Archives For Parenting

One of the first videos every parent should watch — whether their children are three or thirty. The audio is available here.

Jamie and I didn’t formally catechize our children. Though we did spend a great deal of time with them in theological instruction and dialogue. But I agree with Tim Keller’s points and if we had it to do over again, I think we would. 

The Radical Book for Kids by Champ ThorntonIf you have grade school age children – – or if you buy presents for them — The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith order this book and check one item off your list. It JUST came out. So chances are the family you have in mind doesn’t already own a copy.

Here is the endorsement I wrote for, The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith:

Champ Thornton’s book shows families how to grow a root system in the Christian faith. It offers a broad base of rich content in meal-sized portions readily accessible to families. The content ranges from an introduction to Scripture, to biblical theology, to historical theology. The elephant jokes and knot tying lessons are a nice bonus. I am putting this on a short list of books I recommend that all our church families own.

A few other reasons this is an excellent choice for families:

  • Great pictures and illustrations!
  • The Radical. includes an excellent introduction to understanding the Bible. Champ helpfully explains the different types of literature in Scripture and then shows how the parts relate to the whole.
  • Champ explains why Christianity is “good news” rather than good advice. And the difference is eternally important.
  • As I mentioned above, Champ includes important stories from church history. If you don’t know the story of Polycarp or Athanasius or why they are important today, you can enjoy learning together.
  • But along with this basic information about Christianity, families will enjoy the practical lessons included. Who doesn’t need to be reminded of what it looks like to clean our rooms? Or why manners matter. You will be amazed at how Champ weaves different strands of content together into one tremendous resource.

Lemonade Stands: Q&A with Chris BraunsThere is about a 70% chance the man who stopped was an angel. . .

It’s that time of year when we again consider Christian morality and lemonade stands. Below find answers to common questions.

  1. How often should I stop when I see a lemonade stand? 100% of the time.
  2. That seems like a high standard. Is it okay if I bat say .950? No.
  3. How much should I pay? No less than 3 times the asking price. More is better.
  4. What if the children running the stand are my grandchildren? Then you pay 5 times the asking price, have the children’s mother take a picture of you buying, and spend time thanking God for your grandchildren’s industry.
  5. What should I do if the children begin to make change when I give them too much? Wait until they have finished properly (or improperly) counting out the change. Do not offer to help with the process of calculating the change. Then refuse the change. Under no circumstances correct their math. Save your accounting expertise for tax season.
  6. What if I don’t have money with me when I see the stand? Drive directly home. Get the money. Go directly back, all the while praying that the children don’t wear out and close the stand.
  7. Are you just trying to be cute with this post? I am not. It is the responsibility of a community to wholeheartedly support the initiative of children. If you insist on being mercenary about the topic, then bear in mind that hopefully the children who are smashing lemons now will be paying into social security tomorrow – – either literally or figuratively. But far more important, supporting lemonade stands is an easy way to tell children you love them. You don’t have anything better to do with your life.
  8. Did you ever have a lemonade stand? Yes. As a matter of fact, I did. Thank you for asking. In the summer of 1969 — as in when soldiers were in Viet Nam and astronauts were landing on the moon- my sisters Shelley and Mary Dawn and I built a stand out of cardboard boxes and peddled lemonade on hwy 1 north of Keosauqua. For the most part, our business was limited to our grandfather and both of our neighbors. One business man stopped. Our asking price was a 5 cents. He plopped down a quarter. Shelley — MD and I weren’t yet qualified — made change. He waited and then told us to keep the change. So far as I am aware, we never saw him again. It’s about a 70% chance he was actually an angel (Hebrews 13:2). But if he wasn’t, then we hope to meet him on the other side, and when we do, we will insist on paying him back 100 fold, in whatever negotiable currency is used on the New Earth.

Parents grieving and concerned for their childrenConcerned and broken parents are some of the most tired people I know. Sunday’s sermon on Psalm 3 will consider how God sustains his people even when they are brokenhearted for their children and full of regret over their own mistakes that may have contributed to their children’s situation. Join us Sunday at either 9 or 10:30 at the Red Brick Church. You can now listen to the sermon here.

It is difficult to imagine a more heart wrenching context than that of Psalm 3. The heading reads, “A Psalm of David, When He Fled From Absalom.” Which is to say, that David’s son was trying to kill him and Psalm 3 is David’s inspired reflection on that terrible time.

The sequence of events that led up to Absalom’s attempt at a coup is full of sin and pain. The account can be picked up at 2 Samuel 11.

  • It includes David’s adultery and subsequent murder of Uriah (2 Sam 11).
  • The death of David and Bathsheba’s baby.
  • David’s son, Amnon’s rape of David’s daughter Tamar (2 Samuel 13).
  • Absalom’s murder of Amnon (2 Sam 13:23-39).
  • Absalom’s treachery (2 Sam 15).
  • Absalom’s defeat and death (2 Sam 18).
  • David’s unspeakable grief (2 Sam 18:33).

So Absalom’s rebellion followed David’s own horrific sin and culminated in Absalom’s execution.

Thankfully, I have never been the pastor for someone in a situation as devastating as King David’s. Yet, I have talked with so many parents who are leveled by their children’s rebellion. I published a post in 2008, “How Should Parents Unpack Forgiveness With Rebellious Adult Children?” As of today, it has 287 comments. The comments for that post are a catalog of pain.

Given the pain of hurting parents, I am deeply thankful for the presence of Psalm 3 in the Bible. If you are a hurting parents, I would strongly encourage you to:

But also meditate on Psalm 3! How was it that David was able to keep his sanity amid such a mess? Sunday I plan to preach on Psalm 3 on Sunday (6/12/16). The audio should be posted soon on our church web site.

Be assured, even for devastated parents, God’s word revives the soul (Psalm 19:7).


Screenshot 2016-05-05 15.16.02 “Yesterday” — as seen in the picture to the right — our son Benjamin stepped onto the bus and started kindergarten. This weekend he graduates from high school. Below is what I pray Ben and his classmates remember.

Congratulations 2016 Graduate:

For over 20 years I have thought about what and refined reminders to give graduates on one page. Obviously, I can’t say everything. Rather, these are the essential truths I want to stress at this pivotal time.

  1. Know that following Christ is both right and best. Believing in Jesus is right because Jesus is the One true God. He deserves all glory. Putting our faith and trust in Jesus is best because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly. If you have not done so already, give your life to the King. On the Cross, he paid the penalty for His people so that we could spend eternity together on the New Earth in his presence. The alternative to believing in Jesus is unthinkable.
  2. Be warned. Be sure. Get up. Be warned: the way of the sinner is hard. Don’t buy the lie that you can make wrong choices and not reap the consequences. Be sure you really are a Christian (2 Cor 13:5, James 2:17). The worst words that will ever be heard will be when many stand before Christ thinking they are Christians and find out that they will spend eternity in hell. Get up. When you stumble as a Christian, as you will, don’t let failure give way to failure. Keep on. Persevere.
  3. Remember that God makes bricks with a building in mind. Christians should be mortared together in local churches (1 Peter 2:5). Gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to serve together, local churches are called to subtly season and boldly light the darkness across the street and around the world. Don’t put church on hold for the next few years.
  4. Sharpen your wisdom saw with the Word. Wisdom is skill for living. It is the saw we use to cut our way through life. We need a sharp saw to make quality decisions. We sharpen our wisdom saws by memorizing and reading the Word and by hearing it preached. Be Word-centered! Rinse in Scripture. It is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.
  5. Envision a beautiful bride walking down the aisle in a Christ-centered wedding. Most of you will marry. God’s plan for sex and marriage is breathtakingly beautiful. All of us, even those who remain single, must remember that the Church is the bride of Christ. Marriage and the gospel explain one another. We cannot allow unbelieving culture to corrupt our vision for Christ-centered weddings and homes.
  6. Think deeply about true answers. Many people go through life as zombies not thinking through the big questions like: Why am I here? What happens after death? How can I know joy and happiness? If we do not live in light of biblical answers, we will stumble through life and make poor decisions. Ultimately, those who do not think deeply about the meaning of life will spend eternity in hell apart from Christ.
  7. Be assured: the people of the Red Brick Church love you. Love didn’t evolve. Love wasn’t invented. Love is eternal because our triune God is eternally love: ever giving and self-giving. He loves us and tells us to love one another. And we do. We love you. When we get to the Heavenly City, we want to know you will be at our meeting spot: 5th tree, right side of the river, facing the throne. We will be there soon. Until then, I am a pastoral resource available to you!

In Him,

Pastor Chris Brauns

See also:

Following Christ is Right and Best!

What Scares Me Most As A Pastor

What Do Christians Mean When They Reference the Gospel or Good News?

A More Magnificent Mirror: For My Daughter and Her Groom

Why Is My Blog Title A Brick in the Valley?
5th Tree Back, Right Side, As You Face The Throne

Some time ago, I asked children to identify times when they are tempted to lie and why. The question surfaced several confessions and testimonies.

Screenshot 2015-10-14 10.12.38


Screenshot 2015-10-14 10.14.56


Screenshot 2015-10-14 10.17.58




Screenshot 2015-10-14 10.11.06




It is a great duty of natural affection (it will be said) for a father to lay up for his sons; rather it is a great vanity, one who must soon die is laying up for those who must soon die also.


See to it that greed does not take you in with a sweet suggestion and lovely deception like this: that you intend to advance yourself or your children into a higher . . . social position. The more you get the more you will want; and you will always be aiming for something higher and better. No one is satisfied with his position in life.”

Of course, balance is in order. It is not wrong to leave provision for one’s family.

Chris with wedding responsibilitiesOne day my wife is leaving detailed instructions about when to feed our baby girl. The next day my baby girl is handing out wedding instructions.Sunrise, Sunset.

Last night my daughter, Allison / Allie, who is scheduled to be married on Saturday, published a detailed explanation of the schedule for the week. She personalized each copy of the wedding instructions with a particular person’s responsibilities highlighted in his or her respective copy. Marching orders for the Brauns men feature more detail than field instructions for the battle of Antietam.

Allison’s brother, Christopher (He answers to Usher #1 this week) went to work at 5:00 AM. Hence, he did not receive his orders until dinner time at which time he was expected to absorb the information between bites.

Allison doubtless quizzed Christopher before work this morning. She has been getting up with him at 4:15 A.M. to enhance her productivity.

Back to dinner for a moment – – the Brauns men are all losing weight – – not just because we are reading the wedding instructions over dinner, still less because we have targeted weight loss (Tuxedos have built in elastic after all!)- – but because we are eating at the same table as everyone else. Jack Sprat ate more fat.

But I digress.

Some have suggested that Allie, in dispensing schedules, is following my example. And while there may have been a time or two when I seemed a bit goal oriented in life, I would point out that the women in our house have always been the ones pounding out the cadence.

To document my point, I am providing the below letter that I wrote to Allison on November 3, 1994. Notice the letter includes a detailed schedule Jamie gave me so that I would know my responsibilities.

Screenshot 2015-06-02 11.03.44November 3, 1994

Dear Allison,

I haven’t written anything down for some time. Sorry. Mommie is off at some pastors’ wives’ retreat and you and I are alone for the first time. You have decided that you don’t want any kind of bottle so I only fed you cereal. It will be interesting to see if you sleep through the night.

You really know me now. One of our (you and I) favorite things is for you to cough….I then give a fake cough back and we start doing it back and forth. Intellectually it probably isn’t one of my more stimulating conversations. But, it is one I would rather have than practically any other in the whole world.

I continue to be amazed at your relationship with your mother. You know each other so well. She has this little schedule that she follows religiously with you. She even typed instructions up for me on the computer. They are enclosed in the box below just the way she left them.


7:30 – 8:30 She will wake up for the day.Feed her a bottle of breast milkAbout 1/2 hour later you can feed her a 1/2 bowl of rice cereal made with a little pear juice and the rest water. The consistency would need to be somewhat like mashed potatoes.
10:30 If she starts to get a little fussy she may be ready for her morning nap depending on how early she woke. Lay her in her bed with a pacifier in her mouth and the rest at the top left corner of her bed and give her a burpy. Turn her tape on the right over and turn it on. The volume is set you do not need to mess with that. (I would advise only letting her sleep for an hour then she will take a good afternoon nap)
11:30-12:00 Feed her a banana. You will need to put it in a bowl and mash it with a fork. She will eat the entire thing. If she still acts hungry give her some applesauce, which is in the refrigerator. After she has had that then give her another bottle of breast milk. She will not drink much.
1:30 Lay her down for her afternoon nap. Do the same as you did for the morning nap.
4:30-5:00 Give her a breast milk bottle.
6:00-6:30 Give her two ice cubes of anything that is in the freezer. Put them in a bowl and microwave it for 1 minute. Give her 3/4 bowl of rice cereal made with a little pear juice and the rest water. The consistency would need to be somewhat like mashed potatoes.

Really, though, the logistics of things are not what amazes me. Rather, it is how comfortable you are when she holds you, how she knows just how to handle you when she changes your clothes, how excited you are to see her.

By the way, you get so excited these days. You wave your arms and bounce when you see Mommie or me. Sunday I was preaching in Algona (they had a kind of homecoming thing) and you looked up and saw me sitting on the platform and got all excited. That meant so much, I almost got a little misty on the spot.

It may be fair to say that your favorite thing in the whole world is to pull my hair. You love to do that. Every time you pull it, you start laughing and get all excited. Of course, I love it. As long as I have hair Allison, you can pull it.

Allison, without question you are our greatest joy, without question. For that, will you put up with our weirdness and still come and see us even when you don’t need us? We certainly hope so.

Your Dad who loves you immensely.

P.S. We are getting a new sofa and chair. The green and blue Rowe thing that you probably will think is incredibly old when you read this. Well, we agonized over the decision and now Mommie flying high. She will be so excited when it comes next Tuesday.

Lights Out by Chad CramerChad Cramer has written a a book for parents of young children that offers practical and theological help for helping children overcome a fear of the dark.

Parents whose children are afraid of the dark have a couple of options. One choice would be to expose the inner workings of the monster industry so that your child realizes that every fear of the dark is really a fuzzy friend. The video at the end of this post is one resource available online if you choose that strategy.

And – – if the Monsters Inc. system works for you – – well, use it. Having said that, the more theologically minded parent may want to consider using Chad Cramer’s book, Lights Out!: Helping Your Kids Overcome Their Fear of the Dark. Cramer combines the biblical basis for theological insights (such as “God sees everything”) with practical tips for teaching children those important truths about overcoming a fear of the dark. One of Cramer’s ideas is to use games such as a Hide and Seek to remind children that even though we can hide from one another we can’t hide from God. He understands how to teach children. The book is full of Bible references. There are many ideas in this book.

Even as Cramer focuses on the subject of children who are afraid of the dark, he provides a model for how parents can think through many different parenting issues. He has a number of appendices that suggest different teaching techniques for parents regardless of whether the children are afraid of the monsters industry. Indeed, the added value of this book is the best part of all. It models how to think both theologically and practically about an every night issue.