Posts belonging to Category Children



SonForce Kids VBS

Sonforce Kids VBS | Logo

We are right in the middle of a great week of Vacation Bible School at our church (Agawam Church of the Bible). The theme is “SonForce Kids: Special Agents on a Mission for God.” I am grateful for the many men, women and teens at our church who take the time out of their busy schedules to minister to children during VBS week. Some of our adults even use vacation time or shift their schedules at work to be here. It is definitely a team effort, and I would say the funnest place to be this week.

Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage

Living Together Before Marriage Series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?

Here are some statistics on living together before marriage from Michael McManus, author of the book Marriage Savers. Statistically speaking, living together is not a trial of marriage, but rather a training for divorce.

  • The number of unmarried couples living together soared 19-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 8.3 million in 2015.
  • More than eight out of ten couples who live together will break up either before the wedding or afterwards in divorce.
  • About 45 percent of those who begin cohabiting, do not marry. Another 5-10 percent continue living together and do not marry.
  • Couples who do marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce than those who did not.
  • Only 12 percent of couples who have begun their relationship with cohabitation end up with a marriage lasting 10 years or more.
  • A Penn State study reports that even a month’s cohabitation decreases the quality of the couple’s relationship.

Here are some more statistics relating to the children of cohabiting parents.

  • Children of cohabiting parents are ten times more likely to be sexually abused by a stepparent than by a parent.
  • Children of cohabiting parents are three times as likely to be expelled from school or to get pregnant as teenagers than children from an intact home with married parents.
  • Children of cohabiting parents are five times more apt to live in poverty, and 22 times more likely to incarcerated.

Check out the other posts in the Living Together Before Marriage series:
    ● Statistics on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Scriptures on Living Together Before Marriage
    ● Living Together Without Sex
    ● What If We Already Lived Together Before Marriage?
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Zoei Toh Sings the Lord’s Prayer

This video of a little girl singing the Lord’s Prayer is one of the nicest things I have seen in a long time. Zoei Isabelle Toh is only 2 years and 8 months old in the video. My favorite parts are when she sings, “And lead us not into temptation,” and also when she starts swinging her arms and conducting herself near the end. Awesome! Thanks to “Mommy” for directing this video and sharing it with the rest of us.

(Video length: 1:58)

HT: Perigrinatio
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Taming Technology in the Home

Taming Technology in the Home series:
    ● Taming Television in the Home
    ● Taming Video Games in the Home
    ● Taming the Internet in the Home

This series of posts will deal with three particular forms of technology in the home — television, video games and the internet. All three of these have the potential both for good and for harm. So how do you enjoy the positive aspects while guarding against the negative? This question becomes especially important if you have children in the home. You want your children to enjoy the benefits of technology, but you also have a responsibility to protect them from any possible dangers.

Some parents embrace technology in the home with little or no discernment. Ignoring the dangers, they allow an unbroken stream of media to flood their homes at all times. Other parents choose to eliminate technology from the home — no TV, video games or internet. This may take care of the problem in the short run, but it also cuts their children off from the potential benefits of these technologies. Most parents fall somewhere in between these two extremes and look for ways to tame technology in the home.

Like it or not, TV, video games and the internet are a part of life in the twenty-first century. We should protect our children from any negative aspects while teaching them to make wise decisions concerning technology and media in their lives. In this series I will be sharing some of the tools we have used with our children to help tame technology in our home. I invite you to come back and visit the series during the week and share your thoughts on any of these areas. You can also click here to subscribe to this blog by email or feed reader.

Click here for next post in series: Taming Television in the Home

How Much Does It Cost to Raise Children?

Someone once said, “We don’t raise kids anymore. We finance them!” So just how expensive is it to raise a child in the U.S. nowadays? MoneyCentral has an interesting table showing the costs of raising children from birth to age 17/18.

The table … shows the estimated annual costs of raising a child, based on a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The table shows costs based on a family with two children on a per-child basis. The data comes from the Consumer Expenditure Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, conducted from 1990-92. The figures have been updated to 2001 dollars using the Consumer Price Index.

The table breaks the figures down into age groups so you can see how much you are spending at the different stages of your child’s life. It also breaks it down into categories for you, so you can see how much you are spending on housing, food, transportation, clothing, health, child care/education, and miscellaneous expenses.

Let’s see, after adjusting the figures for having three or more kids, according to this table each of my children will cost me about $131,254.20 to raise for a grand total of $393,762.60. (Almost $70,000 of that is for food alone!) And that doesn’t even include college! But you know what? They are worth every penny — or dollar!

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5)

8/3/2009 update: “A family earning less than $56,870 per year can expect to spend a total of $159,870 (in 2008 dollars) on a child from birth through high school. Similarly, parents with an income between $56,870 and $98,470 can expect to spend $221,190; and a family earning more than $98,470 can expect to spend $366,660. In 1960, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($183,509 in 2008 dollars) to raise a child through age seventeen.” (USDA News Release)

HT: Semper Reformanda

Father and Son Share about the Prodigal Years

“When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop saying I was a Christian.” (Abraham Piper)

One of the most painful experiences for a Christian parent is when a child goes through a time of rebellion. If you are going through this as a parent right now, I pray you will find encouragement as John and Abraham Piper both share about Abraham’s season of rebellion in the September 2007 issue of Decision magazine.

John Piper:

My main memory of Abraham’s prodigal years is tears. As I knelt in prayer, I would remember the 9-year-old Abraham walking with me to 6:30 a.m. winter prayer meetings—willingly. I would take hold of Jesus’ cloak and cry: “O Jesus, please, don’t let go of him.”

He was never more than a breath away. One moment I would be rejoicing over some simple blessing, and then suddenly he was there, a heaviness, an ache. I would wonder what he was doing. And I would pour another prayer into the great censer before the throne …

All the while God was making me a broken-hearted pastor. God loves His people through the pain of His shepherds. None of our sufferings is wasted. We do not graduate from the seminary of sorrows in this life. But oh, how glad I am that this class is over, and Abraham is home. Thank You, Jesus, for not letting go.

Abraham Piper:

Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child …

  1. Point them to Christ. Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes … The real problem is that your child doesn’t see Jesus clearly …
  2. Pray. Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them …
  3. Acknowledge that something is wrong. When your daughter rejects Jesus, don’t pretend that everything is fine …
  4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike. If your son is not a Christian, he won’t act like one, and it’s hypocrisy if he does …
  5. Welcome them home. Because your deepest concern is your son’s heart, not his actions, don’t create too many requirements for coming home …
  6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them. … Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.
  7. Connect them to other believers. … Try to keep other Christians in their lives and trust God to connect your son or daughter with a believer who can point out your child’s folly without getting the door slammed on them.
  8. Respect their friends. … Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.
  9. E-mail them. When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child …
  10. Take them to lunch. … It may almost feel hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but be sure to do it anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him …
  11. Take an interest in their pursuits. Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her …
  12. Point them to Christ. … The goal is not that they will be good kids again … The goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study … The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.

Be sure to read the whole article at Decision Magazine. You may also be interested in reading Tullian Tchividjian’s comments on how his grandparents, Billy and Ruth Graham, ministered to him during his years of rebellion as a teen.

HT: CROSS-eyed

Pray for Your Children

Here is a great quote from O. Hallesby on praying for your children:

See to it, night and day, that you pray for your children. Then you will leave them a great legacy of answers to prayer, which will follow them all the days of their life. Then you may calmly and with a good conscience depart from them, even though you may not leave them a great deal of material wealth. (O. Hallesby)

Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles
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If you are looking for a good story Bible to use with your children, here are some excellent choices. The ones we used with our kids were good, but I like these even better. I wish they had been available when our children were younger.
 
The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Points to Jesus as the center of every Bible story. As the subtitle says: “Every story whispers his name.” Recommended for ages 4-8.
 
 
 

The Big Picture Story Bible
The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm and Gail Schoonmaker. Presents the individual stories of the Bible within the bigger storyline of God’s love for the world. Focuses on God’s “big promise” that was eventually fulfilled through Jesus. Recommended for ages 4-8.

 

Mighty Acts of God, by Starr Meade. Taking a panoramic, chronological look at the character of God from a Reformed perspective, 90 Bible stories focus on a particular trait or truth about God to help children better understand their heavenly Father. Includes applications and discussion questions. Recommended for ages 4-10.

 
 

Read-N-Grow Picture Bible
Read-N-Grow Picture Bible, by Libby Weed and Jim Padgett. Large comic-book format with simple text placed beneath realistic pictures. Faithful adaptations of the Biblical stories. Recommended for ages 4-8.

 

Step into the Bible Step into the Bible, by Ruth Graham (daughter of Billy Graham). This family devotional presents brief re-tellings of 100 Bible stories accompanied by photographs along with brief discussion questions and memory verses. Each devotion takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and has been used by four generations of the Graham family.
 

The Child’s Story Bible
The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine F. Vos. More than two hundred stories from the Old and New Testaments faithfully retold in simple language with illustrations. Recommended for ages 6-12.
 
 
 
I also have fond memories of this story Bible that my parents read with me and my siblings when we were kids.
The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes
(The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, by Kenneth Taylor)

What resources have you found helpful for reading through the Bible with children?

Related post: 5 Reasons to Read God’s Word This Year

Reading the Bible Through in a Year Series:
      1. Free Bible Reading Plans for the New Year
      2. Books to Help You Read through the Bible
      3. Recommended Children’s Story Bibles

Note: The Bible Memory Version is available for purchase here at my website (in ePub or Kindle format) and also through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you don’t have an e-reader, you can download a free e-reader here.

Proposed Spanking Ban Debated by MA Legislature

From yesterday’s Boston Herald on House Bill H3922:

Parents who spank their kids – even in their own homes – would be slapped by the long arm of the law under an Arlington nurse’s proposal to make Massachusetts the first state in the nation to outlaw corporal punishment … If signed into law, parents would be prohibited from forcefully laying a hand on any child under age 18 unless it was to wrest them from danger, lest they be charged with abuse or neglect.

This is a well-intended but bad piece of legislation that interferes with parental rights of discipline in the home. Spanking is not child abuse. (See related post for an explanation of the differences: To Spank or Not To Spank). The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 1999 that the current law clearly draws “a line between permissible physical discipline and prohibited abuse.” The hearing for H3922 is scheduled for today, at 10:30 am at the State House in Boston before the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.

What do you think about this proposed ban? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Quick facts: In 1979, Sweden became the first country in the world to ban spanking. Corporal punishment in the home is currently illegal in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the Ukraine. (Source: Boston Herald)

Related post: To Spank or Not To Spank

To Spank or Not To Spank

    

Spanking is a controversial subject today. Some people advocate the spanking of children as a legitimate means of parental discipline. Others try to equate spanking with hitting or child abuse. They say that if you spank a child, you teach the child violence and the child will end up hitting others.

We used spanking with our children when they were younger as a means of discipline, along with other disciplinary tools (reprimand; loss of privilege; time-out; etc.) Even at a young age, they were able to understand the difference between spanking and hitting. And now that they are older, I am happy to report they do not exhibit any violent tendencies.

I believe spanking has a place in parental discipline, but we should have some guidelines to follow. Here are some principles that I encourage parents to observe when spanking a child.

Principles to observe when spanking:

  1. Do not use spanking as your only means of discipline. It is best to reserve spanking for open defiance or disrespect from a child.
  2. Never spank in anger.
  3. Explain to your child what you are doing beforehand.
        – Tell your child that you are going to spank him or her.
        – Tell them why you are spanking them.
        – Tell them where you will spank them and how many times.
  4. Be sure to affirm your child afterwards.
        – Affirm them verbally (tell them you love them).
        – Affirm them physically (hug and/or hold them).
        – Make positive eye contact (for reassurance).

Here is a chart I have given to parents in the past to help them understand the difference between spanking and hitting/or abuse. Spanking is different from hitting in the act, manner, intent, attitude and results.

                                    Spanking vs. Hitting or Abuse

Spanking Hitting/Abuse
Act One or two swats to the buttocks or hand Striking repeatedly (or kicking,
punching, choking)
Manner Controlled; intentional;
with forethought
Uncontrolled; reacting to
the moment
Intent To correct wrong behavior To vent anger or frustration
Attitude Love and concern Anger and malice
Results Behavioral correction Emotional and/or physical injury

How about you? What are your thoughts on spanking and the discipline of children? Feel free to share in the comments.

Related post: 8 Great Family Rules to Help Any Home

6 Ways to Guard against Raising Pharisees

Kurt Gebhards warns parents and churches about the danger of raising Pharisees:

Hypocrisy is an imminent and evident threat to the church of Jesus Christ. Churched children are seldom given to outright defiance of authority; they are much more susceptible to the poison of Pharisaism. Hypocrisy in the heart is much more difficult to spot than disobedient behavior.

After describing what hypocrisy and legalism can look like in churched kids, Gebhards shares six ways for parents and churches to guard against raising Pharisees at home and in the church:

  1. We should seize every opportunity to help children understand that it is their hearts that generate their actions (Mt. 15:19) . . . We should never equate occasions of good behavior (professions of love for Jesus, acts of compliance, et cetera) with saving faith in Jesus.
  2. Emphasize the affections of NT religion. Make sure that we are not just aiming at a young person’s understanding, but that we reach for the heart and its affections.
  3. Do not encourage children to exhibit their talents and gifts to impress others. They should be reminded that all that they are and have are gifts of grace from God (1 Cor. 4:7).
  4. Teach the truth about integrity . . . For a child with integrity, whichever way you turn them, they look the same. Who they are at church, is who they are in school, is who they are at home.
  5. Do not be afraid to share our spiritual and moral failures with children in instances where they can identify with our shortcomings. This allows us to be authentic with them. It also allows us to demonstrate our response to God when we have done wrong, and our reliance on Him to continue molding our hearts.
  6. Be authentic in your love for Christ. Genuine desire for Christ is not easily faked. Let your zeal be a barometer by which they measure their own affection for Christ.

Gebhards ends the article with this great reminder from Psalm 78:4-6:

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. (Psalm 78:4-6)

Interview with Tullian Tchividjian

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds has a nice interview with Tullian Tchividjian today. Tullian is the pastor of New City Church in Coconut Creek, Florida, not far from Plantation Community Church where I used to serve. He is the author of a new book on assurance called Do I Know God? and the grandson of Ruth and Billy Graham.

Tullian went through a season of rebellion in his teen years, and Justin asked him if Billy had said anything in particular to him during his time away from the Lord. I appreciated Tullian’s answer and the wisdom and love demonstrated by his family during those difficult years.

Interestingly, because my grandparents knew that my parents had laid such a solid foundation, teaching me the Gospel from the time I was born, they never preached to me during my wilderness wanderings; they never sat me down and gave me a lecture. They always told me they were praying for me, that they believed God had his hand on me, and that if I ever needed anything, not to hesitate to let them know. Their unconditional love for me during that time was stunning. In fact, from a human perspective, one of the tools God used to bring me to himself was the attractiveness of my grandparents (and parents) unconditional love. Because of my upbringing, I had always known the content of the Gospel but it was the “preaching of the Gospel without words” through my parents and grandparents which helped me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Be sure to visit Justin’s blog for the rest of the interview.

Update: Tullian’s mother shares about the prodigal years from a mother’s perspective. Click here for the article by Gigi Graham Tchividjian.

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