Teaching Kids the Fear of the Lord—Wisely.

It didn’t go as I had envisioned. Haddie was in tears. Kate clearly did not understand. I had botched what I had intended to teach them about God’s transcendent nature and the “fear of the Lord.” As many of you know, as part of a University-Model School, I teach my grandkids their school lessons at home one day each week. This year I decided to begin each Tuesday with lessons on the attributes of God. For the most part, it has been delightful. We’ve discussed how God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. It’s been fun to break down the words into their Latin roots. We have pondered His sovereignty and His immutable nature. We’ve had great discussions, which I believe have reached their hearts. Last week, by teaching about God’s transcendent nature, I wanted them to view God through a lens of awe and respect. I told them how Moses responded when he saw God in the burning bush and how Daniel responded when he saw God in a vision. I explained to them how both had grown profoundly afraid when they encountered God and then, out of deep reverence, they chose to obey Him. As a follow up, I asked them to respond in their journals to this question: “How does a healthy fear of the Lord make you want to obey?” Joey was close. “If you have a fear of God you will really want to trust Him and believe in Him.” Haddie sat there, with tears in her eyes and fearfully cried out, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.”  She was clearly stressed...

Honesty

Like all kids, my grandkids will try to spin the truth at times, especially if it is to their advantage to do so. “I have no idea who did that” turns to “actually I think so-and-so did it” and then to “well he sort of made me do it.” They haven’t figured out the finesse of deception well enough to get by with it consistently and I hope they never do!  I find them pretty easy to still “read.” Evolving stories. Downcast faces. No eye contact. A fretful disposition. This gives me hope that deception has not become a comfortable pattern for them. Honesty was a virtue my father highly esteemed. I pray that my own grandchildren will come to embrace honestly as well and that they will choose to abide by the truth in Proverbs 10:9 that “whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” Deception is sadly very common among today’s students, especially as they age. As the school’s disciplinarian, the most common misbehavior my husband addresses is cheating, another form of deceit. According to confidential surveys of our nation’s high school students, 74% admit to cheating on an examination at least once in the past year. And that percentage is merely those who admit to it. Here’s a few other facts about academic cheating from the Educational Testing Service Website. Cheating no longer carries the stigma that it used to. Grades, rather than education, have become the major focus of many students. Students who cheat often feel justified in what they are doing. They cheat because they...

Things That Matter Most

I wonder how my three kids would define the home culture they were raised in? In which ways did our home environment color the lens by which they now perceive things? What values influenced them the most? These thoughts surface especially now that my 88-year-old mom lives with us. In fact, all sorts of emotions and reflections rise up in me as I watch my mom, who struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, try to make sense of her life, amidst crumbling memories and fragmented thinking. “What’s my purpose,” she asks me. “How did I get here and what am I here for?” She longs for purpose, something she has always found in being productive! The other day, after doing yard work for over 3 hours, she sat down for a quick rest and exclaimed, “we cannot be lazy!” She is a constant source of energy and wants everything in order. Everything. A dirty dish on the counter is quickly rinsed (without soap), dried and placed out of sight – anywhere she finds room. Daily she folds and irons clothes for my children. She is in process of organizing and cleaning our garage. Weeds are picked as she passes by them. Productivity and orderliness are the highest of values to my mom. It’s where she finds her joy. She has one of the strongest work ethics I have ever come across. I am better able to understand myself, as well as my own struggle to experience rest apart from productivity, having this extended time with my mom. My mom is a product of the culture she was raised in. She grew...

What Kids Really Need to Comprehend About Easter

NOTE:  (Glen and I are working on a new book that we are super excited about. As a result we need to build our Facebook audience — so we would really appreciate it if you liked our familywings facebook page. Thanks!) When I ponder “how I am living for God,” I tend to grow anxious and uncertain. I then wonder in which ways I fail Him. How do I need to change? In which ways should I be doing more? But it’s the wrong question to consider. And it’s not the message of  the cross of Christ. The right question to keep constantly before me is “am I living from God?” (Thank you, Quinton Dodson, for this insight!) Immediately my spirit begins to settle and I find myself at rest.  I grow thankful for the living-giving death that Jesus went through on my behalf and realize that all things are possible through Him. Kids growing up in Christian homes can easily miss the deeper message of Easter. They know the facts about the story but do they get the life-giving-life-changing truth that Jesus died in order to give us life and to give us life abundantly? Like Jesus, they must learn to sincerely pray, “not as I will but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) They too must die to self so that the life of Christ will take over. And they must also learn to die to self-reliance, the most common blindspot I see in Christian homes and schools. Out of a sincere desire to help our kids grow responsible, we easily fall prey to teaching them lessons that promote self-reliance...

Mini Blog #9: Thankful for Redemption

Practically speaking, there is much to fear in this uncertain world. I find it difficult to turn on the news around my young grandkids wondering if they are mature enough to handle the breaking news of each day. I wonder what the world will be like for them as adults. As I pondered last week’s blog, “Helping Kids Find Their Identity in Christ,” I felt grateful for who we can become in Christ and that God has sent redemption to HIs people and will command His covenant with us forever. (Psalm 111:9) We are redeemed. His love sets us free. The world may be broken and falling into despair, but we need not grow anxious because our hope is in Him. A recent study indicated that today’s adolescents consider their highest value to be that of fame. Yes, fame! They want to matter, to make a difference, to be noticed, to be known.  If their idea of fame is framed by the broken world they live in however, it will never satisfy the deepest longing in their souls. Only a secure identity in Christ will meet their deepest needs, as well as their desire to be known and to matter. Such an identity will not falter when facing evil, nor stumble when tempted,  nor fear in times of uncertainty, nor give up when things don’t go as planned. But this is a difficult concept to grasp…. ….to let go of trying to seek worldly satisfaction to instead find their purpose in Christ.  That’s deep stuff. When the world comes at them constantly, we must be ever more vigilant to teach...

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.. Psalm 26:2   “I’ll be right back mom,” I assure her as I step out of the hotel room we share in beautiful Victoria BC. It feels so good to step out of my mom’s world even if it is just for a few minutes to discuss the day’s plans with the rest of my family. But I can’t be gone long. She will quickly forget why she is alone in a strange room and panic will set in. I (and my siblings) define my mom’s security. We are a link to her past, which she longs to restore to her future and define her “now” by.  Visiting Victoria and its Butchart Gardens delights her. This beautiful city holds memories of past vacations we enjoyed as a family. Today, she is intent upon visiting the max museum, which she fondly remembers having toured years ago. We walk downtown and she confidently directs us to a building she believes to be the museum. Surprisingly she is right – we are standing on the exact location of the attraction demolished years ago. She describes replicas of people like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe who she remembers seeing.  But all this is gone, a new fact she can’t retain however. “Let’s go see the wax museum,” she asks again. Her “present” dissipates quickly leaving her to contend with a mirage of confusion.  That is the reality of my mom who suffers with...