Michael Boling – Parenting 101: Dealing with Lying Lips

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices. (Col. 3:9)

YHWH detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Prov. 12:22)

In the interest of transparency, I want to begin by stating as a child, I had a tendency to lie. Usually it was a string of lies sometimes carefully and at other times haphazardly thrown together in an effort to avoid trouble. Typically, the repercussions of those lies being found out was far worse than if I had simply told the truth at the outset. One thing was certain – the truth, regardless of how well my plan of deceit had been through out, was found out.

The temptation to lie, especially to share the incorrectly described “little white lie” is one I submit we all face. While we may have matured from our childhood days of lying about who broke the lamp in the living room, the urge to stretch truth resulting in falsehood remains a challenge for us all.

As a parent, the battle against lying lips has from time to time taken place in our home. We have a teenage daughter. With that time of life comes the temptation to lie, to go behind the back of those in authority, the desire to do what one wants, and the impulse to lie in order to cover up the tracks of the deception.

A recent occurrence of this deception resulted in a prime teaching moment for our daughter. I will not go into the details of what took place; however, let’s just say it involved the use of technology, the agreement that certain elements of technology would not be installed, the installation of said technology despite the established rules, and finally, the discovery of the deception and unraveling of the web of lies.

I remember what it was like as a child. The rules set down by parents seem like such a killjoy. What is the big deal with doing what they told me not to do, especially if it is just for a quick second? Nobody will be harmed by my actions in this one instance, right? Unfortunately, this line of thinking does not recognize the fact established in Scripture, namely that YHWH detests lying lips (Prov. 12:22) and lying is a work of the flesh, something we should be casting off and mortifying (Col. 3:9).

At its core, lying and deception is the oldest trick in the enemy’s playbook. Deception was part and parcel of what took place in the Garden of Eden. Did YHWH really say? Can’t I just divert off the path of righteousness just a couple of steps? It won’t harm anyone will it?

One could suggest the wrongdoing by our daughter in the grand scheme of harmful activities arguably does not rise to the level of being that monstrous. I would respond to such a suggestion that since YHWH detest lying lips, falsehood exists near or right at the top of that which we should also detest. While all sin should be abhorred, lying lips are repeatedly noted as an abomination to YHWH. Lying is like a giant snowball. It begins with a seemingly innocuous fib but ultimately keeps rolling into a giant landslide of destruction. In the case of our daughter, her actions of falsehood were akin to tossing a log onto an already burning fire.

We shared with our daughter how great a fire a lie can set ablaze. The second and third order consequences of lying are what is often forgotten when deception is embarked upon. Lying breaks the sacred bond of trust, something that takes a great deal of time to rebuild once destroyed. What we often think is no big deal and harmless is in reality rebellion against authority, in this case parental authority, and ultimately, it is rebellion against YHWH.

For parents out there who are also dealing with this issue in their home, be sure you set the example to your children by embracing a policy of honesty. Even those supposed “little white lies” should not be tolerated. Instruct your children in the importance of truth and the harm that occurs by deception. As the people of YHWH, we are to always tell the truth. YHWH detest lying lips and we should as well. Helping our children understand the importance of truth at the earliest age possible and addressing the urge and practice of lying with the power of Scripture is vital.

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Michael Boling – Dealing with the Pornification of Society

As I was scanning the airwaves on the drive home from work recently, I was once again taken aback by the incessant message of sexual deviancy that is promoted on seemingly every available channel, except the few Christian music stations, if of course you can find them on the radio dial. As the message of “sexual freedom” and license poured through every option on the radio, I was struck by how our society has become so accepting of this approach to life. Think about the last 50 years of television for example. On television, we have gone from Leave it to Beaver and The Waltons to Two and a Half Men and The Family Guy. In Hollywood, we have gone from A Roman Holiday to Brokeback Mountain. In the music industry we have gone from Elvis, who at the time was considered outrageously sexual by some to Miley Cyrus gyrating on stage with giant stuffed bears while licking a hammer. What in the world has this world come to? While we can certainly point with disdain to any number of sexually related issues in our society, the bigger question, at least for me and my family is what to do about it? What are alternatives to the din of digression found on television, movies, and the radio, not to mention the printed page?

Having a 15 year old daughter certainly brings this issue to the forefront as a parent. My wife and I are constantly bombarded with questions from our daughter such as “What is wrong with Usher” or “What is the big deal….why I can’t listen to rap music….it has a cool beat.” For those of you who have no clue who Usher is, he is what you would label as a pop music artist. If you don’t know what that means you will just have to Google it. So with those types of questions being asked, we could easily say to our daughter, “You can’t listen to that music because we said so” and leave it at that. After all, we are the parents and what we say goes. While that is certainly a valid approach, does it really help her understand the ramifications of listening to sexually explicit music or even music with clear sexual overtones? In my humble opinion, it does not. As I began to ponder this issue a bit more today, I felt the need to share some viable alternatives to the pornified entertainment culture of our day.

1. Turn off the radio, television, or entertainment device. Seems rather obvious right? It is the quickest way to circumvent trash coming into your home, car, or brains. That little thing known as the power button is a powerful tool and should be used far more often than it is in most households.

2. Have a conversation. As a parent, it is increasingly clear my wife and I cannot house our child in a protective bubble where nothing of ill repute will interact with her. While we would love that, it quite simply is unrealistic and ultimately it will not prepare her for adulthood and how to act in a mature biblical manner. She will go to school where other kids who are also inundated with the trash our society has embraced and most likely discussions of that trash will ensue. When these topics come up, be prepared to have that needed conversation with your child about why your family does not watch or listen to that garbage. Break out that book that may have some dust on it called the Bible. Read as a family what God says about seeking after what is good, holy, and just.

3. Have family devotions. The Puritans called this “Family Worship.” Gather together on a regular basis as a family and read and study God’s word and pray. This is powerful stuff folks. It is also the best alternative available to combat that garbage we have been talking about. You know the old saying “Garbage In/Garbage Out.” The opposite is true as well and that is “Biblical Truth In/Biblical Truth Out.” The only thing that can shine through the darkness that is our current societal mess is the light of God’s Word. How does that light shine? It shines by God’s people devouring His Word to the extent that it shines through every fiber of our being. With God’s Word occupying every aspect of our life, there will be no available room for trash to be a part of who we are or what we do.

4. Look for positive alternative activities. Rather than plopping down in front of the television at night or on the weekends, a device we all know is nothing more than a propaganda tool for perversion, do something together as a family. As a culture, we have forgotten about the great outdoors. Go play catch, take a jog with your child, put a puzzle together, dust off those board games, or read a book.

5. Listen to positive music and watch positive movies. If you must turn on the radio, locate that long lost Christian music or Christian talk station in your local town. Find that local Christian bookstore or explore Amazon.com for Christian music options. There are plenty of styles to choose from anything from Christian rap to Christian country to Christian rock. As with anything, be observant and attentive to your musical choices because not everything labeled as Christian is exactly music that glorifies God. There are also many great classic movies from the days of yesteryear available that are wonderful family oriented alternatives to the heaps of garbage paraded from Hollywood these days.

6. Become more involved in your local church. There are hopefully many positive activities to involve yourself and family in at your local church. If not, see what other churches are up to in your community. Have your kids become involved in children’s activities or youth group. Get them around other bible believing kids their age so they can develop lasting positive friendships.

I am sure there are many other suggestions that could be made and things we can do to deal with the pornification of our society but hopefully these are enough to get you started. One thing is certain and that is this sexualization of our culture is not going to cease. Sadly, it is only to get worse. Instead of being like the proverbial ostrich with our head in the sand hoping it all goes away, let’s get out in front of the issue in our respective families and put in place positive godly alternatives to what the world is offering. In doing so, we will be following the biblical mandate to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7) (By the way, that passage is from the front of the book, a place far too few people explore these days.) Parents, we are commanded by God to promote a godly atmosphere in our homes. We are commanded to speak of God and His word at all times in our homes. It should be something we desire to do because God is the only solution to the depravity we face today.

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Michael Boling – Logging Off is Hard to Do: The Proper Balance of Social Media and Godly Parenting

I readily admit that I fully enjoy engaging fellow believers on social media, in particular in various forums and discussion groups on Facebook. The back and forth discussion is often riveting, challenging, informative, and when done responsibly, a great tool for personal spiritual growth and the growth of others. What believer would not desire to share the truth of God’s Word or to dig deeper into the things of God, especially “nerdy” theological loving types such as myself. Of course that little aspect of responsibility is the issue and what things are being neglected, issues that quite often are far more important than winning a debate or sharing that one final brilliant theological discovery. Let me share with you some points of concern I have realized in my own life concerning this issue that were brought to my attention by my rather perceptive daughter as well as some recommendations for properly balancing time spent on social media or theological discussion.

In an age where access to social media is everywhere, be it smart phones, laptops, Kindles, Nooks, or iPads, it is easy to get drawn into the online environment. Long gone are the days when your connected your computer to the dial up modem, went out for dinner and then came back home to finally log on to the internet. Today we have instantaneous access to all manner of technological wonders. Who knew 10 years ago we could access the internet or watch television, movies, or listen to music on a thing called a smart phone? Honestly, there is nothing inherently wrong with technology. A smart phone or other technological device in and of itself is nothing more than a device. Without turning that device on, nothing will happen. Without engaging that device, nothing will happen. This means that a decision must be made on the part of the individual as to the good or bad that will come from utilizing that piece of technology. It also means blaming the availability of technology is a rather poor excuse, given you have to actually turn on the device to use it capabilities.

Now as someone who is an advocate of using technology to spread the good news of the gospel, having conversations with fellow believers across the globe, reading godly books and reviewing them, as well as writing blog posts and sharing the helpful writings of fellow bloggers or theological works past or present, I humbly admit that from time to time I get sucked into the world of technology. Again, there is nothing wrong with technology, studying God’s Word, or sharing the gospel. The issue is ensuring one’s engagement in those aforementioned activities is not done at the expense of other things also commanded by God as having a great deal of importance.

This leads me to what my daughter brought to my attention and that is “You are always talking about God on Facebook or reading about God and when I want to go to the pool or do things, you do not seem to be interested.” Wow! That was a shot right to the mid-section and rightfully so. Admittedly, I was defensive right off the bat in my response which went something along the lines of “Well you just want to go swimming at the wrong time.” Bad form Mike….bad form. After thinking about the wisdom my child shared in her complaint, it hit me that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Let me explain what I mean by that statement.

Sharing the gospel is most definitely something that should be the focus of every believer. As we have discussed thus far, technology has afforded us the opportunity to share that message through social media. The unfortunate side effect of social media is it becomes very easy to justify to ourselves typing that one last response on Facebook, reading just one more chapter, writing one more paragraph for that blog post we just have to get out for dissemination today, or sharing with our family the specifics of that ridiculous individual on that forum who just can’t get it right on a particular issue of theological importance. The reasons are many as to why we justify those actions to ourselves including the fear that if we do not post something in response to Rachel Held Evans’ latest tirade or if we do not confront a particular wrong point of doctrine at that specific moment in time that suddenly the very fiber of the universe will unravel. In my case, the desire to take that route has led to the neglect of something just as precious and that is time sharing the gospel in my own family by my own actions or in this case the lack thereof of setting a godly example of what proper balance looks like.

As parents and especially for those fathers out there, we are absolutely commanded by God to “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deut. 11:19)”, an imperative that speaks of declaring the things of God to your children all day and every day. What does that look like on a daily basis and how do talk about these things day in and day out with our children and in our families? What connection does that have to social media? All valid questions and let’s examine each one individually.

There are a number of ways in which parents can share the truth of Scripture with their children on a daily basis. Some involve the actual sitting down in a family or one on one setting to include the opening the Word of God and prayer. Such an approach is often called “family worship” and there are a number of great books available (see below) that outline some suggestions for doing quality, purposeful, and consistent family worship. In fact, I highly recommend family worship be instituted on a consistent basis. In the words of Dr. Joel Beeke:

Heads of households, we must implement family worship in the home. God requires that we worship Him not only privately as individuals, but publicly as members of the covenant body and community, and socially, as families. The Lord Jesus is worthy of it, God’s Word commands it, and conscience affirms it as our duty.”[1]

While family worship is a must, there is also the equally important aspect of sharing the truth of Scripture by demonstrating godly living as parents through our own actions. This piece is truly where the rubber meets the road for most of us. In our minute by minute actions, are we reflecting what righteous behavior looks like to our children? Are we demonstrating by our own actions how to love God and love others? That is after all the essence of what all of the commands in Scripture are rooted is it not? I will let that sink in for a second. Okay…time’s up!

If we were honest, I would submit most would admit a large failure in that area of our lives as leaders of our families. With that said, admitting failure in this regard is a good thing because it demonstrates the realization of our neglect. The next stage is the need for repentance followed immediately by a paradigm shift in our approach to life. Children are sponges and as parents, they look to us for guidance not to mention the fact they will more often than not mimic our behavior. Watch the following music video as an example of how that works:

See how that works? The bad part of the video was the little boy repeating the curse word he had watched his father use. A better part was the little boy mimicking his father praying. The best part of the video was the realization by the father that he is setting an example for his son to follow, a realization resulting in a change of behavior. That is the place we must all get to as parents, namely what will likely be a drastic adjustment in how we live our lives.

For those parents who find themselves overly drawn to social media under the guise of sharing the gospel, or individuals such as myself who spend likely far too much time involved in reading and reviewing books, writing blog posts, or developing our personal or ministry related blogs, the allure of social media can impact our ability to share the gospel in our own homes. I know this is a reality because of the complaint shared by my daughter to me about my own misplaced priorities. I would submit many others are either in the same camp or are running the risk of placing a higher priority on outward ministry to others over and above ministering as a parent or spouse to their wife and children.

We cannot neglect our families for the cause of Christ. Such an approach is antithetical to Scripture. There is a thing called the off switch on every technological device. You can log out of Facebook. That last comment can wait. That blog post can wait another day. That book you are reading can be put back on the shelf for a few more minutes. That meeting can be rescheduled. What is more important than to “Train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

The Puritan J. W. Alexander once noted:

The father of a family is under a wholesome influence, when he is brought every day to take a post of observation, and say to his own heart, “By this single means, in addition to all others, I am exerting some definite influence, good or bad, upon all who surround me. I cannot omit this service needlessly; perhaps I cannot omit it at all without detriment to my house. I cannot read the Word, I cannot sing, I cannot pray, without leaving some trace on the tender mind. How solemnly, how affectionately, how believingly, should I then approach this ordinance! With how much godly fear and preparation! My conduct in this worship may save or may kill. Here is my great channel for reaching the case of those who are submitted to my charge.”[2]

As I think back to the words of my own daughter to me concerning my over emphasis recently on matters relating to social media, I am struck by those words from J. W. Alexander, specifically “I am exerting some definite influence, good or bad, upon all who surround me. I cannot omit this service needlessly; perhaps I cannot omit it at all without detriment to my house.” That means that everything I do and say is being picked up on by those in my household, in particular by my daughter. She is watching every move I make and everything I say. This means the example I am setting is forming her perspective on parenting, life in general, and what a relationship with God and others looks like in practice. Uh-oh and God help me all wrapped up into one!

Now keep in mind changing our habits takes time and effort but by all means take the time and the effort to make the needed changes. This is serious business. Repent of misplaced priorities and cry out to God for help in leading your family in the manner in which Scripture commands. Take the time to institute things such as family worship which can be as simple as reading a Bible verse, talking about what God is saying in that verse, singing a song, and praying. This is not about having a 90 minute church service at home each night. It is about consistent time as a family, time spent in communion together and with God. Also recognize that social media can wait more often than not. Do not be so consumed with matters of ministry or the desire to fire away that post or Tweet that you neglect the raising of your children or get into a situation where you are not reflecting a godly example as a parent.

I leave you with the sound words of J. C. Ryle:

Fathers and mothers, I charge you solemnly before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, take every pains to train your children in the way they should go. I charge you not merely for the sake of your children’s souls; I charge you for the sake of your own future comfort and peace. Truly it is your interest so to do. Truly your own happiness in great measure depends on it. Children have ever been the bow from which the sharpest arrows have pierced man’s heart. Children have mixed the bitterest cups that man has ever had to drink. Children have caused the saddest tears that man has ever had to shed. Adam could tell you so; Jacob could tell you so; David could tell you so. There are no sorrows on earth like those which children have brought upon their parents. Oh! take heed, lest your own neglect should lay up misery for you in your old age. Take heed, lest you weep under the ill-treatment of a thankless child, in the days when your eye is dim, and your natural force abated.”[3]

References:

[1] Dr. Joel Beeke, Family Worship (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2002), 11.
[2] http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/the-christian-family/the-father-and-family-worship-by-rev-j-w-alexander/
[3] J. C. Ryle, The Duties of Parents (Choteau: Old Paths Gospel Press, 1888), 36-37.

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Tim Challies – Be a Parent Worthy of Honor

For a number of weeks, I have been exploring the fifth commandment and, in particular, how adult children are to obey it. “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” While heeding this command is relatively straightforward to the young child under the authority of his parents, it is much more difficult to know what it entails for adult children. Through this series, we have begun to learn some ways such honor can take shape. We have seen that all children owe their parents a debt of honor that continues past childhood. All children of all ages are to honor their parents. We have explored this from many angles and now, as we conclude, I want to explore it from just one more.

Children do not bear the full responsibility of the fifth commandment. If children are to extend honor to their parents, parents are to make it easy for them by living honorable lives. We need to repeat what we have said before: Children are not to wait until their parents prove honorable before extending honor, for the parents’ honor derives from their position, not their behavior. Yet there is still an onus on the parent to live a worthy and respectable life. And this is what I wish to consider today: How can we who are parents live lives that are worthy of honor? How can we make it easy for our children to honor us now and in the future?

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Randy Alcorn – Parents: It’s Time to Wake Up About Pornography, Sexting, and Your Children

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While speaking about sexual purity at my church several years ago, I told parents that if they’re going to let their children have unrestricted Internet access in the privacy of their own rooms, through computers, tablets, phones, or any other device they might as well buy thousands of pornographic magazines and stack them in their children’s closets and say, “Don’t ever look at those.” It amounts to the same thing.

After my message, a sincere Christian mother came up to me. She was offended by my warning to parents not to allow their children to have unmonitored Internet access.

“I can’t believe you said that,” she began. “My son has Internet access in his room, and I trust him! He’s a good boy.”

I told her, “I was once a seventh grade boy. I’ll tell you right now, you think you’re honoring your son by trusting him, but you are setting him up for a fall. You could hand him a gun, and his life might turn out better than if you just hand him over to the Internet.”

If this strikes you as an overstatement, you simply do not understand the devastating effects of pornography. The great majority of children, especially boys but also girls, who are allowed access to pornography will view it, either inadvertently or purposefully, and many of those will become addicted to it, ruining their lives and in many cases ruining their future marriages.

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Chad Ashby – Four Daily Prayers for Your Children

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Our kids never seem to be at a loss for words. Even with tiny vocabularies, it is astounding how well they are able to fill any silence with a thousand little syllables. We parents are a different story. In homes full of questions and needs, it can be hard for our fried brains to put together even broken phrases. Sometimes I find myself stuttering as I try to talk to my kids — like I need a hard reset.

Especially with small kids, prayers can be difficult to lace together. We have a thousand requests for our children: that they would be saved, that they would learn obedience, that they would finally learn to eat broccoli, that they would quit hitting other kids in their class, and on and on. Where do we start?

I believe one of the ways the Spirit graciously intercedes for us as parents is by giving us prayers to pray from the Scriptures (Romans 8:26).

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Josh Hussung – I Just Caught My Kid Looking at Pornography

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It’s a day that you prayed wouldn’t come. You discover that the search history on your computer or phone shows that it has. Your child has been searching for internet pornography. Sadly, this is somewhat of a right of passage for many parents today, and Christians are not immune.

A highly sexualized culture, combined with the expanse of technology, leaves our families vulnerable in a way that is unprecedented. While we can (and should) take every step in our power to prevent our children from gaining access to porn, we ought to prepare ourselves for the possibility of them seeking it out.

Get the conversation started

The best way you can help this conversation go smoothly is to already be in conversation with your child about pornography. They need to understand what the Bible says about sexuality and the dangers of pornography. They need to know how pornography is oppressive to women (and men), that it contributes to world-wide sex slavery, and that it communicates untruths about sex that can potentially destroy us.

Our children need to understand that sex is not something to be ashamed of, but that God made it for a particular context—marriage between a man and a woman. Pornography rips it from that context and turns it into something base and evil.

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Jason Allen – 10 Tips for Leading Kids to Christ

A photo by Ben White. unsplash.com/photos/lVCHfXn3VME

My greatest stewardship in life is not training a generation of students at Midwestern Seminary. It is training my five young children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I feel the weight — and glory — of this stewardship daily and find immeasurable fulfillment and joy as I see my children taking steps toward Christ.

I am sure many Christian parents feel the same way I do—awestruck by the opportunity and responsibility that is ours. In fact, my wife Karen and I are often asked about building a Christian home and rearing children who grow up to follow Christ. We will be the first to admit that we are far from accomplished. On the contrary, we just keep plugging away, seeking the Lord’s grace in our children’s lives, as in our own.

This is definitely not an article about “success, and how we have achieved it.” Rather, as the old adage goes, we are beggars telling other beggars where we have found some bread. If you are seeking to influence little ones toward Christ, you might find these ten tips helpful:

1. Remember, children do not have to become like adults to be saved; adults have to become like children. When Jesus made this point in Matt. 18, he was not referring to spiritual innocence. Rather, he commended a spirit of humility, dependence, and deference—virtues which are common in children and essential for whoever would follow Christ.

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Sam Crabtree – Parents, Let Your ‘No’ Be ‘No’

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Although the Bible says things that are mysterious or hidden (like “a time, times, and half a time,” Daniel 7:25), it also says things that seem blatantly obvious (for instance, “where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,” Proverbs 14:4).

Among the seemingly obvious things, Jesus says, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’” (Matthew 5:37). It is straightforward, yet many people, including parents, fail to practice it consistently. As a consequence, we witness trouble — on domestic flights, in church hallways, and at restaurants — wherever children are testing whether the parents’ no really means no.

Consequences ensue when a parent says, “No, you may not…” but the child delays, or fusses, or whines, or simply disobeys, and the parents bow to it. Understanding yes and no are profound prerequisites for experiencing and appreciating mercy and grace, and there’s nothing we want more for our children.

1. Rewarded behavior becomes repeated behavior.

First, when the child’s whining results in his getting what he wants, the parent has rewarded the whining. According to natural laws God has designed into the universe, rewarded behaviors are strengthened, not weakened. Those parents will get more of what they reward — whining, delaying, fussing.

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