Will You Help Us Help More Christian Parents?

I don’t have to tell you that Christian parenting can be hard. And isolating. And scary. It helps to know someone is willing to walk beside you and help and encourage you – even if you need it at two in the morning. That’s why I began Parenting Like Hannah. So any parent, anywhere could get the encouragement and advice they needed – at any time – day or night. I have been there myself and wanted to create something I wish I had had when our daughter was younger.

Hopefully, many of you have found a post that you needed to encourage you or help you solve a parenting dilemma. The problem with Parenting Like Hannah is that it is only available in English. Which means Christian parents in other countries can’t easily understand our posts. While bits of parenting are cultural, much more is cross cultural than most people realize – especially since Christian parenting is counter cultural by definition. Christian parents in other countries could benefit from our posts – if they were available in their language.

Parenting Like Hannah and its parent ministry (Teach One Reach One Ministries) have a unique opportunity to change all of that. With a little help from you, parents who speak any one of over 100 languages will be able to see posts translated for them at the touch of a button!

That’s right! When Parenting Like Hannah and Teach One Reach One Ministries began, we had no idea God would bless these ministries the way He has. We have shared resources and taught seminars around the U.S. and in multiple countries. What has held us back from helping even more people is the lack of resources in other languages. A new website re-do will give us that and so much more.

For those of you familiar with our parent ministry website, you will love the enhanced stability and improved organization – making it much easier to find what you need quickly. There will be lots of other improvements – both in the inner workings of the site and for users. Many of these enhancements will also improve the Parenting Like Hannah experience.

For a site as complex and with as many resources as ours, we will need to basically finance a full time developer/programmer for 6-9 months. We have done our research and found a company we believe is best suited to help us achieve our goals. A generous donor has agreed to fund ¼ of the project, but we need your help raising the remainder.

We will be posting more financial details in our private Facebook group today. You can donate through our Facebook fundraiser or by going to our Teach One Reach One Ministries website and clicking on the donate button (PayPal). (www.teachonereachone.org) While we love our major donors, we also need those donors who can spare $5 to help us reach our goal. Your gift will help Christian parents around the world get the same support from Parenting Like Hannah that you have received in their own language. Please keep our fundraising in your prayers and join us in helping other parents if you can!

Creating Time for Christian Parenting

If you are a Christian parent, hopefully your top priority is for your kids to spend eternity in Heaven. For years and years, we pretended like we didn’t know why some kids grew up to be faithful, productive Christians while children from what seemed like similar homes rejected God/the Church as adults or were lukewarm Christians.

Thanks to groups like Barna, we now have lots of empirical data. There is research to back up the importance of much of what many Christian parenting experts have been recommending for years. There are definitely things parents can do that dramatically improve the chances that their children will grow up to be faithful, productive Christians. Now we know what many of those things are. (Granted most were already in scripture.)

When I share some of these things with parents of children and teens, inevitably at least one person is brave enough to admit that they won’t be doing many of those things because they are “too busy”. I imagine a lot more parents are thinking the same thing – they just aren’t brave enough to tell me to my face!

There is a secret about time that they are failing to consider. We all have the same twenty four hours in a day. The same seven days in a week. Why are some Christian parents able to find the time to do the things their kids need to develop a strong faith foundation, while others can’t seem to find the time to do even some of the very basics?

The truth is that time management is about choices. It’s considering your priorities and making the choices that allow your priorities to be addressed adequately. Let’s assume your priorities are in line with those God has for your family. Are you making choices that reflect those priorities or are your choices actually indicating something else is actually more important to you than your children spending eternity in Heaven?

In Bible times, women spent two hours a day grinding grain by hand. They spent an additional eight hours in food chores. That’s equivalent to a full time job that we can knock out with a ten minute run to the grocery store or picking up take out food. Who knows how many more hours they spent on other household chores like laundry, that required intense, focused labor (unlike pushing some buttons and doing whatever we want until the load is finished).

I can’t find anything in scripture to indicate that Mary and Joseph were too busy to teach Jesus and his siblings what God wanted them to know. Or attend worship and Bible study opportunities. Or mold their children’s character and attitudes.

It also seems like at least some of the mothers of the Apostles also followed Jesus. For all of their confusion in the early years of Jesus’ ministry, James, John and others had obviously been raised in homes that made serving God a priority – even when it wasn’t easy or convenient.

Have every member of your family keep a time log for a week or two. No cheating! If you play Candy Crush for an hour, you have to write it down. God doesn’t say we can’t work or have fun. What He does demand is that how we spend our time reflects our priorities – which should reflect His. We can’t say our top priority is our children spending eternity in Heaven and then spend less than an hour a week in actively teaching and coaching them to be who God wants them to be.

This is a tough post. It forces you to be brutally honest with yourself. God already knows the truth – whether you admit it or not. To align your priorities with God, you may have to make some really tough choices. We talk about our faith being strong in the face of persecution, but is it strong enough to withstand the assault from the things we enjoy doing more or believe we need to do because they are more important? Do the work so your kids will have the foundation they need to make choices that will lead to them spending eternity in Heaven.

Should Your Kids Read the Bible the Way It Was Written?

Don’t panic! I’m not suggesting you teach your children Hebrew, Greek (and a little Aramaic) so that they can read it in the original languages. How the books of the Bible are presented to us has changed over the centuries. You probably realize that many of the books in the New Testament were originally letters to individuals or congregations. They would have been written as any other letter of the time – without chapters and verses marked in some way.

The earliest copies of the Bible found are written in a fluid manner, with occasional paragraph breaks – somewhat like any other book is formatted today. In the 900’s a group of well respected Jewish scholars went through the Old Testament books and put special punctuation marks at what they believed were the end of what we now call verses.

From 1207 to 1228, a Catholic bishop named Stephen Langton, took the markings from the earlier Jewish scholars and further divided the Bible into chapters. Verses were created in the New Testament even later in the 16th century by a French printer. There is nothing sacred or special about the chapter and verse markings. They were created to make it easier for everyone to find places in scripture (and evidently to make life easier for printers!).

Since they are merely markings for ease of reading, there is no reason to toss them on a scriptural basis, but is there an argument for using one of the new versions that are printed without any chapter or verse markings? I believe that you and your children can find some value from these versions – especially if your family is already reading scripture regularly.

Chapter and verse breaks can make the scriptures feel disjointed at times. Even though we know they weren’t original, a part of our brain may wonder why God placed a certain scripture in a different chapter or verse. Did that have meaning?

The other problem is that we can feel exhausted reading very little scripture. A chapter in a regular book is usually quite a few pages – often equivalent to an entire book in the Bible. Yet even short Bible books may be broken up into several chapters – making them feel longer than they actually are. Not to mention, it just feels more relaxing to read the Bible without all of the markings, making it easier to read like you might any other book – for long periods of time.

There are times when studying the Bible with chapter and verse markings is helpful. Often the Bibles without the markings are not an entire Bible, but one or more Bible books per binding. Try one and see what happens. You and your kids may find yourself reading more scripture and enjoying it more than you ever thought possible.

Are You Raising “Good” Kids?

Have you ever heard someone talking about a young person, describing him or her as a “good kid”? What did the person mean by the word “good”? Most likely that the child stays out of trouble and is not annoying everyone. The Bible tells us one of the Fruits of the Spirit is goodness? What does God mean when He uses the word “goodness” and does it describe you and your children? More importantly, what are some things you can do as a parent to instill “goodness” in your children?

The secular definition of goodness is being morally good or virtuous. It implies someone who has goodness is avoiding doing anything wrong. Not surprisingly, the biblical definition is a little bit richer and fuller. It, too, refers to the persistent resistance of all moral evil. But it adds two dimensions not specifically mentioned in the secular definition.

The first is a “deliberate preference” of right to wrong. If your children have goodness in their character, that aren’t just being good to avoid punishment. They actually prefer doing what’s right over what’s wrong the vast majority of the time. See the difference in the attitude and the heart? Do your children want to please God or are they doing the bare minimum because they “have to” in order to get to Heaven? Someone who wants to please God is more likely to obey Him – even when he or she doesn’t necessarily understand or agree with a command in the Bible. These young people are also going to have more easily repentant hearts when they do sin. Their hearts’ desire is to please God.

The other difference is described as “the choosing and following of all moral good”. You have probably read that many religions have a version of the “Golden Rule”. The difference is that all of the other versions focus on avoiding doing something evil to someone. The Christian version is the only one that adds the dimension of seeking to purposefully do good to someone. This added part of goodness follows that same pattern.

Biblical goodness is not just about avoiding what is morally wrong. It is actively seeking to do what is morally right and good. It’s fairly easy for me to avoid killing my enemy. It’s much more difficult to pray for my enemy and bless those who curse me. God always calls His people to a higher standard than the world. Why? So Christians stand out in a good way and point people to Him. If you and your children do the bare minimum, you will look exactly like everyone around you. It may make you a bit more popular, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will ask you about God because of your “goodness”.

Talk about goodness with your children. Hammer out a working definition of what goodness looks like lived out in real life. How would they behave differently than they do now? How would their attitudes change? What kind of heart would they have? How would they treat others? How would they respond to God’s commands?

Don’t just have one conversation about goodness. Talk about it regularly. Encourage each other to display more “goodness” in your lives. Talk about how standing out gives you more opportunities to serve others and share your faith. Make goodness a family virtue.

Top 5 Christian Parenting Hacks

Parenting is tough. Christian parenting is even tougher because you are parenting against your culture in many ways. The stakes are so high, the pressure can become overwhelming at times. Parents often want to know what are some basic things they can do to start their family down the right track. There are probably dozens of things that can help, but which will make the most difference if you feel lost in a maze of parenting advice?

My list might change slightly if you ask me again tomorrow, but here are five great things to get your Christian parenting on track.

  1. Daily family devotional times. You can’t go wrong spending time together reading scripture, discussing it and praying together as a family. If you haven’t been doing this, it’s okay to start small. At the same time every day (and connected to something you always do, like a meal), start with reading a verse or two, asking your kids what it means and how they can use the verse that day and praying together.
  2. Attending worship and Bible classes weekly and in person. This is crucial for so many reasons. If you are regularly missing worship services and Bible classes or only watching online, your kids aren’t going to have the strong faith they need to make it through life.
  3. Sleep 9-12 hours a night. That’s right. Even through the teen years, your kids need an average of 9-12 hours of sleep a day. They will make better choices, have improved moods and your job will be easier. Want to really improve things? Get 8-9 hours of sleep a night yourself. Everyone can take naps if they need extra hours, but I promise sufficient sleep can be transformative.
  4. Eating daily meals together as a family and periodically with family and friends. One of the Nordic countries believes their children never stray far from the beliefs of their parents. Why? Breakfast and dinner are eaten together at the table, as a family. Every day. Regardless. Secular studies show that kids who eat daily meals with their families are much less likely to participate in high risk behaviors. Want to raise kids to be faithful, active, productive Christians? A study found that one of the keys is hospitality. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Having your children’s friends over or extended family counts. Just open your doors to others on a regular basis.
  5. Long daily family walks. Want kids who are healthier, happier and talk to you more? Take a long daily walk together. A social worker I met called these walks “magical”. Aim for about 5k or 3 miles to also benefit things like sleep. If you can’t go the distance yet, even a few blocks can start yielding minor benefits.

If you feel like you are struggling with your parenting, starting with these five basics can help you get on track. Then search our blog for other topics where you could use some additional advice. You can raise faithful, productive Christians!