Shaping Influences

125 posts

Your smile means life and light

Proverbs 16 has much to say about leadership and parenting. Solomon makes an important observation that has to do with the way your mouth looks rather than the words it speaks.  Notice verse 15: In the light of a king’s face there is life, and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain. In countries ruled by kings, a king’s smile was a big deal. A king had absolute authority. He literally had the power of life and death. So, the smile of the king was a welcome sight to his subjects. A frown might well lead to unpleasant consequences. To receive the favor of the king was even better. In ancient Israel if the spring rains […]

Patience or frustration?

Have you ever said something like this to your kids when things are challenging?   “Sorry I was upset. You know that I love you, but I am just so frustrated right now!”   The words, “I love you,” are buried in the middle of this defense of angry behavior. They may well be familiar words. But the problem with familiar words is that they often lose their impact and may become background noise to your children. More is needed than just words. Real, tangible actions must accompany the words of love. Let’s start with patience.    I Corinthians 13 says that love is patient.  A working definition of patience is living in the expectation of God’s care. Patience and […]

Raising holy children

A good friend asks you what is your goal for raising your children. You reply, “I want to raise children that are holy.” Your friend looks at you sadly and says, “how boring is that!” Boring. This is the way the enemy of your soul wants holiness to be understood – as drab, boring, and uneventful. Our culture has bought into this lie as well. However, being holy is anything but uneventful. Being holy means to actively pursue a relationship with the most powerful being in the universe. Being holy requires boldness, courage, and a sense of adventure. Being holy means to be love power over weakness. Being holy means to be live in a way that changes lives and […]

A girl and her birthmark

Several years ago I had the privilege to respond to a mom whose daughter was mocked by another child on a school bus. Here is the comment the little girl’s mom wrote in her blog: The girl on the bus pointed at her birthmark–the one just below her left eye–and told her she looked stupid. The soft confession came from my little girl, who was staring at the floor. A groan escaped me and I grabbed my daughter close. And I did exactly what I shouldn’t have: I cried. Will it get easier to be strong? Will it get easier to say the right thing in response to pain? Below is what I wrote to encourage this mom. A birthmark, […]

Biblical love and discouragement don’t mix.

If you pour some oil into a clear measuring cup with water you will find that they don’t mix; the oil remains on top. I realize this observation hardly qualifies me as scientist of the year! But there is something to be learned from this familiar occurrence. Biblical love and discouragement are like oil and water. Mix love and discouragement together in a clear glass and you find love (oil) on top and discouragement (water) on the bottom. You can see the line that separates them. Discouragement, though real, does not change our ability or capacity to love.  We tend to believe that discouragement comes from unfortunate circumstances, as in children who are slow to obey. Actually, discouragement comes most […]

Gratitude or self-pity: your choice!

There are lots of reasons to feel ungrateful. Of course these reasons are all bad ones, but that never seems to matter when self-pity comes calling. In contrast, Thessalonians tells us that it is God’s will that we be thankful. So, Christian you have a choice to make – trust God or your own assessment of your circumstances. Gratitude is to identify you as a person. For this to occur, at least three truths must frame your understanding of gratitude: First truth:  gratitude is based upon unchanging truth, not changing circumstances. God’s goodness to you is never in doubt. Ephesians 1:7-8 says God has lavished his riches upon you. This blessing is certain. Redemption belongs to you as God’s child […]

Are You Santa’s Helper?

Your children know everything about you. They see when you are sleeping, they know when you have been good or bad, they know when you pout and when you shout. In the midst of the turmoil of life your children know whom you delight in. Your kids know all of this without you ever having to say a word. When you stumble and ask God for help — they learn. When you stumble and snap or make excuses — they learn from that, too. If you value your relationship with God above all else, your children will know this, even when you fall short of your calling as a Christian parent.   What does this have to do with being […]

Don’t invest in counterfeit gifts on Black Friday

Something is counterfeit if it appears to be genuine but is not. The problem with counterfeit money is that you can use and spend it and often the recipient will not recognize it for what it is. Then one day you attempt to use what is counterfeit with someone who knows what is genuine. Not only do you not get what you wanted but the fake money you have is forfeit as well.   Gift giving can be counterfeit or it can be genuine. Giving gifts to others can be a very good thing. But to be good, the gift must first be genuine. Just as we can’t earn our acceptance with God, neither can we fully earn the acceptance […]

Sexual purity – something to celebrate

Preparing your children to combat sexual sin should begin very early. It is never too soon to say that marriage is a wonderful blessing from God. When any discussions of sexuality arise, you should point out what is appropriate for marriage and what is not.  As your children grow older, your explanations will need to be more specific, until finally you arrive at the franker discussions needed to address the onset of puberty. But in the context of ongoing conversations, you have the privilege of positioning sexual behavior positively, within marriage. This sets the stage for you to have natural opportunities to demonstrate that when people choose to disobey God’s directives for sexuality, bad things happen.   Parents, you must […]

Do you encourage your children to disobey?

Suppose your child has developed a pattern of not coming when he is called.  This can easily lead to frustration for both parent and child. Tension can mount until finally the parent decides enough is enough and a confrontation irrupts. This confrontation also may encourage the child to think that the eighth time he or she disobeyed is far worse than the first time. In reality each refusal to come is equally serious. The problem is the same each time – God is being disobeyed.   The following scenario assumes that mom has been working with her daughter to change a pattern of being slow to obey.    Five year old Jennifer has shown a pattern of not responding quickly […]