Christian Parenting in a Post-Christian world

Families of faith are being backed into a proverbial corner.

Daily… we feel forced by our media driven culture to represent or dismiss our Christian beliefs. No choice given for us but to hard-line our position with the black / white of a hostile, faith posture or the watered-down, relativistic shades of gray to preserve a semblance of a moral status quo.

What’s a parent to do…? So many voices in the mix.

As parents we maintain the highest statistical influence on our children’s formative values and beliefs. Barna Research points to families as having more impact on pre-teens (13 and under) and tweens than any other voice in their lives.

So as parents what we do, how we respond and what we say really, truly, deeply, matters!

The issues of our time have entered our living rooms and roam the halls of our homes. Same Sex attraction, redefining marriage, trans-gender confusion, modern atheism, biblical skepticism, legalized pot, common core education, the welfare state… the issues that matter are growing daily for modern parents.

These are not trivialities… but HUGE and essential, in-your-face topics for kids to process!  

Today’s pressing social issues represent legitimate concerns paired with post-Christian philosophies in desperate need of biblically intelligent responses in our homes.

Let’s be sure to keep our parenting responses to these volatile issues as informed, compassionate, and consistent as possible. Insight and perspective that contains deep wisdom and truth, stuff that comes from time with our heavenly Father and a well read topical library of trusted authors. (See below)

Be aware of the temptation that our culture offers to us as Christians…to simply take one of two uber-polarized, preformed positions, ‘for’ or ‘against’ the latest social trends… before we seek out the truth on our knees. We can’t just ‘knee-jerk’ our responses out of fear and misplaced anger, these issues are essential for us all to understand and navigate well. 

Mom – Dad; some encouragement if I may…

Keep close to Christ. Lean on and listen to the voice of your shepherd, not the winds of popular opinion. There is truth in your world, its found in the scriptures. There is a foundation you can live from, teach and pass on. But the battle for truth isn’t a debate of words and logic… it’s a tug of war for the longings of our hearts.

Ultimately it’s about the essentials of our faith… Is Christ who He claimed to be? Is the bible a sacred text ? Can we live with clarity in midst of a out-of-focus world? 

Answering those questions on your knees will bring conviction to your faith and confidence to your answers. As Christians we’re not going to have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines of social change much longer. We’ll have to take a position. Will we stand for the core values we claim to believe, or in our passivity, just fade…?

Our kids are carefully watching… Lord, help us to show courage and compassion in the days ahead.

Pastor B.

Recommended Reading List: 

For issues of Sexuality and Faith – Joe Dallas 

For Culture, Os Guinness 

For Essentials of our Faith, Hank Hanegraaff 

For Modern Atheism, Graham Veale 

For Same Sex Marriage issues, Sean McDowell 

Advertisements

What goes in…

The old saying… “What Goes In… Must Come Out” is especially true for our kids. Media consumption for the average pre-teen is WAY UP, while parents available free time is WAY DOWN.  The net result… our kids are absorbing thousands of hours of television, video and music each year without a parents protective presence to monitor what they watch and hear!

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

thechart.blogs.cnn.com

“We often note that children and teens spend more time with media than they do in any other activity except—possibly sleeping.In fact, the average time spent with screen media among 8- to 18-year-olds is more than twice the average amount of time spent in school each year (Sources; Common Sense Media.org 2012, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010; National Center for Education Statistics, 2008).

Recent studies with Pediatric Psychologists and US Medical Universities, suggest the amount of pre-teen media consumption is up to 7.5 hours each day and trending higher! Such behaviors pose significant problems for pre-adolescent educators, pediatric health (Obesity) and attention deficit disorders !

For families of faith, we have an additional issue to consider… the development of a moral compass for our pre-teens. It’s a major problem confronting modern families who recognize we can’t just ‘ban” all electronic devices from our lives, in a futile attempt to avoid the dangers of media!

So what can concerned parents do?

1- Set some healthy boundaries;  It’s your home, protect it as a ‘safe’ place for your family. Keep TV’s and wireless devices with unfettered access to the web and video in the common areas of your home. Family room, kitchen etc…. remove the opportunity for pre-teens to have ‘private’ viewing or gaming areas in your home. Be clear with the rules you have on what’s acceptable content for them. PG-13 / TV 14 – language – sexuality – violence… etc.

2- Watch and listen; Be familiar with what your child is reading, watching and listening to. Keep a running conversation with them about their favorite artists, TV shows and books. Make a point to watch movies with them, understand the ideas and themes that capture their attention.

3- Construct a Media Filter; Sit down regularly to watch popular movies, TV shows and videos with your pre-teen. As you do, take the time to gently point out where the false realities of video production edits exist; point out where directors create unrealistic life scenarios that seem to be ‘true. Comment on ‘half-truths’ and total fantasy, ask your pre-teen to start to notice the seemingly ‘perfect families, with ‘perfect complexions, hair and the latest in designer outfits all while living socially popular lives without the limitations of finances etc.

interhomeopathy.org

interhomeopathy.org

As tweens get better at ‘noticing’ the fake superficial stuff, dig a little deeper. Note the morality being portrayed as ‘normal”, point out the rationalization of sin and the subtle vilification of anyone who suggests a moral code of conduct in the story-line. In time, they will begin to catch on for themselves, and start to “FILTER” the lies and half-truths from the real. 

The long-term goal of every parent is to help our kids navigate the transition from child to adult safely. As Christians, we also hope to transfer our faith and the basic truths behind our biblical heritage.

Helping our kids learn to sort through the mass of media they consume is an ESSENTIAL issue for modern parents to wrestle with and adapt to.

May God give us all extra wisdom and strength as we parent this generation into a new digital age!

Pastor B.

 

 

Topless in NYC … and the Postmodern Christian Family

By a total fluke…I found out it’s legal now for anyone to go around topless*  in NYC. Did you already know that ?

It caught me off-guard, and living as I do in the buckle of the bible belt (Nashville), I am reminded by recent online articles about New York city, just how far our society has shifted. It’s accelerating away from the center on basic issues of modesty and sexuality, faith and family… and in just a few short years it’s redefining everything from marriage to hate speech.

We’re definitely living in a post (post) modern world, and for families of faith… that’s disturbing major.

exploreworldviews.com-

exploreworldviews.com-

Post-Modernism is a “vague” idea that’s rapidly becoming a tangible social reality for families to grapple with.

Wikipedia defines it as “ a philosophical direction which is critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.”

This is not a “sky is falling” blog, but it is a “eyes wide-open” blog and I’m concerned enough to make sure your aware of the actual environment our kids are growing up in and forming their values from.

The values you and I may “assume” others respect or agree upon are truly fading. The basic foundations of societal rules are being re-examined and redefined in less than a generation and we can’t presume to let others teach our families the truths we hold so dear. interpretation-bible-prophecy

Bedrock ideas like the existence of ‘absolute truth” or the common-sense understanding that you “reap what you sow” in life are being erased by a post-modern mind-set that has now gained the highest levels of government and justice.

“Our culture is rejecting most… if not all of the priceless wisdom gained by previous generations, in a myopic post-modern spasm of presumption. “(my quote)

IF we want to successfully transfer the basic principles of what we as Christians consider to be truth and life, we are going to need to be VERY intentional with our kids.

Let me encourage you to make the extra-effort to teach reverence and respect of the historical truths our lives are built around. From the sacred nature of Scripture to the teachings and writings of great Christian thinkers, our actions should model the wisdom and strength of a life built and blessed abundantly from simply obeying God.

rabbitsmoonstudio.blogspot.com-

rabbitsmoonstudio.blogspot.com-

Post-modernism is here, but not for the first or last time… Take a good long look the prophetic writings in the Old Testament and see if you can find the parallels.

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel… Malachi etc… these were all men who had to push back against the hostility of a rapidly shifting culture. They stood firm, resisting the moral current that was moving God’s people further and further away from the values and wisdom of their forefathers.

Just like us.

Take hope dear ones… God is up for the challenge. As He spoke through the prophet Isaiah thousands of years ago, He is speaking to us today… let’s be careful to build upon a solid foundation with our lives. Everything else is just shifting sand.

Peace out – Pastor B.

—————————-

Isaiah 59:14-16 /20-21 (ESV) – source Bible Gateway.

14 Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away;
for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.
15 Truth is lacking,
    and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him[a]
    that there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.

20 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.

21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

——————————

*Reference source for NYC factoid – the Huffington Post .

 

Miley…

I’ve waited to weigh in… considered dozens of pro/con/mixed blogs commentary on Miley and her VMA exhibition, all with very opinionated, even inflammatory content.

As a parent, I’m weary of the parade of pre-teen superstars – turned young adults with an edge. The media outlets seem insatiable in their need to provide the public with tragic – self-destructive tales of kids gone wrong.

Most "Tweeted" moment at the VMA's - 2013

Most “Tweeted” moment at the VMA’s – 2013

I’m so saddened by the ongoing cultural seduction of our kids…  Miley is simply a current illustration of the bigger point. Somewhere between grade school and college, we’re losing the truth battle within our kids hearts.

Kids are desperate for affirmation, for love and for acceptance. The need is most evident in their pre-teen and teen years as they seek to identify what /who / how they are going to be, believe and act. The process can take several years and multiple wardrobe changes. Boys and girls seeking to find a “place” they can fit in and be accepted. George Barna (Barna Research Group) notes that kids will decide by age 13 what they are going to “believe” for life. That means as parents we have a limited window to reach our kids hearts and help them sort through all of the “stuff” our world is throwing at them…

The attention and success that fame brings must be a world-class thrill, like emotional crack-cocaine. It seems once tasted, a desperate need to have another hit and another…existence becomes focused only on more attention, more fans, more money… more success. Nothing is out-of-bounds – no self-seeking, shameful act will be too far… IF it brings the rush of fame and fortune.

Our kids really need us to live our beliefs in front of them, to exhibit the contentment we claim comes from living a life according to God’s word. Families of faith are going to need to be pro-active about discussing events like the VMA awards and Miley with their pre-teens. Not to judge – hate- bash her, but to review the “why” of it all. To get our children to think a bit further than just the fame and actually stop to consider the desperate drive that causes people to go so far, the reasons behind it.

Miley’s ridiculous attempt to gain more fame and more success on the VMA stage presents a great opportunity for parents of pre-teens and teens to have a heart to heart discussion over dinner tonight. talking-to-kids-300x250

It’s time to ask them some bigger questions like; What is “Most” important to them ? What are they willing to do to achieve it?  Why?

Good questions to ask and help our pre-teens answer… before someone else does it for them! Miley didn’t jump from 12 – 20 overnight, she made a series of very intentional choices that led her to the very public moment we all cringe to see… those choices came from her core values, from her beliefs… all of which seem to simply reflect the lies of our culture. Her battle for the truth is still ongoing and will no doubt be very costly, painful and full of regrets… I want more for my kids… don’t you?

Lord, help us as parents to know the healthy balance for our kids and when / where and how to help them become young adults.”

Peace out – pastor B.

Recommended Parent of Pre-teens LinkiShinelive.com is a pre-teen Christian media site, full of family friendly and engaging content perfect for the pre-teen in your home. Check it out! For the parents and pastors of pre-teens… check out iShineministries.com

The Gospel according to A&F

I’m re posting excerpts from a tired story, but it’s important. Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) has a history of sexuality as a status symbol for fashion and their provocative ads leave nothing to the imagination. It’s no big deal unless you  have kids… then it’s a BIG deal.

 World • Sean Levinson • May 3, 12:14pm

World • Sean Levinson • May 3, 12:14pm

In the recent online article from Elite Daily, A&F CEO Mike Jeffries makes things extra clear for consumers,…

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.

He is transparent about his desire to sell the A&F brand as social status and a pay to play – popularity – for sale! His words make it clear, that he tries to intentionally and blatantly exclude anyone who doesn’t live up to his ideal physical size and appearance standards…, all to protect his brand image.

That’s pretty seriously messed up morality and explains a lot about the rise in eating disorders, teen plastic surgery and anxiety our kids are experiencing in their tween and teen years. Brands like A&F are preaching to this generation to accept the fact that if they are not able to wear A&F, then they are “deficient” and less valuable.

A&F CEO Mike Jeffries

A&F CEO Mike Jeffries

I saw this story debated on a Christian FB thread last night and it really bothered me… here is what one of the comments on the threads said. (my paraphrase) …“I think it’s really effective, excellently designed to reach a specific demographic, regardless of what it’s message is, I think A&F is being wise in their marketing strategy… it’s not realistic for Christians to expect secular companies to have a moral compass“.

I’m convinced that who-ever that FB commentator is… He definitely doesn’t have any children of his own.  Moral compass or not, I’m voting with my wallet, and won’t be buying any A&F products for any of my three teens.

Here’s the reality check for Parents;

Our society is actively and intentionally speaking to our kids about what they should look like, act like and be like. Retailers like A&F are not just trying to be hip…they are actively seeking to preach their own gospel of life to our kids, and it goes something like this…. “IF YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE US, YOUR LIFE IS DEFICIENT

That’s marginally okay to recover from, IF you’re an adult with decent self-esteem and some perspective on life and the effects of age and gravity on one’s waistline.  However for a kid who has little self-esteem,  this “gospel of A&F” can become a very dark road of personal despair that can’t be ignored for long without tragic results.  trash

As parents, we must be consistent and persistent in refuting the “lies” our culture tells our kids. We must regularly remind our kids about their created and unique personal beauty, of how much they are valued and priceless in worth.

Our teens and tweens must look beyond A&F to find their self-esteem and value and identities. If we don’t actively make an effort to deny the  deceptions that attack our kids hearts and minds… we are by default letting someone like a Mike Jeffries; teach our kids what’s really valuable and what’s really trash.

I’m committed to taking out my trash…I do it every Tuesday night. How about you ?

Peace out, Pastor B.

What does your teen believe…?

What does your teen really believe about God? 

80% of teens raised in a Christian or Church environment believe… the Bible and the Koran are both inspired books – equal ways to reach truth.

70% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe one must “earn” salvation

58% of Christian or Church-ed  teens have a Biblical world view of God.

57% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe their eternal destiny is up to them not God.

56% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe that Jesus Christ is/was simply human.

40% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe in the “principle” of the Bible, but not the words as being accurate.

32% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe the resurrection of Christ actually occurred.

18% of Christian or Church-ed teens believe in “moral absolute truth”

1% of Christian or Church-ed teens have a Biblical World View.

(Source: George Barna -SHIFT lecture, July 2012 – (Statistics paraphrased by RTP )

George Barna

George Barna

Don’t believe the research is accurate?… I dare you to seriously sit down and talk with your teen about what they really believe, give them permission to speak openly. It will surprise you.

Not in a righteous- confrontational – angry if you disagree with me kind of way, but with a genuine desire to hear their hearts and understand where they are at personally.

These are not just statistics when it’s your kid. It’s your life on the line, everything we say we believe and value gets summed up into a few statistics that as a generation reveals what Christianity will be in a decade or two.

The good news is… in researching current beliefs, Christian researchers have created some fantastic resources for parents and pastors to use in reaching out to kids. Resources that help us generate legit conversations and a pathway to connect the dots between generations.

In the next few weeks, I’m going to be reviewing and hi-lighting several published  resources, hi-lighting authors and websites for Christian parents and pastors to consider. My first pick will always point to the original Christian Parenting researcher, George Barna (Revolutionary Parenting)….a friend and fore-runner to this blog even existing. George’s lifetime of research, study and personal sacrifice has laid the foundation for a new generation of Christian believers to engage their culture effectively. We owe him a huge debt for his courage and tenacity.

My second pick would be his protege, David Kinnaman, one of the smartest men I have ever met, David has continued to push deeper into the faith issues of modern western culture to understand the forces that are shaping our teens and college students personal beliefs.

David Kinnaman’s newest book, You Lost Me… Why Young Christians are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith“. (Video Intro) and (Amazon.com Link) David Kinnaman - You Lost Me - Banneris a “Must Read” for parents or pastors of teen students. Parents, get this book, video and study guide and read it.

Take your time and review prayerfully before acting on it’s information. Only engage with your kids after you have some reflection time to really start to understand how different their world is than the one we grew up in. David’s book will help you with the culture shift they are living out…. immensely.

Talk with your teenager and agree to respectfully listen to them…. share with them your concerns, but swallow your fear and pride and leave the manic-angry tirades at the door before you come into their world view, don’t panic if it appears to not line up with your own. God is faithful to each and every generation. We learn how to trust in a new and deeper ways when we parent teens in the culture of a post-Christian era.

Parents, in the coming months and years… we will all need to rely less on our powers of persuasion (guilt and obligation) and more on our lives of faith, love and consistent humility to prove we have a faith that’s worth believing in.

Things are getting complicated, but in the end it’s really simple. Either our lives as parents back up what we claim to believe is truth or they don’t. Our kids are not simply going to mimic us into adulthood…. it’s time to be intentional with our teens. No one can guarantee our kids will “get it” immediately, and it may take decades but the seeds of truth we consistently plant will grow….

Blessings,

Pastor B.

The surprising debate… is there actually such a thing as Evil or Satan?

I’m casually listening to talk radio, enjoying my country commute on my way home …when I hear a surprising conversation unfold between the national talk show host and a young male caller… it went something like this;

Rick Santorum

Caller – “So why do Republican’s like Rick Santorum  (link to 2008 speech article with the Chicago SunTimes) have to talk openly about evil and satan as if they are real and not myth? I mean, if they (Christian politicians) would just stay away from talking about evil and satan, than mainstream voters might actually take them seriously”

Host – shocked… pauses and then says something like this; ” You mean to tell me you don’t believe in evil? You don’t believe in evil people and events like Hitler and Stalin and 911? Who do you think is the source of that evil?”

Caller – ” Look, the old ways of looking at good vs. bad is out of date, people know that there is no such thing as the devil or a red guy in hell with pitchfork and a tail…Evil is not an entity, or a force in the world, it’s the result of unchecked fear and anger and indoctrination”

Host – shocked and irritated… ” Seriously, you’re suggesting that evil is just a by-product of the human condition, that people are really innocent and just victims of circumstance, so there is no real “right or wrong” just mis-understoods?”

The discussion degenerated from there with the caller suggesting the host was actually guilty of being such a mis-guided, angry, fear monger, an on air idea bully, who was every bit as evil in the callers view as the historical criminals the host had used as examples…The host hangs up on the caller in frustration and rants a raves about the overall degeneration of the American culture and the loss of our basic principles of morality etc… warning the listeners that if we’re not careful, the legal system in the US will become a vehicle by which the liberals will destroy and shut down talk radio as being a “evil” influence and trample our constitutional rights as citizens etc..

Satan as depicted in the "Passion of the Christ" movie

I was disturbed by the conversation, as I drove I considered what the words implied or suggested about where we might be heading as a country, as a culture as a society. But my concern was more focused on the fact the young caller had no context for Faith or Truth beyond a secular education and it bothered me that the caller never even seemed to consider that there could in fact be a source of evil in the world. That the teachings of the bible could contain some intellectual merit, or even a fraction of believable truth behind them.

He blew off two thousand years of historical Judeo-Christian influence in a heartbeat in favor of a Godless-devil-less world view that only considered the existence of evil as a by-product of organized religion. The bible was not even a consideration in his decision-making process… not even the most basic facts that it upholds… of Good and Evil.

Whew…. now that IS scary.

As a Christian… as a parent; I am reminded afresh of the need to be extra diligent with the way I interact with the next generation that God has intrusted us/me to protect and teach and guide. Fear based living is a devastating tragedy and not biblical, but ignorance of the existence of Good vs. Evil  is way worse in my humble opinion. I believe there actually is a devil, that one of his names is satan and he is alive and well on planet earth, actively seeking to undermine and influence those of us who blissfully insist he’s not real.

I’m not suggesting as Christians we perpetuate an absurd image of a pitchfork carrying,  red skinned grinning joker of a guy with stubby horns and tail. No, I’m actually referring to someone who is much more engaging than that; someone or something that can appear kind and compassionate, complex, beyond elegant, beyond beautiful, adept and deceptive, logical and brilliant, with impeccable logic,  whose sole mission is to deceive mankind into NOT believing God or His words (bible), but casually suggesting in his charade that man doesn’t need God and can easily afford to shrug off the potential for  any real consequences  from our choices. The one in the garden who seduced Eve and began the entire chapter of our human suffering and sin.

It’s becoming ever clearer, given today’s cultural multi-faceted attacks on anyone who claims to endorse biblical values or faith based lifestyles, millions of kids (like the caller) must now by default be growing up without any reference point for morality, for truth, for faith… unable to discern Good or Evil for themselves.…If, as parents we’re not  intentional, we may risk our kids growing up without the truth, believing what that young caller had subscribed to… a modern philosophy of man existing as the center of the world, (Humanism) and the false assumption that the bible and existence of a fallen supernatural angel are simply empty stories to be dismissed. If that happens broadly in our culture to an entire generation of kids over the next decade…… ?

Sobering thought…Let’s agree together to NOT let that happen. We must engage our kids in discussion, dialogue and truth about Good and Evil, about God and the devil and this years presidential political controversy is a great opportunity to start !

Peace out, RTP.

—————————————–

PS – (RoadTrip Parenting is NOT a political blog, neither are we taking a public position on who to support for the 2012 presidential race etc… the comments and references to Rick Santorum are meant for illustration of the point and for reference to the actual conversation on the radio)