What Does Passion Week Mean to You?

There is no more important holiday celebration for those who are followers of Christ than the day we call Easter. While the origins of this name are not absolutely clear (some say it originated from the pagan goddess of Spring, Eostre; others think it is related to an old German word that meant ‘east’ or ‘dawn’), it is a name that has long been associated by many Christians with the day of Christ’s resurrection. Even so, I prefer calling it Resurrection Sunday.

Whatever name you prefer, it is the reason behind the existence of our faith. Our faith is founded upon the fact of Christ’s death and resurrection. Without the resurrection, our faith is meaningless or ‘futile’, according to Paul. It is the most important fact of human history we must teach our grandchildren.

With that in mind, I wonder what measures most of us take to prepare ourselves for this critical, celebratory day? I’m not simply talking about a liturgy (which can be very useful, by the way). This is about a personal journey to retrace the events of this week leading up to our Lord’s horrible crucifixion. I doubt we can begin to comprehend the price He paid for us. We rejoice in the Resurrection, but if we are to adequately teach our children and grandchildren the magnitude of the price our Savior paid for our sin debt, we ought to ponder the events of this Passion Week. 

To help you do that, I have listed some of the events in Jesus’ life during this week with Scripture references. I would encourage you to visit these passages each day and ponder the intentionality with which our Lord directed his steps toward the Cross. I have included a question for each day to help you process this Passion Week journey.

Palm Sunday (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 2)

  1. Jesus rides on a colt into Jerusalem as the crowds shout “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
  2. Spends the night in Bethany

Question: What does Jesus’ kingship really mean, and in what ways do you also miss what it means?

MONDAY (Mark 11:12-19)

  1. Back to Jerusalem 
  2. Jesus clears the Temple
  3. The Pharisees plot to kill Jesus

Question: The Bible says we are God’s Temple. Ask God to show you how you might be dishonoring that ‘temple’?

TUESDAY (Mark 11:20 – 13:35; Luke 20:1-21:36)

  1. Returns again to Jerusalem 
  2. Parable of the Tenants
  3. Paying taxes to Caesar
  4. Widow’s offering

Question: How do the teachings of Jesus in these passages reveal what Jesus’ mission was and how ought these to shape your life as a follower of Christ?

WEDNESDAY (Luke 21:37-38)

  1. More teaching in the Temple 
  2. Signs of the end of the age (Luke 21:5-36)
  3. Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:1-6)

Question: As Jesus talked about signs for the end of the age, what do you think He meant by telling us to “keep watch”? How are you keeping watch?

THURSDAY (Matthew 26:17-75; Mark 14:12-72; Luke 22:7-65; John 13:1-18:27)

  1. Passover with the disciples
  2. Gethsemane
  3. The betrayal and arrest
  4. Before the Sanhedrin
  5. Peter’s Denial

Question: What did these different events of this day reveal to you about our Lord’s heart towards us, even in our weaknesses?

GOOD FRIDAY (Matthew 27:1-61; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 22:66-23:56; John 18:1-27)

  1. Judas hangs himself
  2. Before Pilate
  3. The crucifixion
  4. The burial

Question: As you ponder the excruciating agony our Lord suffered on this day, do you have a better grasp of the depth of suffering He endured for you? How does that impact how you live your life now and the importance of telling the next generations what He has done for us?

Why Homeschool? 15 Reasons We Choose to Home Educate Our Children

  1. Education is a parent’s responsibility. God commands parents to bring up children in the Lord. Education is a means to that end. Parents who homeschool have the opportunity to limit the competing voices that children hear and teach all subjects from a Bible-centered curriculum.

  2. Education is discipleship. Children will become like their teachers. Luke 6:40 states, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” If we want our children to love Christ and live like Christ, it makes sense to place them under the influence of individuals who will help toward this end. Education is best learned by doing life together.

  3. Biblical worldview training. Public schools teach a secular view of science, history, math, gender, marriage, and justice. When a child marinades in this view for 16,000 hours, it is very difficult to train a child to think biblically about all of life. High percentages of children absorb secular views even while trying to follow Christ. Studies have shown that Christian children who attend a public school and attend church weekly are familiar with the fundamentals of Christian doctrine, but do not think biblically about politics, economics, education, or social issues. The students tend to think like secular humanists.

  4. Class size. Many schools selling point is small class size. What is better 15 to 1 or 5 to 1?
  1. Socialization. Homeschooling allows children to receive a higher percentage of adult socialization. Children do not become mature, godly adults by being around immature, ungodly children. They mature by being around people who are older, wiser, and further along in their walk with Christ (Titus 2:2-6). Homeschool children who are socially awkward typically have socially awkward parents. It is worth noting that there are also plenty of socially awkward public and private school children.
  1. Academics. Studies consistently show that homeschool children do better academically than public and private school children. Many colleges recognize this fact and recruit homeschool students.
  1. Tailored education. Homeschool children can go at their own pace, learn subjects of interest, and do so from curriculum that is Bible-based. Education, at least for our children, is enjoyable. It is a delight not a duty. Parents can attend to the unique educational needs of each child rather than teach to the masses.
  1. The price is right. Average cost per child, per year of education for our family is approximately $500. Sure beats $5,000 or $10,000 per year, per child.
  1. Flexibility. The school calendar does not control the family calendar. Children are free to build friendships, serve God, work, learn life skills, and the family is free to go on missions trips, vacations, or daily outings as they wish.
  1. Family time. Time with children is not limited to evenings and weekends. Love for many children is spelled T.I.M.E. Homeschool families have plenty of time together.
  1. Support. There are more resources available to help parents homeschool then ever before. My grade school children are in band and gym classes and we are part of a community of homeschool parents, which provides support to help us with any homeschool questions or needs. Gone are the days of homeschooling alone.
  1. Extra-curricular opportunities. There are countless opportunities for homeschool children to be involved in athletics, music, and countless other activities. An incorrect assumption is that homeschool children have little opportunity to interact with peers or be involved in activities outside of the home. Nothing could be further from the truth. And, because homeschool children do many of these activities during the day, their calendar is not over-scheduled.
  1. No homework. Tired of the homework hassle? Tired of evenings spent working through projects, papers, and profiles? Homeschool children have time to do these things during the day giving them greater freedom to participate in church, build friendships, and invest their time in other ways.
  1. Adequate sleep. Studies consistently show that children need a high volume of sleep. Early school start time requires children to wake-up earlier than their body is ready. Homeschool children have the option to begin their day later, thus avoiding over-tired children.
  1. School in pajamas. Who doesn’t love being in comfortable clothes!

FaceTime with the Lord

Recently, I experienced the pleasure of FaceTime with my grown children. Since we are scattered across the East Coast, being together is a rarity. My sons arranged a FaceTime family gathering on a Sunday evening. Meanwhile, I texted my kids and told them to mark their calendars as the Jacobs were meeting face to face. At 8:00 p.m., I hit the link my son Chris sent me. Voilà! I saw his face. Over the next few minutes, the others joined. Soon my entire family was online together.

I started the conversation by asking one son a couple of questions. A few minutes later, I asked another one some questions. Quickly, the dialogue between my family members sprang forward. At that point, I reclined in my chair, listening to these siblings and their spouses chat, laugh, and poke fun at each other. With their faces scattered across my computer screen, I was thrilled to watch my loved ones interact with each other. For an hour, I basked in the joy of their company.

Rejoicing …

The next morning, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to visit with my children. What a treasured evening it had been. Then I remembered a Bible verse I often use as I begin my time with the Lord. I turned in my Bible to Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV 1984 edition, emphasis added).

In the past, I had struggled with the thought that the Lord delighted in me. I questioned if He actually enjoyed my presence. But that morning, for the first time, I understood His joy. Just as I delighted in spending time with my children, my heavenly Father delights in spending time with me. Imagine that! The Lord of the universe loves my company, and I love to read His Word because it fills His heart with joy.

The Power of the Word of God

Living in the twenty-first century, many of us lead hectic lives. Often we are over- committed and exhausted. Wisely, God tells us “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, emphasis added). One way to apply this verse is to read the Bible daily so God can strengthen our surrendered hearts to Him and equip us to navigate this frenetic world. If we desire to impact our children and grandchildren for the Lord, we need to establish a daily routine of meditating on His living Word. You could say it is “FaceTime” with the Lord.

Four Practical Steps

Many grandparents long to spend time studying and reading the Bible. However, they struggle with the logistics. I find it helpful to follow four practical steps. First, determine a reading schedule that is realistic for your current lifestyle. I start by asking the Lord to design my reading time. The second step is to use a Bible that is easy to read and understand. My favorite one is the New International Version (NIV). There are a number of excellent Bible translations. Your pastor or a sales person at a Christian bookstore may be able to recommend a Bible best suited for you. A third practical step for reading your Bible is to bring a notebook and pen to your quiet place. I find it helpful to jot down thoughts that come to me as I spend time with the Lord. The fourth step is to develop a reading plan. Often, I use a devotional book, a study guide or an online reading plan. It is important to establish a structure so I do not flounder when I start my quiet time. The structure keeps me on a timely tract.

Yes, “FaceTime” with the Lord is precious time in His presence. He has provided an amazing book called the Bible. It tells the most compelling story of all time, the story of the true God who longs to be with His people forever. He gave us this heavenly treasure so we can know how to run our earthly race. One
day we will see Him face-to-face. But until then, let us draw near to Him daily by reading and rereading His written Word. Remember, He delights in you. You bring joy to His heart and a smile to His face when you choose to “FaceTime” with Him.

For more information on “Reading the Bible Daily”, you can go to Catherine’s book, Pass the Legacy: 7 Keys for Grandparents Making a Difference at www.passthelegacy.com.

Understanding Biblical Authority: 3 Categories of Illegitimate Authority

Every child will look to an authority to determine truth. The authority the child chooses will determine what the child believes and how the child lives. To choose the Bible as authority means that a person believes the Bible has the right to decide what is good and bad, right and wrong, true and false and to direct how he or she lives.

Authority is not a popular concept. We like to have authority, but not to be under authority. Man in his depravity will continue to rebel against the Bible as truth and God as the ultimate authority. The Apostle Paul tells us that rebellion against God and his Word is natural since man is born spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 3:10-18), blind in his understanding (Eph. 4:18), and unable to accept the things of God because they can only be understood spiritually (1 Cor. 2:14). Only redemption by the Holy Spirit making the sinner spiritually alive can change this reality (Eph. 2:4-5). Newness of life results in illumination of the Bible. The new believer can now understand that the Bible is the Word of God (1 John 2:20). Those who do not have God as their Lord will not have His Word as their authority.

Young people often believe the lie that freedom is acquired by being their own authority. Freedom is not found in the absence of authority, rather it is experienced by submitting to God’s authority and living within His boundaries. The commandments of God in the Bible are a means of liberation and the wisdom of the Bible is a path to blessing. Whenever we put happiness before obedience, we will be destined for misery. Those who place themselves under the authority of God’s Word will experience joy.

God is the source of all authority. The Bible gives absolute authority to God over all his creation. God is the all-powerful creator all things (Gen. 1-2) and owns the earth (Ps. 24:1). Psalm 62:11 states, “power belongs to God.” Jesus claims, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). The titles “Lord” and “God Almighty” declare that God has authority over all the earth.

The Bible is our ultimate authority because it is from God. We do not give the Bible its authority. The Bible is authoritative regardless of what we believe about it. We must decide if the Bible will have functional authority in our life or if we will live according to a different authority. The Bible is our authority when we acknowledge it is true, embrace it, submit to it, and walk in obedience to God’s Word. The supreme authority of the universe has given us His Word; therefore, it must have authority over us.

Many Christians claim the Bible is their authority only to choose a different authority by their actions. Christians look to many other sources for authority. Here are three of the most common that I’ve observed.

Three categories of illegitimate authority

  1. Science

Secular voices have convinced many Christians that the Bible is unsophisticated, outdated, superstitious, and unscientific. Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church, stated “When religion and science conflict, at the end of the day if you are an honest person, science must win!” Maybe you’ve heard someone say, “I know what the Bible says, but you can’t deny science.” In reality, nothing could be more absurd than thinking human ideas are a more reliable source of authority than God’s Word in the Bible. Science is servant to Scripture, not the other way around.

Science becomes an illegitimate source when authority is deferred to human experts. What is science? Science means knowledge. Science is a means to learn about the world God created. The Bible is God’s book of science. It contains the foundational truth about biology, history, geology, anthropology, and astronomy. The Bible is an infallible science book. When we create and discover, we are using the laws of physics and chemistry that God has put in place. The laws of science exist because God created an orderly world. The Bible is our scientific authority because the Word of God tells us how God created the world and how the world works.

  1. Pragmatism

Pragmatism is an approach that determines actions by the results one desires. It first determines what results are preferred, then decides the actions to achieve the desired outcome. Without realizing it we have become answerable to what works. If giving a reward results in a well behaved child, wonderful, but if not, threats or ignoring negative behavior may be more effective. If teaching the Bible will attract children to our school or church, great, but if not, focusing on academic rigor or entertainment may be a more effective strategy.

Pragmatism becomes an illegitimate source when authority is determined by personal experience. Pragmatism occurs when we look to our personal experience for direction rather than God’s Word. Pay attention to the question, “Does it work?” When this phrase becomes the justification for a decision, you know pragmatism is occurring. Ultimately, pragmatism is the result of biblical ignorance or a lack of confidence in the power of Scripture to do what it promises.

For example, let’s consider evangelism. When we look to artificial methods to stimulate conversion or manipulate emotions to get to a desired end, we know that pragmatism is at work. God does not need us to make the Gospel relevant. There is not a single creative idea that will bring the spiritually dead to life or contribute to a person’s salvation. Paul tells us what brings about salvation, “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible is able to bring about salvation because it brings us into contact with Jesus.

  1. Man’s Word

The Bible is often replaced by man’s authority, which can take many forms. I worked with a pastor who always wanted to make decisions by surveying the congregation rather than applying the wisdom of the Bible. Christians often turn to psychology to solve their relational, marital, or emotional problems rather than the provision that God offers in His word. The church has even attempted to replace God’s Word by declaring itself as the ultimate authority.

Historically, there have been times when the Word of God has been placed under the authority of the church with priority given to its creeds, counsels, articles, and tradition. The Roman Catholic Church is founded on this principle. In their view, the Bible is the Word of God because they have decreed it to be so and confirmed this reality in numerous infallible church councils. There is a major problem with this view. Who authorized the church to make this kind of decision? What is the source of authority to do so? The church can affirm the authority of Scripture, but it is not the source for it. Mark 7:8 points out what is happening, “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”

Martin Luther argued that the Catholic Church and the Pope did not trump Scripture. Luther was brought before the Diet of Worms in April 1521 and was ordered to recant his beliefs about justification as well as ecclesiastical and biblical authority. His reply left no doubt about his source of authority:

“Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

Ultimate authority belongs to God and God alone. The Bible is to be the foundation for every area of life. Like Luther, we are to be captive to the Word of God. Far too many Christians have a diminished confidence in the Bible. Jeremiah 5:30-31 states, “An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority.” An appalling and horrible thing has happened in my homes, churches, and schools – man’s word has become the authority. The Bible is God’s Words of truth that determines how we live, not surveys, psychology, or even the church.

How does the Bible have functional authority in our life?

It is one thing to say the Bible is our authority, it is another to submit to the Bible as our authority. We must come to the settled conviction that the only authority we have comes from the Word of God. Here are four functional ways the Bible has authority in our life.

Turn to God’s Word for guidance. We must develop the pattern of looking to God’s word for answers and guidance. Psalm 24:4-5 can be our prayer, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your path. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Test thoughts and ideas with God’s Word. We must learn to cultivate the habit of the mind that filters everything through God’s Word. Paul exhorts us to “Test everything, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).

Take every thought captive with the Bible. We must critique arguments from a biblical perspective and discipline our mind not to allow ungodly ideas to take residence. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us how to do that, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Teach the Bible. We must communicate the whole counsel of the Bible to young people. The Apostle Paul gives Titus this assignment, “These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (Titus 2:15). Titus is given the responsibility to speak with authority, which comes from the Word of God. Our teaching is not to be occupied with object lessons, good suggestions, or pithy axioms, but God’s Words from the Bible.

Our authority as parents, grandparents, pastors, and educators comes when we teach and preach the Word of God. This is your responsibility. The Bible is to be your content and curriculum. Titus 2:15 gives three methods to teach the Bible: “speak, exhort, reprove.” Speak the Bible so a young person hears and understands it. Exhort so that you persuade a young person to believe and apply God’s Word. Reprove by holding a young person responsible to obey and submit to the Bible. We do not invent the message. It is our responsibility to deliver it with faithful interpretation and passionate proclamation so that they understand, believe, and obey God’s Word.

Jesus is our example. He taught authoritatively. In Mark 11:28, Jesus was confronted by the Chief priest, the scribes, and elders who were troubled by Jesus authority and asked Him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” Jesus did not quote rabbis, rely upon the latest research, point to his title or educational degrees, or suggest it was his extensive ministry experience or communication skill that gave him authority. Jesus tells the religious leaders, “My teaching is not mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16).

If I walk into your home, your church, or your school will I hear the Word of God taught, read, discussed, sung, prayed, and proclaimed? Or will I hear a different authority? Will I find that you turn to God’s Word for decisions or has an illegitimate authority usurped God’s Word when you need direction? Is your confidence in God’s Word is high or low?

The Bible is to be your authority. It was given by God to parents, grandparents, and pastors to instruct children and grandchildren (Deut. 4:9, Deut. 6:6-7). The Bible is able to bring every child to saving faith (2 Tim. 3:14-15). Paul wrote that all Scripture is from God and is useful for teaching, conviction, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is to be your authority for parenting, grandparenting, and ministry to children.

The Dangers of Social Media on Relationships

Did you know that 20 percent of divorces involve Facebook? As a Facebook user myself, I was not surprised by this statistic. Facebook’s convenient social engagement – sometimes couched in the privacy of a message inbox – is an excellent way to stay in contact with old friends. But this convenience is also why Facebook can be dangerous for marriage. Brenda and I have a continual conversation on this topic. Social media is largely harmless, but if not approached with discretion it leads many down a path of emotional (and even physical) infidelity. We are not blind to this potential – and you shouldn’t be either.

Social media may not always be used in positive ways. Understanding the pitfalls can help you be aware of the potential dangers of social media on today’s relationships. Darren Adamson, PhD, LMFT, Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northeastern University, lays out three potential dangers facing couples:

1.Social media serves as a distraction from focusing on the interactions that nurture relationships. “Social media use can become compulsive,” explains Adamson, “making it difficult to manage the amount of time spent on it.” In one study, American college students describe abstaining from social media the same way they describe drug and alcohol withdrawal—cravings, anxiety, feeling jittery.

2. People share their best lives on social media, so couples sometimes compare their mundane lives with other’s exciting lives, which can create destructive comparisons. “This can lead to discouragement with one’s primary relationship,” says Adamson. That discouragement can lead to conflict, fear, unrealistic expectations—why can’t you be like the partner portrayed in the social media posts? —or an overall discontentment with the relationship.

3. There is the potential for another relationship that looks so much better than the primary relationship. This can lead to extra-couple relationships that ultimately can destroy your marriage.

Guidelines for Maintaining a Healthy Balance Between Social Media and Relationships

As evidenced by couples who do use social media to their advantage, it is possible to have healthy relationships and be actively involved in social media. In fact, a 2013 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people who share information about their relationship on Facebook were comfortable in their relationship. However, that setting guidelines on how to effectively use social media can mean the difference between a healthy use of social media in a relationship and taking it into the danger zone.

1.Don’t use social media as a negative point of comparison for your relationship. If you feel compelled to make comparisons involving your relationship compare where your relationship is today with what it was like a year ago—or five or ten years ago for those in a long-term relationship. Let the results of the comparison prompt changes in behavior that can build your relationship.

2.Spend time nurturing your relationship. Do things that create closeness in your relationship and do them regularly without distraction. This means leaving the cell phone/tablet at home—out of sight and out of mind. The distraction factor is one of the biggest challenges with social media. According to a study by Scientific American, the presence of a cell phone/tablet can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships.

3. Do not maintain a separate social media life. Share your social media world with your husband or wife. Spouses should not just share passwords – they should keep no secrets on social media. All messages, groups, and statuses should be open to your spouse. Just as it would be unsafe to keep secrets with a “real life” friend of the opposite sex, it is equally dangerous to keep even the smallest secrets from your spouse online. This may seem extreme, but in the world of social media we cannot be too careful. The protection of a screen gives a false sense of security, privacy, and even intimacy. This is why Brenda and I have a continual conversation about our social media channels, updating one another on who messaged us, what we’ve said lately, and the news we’ve received.

Social media is a part of our modern society, but there are also dangers in social media if couples let it get out of control. One thing you must keep in mind that social media is exactly what the name implies—media. It is not a separate and distinct world. It does not sustain relationships, because it is based on virtual reality that, by its nature, is not able to support the activities required to make a relationship work. That is up to you as individuals, and it still requires old-fashioned hard work and time invested in your relationship to make it thrive!

When Equality Does not Mean Equality

I am not a political activist, nor do I intend to become one. There is a difference, however, between being an activist and standing up for the truth, especially when it is suppressed and impacts our children. That is never more necessary than when powerful people seek to change foundational truths created by our Creator in an attempt to shut down any conversations or disagreements about a matter of utmost importance.

Such is the case with a recent announcement by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to give its full support to the proposed Equality Act through a celebrity driven video campaign. Contrary to what its name implies, the Equality Act soon to be introduced by House Democrats proposes anything but equality. As Andrew Walker wrote for The Gospel Coalition, this bill represents the “most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America” and “equates Christian ethics with hatred and bigotry.”

You may be wondering why I would bother with this topic in a blog about grandparenting. The reason is simple: God instructs us to teach our grandchildren the truth. For two decades I have talked about and written about this biblical mandate God gave to parents and grandparents for all times. We are mandated to tell the next generations the truth about who God is, what God has done and why He has done it. That includes the truth about who we are as male and female created in God’s image.

Fight for the Truth

If another generation is to know the truth—ALL of God’s truth, including what He says about sexuality and gender—it won’t be because our politicians and lawmakers are proclaiming it. It won’t be because celebrities promote it. It will be because godly men and women boldly and faithfully make it known generation to generation. But let us also remember that we teach and fight for what is true because it is true, not because it suits us or our ‘cause’.

We are responsible to teach our grandchildren the Gospel and the truth about things like God’s view of sexuality and gender. When a culture or a nation forces a lie on our children, we need to fight for the truth. That does not mean being vicious, unkind or unwilling to listen to other opinions. It does mean knowing what is true and boldly standing up for what is true, not just for Christians, but for all men.

Andrew Walker is right when he says, “Christians need to do a much better job of explaining the rationale and merits of their beliefs around gender and sexuality. We do not believe these are sectarian truths applicable only to Christians. Rather, we believe how God patterned creation in Genesis is the blueprint for human flourishing. If we don’t contend for the legitimacy and rationality of our views, they’ll end up being sidelined as intolerant and harmful—to the detriment of all.”

So, grandparents, I encourage you to engage with your grandchildren about these matters. Be ready to explain what God says and why it is important to believe what he says. Below are links to two articles I recommend reading, and a book I believe can be helpful to you in these conversations. These are conversations we need to have because they are conversations others are already initiating with your grandchildren in the public arena. We can’t afford to be lulled asleep on these matters for the sake of our grandchildren.

Important Resources

The Equality Act Accelerates Anti-Christian Bias by Andrew Walker

BreakPoint: The Equality Act vs. Religious Freedom by John Stonestreet

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet

GRANDPAUSE: Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.(Nehemiah 4:14)

Smartphone Conversations for Grandparents

Do you ever grow tired of the constant intrusion of smartphones in everyday life? Have dinner time conversations with your grandchildren been reduced to tweeting and texting activity while face-to-face human interactions almost come to a halt?

Few grandparents have much to say about whether their grandchildren are allowed smartphones, let alone when and how they use them. Mom and Dad have primary responsibility for how it’s played out. Everywhere, that is, except in your home space. 

Grandparents, you are in a position to determine the parameters for smartphone use in your home, if you are willing to set an example. You are the king and queen of your home, and you can help change the way your grandchildren think about and use their smartphones. It requires some intentionality and grace, and perseverance.

Before I share some ideas, you must first believe you can have a transformational impact in your grandchildren’s lives, even when you are not living close by. The Bible makes it very clear that grandparents are just as important as parents in teaching and training our grandchildren to walk in the truth. If your grandchildren are young, you can establish that influence early on by reading Bible stories and other good stories with them, and by talking with them about both the good things and the dangers of technology.

If your grandchildren are older grade schoolers and teens, we may assume they don’t want to hear anything grandma and grandpa have to say. That will be true if we only criticize and “preach” at them about stuff we don’t like. If, on the other hand, we establish an atmosphere of trust and vulnerability (we can still learn some things too), the opportunities are there to engage them with conversations that cause them to think more judiciously about the choices they make. 

Now, for a few ideas regarding smartphones in your home…

  1. Assess your worldview about God’s creation. Does it line up with Scripture or culture? If  God created man in HIs image, he also created him to create good things. Does that include technology, or is it inherently evil? Like all of God’s creation, it is good, but like everything else it is under sin’s curse. Still, if the bad side of technology is all you talk about, your grandchildren will have little interest in hearing what you have to say. That’s why the Gospel is so significant. God can redeem even technology. 
  2. Determine to be tech-savvy.Know what you’re talking about. You don’t need to be an expert, but invest some serious time in learning about the capabilities, dangers and purposes of smartphones. A smartphone is not neutral. It has a specific purpose—communication, but it also has an accompanying power to influence thinking and action. Do you know how to have conversations with your grandchild about these things? If not, I recommend you check out this free resource produced by AXIS Ministries. You might also want to share it with the parents of your grandchildren.
  3. Build a culture of blessing in your home.Make it a regular practice to intentionally speak a word of blessing over each of your grandchildren when the opportunity arises. There are so many negative messages coming at them. Your words of blessing and value as image-bearers of God can be transformational. We have a free download called Creating a Legacy of Blessing that can help you make the most of this tool.
  4. Establish meaningful guidelines for smartphone use in your home. Here are ways to build a focus on relationships and less technology dependence. I call them Tech-Free Zones or Recess Periods:
    • Family Table: Let it be understood that mealtime is set aside for family interaction. No smartphones or other devices are welcome at the family table. This is too valuable a time to allow smartphones to disrupt.
    • Other tech-free zones/recess periods: When the grandkids come to visit, help them understand the value of personal interaction by creating tech-free recess periods (pre-planned activities) in which smartphones are turned off and put away out of temptations reach. Here are some examples: baking cookies together, reading a book, working on a puzzle, sharing stories. You probably have a lot more ideas you could create for doing life together without smartphone interference.
    • Special Outings: If your grandchildren are old enough, plan for some outings with them where smartphones are not allowed (assign one person in charge of the emergency phone). These could be visits to a museum, zoo, play, picnic, etc. Make plans for things they would enjoy doing, but no smartphones allowed.

(You’ll find a few other suggestions in my book: Courageous Grandparenting)

Grandparents, you can tell yourself that it is not your responsibility to teach your grandkids about their use of smartphones or any other technology. But that is cop out. God’s design is that we should work together—parents and grandparents—to train up a child to walk in the truth.

If you and your adult children are not on the same page about this, make sure you are on the same page with God’s truths about life and His creation. Ask God for wisdom and understanding to help your grandchildren avoid the dangers and make the most of technology for God’s glory and purposes.

Against All Odds: Help for the Hurting Marriage

Have you ever been in a situation or circumstance where there were a lot of problems and it appeared that there was no way out? It appeared hopeless, against all odds.

An ancient king of the Jewish people – Hezekiah – faced a situation that appeared to have no good outcome. It was one of those “against all odds” circumstances. There were a lot of problems and it appeared that he was not likely to succeed in preventing the impending destruction of his kingdom. You can read about it in the Old Testament of the Bible (2 Chronicles 32).

The part of the story that I want you to think about is found in these verses…

“After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?” Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields.” (2 Chronicles 32:1-5, New Living Translation)

Hezekiah did not sit around waiting for his kingdom to come crashing down. Neither did he abandon the people who trusted him to lead them through this time of adversity. The king took steps to get his house in order, to make provision for the challenges he faced and was about to encounter.

His response to what appeared to be a hopeless situation provides biblical principles that are applicable for our own hardships and afflictions. Notice three things he did.

Blocked off the Bad

Hezekiah cut off the access the Assyrian army would have to the water in the area. That access would allow the “bad” to get a foothold around the city. Hezekiah doesn’t just sit around waiting for God to do something. This would be a good practice for us.

Do you have financial struggles, but continue to pursue an unsustainable lifestyle instead of living within your means?

Do you have relational situations where friends/family are pushing you in a direction you know God doesn’t want?

Do you want to grow spiritually in your marriage, but all of your busyness and distractions leave no time for the spiritual disciplines necessary for that growth?

What causes the enemy to linger in your lives?

Mended the Broken

Hezekiah repaired the broken sections of the walls around the city. What about the things that were once healthy and strong in your marriage, but are no longer – communication, trust, friendship, sexual intimacy, resistance to temptations that weaken your marital connection? Hezekiah and his people worked hard to repair what was broken to keep the enemy from easily overtaking them.

Bolstered the Weak

He built another wall outside the main wall and reinforced the supporting fortifications and terraces. It wasn’t enough to have one wall around the city. Do you know the weak spots in your life, in your faith, in your marriage? If the enemy concentrated his efforts there, would he be able to break through and destroy your marriage and faith in God? All may seem well now, but over the long run you would be vulnerable. What are you doing to reinforce the vulnerable areas of your relationship with your spouse?

Every marriage will face a time of adversity and distress. It may be a chronic illness, the death of a child, a crisis of faith, a financial setback, a loss of trust and security because of an adulterous affair, or an out-of-control addiction. Are you prepared? Is your house in order?

Characteristics of a Disciple-Making Grandparent

The Bible has hundreds of references to grandparenting, but these references are often missed because the Bible uses phrases such as children’s children, son’s son, father’s father, or forefather to speak of grandparenting.

One of the most common passages of Scripture utilized for family discipleship is Deuteronomy 6:4–9. The Christian community limits the application of Deuteronomy 6 to parents, but based on the context of Deuteronomy 6:1–2 it has a broader application that includes grandparents.

Moses gave the community a charge to love God and diligently teach young people the commands of God. Moses states the commands of God are for “you and your son and your son’s son” (Deuteronomy 6:1–2). The reference to “son’s son” means that Deuteronomy 6:4–9 is not only for parents, but grandparents.

Almost every grandparent that I’ve met wants to connect deeply with their children and grandchildren and make an eternal difference in their lives. The Bible equips us to do that. We are going to explore a number of biblical principles that will help you disciple future generations.

Here are four characteristics of a disciple-making grandparent:

  1. Disciple-Making Grandparents view grandchildren as a blessing, not a burden.

Do you remember what you felt when you learned that you would be a grandparent? Were you enthusiastic or ambivalent? Excited or anxious? Motivated or mad? Did you view your new grandchild as a blessing or a burden?

This first point deals with our heart. Your attitude about being a grandparent reveals much about your heart and what you believe about grandparenting. We want our attitude toward grandparenting to reflect God’s attitude toward grandparenting. What is God’s attitude toward grandparenting?

The Bible tells us that it is a blessing to know your grandchildren. Psalm 128:6, “May you see your children’s children.” The ministry of Grandparenting is to be received as a blessing not rejected as a burden. The grandparent who has a poor attitude toward grandparenthood in general or a grandchild specifically is at odds with God’s plan.

Every grandchild is created in the image of God and is therefore his sovereign plan for your life. Every grandchild is to be highly valued regardless of gender, race, health, or personality. Every grandchild is to be received with love and embraced as God’s good design for your life.

Grandchildren are a blessing. Do you believe that? Or have you felt resentment because of the cost of grandparenting? By nature, grandparenting requires sacrifice. It requires us to die to ourselves and our wants. Dying to ourselves is the exact opposite message you are fed by culture – you’ve done your time, now go play and travel.

If you’ve ever wished a grandchild wasn’t born or that you never became a grandparent, you’re not alone. I’ve met many grandparents who won’t verbally admit that they view a grandchild as a burden, but harbor these feelings in their heart.

If you struggle to receive a grandchild as a blessing, pray that God would soften your heart and change your attitude. Ask God to give you his love for a grandchild. Some of us need to release our plans to the Lord and choose to trust God’s sovereign plan for our life even when life turns out different than envisioned.

We must allow the Bible to shape our view of grandchildren. The Bible tells us that it is a blessing to have grandchildren. Proverbs 17:6 states, “Grandchildren are a crown of the aged.” That is a significant statement that speaks to the incredible value of grandchildren. Interestingly, it is not wealth, health, career accomplishments, or social status that the Bible says are the crown of your life. That honor goes to grandchildren.

A crown bestows honor and represents a high position in life unmatched through any other source. Your attitude and actions should reflect the value given to grandchildren by God in Scripture. We talk a lot about giving a blessing to grandchildren. Grandchildren are the blessing that God has given you. Have you received each grandchild as a blessing and does your attitude reflect it?

  1. Disciple-making grandparents understand the biblical purpose of grandparenting.

What is the purpose of grandparenting? My research discovered that only about 1 in 4 Christian grandparents have clarity about that question. If you are interested in a deep dive into the biblical role of a grandparent then I want to encourage to get Biblical Grandparenting or Grandparenting, but for now I’ll summarize this by saying that you must have a settled conviction on this truth: God designed grandparenting. He created it. Grandparenting is God’s idea.

Colossians 1:16 states, “All things were created by him and for him.” Grandparenting was created by God and for God. This is an important point for all Christian grandparents to understand because everything God creates, including grandparenting, he creates for a reason. If God created grandparenting, the natural question that arises is, why? God must have a purpose for it. What is grandparenting meant to accomplish?

God created grandparents to partner with parents to raise the next generation to know, love, and serve Jesus. Grandparents and parents are teammates working toward the same biblical goals. We are fellow laborers created to point grandchildren to Christ and raise help raise them to spiritual maturity.

Grandparents are the adjunct servant of the godly parent and the spiritual surrogate of the ungodly parent.

What do I mean by that? God designed parents as the primary disciple-makers in a child’s life and he created grandparents as a secondary, but important influence. If parents are raising children in the Lord then grandparents support and encourage parents to fulfill the task God has given them and reinforce the work of the parent by investing directly into the spiritual life of a grandchild. In this case, you are discipling the disciple-makers. If parents are not raising children in the Lord then grandparents need to lovingly encourage parents to take seriously the responsibility God has given them. Children who are not actively discipling present an opportunity for grandparents to invest more heavily by stepping into a more prominent disciple-making role in the life of a grandchild.

Family discipleship is one of the critical reasons grandparents are needed. You are in an excellent position to encourage an adult child to prioritize the discipleship of children.

God created grandparents with a unique role and a specific function and your job is to enthusiastically embrace God’s design. When we reject the design, we reject the designer. Grandparenting is not a take-it or leave-it cultural creation whose purpose and meaning change with each new generation. God did not create grandparents as an unnecessary, optional appendage to the family. God created grandparents to play a crucial role in the spiritual development of grandchildren by linking arms with parents to work toward the same goals of raising future generations to know, love, and serve Jesus.

Every grandparent needs clarity on an important question. How much discipleship is happening in your child’s home? You need clarity so that you know how best to spiritually invest as a grandparent.

  1. Disciple-Making grandparents are actively involved with family.

Research reveals that the quality of a grandparent and grandchild relationship is based on the frequency of interaction. Not surprisingly, it is difficult to develop a deep and intimate relationship with limited contact, which reduces the spiritual impact of grandparents.

Researchers Cherlin and Fustenberg researched the amount of time grandparents spend with grandchildren and found three categories of relational involvement:

  • Detached: 26% of grandparents. Detached grandparents often urge children to be self-sufficient and independent which creates an emotional distance between family members, resulting in grandparents being remote figures in their family’s life.
  • Passive: 29% of grandparents. Passive grandparents are careful to keep their distance, do not press for additional time with family, often feel burdened by the responsibility of being a grandparent, and are sometimes ambivalent but still feel the role of grandparenthood is rewarding. Detached and passive grandparents tend to interact with grandchildren less than once or twice a month.
  • Active: 46% of grandparents. Active grandparents spend a lot of time with grandchildren, have a positive view of being a grandparent, regularly share their opinions, and gently tell grandchildren when they disprove of a choice or behavior. Active grandparents tend to interact with grandchildren at least once a week or more.

How often do you interact with each grandchild? Children and grandchildren spell love T.I.M.E. If your interaction is infrequent, a simple way to increase your impact is to increase your frequency of interaction. Texting, letter writing, phone calls, and face-to-face visits are all tools grandparents can use to increase interaction. Whether you live close or far from family, the smart phone is an essential grandparenting tool.

Psalm 92:12-15 provides a picture of active grandparents. The psalmist uses the picture of a palm tree to make his point; “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our Lord. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him’” (Psalm 92:12–15).

Date palm trees bear hundreds of pounds of fruit well past 150 years of age and are a picture of what God expects from grandparents in the later third of their life. The psalmist teaches that righteousness in old age results in the continued production of spiritual fruit.

Psalm 92 shouts a truth that all grandparents need to hear: age does not impair fruit-bearing capabilities. It enhances them. Psalm 92 reminds grandparents that the latter years of life ought to be spiritually productive years for the purpose of declaring the nature of God to others. American culture attempts to convince grandparents that they have little to offer. Nothing is further from the truth. This passage speaks against the American ethos of retirement and reminds grandparents to be fruitful disciple-makers to their dying day.

Grandparents need to reject the narrative that the purpose of old age is a life of leisure and self-indulgence. The example of the palm tree suggests that a fruitless existence is not a category the Bible recognizes. God’s expectation for palm trees is also true for grandparents: to live is to bear fruit, even in one’s old age.

  1. Disciple-making grandparents make themselves available to help.

Today’s parents feel overwhelmed and grandparents can help. Huffington Post declared that overwhelmed parents are so common that it is a “national crisis.” Parents are overworked, family life is overscheduled, and your adult children often feel overwhelmed. The result is high levels of stress that leads to irritability, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Paul states, “Older women, train the younger women…older men, train the younger men” manage the home and character training (Titus 2:3-6). God’s design for the family is for the older to help and train the younger. Many of your adult children need help and are looking for a mentor. When I was a pastor in Rochester, MN my wives parents moved one mile from us. We did life together. They helped us in tangible ways – parenting guidance, home repairs, and took our kids twice a week. It was a blessing.

Today’s parents often struggle under the weight of child-rearing and the endless tasks that come with parenting. Here are a couple examples from young parents:

“Now that I am back to work full time, I get up at 5:00 a.m. to get the kid’s lunches ready. I often find myself doing laundry at 10:00 p.m. Last week I was picking up groceries at the supermarket at 11:00 p.m. I’m so exhausted at night when I got to bed, I can hardly talk to my husband, much less make love with him. I don’t like living this way, but I’m not seeing a way out.”

“When it comes to parenting, our work is never done. Things shout at us from every direction, making it easy to get perpetually stuck in doing mode. Help Sammy with his spelling words! Take the splinter out of Shannon’s finger! Do the dishes…feed the dog…sign the permission slip…get the boys in their bath…!”

“It doesn’t matter what causes us to be overwhelmed. Sometimes it can be a culmination of little stressors – orange peels left on the floor, peanut butter on the stairs, sassing back by the eight year old, kids that don’t want to go to bed, bills piling on the counter – or it can be just that life is deciding that at this moment it’s simply going to be hard. Money stuff. Relationship issues. Sickness. Death. Kid issues.”

Parents aren’t just overwhelmed by endless tasks, they are also overwhelmed by the volume of opinions about how to parent. Facebook feeds are full of opinions about nutrition, education, health care, and athletics. Academic research presents compelling arguments from different perspectives on media consumption, brain development, vaccinations, and a long list of topics parents should consider. Family and friends offer varied philosophical approaches with strong views about sleep training and discipline. Parents are increasingly taking their parenting cues from sources other than the Bible and are unsure how to raise children to love and follow Jesus. Many parents have quiet fears about messing up their child and are unsure what to do.

Parents often need help with day-to-day tasks of managing a home, a break from children, and parenting guidance from the Bible. God created grandparents to help. My encouragement is to ask how are you doing? How’s your marriage? How can we help? If your adult child does not provide anything, that’s okay, ask again at a later time.

My research revealed that only 1 in 10 Christian grandparents are directly involved with the youngest generation of their church in any meaningful way. The majority of grandparents have limited interaction with the young people of their congregation that amounts to a passing greeting in the hall and results in limited spiritual investment in their lives. Grandparents told me that they no longer disciple the younger generation of their church because they do not think they are wanted, needed, or no longer able to offer something of value to young people. Other Christian grandparents told me they served and now it is someone else’s turn.

In Titus 2, Paul gives an important leadership responsibility to the older generation, which centers on the discipleship of younger Christians. Biblical grandparents are models of the Christian life and teachers of younger generations. The church is in need of godly, mature Christians who will pour themselves into the lives of younger Christians.

Grandparents have a golden opportunity. Who are the children in your church that would benefit from an adoptive grandparent? What help do your children need? There will be times when your adult children feel overwhelmed by life and unsure how to parent. God never intended parents to raise children alone. Instead, God gave families the gift of grandparents to share burdens, to distribute the weight of child rearing, and as a means to provide multiple influences to raise children in the Lord.

Each of these areas, attitude, purpose, time, help have the potential to strengthen relationships and increase disciple-making impact. Which one or two resonated with where you are at today?

Ash Wednesday

Today, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of the church season known as Lent. It is a forty-day period before Easter set aside as a time of soul-searching and repentance. The forty days reflect Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for his own time of spiritual reflection. In the early church Lent was a special time when new converts were instructed in the faith and prepared for baptism on Easter.

Historically, there are four spiritual acts of Lent:

  1. Giving to the poor
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting/Abstaining
  4. Repentance

It’s that last one that has me thinking today. Repentance is often defined as “to feel sorrow for sin” and rightly refers to our sin against God. But, we also sin against each other in our marriage and family relationships. We offend and hurt the ones we love. And we are offended and hurt by the ones we love.

In every marriage and family there comes a time when we must repent for our actions or words. That is often followed by an apology. How you apologize and what you say in the apology is important. Here are four components of a biblical apology: 

  1. Confess sin – “I am sorry.” It helps to be specific about the offense. Avoid saying “but…” That tends to void the apology. A house is not clean until you open every closet and clean every room. Confession includes no more secrets and genuine regret.
  2. Accept responsibility – “I was wrong.” Repentant people do not give excuses or shift blame.
  3. Genuinely repent – “I have deep sorrow over my sin.” True repentance is essential for God-honoring change. In a marriage or family relationship, an intention to not repeat the offensive behavior needs to be verbalized in order to build trust. Heart change brings about life change, so true repentance is critical. Changing the course of life involves a decision to live in obedience to God and a deliberate turning from the things that cause temptation.
  4. Request forgiveness – “Will you please forgive me?” This sends a strong signal that you know you’ve done something that requires forgiving, not just excusing. It also lets the other person know that you want to see the relationship restored.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” – Psalm 51:1-2