How to Explain The Ten Commandments to Kids

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The best thing you can do for your kids is to give them a healthy understanding of justification and sanctification. This doesn’t happen as often as it should partly because parents don’t understand the difference themselves. Another reason is that we have pushed away from creeds and confessions that undergird these truths in ways we don’t even recognize on a conscious level. To get back to these we must grow in our understanding ourselves and look for ways to practically age appropriately explain them to our kids. Here is how the New City Catechism describes Justification and Sanctification:

Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.

Growing up the Ten Commandments always loomed over me as a list of things to avoid doing, like milestones that mark the path of a well-traveled Christian life. They are what most people would say describes the life of a true Christian. The show us the moral guidelines as to how life works best. While the Ten Commandments are certainly all of these things, they are not only those things.  Just the other day a friend of mine said: “The Old Testament is all law the New Testament is all grace.” While I certainly understand what he was saying, I think it is a dangerous generalization and dramatic oversimplification.

The Dark Side of Parenting

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Kids are a joy. Kids are the best thing ever. Kids are also a lot. I remember seeing as a single person families come to church with well dressed little kids and smiles on their faces thinking wow what a beautiful family. I had no idea! Now four kids later I have a bit more of an idea.

I came across these photos and literally laughed out loud. Danielle Guenther has great skill as a photographer but also must have a few kids judging from some of the pictures she takes. These are fantastic. If you have not crawled along the floor using your iPhone as a flashlight you probably don’t have kids. I most identify with the parents sneaking out and the dad trying to reach his phone while holding his baby. Which one is your family?

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

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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 know 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 asks 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.

Why Your Kids Need to be Alone

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Recently I read a book by Sherry Turkle  entitled Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age. Dr. Turkle said several things that made me think about the beauties and perils of technology. One of my favorite quotes by her is “If you don’t teach your kids to alone they will only know how to be lonely.”

Turkle in expanding on the idea of loneliness she said something so profound about the difference between loneliness and solitude.

Paul Tillich has a beautiful formulation: “Language . . . has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” Loneliness is painful, emotionally and even physically, born from a “want of intimacy” when we need it most, in early childhood. Solitude— the capacity to be contentedly and constructively alone— is built from successful human connection at just that time. But if we don’t have experience with solitude— and this is often the case today— we start to equate loneliness and solitude. This reflects the impoverishment of our experience. If we don’t know the satisfactions of solitude, we only know the panic of loneliness.

Indeed, research shows that adolescents experience solitude as downtime that can feel bad in the short run. But in the long run it facilitates healthy development. Without solitude, in days and nights of continual connection, we may experience those “moments of more” but lives of less.

Sherry Turkle

Three Actions to be a Better Parent Overnight.

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Everyone no matter where you come from, how much you make or where you live, you have the same thing in common, we all have twenty-four hours in each day. No more no less. The difference comes in where you chose to invest those 1440 minutes. There are so many things that take up our time that are important and much needed. If we were all honest, there are many things that we invest our precious moments on that are a complete waste of time.

Over the past few years, I have done several funerals what I find fascinating is how people invested their lives. There are some who worked their whole lives others invested in hobbies, and still others family was everything. Every time I do a funeral or attend one I ask myself if I am investing my life in what matters most. When talking with people at the end of their lives, I often ask what they regret most; some have no regrets. Of those who have regrets, almost all of them is not spending enough time with family. I think our generation does spend more time with family, but often I find in talking with parents it’s not concentrated devoted time. It’s on the go time; it’s hurried time. There is nothing wrong with on the go time it’s still time, but I find that unhurried time is where life happened, and big questions get asked. It’s in the cracks of near boredom that we dig deep and find the space to discuss what matters most.

If you are a parent and are looking to invest your time where it matters most to get the most bang for your buck, I would urge you to consider the three things I have listed below. These things make a huge difference quickly but more importantly they make a huge difference in the long run. I would like to offer a disclaimer that I am working on these myself. Our family does dinner almost every night mostly because of my amazing wife. We just started doing family worship and we aren’t as consistent as I would like. As far as the cell phone goes, I am trying to disconnect but it’s not easy.

Do you want to be a better parent overnight?