Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #8

Need some encouragement or ideas? Here are weekly social media challenges to help!

Monday: A storm split this tree. The part separated from the main tree looks fine a few hours later. In a few days though, the story will be different. Your family needs strong bonds to keep Satan from destroying one or more of you. Strong bonds to each other. Strong bonds to your church family. Strong bonds to God. Keeping your family spiritually healthy means taking the time and effort to build these strong bonds.

Tuesday: If your kids seem to be struggling with their emotions and aren’t ready to talk about it, music and art can help. Encourage them to sing, play an instrument, draw, paint – anything that can help them release their emotions in healthy ways. Teach them about the importance of praying their feelings to God. Show them Psalms if they’re scared to pray about what they are feeling and asking God to help them. Work on your relationship, so they will feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts with you. Young people often turn to sinful behaviors thinking they will ease strong negative emotions. Give them a better, more godly way to cope.

Wednesday: This flower has different shading than most. Shading in nature is beautiful, but shading the truth is lying. The Bible tells us multiple times that God hates lies. Have you taught your kids lying is sinful? Do they shade the truth? Tell half truths? Omit the truth? Tell little white lies? Tell lies to “save someone’s feelings”? All of those are lies that are hated by God. Yet most Christian kids think many of those lies are perfectly acceptable. Lying makes life more complicated and unpleasant. Lying has tons of negative consequences. Most importantly God hates lies. Make sure you are raising truth tellers.

Thursday: Are your kids anxious, frustrated or upset? Nothing relaxes kids like a walk in nature. If you live in an urban area and are allowed outside, a park or even the wholesale outdoor flower mart will do. It’s okay to walk in silence until they relax and start talking. Or talk about what you are seeing or something non threatening until they open up. When they start talking really pay attention – even if you secretly think they are”over reacting”. Their emotions are very real to them and if you downplay their importance, they will be less likely to share with you again. Try to end your time in prayer and let them know you will continue praying about it. You don’t always have to solve their problems for them. Sometimes just active listening and prayer are enough.

Friday: These houses all look alike on the outside except for their doors. The doors and interiors of the homes reflect the personalities and experiences of their owners. Even if you are raising identical triplets, they are different. The basics of Christian parenting are the same, but recognizing and adjusting for those differences can make you more effective.

Do Your Kids Need Christian Apologetics?

Christian apologetics isn’t what it may sound like. It’s not apologizing for being a Christian or for Christian beliefs. Rather it provides the answers to the questions and challenges to Christianity in the world.

It’s part Bible knowledge, part critical thinking skills and part good communication skills. Done well, it relies primarily on scripture while pointing out the logical fallacies and error in the question or challenge.

Because apologetics is based on truth, most great apologists are kind and loving as they present their case. Since God’s Truth is on their side, there is no need for the emotional ugliness that is often a part of debates. While great apologists hope those listening are persuaded, primarily because of the eternal consequences of rejecting God, they are usually passionate about the truth while still being considerate and respectful towards those with whom they disagree.

This doesn’t mean that apologists are perfect. Some may still have been swayed by inaccurate theological arguments from time to time. Most of them seem to avoid topics, however, that can divide Christians and focus on the basics of Christianity upon which most Christians would believe.

Apologetic materials are much easier to find than in the past. Many have materials designed for kids and teens, as well as adults. You can find some information free online. There are videos on Right Now Media, to which many churches will give families free access codes. There are also plenty of books which you can purchase from almost anyone who sells books.

Some apologists are so well known, you may be familiar with their work. Lee Strobel, Ravi Zacharius, J Warner Wallace and Sean McDowell are probably the best known. While I haven’t read everything each of these men has written, the things I have read were well done and biblical. As with anything though, it’s best to read any books or watch the videos before sharing them with your kids.

There are also highly focused groups that are part apologetics and part science. Answers in Genesis has some great scientific materials that are strong in both apologetics and science. Lee Strobel also has a book, Case for the Creator, which is filled with more scientific information than your kids probably care to digest.

Apologetics used to be somewhat optional. With even some ministers and churches questioning what have always been considered main tenets of Christianity, it’s important your kids thoroughly understand what they believe and why they believe it. Not only will it strengthen their personal faith foundations, but it will also make it easier for them to share their faith effectively.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids to Separate Facts From Opinions

One of the challenges Christians face is that the world is full of opinions. The Bible is filled with Truth or facts. The difficulty comes in recognizing the difference between a person’s opinion and someone who is relaying an actual fact or one of God’s factual truths from the Bible.

In our world today, people often state their opinions as if they are indeed proven facts. Even school textbooks often contain opinions masked as facts. Others purposely present lies as truthful facts. The lines between fact and opinion can quickly become almost totally obscured. No wonder even Christians are often confused about whether something is someone’s opinion or an actual fact.

Differentiating facts from opinions is a critical Christian life skill your children must learn. Otherwise, they will be easily swayed by arguments fueled only by opinion masquerading as facts. This can cause them to believe all sorts of lies and false teachings – accidental or intentional.

There are some fun things you can do with your kids to help them learn to differentiate between opinions and facts. Here are some of our favorites.

  • What’s the news? Grab a newspaper. Have your kids choose an article that interests them. Can they highlight the facts in one color and opinions in another? Remind them that facts must be backed up by evidence while opinions may or may not have any evidence supporting them. Older children may also want to look at an editorial and then compare the results to a news article. Which piece has more opinions?
  • But the book says… Have your child grab a social studies, economics, history or government textbook. Encourage them to analyze a chapter of the book. Can they find examples of the author’s opinion? Does the author write his or her opinion as if it were fact? If your child finds what he or she believes is a fact in the text, is there actually evidence to support the supposed fact? Can the evidence be trusted or is the author merely quoting someone else’s opinion as proof of their supposed fact?
  • What did the preacher say? Have your child jot down every statement the preacher makes that they believe is a fact. Afterwards, have them look through the Bible to see if those “facts” are accurate. Or have them write down the statements the preacher made that they believe are the speaker’s opinion. Can they find scriptures to support or refute that opinion?
  • Mother may I? The next time your child wants to present an argument to convince you to change your mind on a topic, have them present it as a lawyer might in court. Only the ground rules for their case is that they can only present facts, no opinions. Can they provide enough facts to make a strong case?
  • Should it be a law? Politicians are masters at making opinions look like facts. Have your kids analyze political ads, speeches or legislative debates. Can they point out all of the “facts” that are actually opinions? To make it more challenging, have them analyze both political parties – especially the one your family generally supports.

Sometimes opinions are accurate. They are based on evidence, facts and truth. If the person stating the opinion does not give your kids that supporting information, they need to learn to investigate themselves. This is especially important when it concerns matters regarding their spiritual lives. Giving them guided practice differentiating between opinions and facts can help protect them from being deceived by someone’s opinion.

Weekly Christian Parenting Challenges #7

Each week we post daily challenges on social media to help you on your Christian parenting journey. Here are our challenges for this past week.

Monday: Did you realize Parenting Like Hannah is part of the larger Teach One Reach One Ministries? Check out the website for Bible lessons, activity ideas and tons of other free resources for teaching the Bible to kids and teens. Most are usable at home as well as in a larger Bible class. www.teachonereachone.org

Tuesday: This is the town Edam, Netherlands, where the cheese originates. Years ago, it took even more hard labor – including rowing boats down canals and hand cranking machinery. The Amish in the U.S. have avoided electricity because they believe making things too easy breeds laziness in their kids and in them. While we don’t need to go back in time or reject electricity, there is a point. Hard work can breed godly character traits like perseverance, personal responsibility and patience. Your kids need some things in their lives to be hard to make them stronger. Making their lives too easy can leave them spiritually lazy and weak. Spend some time today thinking about whether or not you are making your kids’ lives too easy.

Wednesday: It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these lilies are almost five feet tall! I had no idea lilies had the potential to grow that tall. Your kids have potential God has given them in a variety of areas. He has good works He has prepared in advance for them to do. Christian parenting involves helping them reach their full godly potential and preparing them to do those good works by helping them build a strong spiritual foundation. Don’t hurt your kids by underestimating their potential. Assume they have amazing potential…because they just might.

Thursday: Churches all over GB and Ireland were destroyed and never rebuilt over theological debates. Churches and Christians still have them today. Usually the words “I think” and “I feel” are frequently used. Or non Bible writers or preachers are given more weight than the actual Bible. Teach your kids to read the Bible – all of it – regularly, to make sure they aren’t swayed to believe something God never wanted them to believe.

Friday: Ever crave something so badly you will go out of your way to get it? A huge part of Christian parenting is helping your kids crave reading the Bible as much as I crave a Round Rock donut when I’m in Austin, TX. Why? Because regularly spending time in the Word can help your kids stay firmly on God’s path. Showing them how much you crave daily time in scripture is a great way to start.

Fun Bible Activity with Rocks

Ever wonder why the Bible is filled with so many stories? Or why Jesus told parables? It’s because stories are easier to remember than lectureS or listS of facts. God also embedded His commands and principles within all of those Bible stories.

When your kids know and understand a Bible story, it can help them remember important commands and principles God wants them to use. It can make it easier for them to share their faith with others. It’s important to help your kids remember key Bible stories that will prove helpful to them for the rest of their lives.

Take your kids outside and help them find pale, flat stones. You can also purchase them at many craft stores if you prefer. Make sure each child has at least five or six of these stones. Give them permanent markers. (You can also use paint, but markers allow for more detail.)

Tell your kids a Bible story or let them choose one and read it for themselves. What five symbols can they use to help them remember how to retell the story accurately? Each stone should have one symbol.

The symbol can be a person or an object. So if I were doing the story of Esther, I might have a stone for each of the people and one for the scepter and another for the dinner.

After they have decorated the stones, have them practice retelling the story using the stones as reminders and illustrations. You can do this activity multiple times and donate the completed story stones to others with a printed copy of the story in the bag of decorated rocks.

Whether or not you create story stones with your kids, taking the time to help them learn, remember and use Bible stories is an important part of helping your kids build strong spiritual foundations.