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God's word is the perfect instruction for parents to use to navigate the responsibilities of parenting. However, we also need practical insight and support to help us apply the Godly principles or village of people that understand what I am facing. Read, reflect, and share your story. It may be exactly what other parents need to overcome.
Speak the Truth, 'Cause Silence Kills
March 28, 2014
Speak the Truth, 'Cause Silence Kills
Every second of their lives, from an infant to toddler, through adolescents and even tween years, we are inspecting, guiding, caring, in their ear, trying to teach them everything they need to know. Then one day in the hustle of life and through them plugging into other “influences” (iPods, TV, video games, friends, internet, etc.) we fall silent.
It is not always intentional. You start a new career, your own business or even a blog. You get your first iPad…I’m just saying things happen! :-). In years past, we were like stalkers (yes I said it, think about it) hovering over them with constant reminders of what they needed to do to stay safe. “Don’t touch that, hot!, don’t run with that in your hand, get down from there, your going to poke your eye out!, get that out of your mouth (or nose, ear, "other").” The reality is this…the things that will hurt them in these later years can be far more dangerous, just less obvious.
We fall silent for days at a time thinking that we have time to tell them later. We had one or two conversations with them last week and now we feel as if we have done our part, but those talks cannot undo the influences piped into them hours, days, and months prior. We only talked to them because we see signs or real evidence of something we did not like.
My point…Silence Kills! The more they do not hear the words and voice of
, the weaker our influence becomes. Parents! You can not afford to be silent in your own house, because you will loose influence over your entire family. If you do not give your kids
, what will they use to guide them when you are not around.
provides a moral compass that guides them and helps them to make decisions when mommy and daddy are not there.
protects them from peer pressure.
gives them hope.
gives them healing.
empowers them to move forward in spite of the obstacles they face.
The question is…
WHAT IS YOUR TRUTH?
If you do not formalize what is your
, society will do it for you. There are many realities, but only one
. Just because the world makes a thing legal, thus a reality, it should not dictate what is
in your household.
Reality…you can stop at the corner store and buy cigarettes.
, they cause cancer and can kill you.
Reality…alcohol is a social outlet that is ok in moderation.
…many do not have self control and do not drink responsibly, which has caused them to make decisions that hurt others and even themselves, physically and emotionally.
Reality….in many states, it is legal for same sex couples to get married.
…I believe that marriage should be between a man and a women.
Do we hate any of the above for what they do? No! We love them for who they were made to be.
Do we treat them badly for what they believe? No! We just pray for them. In the same way they want us to accept that what they do and believe is ok…in that same way they must accept what I believe is ok too.
I could go on and on about the many things that society has made acceptable, but if we do not establish what is
for us we are leaving our children to face a world of conflicting views and various complicated opinions that has the potential to hinder their destiny. I am not telling you to make them a robot, who is not able to think through and understand why they believe what they believe. I am saying that we must not be silent and leave their beliefs to chance while the world legislates and drips untruths into their minds. After a while, they will no longer want to even consider your
. Silence Kills. #period
The Bible is the
that empowers our children with what they need to handle the things of this world. We must help them understand the rules of this world. We are in this world, but not of it. We have to learn to function within it, but we should not conform to it. We have to love everyone, but we do not have to like what they do.
Therefore thus says the Lord : “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord
Jeremiah 15:19, 20 ESV
Reality…our kids will get angry at us for what we say and make them do.
…if you train up a child in the way that they should go, when they older, they will not depart from it. That does not mean that they will not have consequences for their actions. It does not mean that they will always do the right thing. It does not mean that while they are “getting old” that they will not explore other options. It means that in their mind and in their heart that will know the
which has the power to set them free.
Reality….society (maybe even you) will not like everything that I say in this blog.
…I must speak it.
Speak the Truth, 'Cause SILENCE KILLS!
The Original Mentor
Bullying: Bible Verses
March 21, 2014
As Christians we are called to be kind to one another and to turn the other cheek when faced with adversity, so the Bible actually has quite a bit to say on the topic of bullying:
God Loves You
Bullying can make us feel very alone and like no one is standing beside us. Yet, God is always with us. In these moments where everything seems bleak and when we feel most alone, he is there to sustain us:
God will bless you when people insult you, mistreat you, and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because of me. (CEV)
So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (NLT)
2 Timothy 2:22
Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (NIV)
It will come from the Lord, who created the heavens and the earth. (CEV)
You, Lord, are the light that keeps me safe. I am not afraid of anyone. You protect me, and I have no fears. (CEV)
Love Your Neighbor
Bullying goes against everything in the Bible. We are called to kindness. We are asked to be hospitable and look out for one another, so turning on another person does little to demonstrate God's love to one another:
1 John 3:15
If you hate each other, you are murderers, and we know that murderers do not have eternal life. (CEV)
1 John 2:9
If we claim to be in the light and hate someone, we are still in the dark. (CEV)
And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. (NKJV)
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (NLT)
My friends, don’t say cruel things about others! If you do, or if you condemn others, you are condemning God’s Law. And if you condemn the Law, you put yourself above the Law and refuse to obey either it or God who gave it. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone? (CEV)
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. (NLT)
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. (NASB)
Love Your Enemies
Some of the hardest people to love are those that hurt us. Yet God asks us to love our enemies. We may not like the behavior, but even that bully is still a bully. Does that mean we just let them continue to bully us? No. We still need to stand up against bullying and report the behavior, but it does mean learning to take the higher road:
You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. (NLT)
You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (NLT)
Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (NLT)
Leave the Vengeance to God
When someone bullies us, it can be tempting to retaliate in a similar manner. Yet God reminds us in His Word that we need to leave the vengeance to Him. We still need to report the bullying. We still need to stand up to those that bully others, but we should not retaliate in the same way. God brings us adults and authority figures to deal with the bully:
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord. (NASB)
2 Timothy 1:7
God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. (CEV)
Dear friends, don’t try to get even. Let God take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, “I am the one to take revenge and pay them back.” The Scriptures also say, “If your enemies are hungry, give them something to eat. And if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. This will be the same as piling burning coals on their heads.” (CEV)
There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (NIV)
For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. (NLT)
Bullying: How to talk to students
March 14, 2014
Bullying is a big deal, but teens who are being bullied aren't always the most forthcoming. Bullying can be humiliating, and when teens are trying their best to grow up and not feel like children any more, sometimes it's not a topic they know how to bring up. Yet it's important for parents to talk to their teens about bullying so that their teens don't feel alone or as if they have nowhere to go.
Let Them Know What Bullying Is
Making sure your teens understand what bullying is should be one of the first steps in your communication. Everyone seems to have a different viewpoint on what is or is not bullying, but your teen needs to be able to grasp that it's the perception of the victim that matters. So if he or she feels picked on, hurt, physically harmed…victimized in any way…that they're feeling bullied. They need to understand that sometimes bullying is a one time situation that can be remedied by time. At other times, and this is when it is far more serious, the bullying lasts a long time.
They also need to understand that bullying has serious consequences. Teens who are bullied are often depressed. They have lower test scores and poorer performance in school. Sometimes bullying even leads to suicide. This can affect them long-term. They need to understand that bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes grownups bully teens, too. It's all about feeling a loss of power.
Hazing is also an organized form of bullying that can be hard for teens to understand. Sometimes hazing starts off as just a joke. It can feel at first like a rite of passage one "has" to go through to join a team, club, or some other organized group. However, hazing isn't acceptable. Everyone has a right to say no. Hazing has been known to be harmful in many situations.
Let Them Know You're There for Them
Once they understand what bullying is, they need to also grasp that you are always there for them if they feel bullied. Teens need to feel unconditionally loved when they feel victimized by others. Yet, sometimes parents can be the hardest of all to talk to about feeling victimized. Make sure they know what their resources are. They can go to a youth leader or pastor. There are teachers and other adults who understand.
Teens should always have contact numbers on them in case they need to talk. Besides their parents, they should have the school phone number or even the church. More resources are better than none. There are even hotlines they can call if things get really bad:
Emergency situation: Call 911
Suicide Hotline: (800) 273-TALK (8225)
Guide Them in the Right Direction
Even if your teen doesn't ever feel bullying, they have a responsibility to prevent bullying, too. Jesus was an example of how everyone deserves love and respect. If we are truly followers of Jesus, bullying should not be part of our repertoire. We are the ones who should be first in line to stand up to bullies, even as they bully those around us. So, ask your teen to get involved to prevent bullying. The end of bullying starts with them.
So how do they put a stop to bullying? It starts with being aware of what's around them. They need to keep their eyes open, and they need to be willing to call out their friends when they're being mean. It also means thinking about what we say before we say it. This includes things we put on the internet. Teens today do a lot of communication via texts, emails, Facebook posts and more. We need to think before we type.
How to have a Conversation about Same Sex Attraction
March 07, 2014
I had a lot of great conversations around my last post. If you didn’t get to read it,
here it is
. I had a few conversations about the fact that a lot of the struggle is at the one-on-one level. And the question “What should I do if a student comes and says they are struggling with same sex attraction?” So I thought I’d share a few thoughts in this area. Definitely can’t share everything in one post, but here are some of the main points.
There is no quick fix to their struggle and so we need to be ready to walk with them for the long haul–especially in this area. Secondly, I believe lasting change is from the inside out and not the other way around. I believe God wants us concerned with the condition of the heart. So no matter what they struggle with Proverbs 4:23 gives me a good reason to start with the condition of the heart.
I will also say no matter what the struggle is, this is my approach. So here are a few things I do intentionally in a one-on-one situation:
1. I listen
– I’ve learned meeting with hundreds of students that when I shut up and genuinely listen they speak from the heart. Meaning, you do not need to impress them with your words or what you know, the only thing I want them to know in that instant is that they are being genuinely heard. I need to set my mind to absorb and not fix. The fixer will draw conclusions with bits and pieces of information with the intent to fix. The absorber is just taking in the information. Drawing a conclusion based on part of the story is dangerous, because you could be completely wrong on the cause and the solution. So listen and absorb. You need to hear their story completely, and they need to share it with you.
2. I ask questions
– You can’t rely on the students to have all of their thoughts together and share everything in one sitting. They will share with you, but it may not all connect or make sense. Ask questions on incomplete thoughts or to go deeper on a subject or area they have opened up about. Don’t just let it slide. Ask the tough questions. Example: if a student opens up about their relationship with their parents, go deeper in that area by asking more questions.
3. I’m careful with my language
– If the student comes in saying they have been struggling, you can assume that they already beat themselves down and thought of every negative thing you can think of. So I want to be careful that my words are seasoned with grace and love. The last thing I want is for them to leave feeling worse then when they showed up. Sometimes we justify our negativity with not watering down the truth. Well, take a beat from the Bible, because it guides us in how we should deliver the truth. (Proverbs 25:11, Proverbs 15:23, Ephesians 4:15)
4. Focus on their relationship with Christ
- A lot times we think that we need to focus on the problem or the struggle, and that’s just not true. The only cure to our brokenness in any way is through an authentic relationship with Christ. Asking the question “How is your relationship with Christ?” is where we find the problem and the solution. Not the solution to how we stop them from doing what they are doing, but the solution to an even bigger problem that plagues all of us. That is not growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, nor allowing the power of what He did on the cross to overtake our lives. Again, our job isn’t to change people…because we can’t. Our job is to point them to the one who can. Our job is not to focus on the problem or struggle, but to focus on the one and only solution Jesus Christ.
I’ve learned that at times, when I’m walking with a student through a struggle, I find myself thinking about how I can get this student out of the mess and hurt they find themselves in. Sometimes I wish I could just snap my finger and everything becomes all better. And I often hear God reminding me that He loves them more then I will ever be able to. There is not a solution that I have that will come close to what He’s able to do for them. So point them to Him.
Hope it helps,
Families and Internet Pornography
February 28, 2014
I (Tasha) am a counselor, and I have been working with men battling internet pornography addiction for over a decade. The pornography problem is an epidemic in the Christian community.
• Promise Keepers did a study and found that 53% of their participants had viewed pornography in the last week.
• Christianity Today suggested that 40% of pastors struggle with an internet pornography.
Pornography is not a problem just for men. We are finding that women are struggling as well. Dirty Girls Ministries released a study in February and stated that 40% of Christian women were addicted (not just struggling) to internet pornography. Over 700 Christian women were surveyed in the study, and 68% of them admitted to using pornography for masturbation. And like men, many of these women started viewing pornography in their pre-teen and teenage years.
So what do we do?
1. Talk about it.
Talk about the dangers of internet pornography with your family, youth group, and church. In 2000 I began my research and no one in the Christian community was talking about pornography addiction, and yet 95% of the Christian couples I was treating at the time reported porn as one of the major problems in their relationship. Today, talking about pornography from a man’s perspective is common in most churches, but now it’s time to bring women and kids into the conversation.
2. Talk about internet safety with your kids
. It’s not uncommon for me to hear addicted clients say, “I was a kid when I accidentally found pornography. I didn’t even know what porn was, but I knew that I wanted to see more.” Children need to know there are inappropriate things on the internet. As parents we can’t protect our kids from everything, but we can make choices about their technology habits, knowledge, and safety.
3. Join the iParent movement.
74% of parents say they do not have the time or energy to keep up with their children online. 46% of teens said they would change their online behavior if they knew their parents were paying attention. The makers or xxxchurch.com are in the process of creating iParent.TV.: a yearly, subscription-based website for teaching and informing parents on all things tech, mobile, devices, websites, and apps for kids so that parents can know what’s going on with their kids. Check out this link for more information: http://iparent.tv
4. Talk about it with your teenagers.
Talk about pornography with your guys and girls. If talking about porn makes you nervous, there are tons of videos from Christian artists are on Youtube and Vimeo talking about pornography: Jefferson Bethke, Jimmy Needham, Crystal Renaud, Andy Mineo, Audrey Assad (just be careful with your search). Simply Youth Ministry has great resources for talking about porn with your students.
5. Get help.
If porn is a struggle for you, get help. Pornography addiction is a chemical addiction in your brain much like heroin. Porn is relentless, and without the help of a Holy God and possibly a trained professional, your struggle with pornography will not end on it’s own.
6. Get accountable.
Find a buddy who will hold you accountable. X3watch.com and CovenantEyes.com are my favorite online accountability resources, but there are a lot of great ones out there. And if this is a problem for you, being held accountable once a week is not enough. Talk about porn, but when you do avoid using shaming words. Shame NEVER inspires change. EVER. Shame only perpetuates hopelessness, which leads to more sin. Conviction, hope, and grace is what leads us to repentance and life change.
“In kindness [God] takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” Romans 2:4 (The Message)
Tim & Tasha / @timlevert & @tashalevert
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2 Corinthians 9:10-11
The Cheerful Giver
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.