- One little girl improvised her own songs during craft time. To an unknown melody she sang, “My mommy will like this picture . . . she will think it is beautiful.” One of the greatest compliments a little girl can give her parents is to be happy.
- A little boy told me that his dad reads him the story about Jesus making a lame man walk. We need more dads who read Bible stories! Deut 6:4-9. (Get this book!)
- I learned new rules to “Duck, Duck, Goose.” I didn’t know that if you’re too slow you sit in the middle as “duck soup.” I like the rule because it meant I got to sit with a cute little girl. I hope mothers never stop buying black patent leather shoes.
- Several of the children reminded me that I have been to their houses. I wish I could clone myself.
- I wasn’t ready with any story in particular so we went over my favorites. One little boy predicted that the lions would eat Daniel. They knew most of the stories before I got to the end. The children especially remembered stories with songs (Luke 19:1-9, Matthew 7:24-27). Sing.
- I’ve stayed in the valley that inspired Tolkein about Rivendell. I’ve been to the palace of Versailles. But it doesn’t matter where you go in the world, the most beautiful site is children. Children are an easy first. Nothing else comes close.
Archives For Parenting
Jamie and I continue to miss our children who are away at college. But we are thankful that they have chosen colleges like Trinity International and Cedarville. This week I wrote a guest post for Cedarville about how we are feeling these days.
A few weeks ago my wife, Jamie, and I left our son, Christopher, to begin college at Cedarville University. We smiled for final pictures outside the Dixon Ministry Center. But we cried on the way home. It is a hard transition for parents.
Our emotions didn’t stop once we pulled into our garage. A few days after we left our son at college, I walked into our bedroom and Jamie was quietly emotional. I didn’t have to ask why. We always knew our children would fly away quickly, but it seems as though it has been only a few days rather than 18 years. We picked our baby boy up at the hospital on Monday and he left for college on Friday. . .
Here to read the rest.
A man asked for my young daughter’s hand in marriage. I gave my blessing. Here are some of the reasons I said “yes.” This post is only a supplement to Russell Moore’s recent thoughts on why he is thankful he married his bride at a young age.
The oldest of our four children was engaged last month. I was a little grumpy – – she is MY daughter after all. Yet my wife Jamie and I are excited and thankful. Our future son-in-law did everything parents could hope for – – While he did not stalk and field dress a bear as I previously stated I would require, he did ask my permission, not only to propose, but he also spoke with me at the very beginning of their relationship. He asked our opinion of the ring he picked out, and invited us to their college campus for the evening after the engagement. The picture to the right is of our daughter showing her siblings the ring.
Our future son-in-law is part of our church family. We know his parents well. (And his cousins played football with my sons thereby making it all the more romantic).
We remind our children fairly often that there are advantages to being pastor’s kids (PKs) and one of the joys of being a PK is that our church family shares in our excitement. Many have congratulated our daughter and her fiance. Lots of smiles.
But there are also challenges to being a PK – – (I’m sure we will be reading Barnabas Piper’s forthcoming book) – – one of which is that your church family loves you enough that if some feel you are too young to get married, they might be willing to tell you so.
For the record, my daughter and her future husband are planning to get married in a year, just after college graduation – – He plans to graduate four years after high school – – our daughter is a motivated student and it will be three years after high school for her. You do the math.
We are not deeply offended by questions about the wisdom of marrying young. We know that the reason people share their concerns is because they love us. And we know it is not only pastor’s kids who are pressed when they marry at a young age. Though PKs may have a larger pool of people who consider themselves eligible to weigh in on such matters.
Having said that, it should be clear that we disagree with the thought that 21 is too young to get married.
I, Chris Brauns the older, disagree. And I have encouraged my daughter to send people with questions my direction.
My decision to give away a daughter was not made in the course of a minute or two when a guy asked for permission to meet. On the contrary, we have told our children over the years that we are not opposed to them marrying before the age of 25. It is not good to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Marriage is a beautiful gift from God.
Of course, there were a great many qualifiers given when we said that we are not opposed to marrying at a young age! In order to have our blessing we told our children that they and the person they marry must both:
- Be growing Christians . . .which means that the only sound foundation for a home is the Lord Jesus Christ and if he is not your king, then you should have no confidence for the future (Psalm 127:1-5)
- Be Committed to a local church
- Have have shown themselves to be responsible and people of character
- Have the support of both of their parents (if possible)
- Be committed to a biblical view of marriage.
- Have demonstrated that the people with whom they have built community and friendships are people of character. After all, if all your friends are named Beavis, then there isn’t much mystery about your identity.
1 Corinthians 7:9 certainly informs our position on this matter! We believe that sexual intimacy is God’s gift for marriage. So our children know that we are not encouraging them to live with someone prior to marriage. On the contrary, purity is the goal.
My father-in-law (pictured with my bride at our wedding rehearsal) gave me my wife when she was 21 and our 25th wedding anniversary is coming up in August. Neither of us would change when we got married for anything – – and we certainly don’t feel that we missed out on life because we married young!
There is much more that I could write – – but as I said above, Russell Moore recently wrote, What I’ve Learned After 20 Years of Marriage, so much of my work is already done. Here is one excerpt:
My grandmother’s wisdom [to marry young] is akin to what sociologist Charles Murray talks about in his book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead as the difference between a “start-up” marriage and a “merger” marriage. A merger marriage is the sort one sees every Sunday in the weddings pages of the New York Times, with a groom who’s a hedge-fund manager with a master’s degree behind him and a bride who’s a film professor with a Ph.D. and tenure. They each have their lives, and they merge them. A “start-up” is where the marriage isn’t the capstone of the life, but the foundation. It’s where the husband and the wife start their grown-up lives together, often with nothing but each other.
We weren’t ready to get married. That’s true. But our finances were the least of our worries.
Read the rest of What I’ve Learned After 20 Years of Marriage.
For the record – – I have not yet given my daughter away – – there is still the period of the engagement. Until I walk her down the aisle I still consider myself her man – – and pictures like this one of me with her in my pastoral study after I gave her a microscope are the sorts of images that I am bearing in mind.
Even if you are an Auburn fan, this from Bear Bryant is good advice.
I am taking the time this week to pray on my knees for women in several categories. I know specific ladies in nearly all of these categories. And I know some who are in multiple categories.
Who have I missed?
- Mothers who miss their mothers
- Women who have mothers with Alzheimers, dementia, or other illnesses that require care.
- Mothers who have lost a child: such incredible grief – See Christian books on pain and suffering
- Women (couples) struggling with infertility
- Women (couples) who could not have children and now watch friends with grandchildren
- Women who had abusive or neglectful mothers including some who even abandoned them
- Women who clash with their mothers on a personality level
- Mothers who miss husbands who have died
- Women (couples) who are trying to adopt and yet continue to be met with obstacles – See these posts on Russ Moore’s book here and here.
- Women grieved by rebellious children (see this post) and how parents should unpack forgiveness with rebellious children
- Single women who battle loneliness
- Mothers who regret how they raised their children
- Mothers battling “empty nest” syndrome
- Mothers who are estranged from their children and cannot see their grandchildren
- Single mothers trying to do everything on their own
- Women who chose not to have children and feel ostracized or out of place amongst other Christians.
- Mothers overwhelmed by financial concerns
- Mothers worn out physically who are facing other physical problems
- Mothers battling depression
- Mothers who have gone through a painful divorce or who are in painful marriages
- Mothers who regret abortions
- Mothers who cannot communicate with their children during protracted custody proceedings
Do be encouraged by the gospel. As one of the comments below said, “For some, Mother’s Day is difficult because of their experience or non-experience with their mother. Yet it can be transformed into something that is more positive when they think about how God provided someone to fill that void.”
*I will be updating and editing this as I receive input. I have already received excellent input. I have already made 4 revisions based on input in the comments.
Balance is the temporary moment when one swings from one extreme to the other. Having thought about youth ministry for almost 25 years, it is my impression that balance is needed in the below areas. Both ditches must be avoided.
In what other areas of youth ministry is balance needed?
|Worldly – No different than secular culture.||“Amish” – Totally isolated and not salt and light.|
|Teens isolated by age group / de-emphasis of family||No youth ministry / family and church seen synonymously|
|Games only||Non-engaging and irrelevant teaching|
|A “decisionist” approach with little or know structured curriculum or teaching||“Programmed conversion” / formalized spirituality through confirmation etc / no recognition of revival|
|Complete para-church approach||A refusal to ever cooperate with other churches|
See these posts:
Churches are losing their youth at an alarming rate. Michael Horton and the White Horse Inn have started a new audio series that is highly recommended for parents and church leaders. Horton encourages catechetical teaching – – that is teaching through a structured series of questions and answers.
You can listen to the White Horse Inn series here. The series introduction reads:
According to the most conservative estimates, over 60 percent of those raised in evangelical homes end up leaving church at age 18. In some cases the estimates range as high as 90 percent. So what are we doing wrong? Why are we failing to pass the faith on the next generation, and what should churches and parents do to address this crisis? To help answer these questions, I’ll talk with J.I. Packer, Christian Smith, Thomas Bergler, Kenda Creasy Dean, and others as we introduce our new series on Youth Ministry.
The first person that Horton interviews is Christian Smith. Smith is the sociologist who coined the term “moralistic therapeutic deism.” See this post: Christian Smith Helps Us Understand Our Teens and Young Adults.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is . . . about providing therapeutic benefits to its adherents. This is not a religion of repentance from sins, of keeping the Sabbath, of living as a servant of a sovereign divine, of steadfastly saying one’s prayers, of faithfully observing high holy days, of building character through suffering, of basking in God’s love and grace, of spending oneself in gratitude and love for the cause of social justice et cetera. Rather, what appears to be the actual dominant religion among U.S. teenagers is centrally about feeling good, happy, secure, at peace. It is about attaining subjective well-being, being able to resolve problems, and getting along amiably with other people.” Christian Smith
Horton interviews a wide range of thinkers including J.I. Packer, Marva Dawn, and Will Willimon. They stress that we should think of teaching our teens about the Christian faith in the same way that we would teach them a second language. That is, they need to learn a new vocabulary and way of thinking.
At the Red Brick Church we work on our philosophy of youth ministry in an ongoing way. You ran read some of my thoughts on youth ministry on this post: Reflections regarding Youth Ministry.
Boys learn to be men by knowing and owning the stories of real men. These stories can be divided into: (1) Stories from our own histories including our dads and brothers. (2) Scripture – – All stories of manhood only faintly echo the story of the LORD Jesus Christ: the only perfect man.
There are times when men and women need to be addressed separately so at The Red Brick Church we had a guys night for our youth group on Sunday night. I led and talked to our junior and senior high guys about how they will learn to be men. I stressed to them that we all need to know personal families stories that inspire us.
I was so encouraged to hear our young men share examples from their own lives of how their dads and grandpas have set the right example for them. I did not have to “pull” the stories out of them. They are proud.
- One young man shared how his father worked hard throughout his chemotherapy treatments even taking his computer to the hospital.
- Another talked about his grandpa working hard to become an engineer.
- We heard about a dad who went to the army so he could eventually be the first in his family to go to college.
- We talked about dads who have their own businesses and have to make phone calls without someone telling them to do it and get up early in the morning.
- We considered Jonathan who said (1 Samuel 14:6) – – “Perhaps, God will act on our behalf . . .”
- We talked about a grandpa who made his own rock quarry to put stone around his garden
I looked around the room and saw the faces of boys who have godly men they can look up to – – – what a blessing!
And we talked about our King – – who for the joy set before Him, endured the Cross – – scorning it shame – – and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Tell your boys stories about real men!
The following links are to short practical posts for parents.
One of our goals as churches and families must be to equip our people to know important theological terms. A little girl in our church (see the above pic) recently took the time to make me a list of key terms. I especially liked the first one on her list. This year our church will focus on terms for Easter.
I was especially thrilled a couple of weeks ago with a set of notes Harleigh made for me. She went through the Bible and identified key terms to know. You can see a picture of all four pages to the right.
Harleigh’s list of terms is a good one. “Gosple” [sic] is first that is a good place to begin. If you don’t know what “gospel” means then read this post – – which also features a picture of Harleigh!
In anticipation of Easter this year at the Red Brick Church, I will be publishing an Easter primer with a list of terms, places, and people that are essential for understanding Good Friday. My goal for the terms is that will be simple enough for children like Harleigh to understand – – yet, comprehensive and deep enough to challenge our adults.
If you don’t have a church home – – then be our guest at the Red Brick Church. Last week, we began a Life Group for parents of young children, and it is off to a wonderful start — you can read more here.
But wherever you are at, be sure you know the meaning of terms like “amen”, “charity”, “faith.”