

The Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, when asked if he had any words for his kicker, said this:

“Make it.  This is professional, this ain’t high school, baby.  You get paid to make it.” 

The Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll, on the other hand, responded this way:

“(He) made his kicks to give us a chance and unfortunately he didn’t make the last one.  He’s been making kicks for years around here… but he’s gonna hit a lot of winners as we go down the road here.  I love him and he’s our guy.”

Wow… what a difference in responses towards the same mistake made by a key member of their teams.

  • One was derogatory, the other was positive.
  • One was wrapped up in the heat of the moment, the other saw a bright future still ahead.
  • One used the opportunity as a put down, the other used it as a way to build up both his player and his team.
  • One focused on the single mistake that was made, the other focused on the bigger picture of what was at stake.
  • One was all about the “letter of the law” that should have been met, the other exemplified grace and kindness towards an honest error.

Dad & Mom, when your kids make honest mistakes (and they will), what will be your response?

How do you react when a member of your ‘team’ messes up?

Which “coach” will you be?

Is Your Home a Place of Grace? 

When Wombs Become Tombs

12 questions that beg for answers

My wife and I are the proud parents of 4 beautiful children.  Four of the happiest days of our lives have been the days of their birth.  Unexplainable joy and gladness.

wombs-become-tombs

Yet how can one of the greatest joys of life – the giving of life itself, also be one of the greatest ‘problems’ of life for some – a ‘problem’ so great that it must be destroyed, sometimes even mutilated, in order to make it go away forever?

There are certainly two very different opinions, world-views, lifestyles, and values of human life at play in our world today.

And I ask myself the question… How have we gotten to this point in our history as a nation?

  • How have we gotten to a point where a distinction has to be made at all for whether or not a person is in favor of life (pro-life) or not?
  • Why are we even considering an alternative to life? And if there is such an ‘alternative’, can it be anything short of pro-death? 
  • What has happened for a society like ours to somehow think it’s okay to reach into one of the most sacred and protected places that God ever created on earth and destroy the gift that lies within? 
  • How have we become so calloused that the weakest among us have become the most vulnerable and unprotected?
  • How have we gotten to the point that the killing of an infant outside of the womb is murder, but the literal sucking out a child’s brains or even dismemberment of the child while still within the womb is legal and protected?  
  • How is it that the first person’s penalty is prison, and the second has a paid profession? 
  • How has it become acceptable to change God’s carefully created chamber to produce life into a man made chamber to inflict death? 
  • How is it that there is more legal protection for certain unborn animals than there is for unborn, innocent, human life?   
  • How is it possible for us to call our own offspring something other than ‘human’?  (I suppose that if you’re going to inhumanely pierce through the skull of the unborn or dismember them up until the point of birth and call it legal, it would be a great conflict of interest if you still called them human.)
  • How can any person hide behind the word “choice” to condone murder? (People can call it whatever they want to salve their conscience or to justify their position, but when it still requires the murdering of a growing human life, there is no title or name that can justify that.)
  • How can so many people in our nation suppress their own conscience to accept the lie that this atrocity is acceptable and that this industry is about anything other than selfishness and greed?
  • How have we become okay with wombs becoming tombs?

These are questions that I struggle to answer.  

With nearly 1 out of every 5 pregnancies in America ending in abortion, how have we as “the greatest nation on earth” come to the point where it has become socially acceptable for a mother’s womb to be the most dangerous and deadly place to live in our country?

At it’s core, abortion is not simply a rejection of life, but ultimately a rejection of God.

Abortion is the rejection of God’s beautiful plan and process of bringing life into this world. 

Abortion minimizes the God-given gift of human life to nothing more than a disposable choice.

Yet the development process of life in the womb has the fingerprints of God all over it.

This makes it very difficult to reconcile the idea that those who support and defend the abortion process personally know and understand the God of the Bible. (at minimum, they terribly misunderstand Who He is)

Those who know and understand who God is also know and understand the great works that God does, including the miracle of life. 

As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.  Ecclesiastes 11:5

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Romans 1:21

For thou hast possessed my reigns: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works… My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

My heart grieves for the unborn children. My heart breaks for America. My heart yearns for a return to a culture of life.

May we pray for those who have been deceived, and those doing the deceiving.  May we pray for the women who have, and are, suffering because of this atrocity.

May we never back down. 

May we never be silent.

May we never stop calling it exactly what it is.

May we never become complacent towards the culture of death all around us.

May we never stop speaking for those who can’t. 

If you agree with this post, PLEASE SHARE!  What could you possibly share today that could be more important than this?

How to Know if You’ve Been Called to the Ministry

4 ways to evaluate a God-given calling

One of the questions I’ve been asked multiple times over the years is this – “How do I really know if I’ve been called into the ministry?”

called

Sometimes this question comes from a teenager or adult wrestling with God’s will for their life.  Other times, it comes from someone currently serving in full-time ministry who finds themselves questioning their life’s direction or calling.

For the person who is struggling with the answer to that question, here are some ways that God confirmed in my heart His calling upon my life into the ministry.  Hopefully they can help you as well.

1) DESIRE – God is the one who has put it in your heart

I Timothy 3:1  If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

I believe that first and foremost, if a person is called to the ministry, there must be a genuine desire to serve in the ministry.  This may be something that comes more naturally for some, while God may have to take more time to “convince” others. (For some people its a matter of God’s conviction over time prior to them being convinced over time.  But in the end, it still ultimately ends in a desire)

Regardless of the circumstances, a person must be “God-called”, and not pastor-called, parent-called, or pressure-called.

For me, from the time I was just a boy, it was my heart’s desire to follow in the footsteps of my dad, who was (and still is) a pastor.  Other than my childhood dream to one day play in the NBA (lol), my hearts’ desire and longing was to serve people through the ministry. Where did that desire come from?  I believe that God put it in my heart, in addition to using the circumstances around me (my parents example and passion) to grow that desire.

For many, the call comes at a specific time in their life when they surrender themselves to God and His calling upon their life to enter the gospel ministry.  Every calling will be unique, but every calling will include a God-given desire.

God says clearly that to desire to be in the ministry is a good thing, and that is where a calling must start.

2) GIFTING – Because of your gifting and abilities

I Cor. 1:27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise…

Every person in ministry will have different levels of abilities, but there are some certain characteristics and abilities that usually accompany a call to the ministry.  (I Timothy 3 is a great place to start for some basic requirements/abilities)

It is highly unlikely that God is currently calling you into the ministry if you’re still struggling to make it to church from one Sunday to the next or if you’re simply struggling to be faithful as a layman.

As my former pastor, Bill Prater, used to always say…

“When God is looking for someone to call to the ministry, He’s usually going to reach down and pick the best of the best.  He’s going to call people who are actively serving, and who will leave a huge gap in the ministry when they’re gone.”

If you’re not currently and actively involved in your local church, that is the best place to start for God to be able to confirm (either way) His calling upon your life.

My dad always used to say, “God doesn’t call the able, He enables the called.”  This is so true.  No matter what natural God-given abilities a person may or may not possess, God is ultimately the one who enables any of us to serve him in a ministry capacity.  He still uses the foolish and weak things of this world.

3) CONFIRMATION – Validation from other Godly leaders in your life

Proverbs 11:14  Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Over the years, I’ve seen many people (young and old) called into the full-time ministry.  And one thing that confirms God’s calling upon a person’s life more than possibly any other is when God also confirms that same calling in the heart of their pastor.

If your pastor is not convinced that you are called to the ministry, that is a red flag to be seriously considered.  Equally, if your pastor is convinced that you are called to the ministry, that should also be greatly considered before you step out of it.

Although many people are gifted by God with similar talents and abilities, not all are called to full time ministry.  The ministry is not for everyone. The church greatly needs gifted laymen as well.  And you would be better to serve as your churches’ finest layman than to enter into the ministry uncalled.

If you are unsure of your calling, always seek the godly counsel of the spiritual leaders in your life. God has surrounded you with other people who will be able to recognize and validate God’s calling in your life, or at least steer you in the right direction.

4) PASSION – You can’t see yourself doing anything else

Jeremiah 20:9   But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones… and I could not stay.

If you can go find a secular job to make a living and provide for your family, and be okay with doing that long-term, then that’s exactly what you need to do.

The gospel ministry needs to be a passion within you that you cannot quench. And every time you try, it just keeps coming back.

The last thing that our churches need is more full-time ministers who are only part-time Christians.  God’s ministry deserves people who are top-notch, full-throttle, passionate followers of Jesus who strive towards leading others to be the same.

If that is not who you are or who you’re willing to be, than for the sake of God, His kingdom, and His Gospel, hang your ministry hat up on the shelf for someone else to wear, be faithful at the job God has given to you, and be the best Christian employee at that job that you can possibly be.

God’s work is far too important for us to him-haw around with whether or not we are serious and all-in.  Either we are, or we aren’t, and that’s a good indicator of God’s calling as well.

If you’re working outside of the ministry, but your passion for it seems to continue growing, keep praying and pursuing God’s will and Godly counsel until He opens the right doors.

If on the other hand, at sometime in your life, you knew that God called you into ministry, but that passion and desire has changed, don’t hinder the cause of Christ and hurt the kingdom of God by refusing to let go and move on. (even if it’s just for a season)

However, if the reason your passion has waned is because you’re just not walking with God and simply need a spiritual kick in the pants, then get on your face before God, confess your complacency, and pick up your sword where you left it!

I Thess. 2:4  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak.

If God has called you, then God has trusted you with the most important message and mission that the world has ever known (as he has every Christian).  And may we never take that calling lightly.

Hopefully these reminders will be helpful for the person who is wrestling with the call of God upon their life.  If that’s you, and you’d like someone to talk to, please feel free to reach out to me.  I’d be glad to help.

Why Parents Should Use the Election to Teach Their Kids to Vote

Right now, many American are sitting on the edge of their seat, believing that we are facing the most important election in our nation’s history.  

vote

However, when you stop and think about it, that’s most likely been the case with every previous election ever held, as well as for every future election that will ever be held. 

Why?  Because the most important election ever is always the one we’re currently facing.  So much is on the line for a nation’s future as well as for future generations every time we go to the voting box.

Over the next century, a lot of world change is sure to happen.  But guess what?… It’s not going to be us who votes in the future leaders of the next century, but our children.  

With that in mind, we need to be instilling within our kids an understanding of the importance of the political process, and how and why to vote as a Christian. 

I believe that there is no more perfect time than in an election cycle to talk about these issues together.

Here are a couple of thoughts from a Biblical perspective to teach your kids about the value of voting:

1) It’s a unique privilege…. That not everyone has. 

We live in a country with the freedom to vote, which should not be taken for granted.  Thankfully we live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.  We the people have the privilege to play a part in our nation’s direction and future.

2) It’s a weighty responsibility… Not to be taken lightly.

For a Christian to simply choose not to vote is to fail to be a good citizen.  There will never be perfect candidates, and there will never be a perfect government (if you watched last night’s debate, you know just how true that is), but there will always be a responsibility for Christians to help shape our country one vote at a time. 

3) It’s a moral obligation… To future generations.    

When a Christian casts a vote, they are not first and foremost casting a vote for any person, but for a set of principles that will inevitably lead our nation in a future direction.  By doing so they are making a contribution to society and its future.  They are paying it forward to their children and grandchildren, by setting an example of responsible citizenship, as well as by doing their part to prepare for them a better tomorrow.

In teaching my children of their moral obligation to vote when they become of age, I have taught them that I always strive to vote with these three things in mind that are most consistent with my Biblical beliefs:

  • I vote for LIFE
  • I vote for THE FAMILY
  • I vote for ISRAEL

May these three things always be as close to our heart as they are to God’s.

Here are some great questions to ask and discuss with your children:

  • What is the purpose behind voting and elections as the process we use to choose our leaders?
  • What is a Christian’s attitude towards voting supposed to be?  Obligatory or Indifferent?
  • Can one person’s vote really make a difference?
  • What could happen if every person in America really voted their beliefs?

So much more could be expounded upon this topic, but hopefully, these thoughts will help you springboard into an important conversation with your kids throughout this month leading up to our nation’s presidential election.

One of the Most Dangerous Phrases Used in Parenting

Nearly every parent is doing it... but should they?

There’s a phrase that can be heard almost anywhere at anytime where parents and children are present, if you’ll listen for it.  And it’s one of the most dangerous phrases used in parenting.

In general, the scenario goes like this – Johnny does something that he either knows is against the rules or something that his parents don’t approve of, and mom’s or dad’s first trigger response is to (almost like a gag reflex) throw out the “ threat phrase”…

Can you guess what it is?

It’s one of the most dangerous, yet commonly used, phrases in parenting, and it’s this – “If you do that again…”

Have you noticed?  Nearly every parent is doing it. Threatening their child with some consequence “if they do it again.” (As if they’re challenging their child to test them to see what happens, and that’s usually exactly what the child does)

I’m amazed at how often I hear parents use this phrase, and surprised at how I’ve even caught myself or my wife using it on occasion as well.

Sadly, it’s almost as if many parents have been subconsciously trained to respond in this singular way to their child’s misbehavior – to whip out the “threat phrase”.

There are two main problems with using this threat phrase:

1) Parents usually use the threat phrase as an alternative to actually enforcing any consequence at all  

Sadly, this approach to parenting does no favors for anyone, whether parent or child, but instead, simply salves the conscience of parents to think that they’re being ‘big and bad’ when in reality, they’re doing nothing.  

Also, it’s causing kids to realize that they can intentionally do wrong, knowing that they’ll not be disciplined without first being given a warning with the threat phrase.  This is potentially very dangerous in any family, laying the early groundwork of parental inconsistency in our child’s heart and mind.  

Another huge problem with the threat phrase is this:

2) Kids have been programmed to know by previous instances that the threat phrase is nothing more than clouds without rain

One of the major problems with using the threat phrase as a parenting philosophy is this… In most cases (as far as I’ve seen), very rarely does a parent follow through with the stated consequence.

“If a parent is not willing to expect immediate obedience, they’re probably also not going to enforce immediate consequences.”

How many times have we heard parents use the threat phrase by saying something like this, “If you do _______ again, you’re going to get a _______,” or “If you don’t stop ________, you’re not going to get to _________.”  But less than 5 minutes later, the child does the exact same thing, and the parent says the exact same threat, just a little bit louder, but with no enforced consequence.

Does anyone else see the massive problem with this?  We’re inadvertently training our children to do the exact opposite of what we actually want, by encouraging disobedience through our lack of consistency.

I’m not arguing that you should never give your child a warning.  However, establish with them that warnings will be given at your discretion when a violation is unclear or no rules have been previously established.

There are times in every family when a child simply needs instruction or an explanation on why certain things are wrong.  That also provides us with the chance for a teachable moment.  But let’s also make sure to use it as an opportunity to make the expectation clear for the future.

However, when children are in clear violation of our expectations and multiple threats are given, or the volume of the threats is increased, none of those things accomplish anything positive for the child. 

This flawed approach works no better than the “I’m going to count to 3, and you’d better….” which teaches our kids nothing more than delayed obedience.

When we see this becoming so common in our society, it ought to cause us to stop and ask ourselves some honest questions:

  • What ever happened to courageous parenting that says what it means and means what it says?
  • What ever happened to parents expecting obedience out of their children the first time?
  • What ever happened to enforcing consequences when rules are broken without caving in to worry about what your kids or anyone else is going to think of you?
  • What ever happened to parents who aren’t afraid to be the parents?

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.  Proverbs 19:18

When you’re tempted not to enforce a consequence that would otherwise develop obedience and character in your child’s life, remember the future alternative if you don’t. 

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grevious; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Hebrews 12:11  

Good, godly, and obedient kids don’t raise themselves.  Good, godly, and obedient parents do.

Are you guilty of falling into the dangerous trap of threat phrase parenting?

Why A Routine Matters To Your Kids

I do the piggy toes every night with my son... here's why

Our youngest son is 6 years old, and since the time he was about 3, there’s nothing he loves more than when dad tucks him in at night and does ‘the piggy toes’.  In fact, his last words verbatim every night before he heads downstairs to go to bed are these, “I love you, hug & kiss in bed, don’t forget to do the piggy toes.”

Well, sometimes I take a little longer than he thinks I should before I make it to his room, but no matter how long it takes, it’s very seldom that he falls asleep until I’ve made it in to do the piggy toes.  In fact, some times he’ll even weasel his way back up to the top of the stairwell to remind me that he’s still waiting and to ask if I’m still coming.

So, what’s the big deal about the piggy toes? Well, I don’t think that it’s the piggy toes that matter to my son as much as it is the importance of the daily routine of his dad making him feel loved just before he goes to bed each night.

There are many things that we all do for our kids out of routine that meet their needs and sometimes even pamper to their wants.  Sometimes this may be as simple as a daily ritual, a special phrase between parent and child, or simply a nightly hug before bed.

But what is it about a routine that is so important?  Here are a few reminders as to why a routine is really important for our kids.

A ROUTINE PROVIDES NEEDED CONSISTENCY

Whether it be in our daily routine or in our discipline, kids thrive on consistency.  Our kids need our lives to maintain consistency as much as possible for their sakes, and a routine helps to bring that about for them.

A ROUTINE BRINGS ABOUT SECURITY

There’s something that makes my son feel secure every night once I’ve tucked him into bed and done the piggy toes.  And whether it’s a bedtime routine, a morning routine, or even a favorite phrase you say to your kids everyday before dropping them off at school, a routine that they can count on makes them feel secure.

A ROUTINE NONVERBALLY SPEAKS LOVE

A routine speaks your child’s love language, because it’s a part of the love language of every child.  When I do the piggy toes, my son feels that daddy loves him.  When I routinely tell my daughter that she’s beautiful, she feels loved by her daddy.  Because a routine speaks love.

A ROUTINE MAKES LIFE EASIER FOR BOTH OF YOU

Rather than having to rehash expectations and responsibilities, a routine, whether it be for bedtime, chores, homework, etc. allows for both you and your child to share an understanding of mutual expectations.  This relieves both you and them of unnecessary friction that can naturally come from the lack of a routine.

A ROUTINE MAKES GOOD SENSE

Most of us have a routine we follow in every other area of life, so why not our family?  It benefits both parent and child, and better yet, it follows the biblical principle to ‘let all things be done decently and in order.’  Hey, if it’s good enough for God, it ought to be good enough for us. 😃

So, the next time your kids try to ‘enforce‘ a family routine upon you, don’t begrudge it, embrace it. Because the day is going to come all too soon when them asking you to “do the piggy toes” will only be a cherished memory.

In what areas of your family do you need to incorporate more of a consistent routine?