Why Teaching Your Kids to Say Sorry Isn’t Good.

Teaching kids to say they are sorry is important but it’s only a start. When kids are small they should learn to say sorry. As kids get older we must teach our kids that sorry is good when it leads to repentance. We live in a world that only knows how to say sorry but doesn’t even attempt to turn from the actions that created the need for the apology in the first place. We address the feelings of others “I’m sorry if I made you feel…” we most often fail to mention the very real gap our actions created. The problem with saying sorry is sorry can be used to gloss over sin. Repentance digs deeper to the root of sin.

I know of a very well-known minister who heads a denomination of churches who many years ago wronged another denomination in a very significant way. The breach came through core beliefs of the church. The well-known minister recently said he was sorry to the other denomination without address the gap they had created and still perpetuates through false beliefs that are core to the church. He said sorry when he should have repented.

I don’t want my kids to be sorry saying appeasers, I want them to repent and ask for forgiveness for the gaps they create. Saying sorry is for the other person, to help them feel better, repentance is different it does a work in you. This is how I teach my kids to apologize I tell them to say “Mr./Mrs. ________ I am sorry for ___________ (specifically name what you did) I was wrong. Please forgive me. I won’t do it again. Apologizing in this way addresses what how you affected the other person ask them to forgive you as you were in the wrong and invites God into the process because what you mean by I won’t do it again is by grace and with his help, I won’t do it again.

Book Review: Gospel Powered Parenting.

Have you ever read a book and it’s like the author is reading your mind? Well, I am 40 pages into Gospel Powered Parenting and so far I keep calling my wife over and telling her to read whole sections. It has to be one of the best parenting books I have ever read.

“I am convinced that the gospel is sufficient to answer all our parenting questions.”

I found this quote on the first page of the introduction of William P. Farley’s Gospel Powered Parenting and was immediately captivated.

Really? All of them? A colicky newborn, a defiant preschooler, and a prodigal teenager?  The gospel has the answers I need as a parent to deal with all these situations and more?

Farley submits that it does, and he does not disappoint unpacking how in this fantastic book. Honestly, this is the book I’ve been waiting for as a kid’s pastor. A book that never leaves the foot of the cross, and sees there in the gospel the wisdom and power we need to parent our children.

If you’re looking for a how-to manual, an index of sorts of how to handle specific and unique situations, this is not your book.

In Farley’s own words, “The emphasis of this book differs from that of many other Christian books on parenting. Most emphasize techniques. By contrast, Gospel-Powered Parenting­ will emphasize the parents’ relationship with God, with each other, and with their children, in that order. The emphasis of this book is that parenting is not primarily about doing the right things. It is about having a right relationship with God – a relationship informed by the Gospel.” –p. 51

He adds to that same idea later, “Have you ever noticed most books on parenting – Christian and secular – emphasize technique? … This book will take another approach. I want to change your thinking, especially how you think about God and yourself. If I’m successful, the techniques will take care of themselves. That is because what we do is a by-product of how we think. People change their behavior as their understanding of God and man change.” –p.69

2 things I love about this book

#1 Gospel, Gospel, Gospel.
It’s in the title, it’s on every page.

For example, Farley says that the fight against the world’s influence on our children will be won or lost based on parents understanding of the Gospel.

He says, “We change their hearts by teaching the gospel, modeling the gospel, and centering our homes on the gospel. The Gospel, rightly understood and modeled, makes Christianity attractive. Effective parents make the gospel so attractive that the world cannot get a foothold on their children’s hearts.” –p. 24

#2 Mom and Dad, it’s on us.
“God is sovereign, but parents are responsible. –p.22

And Farley really focuses in on dads, their presence, and their love of the Gospel. “When men abdicate, their children suffer. When men assume their proper role, parenting thrives.” –p.126

He continues “God holds fathers accountable for parenting because he has given them inordinate influence over their children. The Bible presumes, in the language of the Puritans, that fathers are a mirror in which their children look to out on their spiritual dress.” –p.129

If you want to buy the book here is the amazon link.

The Disordered Love of Disney

Disney Beauty and the Beast

This week The Disney company made news by introducing an LGBTQ sub-plot in its remake of Beauty and the Beast. They also are placing their first gay kiss between two animated characters. This is shocking for many Disney lovers. As someone who respects Disney’s creativity but won’t sell an organ on eBay to make the annual pilgrimage, I find it not shocking but expected. Disney has always told their fairy tales in a way that reflects culture rather than transcends culture. Most of the stories Disney tells are of reflecting our culture’s obsession with romantic love. The answer to the problem every character faces is not the proper order of love but in the right kind of love. The heart of every princess wants to find true love usually in the form of romantic love.

C.S. Lewis called Christianity a true myth. He came to faith through his friend J.R.R. Tolkien’s explanation of the gospel as the story behind every story. Lewis said “Christianity is both a myth and a fact. It’s unique. It’s the true myth.” Disney has always dealt in the currency of fairy tales, in the happily ever after. Every story Disney tells has the same framework we see in the Bible. In the Bible, we see the structure every good story has Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. In Cinderella, for example, we see Cinderella’s perfect world, followed by the death of her mother, the redemption through her Fairy Godmother and restoration with the prince and happily ever after. Our hearts long for redemption and restoration. This storyline resonates with us because we see ourselves as Cinderella in a world full of Step-mothers. We instinctively long for Redemption. The problem with Disney is their idea of love is usually reflective of culture rather than transcending culture or as we would call it otherworldly. To be fair Disney has produced movies that speak to the longing of properly ordered love in movies like Frozen and Up.

7 answers you need to hear from award winning author Sally Lloyd-Jones

This is a repost of an interview I did with best-selling author Sally Lloyd-Jones. She is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of her best-selling Bible for kids ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’ She has released a beautiful new anniversary edition to celebrate you can find out more about it here.

Sally Lloyd-Jones has written an amazing new book called “Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing” it is an amazing follow-up to her best-selling book “Jesus Storybook Bible” We have had Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing for a week and it has already lead to conversations about faith and the supreme value of Christ. Every time I read one of Sally’s books to my kids I’m not sure who gets more from what she has written me or them.  She was gracious enough to allow me to ask her a few questions about her new book that was released October 9th.

How do you see Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing and Jesus Storybook Bible dovetailing together?

The JSB (Jesus Storybook Bible) tells the great story of the Bible–the magnificent story under all the other stories of the Bible–The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. And at the center of that story is the Rescuer.

TTMYHS (Thoughts That Make Your Heart Sing) I think (at least my hope and prayer is) takes the child by the hand and gently introduces them to what Corrie ten Boom called, ” the Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him” (The Rescuer). Faith. What it looks like in everyday life.

What made you want to write this new book?

My niece was the inspiration. She was 8 at the time. And almost overnight, she went from being a vivacious little girl full of life to a quite hidden child. Even her voice changed–into a very quiet voice you could hardly hear.

And we found out she was being bullied at school. I wished she had a book that she would want to have by her bedside, a book she would look forward to reading, a book no one would have to make her read–but that she would choose to read–a book that would tell her what God says about her instead of what these bullies were saying.

And so I wrote the book for her–and every child like her.

How can parents best leverage this book?

I’d love parents to be free to just let the book be the child’s book–without attaching any should’s or ought’s to it. Perhaps the child will want to share it with the family. Let them lead in that. That’s what I’d love to see.

Having said that, I think it’s great to read it together as a family and wonder aloud together about the questions it raises. I wrote the book deliberately to inspire wonder and open up the child to questions–I didn’t write it to try and give all the answers. (I would encourage parents to let the wondering happen–and not feel they have to come in immediately with answers. The best thing a book can do, I think, is engage the child and get them thinking… And you know the definition of a boring book? One that does the work of the reader for them!

What is the target age range of this book?

Initially the publisher had an age cap. But I asked for them to remove it and instead say “6 and up”–because I had a hunch that grownups would like it too… and sure enough that’s what we’re hearing which makes me very happy… so it’s 6 to 106! : )

Very few books provoke me to tears but both Thoughts That Make Your Heart Sing and Jesus Storybook Bible do that for me as an adult. I still to this day cannot read washed with tears without choking up. Is that something you did on purpose or did it happen on the way? Were you targeting kids and got adults by accident or did you intentionally target both?

That’s a high compliment. And while I don’t do it deliberately, I’m coming to realize that unless I write from the place that moves me, it won’t move the reader. “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader” didn’t Frost say that? And what did C S Lewis say? That a children’s book that can only be read by children isn’t a good children’s book in the least.

As a writer how do you overcome resistance? How do you get new ideas?

I think it has a lot to do with trust. And getting out of your own way. If you think it’s all about you and you coming up with everything that’s a very different place to work from than if you think it’s not all about you–and you discover the book rather than create it…and you’re offering back to the One who gave you everything to begin with. It’s worship rather than performance.

When I read your books and listen to Dr. Keller speak the thing I take away is that both of you are excellent “Distillers” is what I call it, of the gospel. So often especially for kids, the gospel is “simplified” and in the simplification, the power and the beauty of the gospel is lost. How do you do this so well? What advice can you give to kids pastors and student pastors to do this better?

It’s very easy to make this mistake. And we’ve all done it. After all the Bible is a “grown up” book and by its very nature, if we are to reach children, we’re going to have to simplify it. But in our effort to simplify the Bible for children, we often drill it down into a moral lesson. We have to be alert and vigilant against this. The Bible isn’t a moral lesson–it’s above all a story.

The other thing we need to constantly remind ourselves of is this: being child-like isn’t being childish. Being simple isn’t being simple-minded. Being simple is distilling down to the core truth and expressing it in words that the young can understand. What children need from us are not silly voices. What they need from us is to take them seriously. And we show how seriously we take our audience by how much time we prepare.

It takes longer to be shorter. Blaize Pascal apologized for writing a long letter–and said that he didn’t have time to make it shorter. It takes hard work and thought to reach children. And for children, the standard needs to be higher because the responsibility is greater.

Thanks again to Sally for time thoughtfulness and for the amazing Gospel-centered tools to help our kids find Jesus more valuable than anything else on earth.  Head over to amazon right now and your copy of Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing you will thank me later.

 

How to know for sure that you are saved: My interview with J.D. Greear (Part 2)

stop asking jesus into your heart

I recently read J.D. Greear’s new book “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart.” I was drawn to the book because of the confusion the term can sometimes bring when explaining the gospel to kids.

J.D. Does a fantastic job addressing the topic of eternal security in a practical and theologically correct way. His book is a fantastic read for leaders and those wanting to think more about how we live our faith. He covers the sacrifice Christ paid for us, what is belief, what is repentance, once saved always saved, doubt and baptism.

Here is Part 2 of my interview with J.D. Greear

5. There has been more and more of an emphasis on the gospel in the church world over the past several years, but it really hasn’t fully made its way into Children’s ministry and youth ministry yet. Why has the gospel-centered movement not reached youth literature?

I am not familiar enough with the field to make too many sweeping assertions, but I can say that some groups are doing good work here. For instance, Lifeway’s Gospel Project is producing some excellent gospel-centered literature for children.

The bottom line is that some things take time, but good things are happening.

6. How do we guard against the gospel being used as a catchphrase by those who may not understand the implications of the gospel, but are using it as a church growth strategy? From your book, I believe you were addressing this in the area of assurance. How do we avoid it in other areas of Gospel ministry as well?

The gospel can always be high-jacked by those who want to box it up and use it for their own ends. Gospel-centeredness is a hot topic right now, so there may be some churches or pastors who are riding the “gospel-centered” train simply because it is trending upwards. If that is the case, we will know it when they part ways with the movement if it loses steam. But if they are using the gospel for some other purpose, then what they are preaching is some other gospel, or as Paul said to the Galatians, not the gospel at all.

The gospel is the proclamation that Christ has done everything necessary to reconcile us to God. He lived the life that we were supposed to live, and died the death that we were condemned to die. Those who believe in him and repent of their sins will be saved because of his substitutionary sacrifice. That’s the gospel. And as long as that is the content of preaching and teaching, as long as that is driving the mission of the church, it will be impossible to use that story as a catchphrase for my own ends.

Does preaching the gospel lead to church growth? Jesus said that it would. He said that he would make us fishers of men, and that our boats would overflow like Peter’s did when he called him. Every church that is concerned for the souls of the people around it should care about church growth. Why would we want to reach less of the people around us for Christ? But church growth is the fruit of the gospel, not its root. Our concern ought to be on the faithfulness of our ministries first, and their fruitfulness second. It is possible to grow crowds without preaching the gospel, so a large crowd is no guarantee we’re being faithful. And there are certainly seasons—I have had many—when I preached faithfully with little fruit. It bothered me, as not catching fish should bother any fisherman, but it was not in itself proof I was not being faithful. Fruitlessness should not settle the question of faithfulness, but it should certainly raise it.

7. As a family pastor, I believe you can be saved at a very early age. I was myself at age 5. In the Scripture it says, “Repent and be baptized.” What restrictions (if any) do you have on children being baptized at your church, and why do you have those restrictions in place?

As you mention, baptism and repentance go hand in hand. Baptism signifies that we have repented and believed in Christ, and that the Spirit of God has given us new life with him. By being baptized, we identify with Christ’s death and resurrection, trusting that he will one day raise us from the dead to live with him forever.

That is the core of what baptism means, and anyone being baptized should—to the best of their abilities—understand that. That includes children. Can a child of 18 months truly understand repentance and belief? I doubt it, which is why we don’t baptize 18-month-olds. But is there a magic age, then? Is it 4 years old? 7? 13?

At our church, we do not have an explicit age restriction, but we do require that those who are to be baptized understand what it symbolizes. In practice, that usually makes the lowest age somewhere around 5. (I baptized my own daughter at age 5.) But the number is not nearly as important as the substance of the person’s belief.

I firmly believe that baptism is only for believers, but it should be something we grow from, not toward. There were several times in my life after I had been baptized that I had “awakenings” and defining moments that made my previous beliefs seem pale. But that didn’t invalidate the sincere profession of faith and the baptism that accompanied it.

8. Although this book is still fresh off the presses, is there anything you would already change based on further reflection or feedback from others?

If there were one thing I would change about this book, it is that I would have written it a lot sooner! The concept for this book first struck me after I preached a sermon about assurance a few years ago. Dozens of people responded by telling me that this was a major issue for them. And as I mention in the book, it was a major issue for me for years, too. I wrote the book because I sensed that there was a great need for someone to address the issue of Christian assurance. Since it has come out, the book has prompted a lot of the same positive responses as that initial sermon.

I also wish I had emphasized involvement in a local church more as essential to assurance. God gave us the church to help us see more accurately what God is doing in our lives.

So appreciate this book that J.D. wrote. If you have not picked up a copy do it today the Kindle version is just 4.99 go get it now.