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Fill ‘er Up!

“… you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

            I returned home late Sunday afternoon.  As I walked in the door, I stepped over a red toy truck.  I gazed around the room.  Granted, housekeeping is not my strength.  But this place was a mess!   It looked like Fisher Price had exploded throughout the downstairs.  The upstairs was not better.  Beds were unmade, bath towels were sprawled on the floor and an empty popcorn bowl sat on the table beside the big screen tv.  Yep!  Evidence permeated the four corners of my two-story home that my grandkids had spent the weekend with me.

            I determined fifteen years ago when my first grandchild was born, I would not let my house fall apart when my grandchildren came to visit.  Oh, no! I would teach this future generation the discipline of “get out one toy, return one toy”.  But I quickly learned I could be a “neat Nina” or a “fun Nina”. For me, there was no middle ground.

            I plopped on the sofa.  I was exhausted.  It was a good type of tired, though.  But still, I was drained.  Thinking back over the past two days, I relived Friday afternoon at the beach, Saturday at “Bee City”, supper at Smash Burger and TWO trips to TCBY (once on Friday night, again on Saturday night).  This morning we got up early, dressed, gulped down some breakfast and raced out the door to church.  I wondered, “What did I accomplish this weekend?”

            Psalm 78:4 tells me to “tell the next generation of the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord”.   “I know that verse, Lord,” I said in my heart.  “We read SEVERAL Bible stories each night.”  I thought further, “And we blessed our food!  We even prayed ‘thanks’ for the yogurt!”  Sighing, I murmured, “It’s just so hard, Lord.  I WANT to impress Your love on their tender hearts.  But the young ones are active and the older ones are distracted.”  Throwing back my head, I looked at the ceiling hoping I might see “the handwriting on the wall” informing me of better ways to spiritually impact my family.

            Recently, I was reading in the book of Acts about the early days of the Church.  At this point, I’m sure the disciples were more frustrated with God than I have ever been. Afterall, they had walked and talked with Jesus for three years.  Then, He died.  But three days later He arose!  He appeared to them numerous times.  His final instruction to them was to “wait for the gift my Father promised.” (Acts 1:4) “In a few days,” Jesus said, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:5)   The disciples were looking for triumph over their enemies.  They responded to Jesus’ words by asking if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel?  (Acts 1:6) They didn’t get it.  Sometimes, I feel I don’t “get it” either.

            Days later, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit arrived falling in a magnificent manner upon the disciples. As Jesus had said, they received power.  Peter, who once had denied the Lord, now stood strong teaching the crowds.  The result was over three thousand people came to know Christ. 

            The disciples had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus told them “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, … you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, … in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)  My mind absorbs these words.  True to the Lord, witnesses have been carrying God’s message to all nations.  I shift my weight on the sofa.  I may not be traveling to the far corners of the world but I do have five grandchildren here in my world.  I know the Lord called Christians to “The Great Commission”.  But I believe He called grandparents to the “First Mission” of reaching our loved ones for Him.

            Once again, I turn my eyes upward.  I look beyond the ceiling towards my mental picture of the heavenly home of the Lord.  Speaking out loud, I invite the Holy Spirit to “Fall afresh upon me, Lord, that I may powerfully impact my grandchildren. Like the disciples, fill me up with your Spirit.”  I realized at that moment without the power of the Holy Spirit thriving within me, I am a weak vessel for the Lord.  But filled with His Spirit, I can be His witness within my family. Who knows?  If I do my job well, maybe one of them will witness to the ends of the earth.

The Importance of Teaching the Whole Bible During the Early Years

It is not uncommon to hear a well meaning parent or pastor suggest that children cannot handle portions of Scripture and should not be taught key biblical truths until they are older. A ministry leader made the following recommendation about delaying the teaching of topics such of morality, humanity, creation, government, family, and economics, “I would suggest a starting age of at least 11 since [the author] presents ideas for which younger children probably lack enough familiarity to reason through what he is saying.” That type of recommendation is opposite the pattern and priority of Scripture.

Paul speaks about the importance of the early years in salvation and spiritual growth when he said to Timothy, “and 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 Psalmist states, “O God, from youth you have taught me” (Ps. 71:17). The early years are critically important and we must not buy into the lie that children are too young to handle the deep truths of Scripture and wait to teach children the whole counsel of God’s word.

James Montgomery Boice recognized that the habits of youth often become the habits of adulthood. He states, “The decisions of youth form habits that guide us from that point on and are hard to break. If we form good habits when we are young – reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, enjoying the company of God’s people, going to church, rejecting sin, and practicing to be honest and do good – these habits will go with us through life and make good choices later in life easier. If on the contrary we make bad choices, later we will find good choices harder to make and the bad habits nearly impossible to break.”[1]

JC Ryle, an English pastor that lived from 1816-1900, has a strong warning for all parents and grandparents to heed, “What young men will be, in all probability depends on what they are now, and they seem to forget this. Youth is the planting time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning point in the history of man’s mind. By the shoot that springs up we can judge the type of tree that is growing, by the blossoms we judge the kind of fruit, by the spring we judge the type of harvest coming, by the morning we judge the coming day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up.”[2]

JC Ryle continues, “I say it because experience tells me that people’s hearts are seldom changed if they are not changed when young. Seldom indeed are men converted when they are old. Habits have deep roots. Once sin is allowed to settle in your heart, it will not be turned out at your bidding. Custom becomes second nature, and its chains are not easily broken. The prophet has well said, ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). Habits are like stones rolling down hill–the further they roll, the faster and more ungovernable is their course. Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age. A boy may bend an oak when it is a sapling–a hundred men cannot root it up, when it is a full grown tree. A child can wade over the Thames River at its fountain-head–the largest ship in the world can float in it when it gets near the sea. So it is with habits: the older the stronger–the longer they have held possession, the harder they will be to cast out. They grow with our growth, and strengthen with our strength. Custom is the nurse of sin. Every fresh act of sin lessens fear and remorse, hardens our hearts, blunts the edge of our conscience, and increases our evil inclination.[3]

If you are discouraged by these comments due to an adult child or older family member who has not embraced Christ, then I want to remind you that there is always hope for transformation in Christ. The Scriptures are full of individuals who trusted Christ later in life such as the prodigal son who returned home, Nicodemus sought Christ to be born again when he was old, and the thief who trusted Christ at the end of life so no man may despair. If you are prone to worry, the Bible reminds you that the remedy is to trust God and bring your burden to the Lord in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7).

Research creates additional urgency as to the importance of the early years in the discipleship of young people. A survey from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found that 63% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 4-14, with the median age being 11.[4] The same survey also found that 34% of individuals become a Christian between the age of 15-29. According to this study, 97% of individuals become a Christian before the age of 30.

A child’s beliefs, his or her worldview, is almost fully formed by the age of 12. Before a child becomes a teenager, his understanding of the world, views of God, perspectives about morality, convictions about Jesus, and a long list of other topics is nearly complete.

Delaying doctrinal training, abdicating discipleship to pastors or schools, or avoiding difficult topics is a recipe for spiritual disaster. It is important to note that beginning early is not a guarantee that a child will embrace Christ or live biblically as it is the power of the Gospel, not the correct methods that change hearts. However, we are wise to recognize and utilize the patterns and principles of Scripture and resources that help us shape the beliefs of the next generation.

[1]James Montgomery Boice, Psalms, An Expositional Commentary, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing House, 1998), 977.

[2]JC Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men (Nelson South, New Zealand: Renaissance Classics, 2012), 6.

[3]JC Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men, 6-7.

[4]National Association of Evangelicals, “When Americans Become Christians,” accessed March, 26 2019, https://www.nae.net/when-americans-become-christians/?inf_contact_key=3fe6d503a91e14eb09034cd02b6b233081cb00e0c63e6f917e88c5746d3481dd

Five Characteristics of Biblical Discipline

Jeff and Jessica sat in my office, clearly distraught. “Our four year old runs our home,” Jeff said, “and we don’t know what to do.” “We’ve tried everything. Positive reinforcement. Ignoring bad behavior. Rewards. Threats. Time outs. Lots of love. Nothing seems to work.”

Tears welled up in Jessica’s eyes as she recalled a story that had become routine in their home. “It started as a simple trip to the store to get milk and eggs, but ended as another parenting battle.” “I told Ethan to shut off the television and get his shoes on. Ethan was watching one of his favorite cartoons and ignored me.” Jessica cracked a smiled, “Sometimes, I wonder if he has a hearing problem, but I had a few things to get ready before leaving, so I didn’t press the issue.”

Jessica continued, “After a few minutes, I poked my head into the living room and said,” ‘Come on Ethan. It’s time to go.’ “Ethan half-heartedly responded and told me,” ‘Not yet mom. The show isn’t over.’ “I could feel the frustration growing and this time my voice grew louder as well.” ‘Ethan. Let’s go!’

“I waited a few moments to see if Ethan would respond, but it became obvious he had no intention of getting up. At this point,” Jessica admitted, “I snapped. ETHAN!” “That got his attention and he got up slowly, inched his way to the television, and took in every last second he could.” “When he reached the television the pleading began.” Ethan begged, “But mom, can’t we wait until the show is over? It won’t take long. Please mom.” “I was so frustrated,” said Jessica. “and told Ethan, No! We have to pick up milk and eggs so we can make your sister a birthday cake before she gets home from school today.” Ethan just kept pushing, “But mom. Please mom.” At this, I yelled, “ETHAN! I TOLD YOU TO GET YOUR SHOES ON! SHUT THE TV OFF!”

“Ethan knew I meant it this time, but his pleading turned to defiance. He shut off the television and complained all the way to the back door. With his shoes in hand, he started to cry. It wasn’t a sad cry. It was a mad cry. It was an ear-piercing, neighbors-can-hear-it-through-the wall cry. And it turned into a full-blown temper tantrum complete with kicking and screaming as Ethan thrashed on the floor.”

When it comes to discipline, there are lots of parents like Jeff and Jessica that are frustrated and confused, lost in a sea of opinions, and unclear how to correct a child. Jeff and Jessica want to be good parents, but they don’t understand the biblical principles of discipline or how to apply them to parenting.

Biblically, it is helpful to understand that discipline is a key component of discipleship. Discipline is the problem solving side of parenting that recognizes something is wrong in the heart of the child. Hebrews 12:10 tells us the goal of discipline is holiness that yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:10-11).

God commands parents to discipline children (Prov. 19:18; Heb. 12:9-10; Eph. 6:4). God didn’t call parents to the task of discipline without telling us how to accomplish it.

With that in mind, let’s explore five characteristics of biblical discipline:

  1. Biblical discipline begins by establishing parental authority.

God has given parents authority over children. You are in charge, not because you are bigger or smarter, but because God has placed you in authority to act on His behalf. If you are unclear about your authority as a parent, you will not provide the spiritual leadership your child needs. There will be a lack of consistency, boundaries will regularly change, passivity will permeate the home, and a child will lose respect for you. If you abdicate or share authority with a child, you can expect problems just like Jeff and Jessica.

Our culture swings between two faulty forms of authority, harsh control and permissive freedom. God instructs parents to exercise authority, not to make children do what we want, but to train children to live obediently under God’s authority. As a parent, you must exercise authority because your child is required by God to honor and obey you. When a child disobeys a parent, ultimately it is God who is being disobeyed because the child is rebelling against the authority God has placed in the child’s life.

Parental authority is often compromised when children are young. Your goal is to establish your authority as early as possible. The earliest battlegrounds seem minor, but they set the pattern for all other areas. Bedtime, mealtime, and what children wear need to be under parental control. Children should not be given the freedom to decide when they go to bed or whether they will attend church as children quickly learn that parents are sharing authority. As children age, a precedent is established that is repeated in other areas of life and results in a painful battle for authority between parent and child.

If you are a new parent and you wonder where to begin, start by establishing your parental authority in love. Obedience is the foundation upon which all other teaching is built. Without obedience parents cannot begin focusing on character development or spiritual growth. The Bible states that obedience is the first commandment with a promise (Eph. 6:1-3). It will not go well in your home if children do not learn to respect your authority.

  1. Biblical discipline is an expression of love.

Discipline is the tool God has given parents to deal with a child’s sin and save a child’s soul (Prov. 23:13-14). Discipline helps our children move in this direction and deters them from destruction. From a biblical perspective, discipline is an expression of love (Heb. 12:6-7). Love is what makes discipline beneficial. The Bible teaches that the absence of discipline is unloving (Heb. 12:8). Correction without love, done in anger, is what makes discipline abusive. The parent who exercises authority in gentleness and kindness will generally find that a child does not resist or run.

  1. Biblical discipline focuses on the Gospel.

Your primary parenting problem is that your child is a sinner (Ps. 51:5; Gen. 8:21). The author of Hebrews helps us diagnose a child’s behavior as a “struggle against sin” (Heb. 12:4). Disobedience, at its heart, is rebellion against God, not to be excused as brain development or misdiagnosed as a disorder. Discipline, done correctly, points children to the cross where they see the depravity of their heart, understand the need for a Savior, and want to live in a way that is pleasing to God.

Parents must understand their child’s behavior in terms of heart motivation (Mark 7:21; Luke 6:45) and believe that change is the result of a child internalizing the Gospel and seeking to live in obedience to God. When discipline methodology does not deal with the heart, it strays from a biblical form of discipline. Be wary of anyone, including Christians, who present a model or methods for discipline that is not focused on the Gospel.

The Gospel should be at the heart of all discipline. We must seek to understand the attitudes, action, and motives of a child’s heart and hold out the beauty of the Gospel for a child to embrace. A child’s sin will only wither when the Gospel is brought to bear on it and Jesus is savored as more beautiful and satisfying than the sin.

  1. Biblical discipline leads to repentance.

Biblical discipline is a rescue mission that calls the sinner to repentance. True behavior change begins with conviction. Children will not change if conviction has not occurred. We must pray that God will convict our children of sin and that the child will understand more fully the reality of his or her actions. Discipline should help a child confess to God and the person they wronged. When this occurs, true heart repentance has happened. Jeremiah 34:15 states, “Recently you repented and did what was right in my sight.” Repentance combines two things, a recognition of wrong and a desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. We should help our children recognize the difference between worldly sorrow (I’m confessing because I was caught) and godly sorrow (I’m confessing because I’m grieved I sinned against God).

  1. Biblical discipline applies God’s methods in Scripture.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 is one of the most helpful passages on discipline. Paul tells us that God has given us the Bible for teaching, reproof (conviction), correction, and training in righteousness; it is to be used for these purposes. All four of these items are critical in the discipline and instruction of children, but for the sake of space I will simply provide a few comments on correction.

One reason God has given parents the Bible is for the purpose of correcting a child. In other words, the Bible has the power to correct. The word “correct” literally means to straighten up what is wrong and reform. Parents are to use the Bible to treat spiritual problems. God has given us, in the Bible, all the tools to address attitudes, actions, thoughts, and motives that do not align with the character of Christ. Anxiety, anger, complaining, a child who will not submit—all these parenting issues and more are dealt with in Scripture. The Bible is given to us as the means to bring about repentance, confession, and righteousness. Of course, the Bible itself does not do these things, but it is in the pages of Scripture that we come into contact with Jesus.

For far too long the church has tried to integrate non-biblical sources with Scripture to address the topic of discipline. The resulting marriage has produced bitter fruit. The Bible is robust enough to provide us with all the categories and concepts we need to correct children. Let us use it for that purpose.

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!

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.

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)

Six Lies Social Media Tells Your Grandchildren

Imagine being a parent of young children once more. How would you feel if you learned that every time you left your kids with a certain babysitter, that babysitter was brainwashing your children with stuff completely contrary to what you were trying to teach them? That’s what is taking place more often than we like to think through social media. 

As grandparents we have a more limited opportunity to help counter some of the lies that are often propagated on social media, but what opportunities we have can make a difference. In her book, Guardians of Purity, Julie Harimine identifies six of those lies that as grandparents we also need to know. As Julie comments in her book, “Underlying the enemy’s lies is the one that says God is not enough for me, and I am not complete unless I have someone or something else.”

  1. I’m worthless unless someone is attracted to me.
  2. I must be in a ‘relationship’ to be accepted by peers. 
  3. Everyone else is doing it.
  4. I’m defined by what others think of me.
  5. I’m not complete unless I’m in a romantic relationship.
  6. Casual romantic relationships won’t hurt me.

Each of these lies creep into the constant messages proliferated through social media, peers, Hollywood, contemporary music, and romantic novels. They falsely declare that real satisfaction can only be found in some kind of incredible romantic relationship. This is especially dangerous thinking for young girls. Perhaps we have contributed to this empty and futile thinking as adults in the way in which we model and discuss romance. 

Putting Romantic Love Back to Sleep

To counter this lie, we need to, as Julie says, “put romantic love back to sleep” by stressing the importance of cultivating Christ as our first love. 

How do we do that as grandparents? Here are a few thoughts from Julie Harimine’s book that I have adapted for grandparents so you can help your grandchildren be better equipped to identity those lies and reject them for something much better and infinitely more satisfying. 

  1. Be intentional about telling your grandchildren, beginning at a very young age, the grand love story that God has written for mankind and has planned for them. Let’s warn our granddaughters especially about the dangers of living a fantasy world of romantic love rather than in the reality of God’s true love story and grand purposes for them. Remind them that God is writing an amazing love story specifically for them, but it needs to be understood in the context of our intimate relationship with God, our Creator. 
  2. Help your grandkids develop a taste and hunger for God. How? Awaken in them a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here are some ways to do that:
    • Read the Gospels with them whenever you have a chance. Talk about what you read. Encourage them to read all the New Testament on their own as well.
    • Turn off the TV while at your house, at least for programs with any sexual or unbiblical romance content. Use the time to do a creative activity that lends itself to conversations about life. For teens, a movie night might be a good option if you watch one of the many good films that promote a biblical worldview. Talk about what you watched by asking questions about the values presented and how they differ from what Hollywood produces. Which will lead to the best outcome?
    • Ask them what messages they are learning from social media or among their peers. If they are not homeschooled, ask what it is like walking the hallways of their school. What sexual or romantic pressures do they experience?
    • Take every opportunity to affirm their intrinsic value, not based upon how they look or how they perform, but who they are as a child made in the image of God. This not about telling them how great they are or how attractive they are. It is about affirming their worth as a person that you value, God values, and for whom you want to invest yourself to help them be all that God longs for them to be.

Don’t Underestimate Your Impact

You may not have the same impact that your grandchildren’s parents have, but your impact must not be underestimated. As their parents, your adult children deserve all the help you can give. However, we need to recognize that this is not the same world you and I grew up in. So, let’s be observant, teachable and intentional… for our grandchildren’s sake.

And above all, pray! Pray for wisdom to understand the world your grandchildren are required to navigate and how to speak into that world. Pray for courage to be intentional and gracious. Pray for protection from the schemes of the devil, for he is relentless. And pray that your grandchildren will understand how much they are loved and valued because of who they are, not how they conform to worldly views.

GRANDPAUSE: Underlying the enemy’s lies is the one that says God is not enough for me, and I am not complete unless I have someone or something else. -Julie Harimine

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.

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?

How to Make Sure You Don’t Drown in Shallow Water

Have you ever known someone recognized for doing so many good things throughout their life, only to end up in late life doing something so very foolish that it discredits everything they’ve done before?

As grandparents, that’s the last thing we want to happen in our lives. Yet, it is not inconceivable to do something foolish in our later years which, in the eyes of our grandchildren, invalidates everything we claim to be true. The thoughts of such a thing probably horrifies all of us. How do we make sure that does not happen?

At the Legacy Coalition Summit in February, Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, spoke from 1 Kings 2:1:4 as a reminder that, while there are no guarantees when it comes to legacies, we must remain diligent as the ‘incarnation of God’s mission.’He reminded us that you and I could be the last voice of our generation that our grandchildren will ever hear. We want that voice to be heard and taken seriously.

Because that is important to us, Pastor Loritts takes us to this passage when David knew it was his time to die so we might learn for such a time as ours. I believe the message he delivered at the Summit is one every grandparent who is a Christ follower needs to hear.

He shows us three important things David wanted Solomon to remember as he was taking over the throne. These are things we also must remember if we are to be that incarnation of God’s mission for another generation. Here’s how Crawford Loritts presents them:

  1. Live courageously!  David says it this way: “Be strong and show yourself a man.” Remember, Solomon did not grow up with the same hardships and challenges that his father did. Solomon lived in a palace with all the attention and privileges of a royal heir. David knew this could pose a problem for Solomon, so he reminds him that he must become what the position requires. We are all called to courageously step to the plate and rise to the call God gives each of us, which is usually stuff over our heads. It takes courage to do the right thing, especially when so many other voices would encourage easier options.
  2. Live obediently! David tells his son to “observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in His ways and keep His decrees and commands…” (vs. 3).  Here’s the thing, we don’t have the option of picking and choosing those parts of God’s truth we like and ignoring the rest. We dare not communicate to our grandchildren that biblical truth is reserved only for weekend church services. They need to know that God’s Word is what directs all our life, that He is Sovereign, that He made you, and that He alone gives us the positions we have in life. If we want our grandchildren to walk in the truth, we must also walk in it—all of it.
  3. Live faithfully! “Walk faithfully before me [God]” and teach your descendants to do the same because it matters. David wanted Solomon to understand that greatness is not a product of orchestrating your own life. It is the product of faithfulness to God and others. We are called in Christ to faithfulness. That means we must put on ‘blinders’ when it comes to anything else that would distract us from that faithfulness (something Solomon failed to do in his later years).

We may point our fingers at Solomon’s unfaithfulness in the end, but we too must guard ourselves from selling our souls to images we create of greatness. Pastor Loritts reminded us that greatness is not about our gifting—something grossly overrated. It is about our faithfulness—something often tragically underrated. Faithfulness, in the end, will solidify our legacy–that which endures after us. Unfaithfulness will disintegrate it.

These are good words worth pondering and putting into practice. Let us not grow weary in well-doing lest we drown in shallow water when our life counts most. May you leave an enduring legacy worth outliving you. 

NOTE: The video of this session with Pastor Crawford Loritts will be available soon. Click here to watch for this and other plenary speaker sessions you can download.