‘ Stop Asking Jesus In to You r Hea rt,’ by J.D. G re e a r july 2013
know. grow. become.
From Home to School What should you consider when making a schooling change?
winning over worry A high school football player talks bullying
A Decade of Grace
After 10 years of Girls of Grace, Point of Grace's ministry—and legacy—goes far beyond CCM radio july 2013 // USA $3.95
volum e 35, NUMBER 10
Off the Wire: Teens Should middle schoolers be dating? by Jennifer McCaman
Teen Issues: Self-Worth Our “Teen Issues” series continues with a look at self-worth. by Gretchen Williams
From Home to School Switching from home school to public school—or vice versa—brings a bevy of challenges. by Laura Lee Groves
12 Media 411 Matt Maher is helping redefine modern worship. by Randy Williams
14 The Puberty Puzzle Navigating your teen through the stages of puberty is never an easy challenge. by David Thomas
16 Teen Voice: The Reality of Bullying One teen explains the danger and ubiquity of bullying. by Alec Pratt
18 Off the Wire: Parents
32 Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart
Is the college degree the new high school diploma? by Carol Sallee
20 A Decade of Grace Ten years in, the Girls of Grace Conference continues to minister to teen girls. by Lindsay Williams
24 Speaking Louder Than Words Dad, it’s up to you to curb anger issues in your home. by Jason Ellerbrook
26 Single Parenting Do your emotions control you in a singleparent home? by Gayla Grace
27 Blended Families Blending emotions begins with a look at the heart. by Dedra Herod
28 Falling Out of Favor Does your teen favor the other parent? Even if it feels like you’re an afterthought—or worse—you’re still needed in the home. by Sissy Goff
What does it really mean to “ask Jesus into your heart?” by J.D. Greear
36 On Your Knees When praying for your teen’s emotions, measure your attitude against 1 Corinthians 13. by Kevin Garrett
37 Conversations Is it possible to talk with your teen through emotional issues? by Kevin Garrett
38 Book Reviews 38 Days To Taming Your Emotions can help you tame the giants in your life. by Cheryl Sloan Wray
40 Winning Over Worry Constant anxiety can stunt both your faith and your relationships. by Nita Andrews
43 In It Together Four Bible studies that look at the nature of the people God created. by David Crim
july 2013 1
Volume 35, Number 10 | July 2013 Vice President, Lifeway Church Resources | Eric Geiger Production & Ministry Team Editor | Scott Latta Graphic Designer | Kaitlin McIntosh Editorial Team Leader | Mike Wakefield Send questions/comments to: Editor, Parenting Teens One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0144; Or make comments on the Web at www.lifeway.com Management Personnel Director, Student Ministry | Ben Trueblood Director, Student Ministry Publishing | Jeff Pratt Advertising One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 136, Nashville, TN 37234 Phone: (615) 251-2289 Fax (615) 251-2039 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Media kits: www.lifeway.com/magazines/media Director, Magazine Advertising & Circulation | Rhonda Edge Buescher Advertising Production | Scott Hancock Printed in the United States of America
Parenting Teens (ISSN 2167-8936; Item 005075228) is published monthly by LifeWay Press®, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234, Thom S. Rainer, President. © 2012, LifeWay Press®. For inquiries visit www.lifeway.com, or write LifeWay Church Resources Customer Service, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0113. For subscriptions or subscription address changes, visit www.lifeway.com/magazines, fax (615) 251-5818, or write to the above address. For bulk orders shipped to one address, visit www.lifeway.com/magazines, fax (615) 251-5933 or write to the above address. Annual individual or gift subscription, $22.50. Bulk orders shipped to one address when ordered with other literature, $1.55 each per month, plus shipping. Please allow six to eight weeks for arrival of first issue. Advertisement Disclaimer: This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services. All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Cover photo: Kristen Barlowe
encouraging and equipping parents with biblical solutions to transform families
Everyday Emotions Which emotion wreaks havoc in your life the most? For me, it’s fear. Satan knows it’s my weak spot and he constantly pounds me. Fear for my life, my job, my salvation, my wife, my kids. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of people not liking me. Fear of failure. When that beast raises its ugly head, I’m paralyzed. Faith goes out the door and my spiritual walk and effectiveness come to a screeching halt. I also become less the husband and father I need to be. I constantly have to turn to the Lord and His precious Word that reminds me that He is my rock and refuge, my strong tower that I can run to, that I can come to Him with everything because I’m His son and He loves me. Only then can I shake the chains and walk again in His strength and peace. What about you? What emotional chains bind you? This issue of Parenting Teens will take a look at some of those strong emotions that affect your lives and the lives of your teenagers. It may be a temper you can’t control, a fear your teen can’t shake, or a nagging doubt about your salvation. Whatever it is, we want to offer some practical solutions to help you and your teens move forward, and to point you to the One who can calm all emotional storms. Some of you have probably functioned a long time with these damaging emotions. Don’t settle for less than all God desires for you and your teenager to be. It’s time to allow God to loose the chains and walk in freedom! Blessings!
Mike Wakefield Team Leader, Parenting Teens email@example.com
Check out our blog at www.parentingteensmag.com
2 Parenting Teens
your teen’s world
july 2013 3
Off the Wire:
Keeping an Eye on Students Ditching third period math just got a little tougher. That’s because, according to a recent court ruling, schools may be able to force students to wear locator chips while on school property. A magnet school in Texas won the ruling, which forces all students to wear locator devices within the walls of the school. The device, intended to cut down on between-class loitering, is embedded in a student ID card that must be worn at all times. Many parents see the tracking system as “intrusive surveillance,” but courts insist the school is within its rights. Students who do not comply may be expelled. Source: http://news.yahoo.com
Land the Helicopter! Research shows that hyper-involved parents, or Helicopter Parents, are on the rise for university students. These parents plan their kids’ schedules and generally attempt to run their lives. But the same parenting strategy that worked when they were 8 will destroy them at 18. While Helicopter Parents have good motives, the result is almost always detrimental. University students with controlling parents report more anxiety, higher levels of depression, and lower levels of overall satisfaction with life. Don’t misunderstand. A committed, loving parent who gives advice when asked—and does a load of laundry for their student now and then—isn’t the issue. But if you’re picking up the phone to call your student’s college professors, there’s a problem. Have a senior in high school? Practice gently backing-off a little and letting them make decisions, plan their own schedules, pick their own bedtimes, etc. It will be invaluable practice for next year. Source: http://reuters.com
Not a Laughing Matter It may sound shocking, but new research shows an alarming number of trusted adults—parents, coaches, or teachers—are teasing overweight kids as a way of motivating them to lose weight. Even gentle teasing may cause depression, eating disorders, and a host of other psychological problems. Instead of teasing, focus on health, not weight. Don’t treat your teen like he is inferior or has a problem that needs fixing. Instead, boost his confidence, fight bullying, and model a healthy lifestyle, physically and spiritually.
4 Parenting Teens
Dating is Dangerous in Middle School Think your middle schooler is too young to date? Trust your instincts! A new study finds that students who date in middle school are four times more likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to abuse alcohol and illegal drugs. Those who reported the least amount of dating throughout middle and high school had the greatest academic success. Of course a strong social life is vital to a middle schooler’s longterm emotional and even physical health. But make that social life happen in groups, with friends, in student ministry, or in your supervised home. You can say “no” to dating and still provide plenty of socializing opportunities to meet their needs. Source: http://sciencedaily.com
Jennifer McCaman is a mom and a pastor’s wife who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. She loves to write, teach English, share the gospel with Thai college students, and drink Starbucks—conveniently located only one train stop away from home!
Sentenced to Debt
Today’s young adults may be swimming in debt for years, new research suggests. Right now, 75 percent of young adults ages 18-24 spend more than they make. Twenty percent overspend each month by a whopping $100. They rely on credit cards to cover the difference—a dangerous plan. Young adults are racking up debt faster than previous generations, but they’re also paying it back at a much slower rate, which translates to a “Debt-For-Life” sentence. Parents, we have to talk to our teenagers now about money management. They also desperately need to see us model financial wisdom. Let them see you paying off debt, working hard, tithing, and giving. Give them opportunities to practice money management now. Their financial futures depend on it. Source: http://business.time.com
july 2013 5
* T een|| Issues
Self-worth By Gretchen Williams
Last year I attended the cello recital of a high school senior. Friends and family sat mesmerized by the long, sonorous melodies of Bach and Fauré filling the small, ornate cathedral. The student was being accompanied by a brilliant pianist, who faded effortlessly in and out of the background, never overpowering the cello’s musical line. Although the sound was beautiful and the student’s talent evident, what struck me most was that the accompanist happened to be the student’s father. I felt it was an inspiring picture of parenting—your teen is on center stage of his life, but needs you close by. Not hovering or dictating, but accompanying him, walking beside him, letting him take the lead in creating his own life. Weaving in your wisdom with compassion and delicacy while encouraging him to work hard and to take risks. Allowing him to shine.
6 Parenting Teens
While peer and societal influences have a great impact on your teen’s self-worth, the most important influence in his life is you. You have a crucial role in helping him to become a resilient, selfconfident young adult who pursues life with passion. It’s not an easy task, but certainly a rewarding one. Finding the Balance: Praise The words that parents use toward their teenagers have a powerful impact on their self-worth. And praise—positive affirmation and feedback—can be an important tool for encouraging teens’ healthy view of self. But according to Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, we need to consider the way that we praise kids.
Ed. Note: This is the seventh in a 12-part series on the social and moral issues teens face in their everyday lives.
Dr. Dweck found that complimenting children on their effort (such as perseverance in a task), as opposed to their natural ability (such as intelligence or talent), contributes more effectively to healthy self-esteem: “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” Dr. Dweck says. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success.”1 In other words, an acknowledgement such as “I admire how hard you studied for that test” has more weight than a mere “good job” or “you’re so smart.” Frequent, non-specific praise can sometimes cause teens to feel inadequate about meeting others’ expectations; they crumble under the pressure and retreat from challenge. For example, a student who is repeatedly told that he has “potential,” and “could be making straight A’s” may worry about not measuring up. So he decides it’s better to do nothing rather than to disappoint people. At the same time, an absence of positive affirmation from you can deflate your teen’s view of self. Insults or an abundance of harsh criticism are undoubtedly damaging and emotionally abusive. Teens who never receive verbal encouragement from their parents can become depressed or, in some cases, even suicidal. They need to hear that their parents love them, believe in them, and are behind them 100 percent. So what’s the balance? By all means, praise your teens. But be specific about your praise, noting their effort on a project, their persistence in working out a math problem, or their character displayed in a good decision. When they own their success, they have a stronger belief in their abilities to overcome obstacles and challenges in the future. Finding the Balance: Involvement For many parents, providing a healthy level of supportive involvement in their teens’ lives can be a challenge. “Helicopter parenting,” a term given to the tendency of parents to become over-involved, is one example. In an effort to be helpful, parents may step in to rescue their teen from hardship or consequences, such as regularly bringing forgotten projects to school or asking a teacher to adjust a poor grade. The result is an increased dependence on parents to provide. Teens may wait longer to learn to drive, or rely on parents to complete their college or job applications for them. And it doesn’t stop in high school. Some parents even go so far as to contact their children’s college professors to dispute grades, or potential employers to argue about salaries. This type of parenting engenders feelings of inadequacy and fear in teens rather than confidence. Adolescents need to experience the consequences of their mistakes and failures in order to build
Be specific about your praise ... When they own their success, they have a stronger belief in their abilities to overcome obstacles and challenges in the future.
resilience—a key component of a healthy selfesteem. On the other side, parents who are too handsoff may be communicating that their teens should have it all together before they’re ready, or worse, that they don’t care. While she may never admit it, your teenager absolutely still needs you. Her needs have grown more complex, and she probably won’t be able to articulate what it is she wants from you. However, simply listening goes a long, long way. What are your teen’s hopes, dreams, desires, hurts, fears, triumphs? Knowing that you are a safe place to land, without judgment or negativity, allows your teen to feel more at home in her own skin. She can hear that whatever crazy thing she is feeling is OK, and that you will help her through it. Parenting teenagers, while extremely challenging, can be a wonderful experience. You can step back a little, staying involved but letting them grow into the thriving young adult God made them to be. Listen for the melody that is your teen’s life. No doubt it will be something others will want to hear. And you’ll be right there to enjoy it, too. 1. Source: Nurture Shock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (Twelve, 2011)
Gretchen Williams is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, currently working with middle and high school students as a guidance counselor in Orlando, Fla. She is a freelance musician and also enjoys traveling and photography in her spare time.
july 2013 7
FROM HOME TO SCHOOL
Switching from home-school to public school—or vice versa—brings a bevy of challenges for parents and students. If a school change is in your future, one thing is for sure: You better know your teen first. By Laura Lee Groves
“I’m tired of home schooling. I’ve been with these same kids forever. Besides, I want to play football for Central High.” “That’s it. I don’t want to go back to school! I have no Christian friends, and nobody really understands me there!” Being a teenager—whether in public, private, or home-school—is hard enough. The decision to transition from one mode of schooling to the other can be even harder. When it
8 Parenting Teens
comes to teens and school, change is never easy and emotions can be raw, but if you are facing a school change in your family, there are positive ways to help your teen through the transition. There can be good reasons for a schooling change, but it’s wise to first ask yourself, “Will this help the situation?” Your teen may be looking for opportunities he can’t get in his present school setting, and a move could remedy that problem. Maybe she wants to structure her day differently
to include a mentoring or part-time job opportunity. Your teen’s physical and emotional safety is of utmost importance, and if he or she is at risk in the current school setting, something must be done. But we have to realize that taking a teen out of one setting may not resolve all her difficulties across the board. How can parents approach the decision to change their teen’s schooling? The first step, before any other considerations, is to pray.
Without God’s guidance, our family decisions are simply man’s plans. Ask the Lord to lead you to godly counsel; seek input from parents who have faced similar choices. Talking to someone who has been in this situation can be a tremendous help. From home school to public school A few specific steps can help you prepare your teen to move from home schooling to a traditional school. First, consider your choices. You can reduce some anxiety by finding a school that’s the right fit. Make an appointment with the school’s guidance counselors and learn about the atmosphere and opportunities. Walk through the school. Arrange for your teen to “shadow” another student for a day, to get a feel for the school. Make sure the academic expectations are a match. Attend an athletic or fine arts event. One option to soften the change is to use a blended approach. Some private schools allow students to enroll for certain fine arts electives or advanced classes while continuing the rest of the student’s education at home, and there are community colleges that offer a combined high school/college approach. If your teen wants to take advanced math classes, he can attend a private school part-time. Be creative. From public school to home school Each state has laws concerning home schooling. Requirements for all 50 states are posted on the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website, http://hslda.org/laws. Make a plan with your teen before you make the move. Get to know her learning style, her strengths, and her preferences. Having input into her own situation
Consider your teen’s unique makeup, his Godgiven talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Discuss his goals. Ask where he’d like to be in four years, and formulate a plan that will move him in that direction. Even if this change was made quickly or your teen isn’t in agreement, this will make him part of the decision. will help your teen adjust, and she’ll be more successful if, from the first day, you provide the structure she needs. Be creative. If you feel you’re not qualified to teach a certain subject, network. Many home-schooling parents form a co-op where students meet for instruction from a parent, retired teacher, or tutor. Online public schools are also a possibility. Since schoolwork can usually be completed more quickly at home, discuss with your teen how she will fill that extra time. Internships, mentoring programs, and part-time or volunteer work can offer your teen a chance to mature and excel. Additional considerations No matter which direction your teen will move, here are positive ways to approach the transition. 1. Consider your teen’s unique makeup, his God-given talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Discuss his goals. Ask where he’d like to be in four years, and formulate a plan that will move him in that direction. Even if this change was made quickly or your teen isn’t in agreement, this will make him part of the decision.
2. Communicate that you’re in this together. This will affect all of you. Parents and teens alike will have to make adjustments. Home-schooling parents face a different structure and time requirements at home. If you’re sending your teen to a traditional school, relinquishing control and trusting—both God and your teen— will become important. 3. Help your teen keep old friends—at least the good ones. In the midst of change, old friends can provide stability and help keep your teen grounded. 4. Realize it’s OK if everything isn’t perfect. Be patient. Don’t measure success in the first week. Remember, no situation is perfect. Talk openly about things and address weaknesses. 5. Praise your teen in the midst of the transition. Teens act like praise embarrasses them or it’s “not cool,” but they need encouragement just like the rest of us—perhaps even more (especially if they weren’t in agreement with this move). When you see them show flexibility and responsibility, praise that. 6. Monitor progress. Our teens should be taking responsibility for themselves. But you can sometimes prevent problems if you occasionally check to see how they’re doing academically and emotionally. 7. Get involved with the school and other parents; this shows your teen you’re in this, too. Volunteer or join the parent-teacher association in a traditional school. If your teen has moved to home-school, align yourself with home-schooling parents who can support you. 8. Communicate with your teen. Encourage openness. Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Dialogue openly, letting your teen vent. It’s
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As you discuss your teen’s goals, you’ll learn more about what makes him tick. You’ll find ways to encourage and equip him to move toward maturity. Present this as a new experience—an adventure.
Change is never easy, but see this as an opportunity. As you discuss your teen’s goals, you’ll learn more about what makes him tick. You’ll find ways to encourage and equip him to move toward maturity. Present this as a new experience—an adventure. If our teens are never exposed to different life situations, they’ll be unprepared for the future. Viewing this as a positive step toward your teen’s future instead of a reaction against the past will help soothe emotions. Ultimately as parents we must trust the One who loves them more than we do. With His help, we can model Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:12. “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” ✤
Laura Lee Groves, author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys (Kregel 2010), is a writer, speaker, and high school English teacher. She inspires and encourages moms on her blog, outnumberedmom.com.
10 Parenting Teens
Parent Perspective On moving from home-school to public school: “When you make this move, one temptation is to be totally hands off. I had to realize my daughter needed help adjusting. The structure and accountability were different from what she was used to at home.” —Loren, mother of a tenth grader “Ours was a rough adjustment, but he made several good friends and liked his classes and teachers. My best tip is to cover your child and decision in prayer. Ask the Lord to prepare his heart and ease the transition. Practice the ministry of being there, to listen to and encourage conversation. I wish I had discussed possible scenarios so we could have talked about healthy responses before my son faced those situations.” —Julie, mother of a ninth grader
On moving from public school to home-school: “Homeschooling has been an adventure in trusting God that He has our kids—in different ways than when they were in school. Being home does help to protect them from influences and temptations that would be in their face in other settings, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t faced with temptations. It can be easy to get lazy and assume they aren’t struggling with things, but we’ve found how important it is to probe areas that are difficult to discuss and continue to dig in.” —Corey, mother of a ninth grader
easier to be open with someone who’s open with you, so let your teen know this change is affecting you, and share the struggles you faced as a teen. 9. Watch for warning signs of stress. This is a change, so some stress is expected. But if you see unusual changes in sleep and eating patterns, headaches, social withdrawal, or irritability, you need to get involved. 10. Bathe the situation in prayer, praying with and for your teen, asking for wisdom in dealing with this transition.
Language shouldn’t be one of life’s barriers.
WITH THE WORLD.
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Reviews God’s great dance floor step 01 Martin Smith Gloworks
Former Delirious? singer Martin Smith has been keeping himself busy since his band’s breakup a few years ago. He’s released a couple of EPs and has creatively bundled them here. Delirious? fans will find much to like, especially the moving “You Carry Me,” but we can all enjoy his new creative freedom and embrace of bluegrass, soul, and folk sounds. Although not a revolutionary new sound, Martin Smith is a revolutionary who changed the style of modern worship, and God’s Great Dance Floor reminds us of the enormity of his talent and passion. Hear it all at martinsmith.tv.
All the people said amen Matt Maher Essential Records
The most interesting and intentional music filling up the CCM space these days is without a doubt worship music. For the past several years, Matt Maher has added to this in his own distinctive, personal style. Maher is a devout Catholic leader which lends to a deeper appreciation of the mystery of God as well as a doctrinal leaning toward obedience and a call to good works. Both are beautifully expressed in his theologically sound lyrics. All The People Said Amen is a greatest hits record presented in a live setting. Check him out at mattmahermusic.com.
Black and White Tal & Acacia
Live (CD and DVD) all Sons & Daughters
A few years ago, Tal & Acacia released Wake Me, a project that was received by critics and music fans alike as the Next Big Thing. Unfortunately, many things that are appreciated by music lovers are not necessarily appreciated by suburban moms or teenagers. In other words, Tal & Acacia never hit the big time. Today, thanks to crowdsourcing websites, underappreciated artists don’t need a label to make music. Black & White is further proof that the sisters are genuinely talented and sometimes the masses miss a sure-fire thing. If you like beautiful pop harmonies and missed them the first time, don’t miss them now. You can find more at talandacacia.com.
Stunned silence. That was my reaction after hearing All Sons & Daughters’ new live project set. Most live recordings sound a little—how can I put this?—fake. However, after listening to Live, I was floored at how rich, huge, and genuinely “live” the recording felt. Singers David Leonard and Leslie Jordan sing with an urgency as if they’re in front of the very throne of God. Producer Paul Mabury (Hillsong, One Sonic Society) put together a super-group of musicians who brought together a performance that ranks up there with just about anything you’ve ever heard. Go now to allsonsanddaughters.com to hear the future of worship music.
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42 (PG-13) Chadwick boseman, harrison ford Warner Brothers
In 1945, the Allied Forces celebrated their victory over Nazi Germany and the Germans’ racist ideals. However, back in the USA, we were still entrenched in our own discriminatory history. Thanks to the enterprising owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, enter Number 42, Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball’s first African-American player. 42 is inspirational in that it doesn’t flinch or hide the ugly truths of Robinson’s struggle and sheds light on the enormity of what was happening in the culture at the time. Aside from a few harsh swear words, 42 is an inspirational history lesson, not unlike Lincoln or Braveheart. PT’s grade: B+
App: Mixbooth Pivi and Co. // piviandco.com
Some apps really make the most out of your iOS-equipped device’s processing power. Apps for productivity, gaming, or information make the Apple products indispensable. MixBooth ($0.99) combines two faces into one hysterical image and has turned my iPhone into the party trick of the season. At a recent family gathering, all 35 of my extended family discovered this app and we wore ourselves out laughing at all the various face combinations. The app intuitively mixes various features of two faces into one hilarious combination. The day took an existential turn when we started combining faces with inanimate dolls and pets. What’s not to love about technology? PT’s grade: A+
Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids (TV-G)
Lumo Body Tech Inc. // lumoback.com
If you are an adult of a certain age, then you remember the Saturday morning staple that was Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids throughout your childhood. Produced sporadically between 1972 and 1982 and created by comedian Bill Cosby, Fat Albert featured a misfit gang of inner-city kids just trying to get along and better their lives. Each episode was an animated morality play and wrapped up with a funky song by the Junkyard Band summing up the lesson learned. Turn your kids on to Fat Albert. It’s still funny and the lessons are even more relevant today.
This app ain’t no slouch. LUMOback ($149) is a “wearable posture sensor and mobile app system to support healthy backs.” Silicon Valley techie Andrew Chang was looking for a way to improve his posture, which had slowly become worse after hours and hours slumped over a computer keyboard. Chang and his team created a prototype belt that vibrates when you slouch from your lower back. An accompanying app tracks your movements and provides feedback and helpful advice for improving your posture and movement.
PT’s grade: A
Randy WilliamS is a Grammy-nominated musician and writer who lives in Franklin, Tenn.
PT’s grade: B+
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Teens endure massive physical and emotional changes during the years of puberty. How can you help your child navigate them?
By David Thomas When I teach parenting classes, I sometimes ask “how many of you remember having a healthy, ongoing dialogue with a parent about the changes your body experienced?” Many times, no one raises his or her hand. Sometimes a few hands pop up. The hands mostly belong to women. This kind of conversation seems so foreign and unfamiliar that we inevitably avoid having it at all. Our children and adolescents desperately need us to step into this kind of conversation. They need us to put development in a physical and spiritual context, allowing them to see these changes as how God intended for them to be. Our next objective is to stay a step ahead of their development. We don’t wait for an event to take place and
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young teens (ages 13-15):
This is a time plagued by physical, emotional, cognitive, and relational changes. It’s common for young teens to be worried (or consumed) with how others perceive them. An increase in hormones triggers significant shifts and changes in the body. As a result, girls begin their periods often as early as 11-12, with some beginning even earlier. Most boys grow facial and body hair, and their voices begin to crack, deepen, and change. Talk openly and talk often to further establish yourself as the source for all questions and confusion. Ideas to Consider: 1. Encourage physical activity. Young teens benefit from joining a team or playing a sport and can help out the family when they walk the family dog, wash the car, or mow the yard. 2. Set healthy media rules. Limit screen time and open up more space for being physically and cognitively active. ©©iStock
The Puberty Puzzle
then give the information. That’s a reactive form of parenting. We want to be intentional, to arm our kids with information, to diminish some of the uncertainty, confusion, or anxiety that can accompany these changes.
3. Be intentional with mealtime. Sharing meals together helps young teens make better food choices, promotes healthy weight, and gives family time to talk and connect.
mid teens (ages 16-17):
This is a time of craving independence and autonomy, and furthering the individuating process, which can impact physical development. Most girls will have completed puberty and be physically mature by this point. Throughout puberty, your daughter has gotten taller, and her hips wider. Her body began to store fat in her belly, bottom and legs. This is normal and gives her body the curvier shape of an adult woman. This change in weight and shape, mixed with cultural messages about body image, can cause your daughter to question her size and weight in some unhealthy ways. Eating disorders are dangerously common among adolescent girls. She will benefit from conversation with you around these issues. Because she is striving for independence and may be quick to dismiss your voice, involve your pediatrician in the dialogue. As your son navigated puberty, he also rocketed in height, with his shoulders broadening and muscle mass increasing, alongside his own weight gain. Take a similar approach to conversation that also involves engaging his pediatrician regarding size and body mass index. Boys are equally vulnerable to comparing themselves to their male peers in terms of growth and performance. Ideas to Consider: 1. Encourage volunteering. Community service involves your mid teen getting out and being active. Secondly, it feeds their hunger for purpose and value, while combatting their vulnerability to being consumed with themselves—their weight, size, performance, social status, etc. 2. Involve other voices. In addition to inviting the pediatrician to talk about development, request your doctor weigh in regarding sexual experimentation and substance abuse, and their effects on the body. Similarly, our mid teens need to hear from youth pastors, small group leaders, and other spiritual mentors on these important topics. 3. Focus on sleep. Continue with healthy meals and the importance of exercise, but don’t neglect the role of sleep. It’s common for teens to sleep less than they did as preteens—less than eight hours on school nights despite the recommended nine to nine-and-a-half hours.
late teens (ages 18+):
Most developmental theorists agree that adolescence ends for girls around 19-20, and for boys somewhere around 23-24. There’s still a good amount of catching up to do emotionally, however. Many students have moved into a place of independence (college, armed services, jobs/internships), and are living independent of parents in this season. It’s common for students to experiment with different patterns of eating and exercising during the early window of independence, and they may be less attentive to choices affecting their health. Ideas to Consider: 1. Talk less and ask good questions. Avoid the temptation to give unsolicited advice and lecture. A healthy way to approach concerns about health is to ask good questions while honoring their need for independence and the space to figure some things out for themselves. 2. Raise a red flag. If those concerns regarding health involve the suspicion of depression, suicidal ideation, or addiction, a different level of intervention or involvement is needed. Consider consulting with a professional to explore your options for offering support or intervention. 3. Maintain perspective. Most every parent I’ve worked with has the ability to remember some of his or her own “less than stellar” decisions during this season. Maybe you gained the Freshman 15 (or 20), dated someone that your parents didn’t like, or neglected exercise for a season only to become more active or disciplined down the road. Keep it in perspective. Source: Puberty—Ready or Not Expect Some Changes (Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics)
Additional resources: Boom: A Guy’s Guide to Growing Up (Michael Ross); Bloom: A Girl’s Guide to Growing Up (Susie Shellenberger) DAVID THOMAS, L.M.S.W., is the Director of Counseling for Men and Boys at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, Tenn. He is the co-author of six books, including the best-selling Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys (Tyndale House 2009) and the new release, Intentional Parenting (Thomas Nelson 2013). He and his wife, Connie, have a daughter, and three Wild Things (twin sons and a feisty yellow lab puppy named Owen).
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The reality of Bullying By Alec Pratt
Bullying is everywhere—at school, at church, and even sometimes at home. According to Family First Aid, about 30 percent of teenagers in the U.S. have been involved in bullying either as a bully or as a victim. One of the places it occurs the most, for sure, is at school, with some kids bullied to the point of depression or suicide. According to studies by Yale University, bully victims are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims. It doesn’t matter if you go to a Christian school or public school. It’s still around you. As an athlete I see it more than a lot of people do. It can be in the locker room, in the hallways, in the classroom, or in the cafeteria. One kid might think he is just joking around with someone, when really he is killing them on the inside. Or it might be one kid trying to prove himself to a group of kids so he can fit in. One of the areas I see
it the most is in the locker room. Good camaraderie is vital for a team to be successful, but if there is one person that is picking on a teammate, it will bring down your entire squad. I can vouch for this because I’ve seen it happen. I have witnessed bullying in the locker room, and I have seen it affect both the person being bullied and the whole team. I have seen guys on the team use nicknames for younger players they thought were funny that were really just demeaning. Moms and dads can play a huge role in the prevention of and the protection from bullying. One thing they can do is to make sure they are affirming their teenagers. I believe a lot of bullying comes from a low self-esteem. I have heard my dad say that if you don’t know who you are in Christ, you’ll assume anyone’s identity. Make sure that your students know that you love them and that God has given them a special purpose on the earth.
Another thing parents can do is to make sure that they are not bullying their kids. Scripture says that dads are not to provoke their children to anger. I know that as teenagers we need to be disciplined, but there is a big difference between developmental discipline and punishment out of anger. Every bully that I have known has been an angry person. A lot of times that anger starts in the home. If a person steps out and tries to protect someone, the effect can be amazing. What will it take for one person to make a stand? Depression? A suicide? These things are already happening. What will it take for us to begin valuing the lives of our classmates and seeing them as Jesus sees them? It takes you and me.
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Alec Pratt is a junior at Donelson Christian Academy in Donelson, Tenn., where he lives with his mom, dad, brother, and sister. He plays football and enjoys golfing and hanging out with his buds.
your parenting skills
july 2013 17
Off the Wire:
Male Bonding Sharon Lamb, psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts and co-author of Packaging Boyhood (St. Martin’s Press, 2009), believes cartoons may be teaching boys that you bond by getting drunk. Lamb says, “In SpongeBob, they get drunk on ice cream. In Open Season, they get drunk on chocolate. In Kid Nation, when they win, they celebrate by doing root beer shots in the saloon.”
Beyo Sch nd th ool e Dipl High oma With the first day of college classes just around the corner, it’s worth noting that the college degree is becoming the new high school diploma—the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level jobs that do not require college-level skills. Economists refer to this as “degree inflation.” The effect is that skilled workers with higher degrees are increasingly ending up in lowerskilled jobs that don’t really require a degree, and in the process they’re pushing unskilled workers out of the labor force altogether. Sources: http://nytimes.com; http://thedailybeast.com
VS. A recent survey of social media users between 13 and 25 found that more of them dedicated themselves to Tumblr than to Facebook, even though Tumblr is fairly tiny in comparison of total users. Bill Wardell, host of “Keeping Our Kids Safe” Radio, explains, “Their parents are all on Facebook and Twitter. It’s not as cool as it once was.” Described as topic-based image blogging, the Tumblr site states: “Tumblr celebrates creativity. We want you to express yourself freely and use Tumblr to reflect who you are, and what you love, think, witness, and believe.” Author and parent advocate Sue Scheff writes, “Parents should learn to use all of the social media sites their children are on. That’s just being a good, proactive parent, whether the kids think it is cool or not.” Sources: http://news.cnet.com; http://huffingtonpost.com; http://techcrunch.com
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Break Out the Checkbook According to the latest statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, parents will spend an average of $235,000 to raise a child born in 2011 to the age of 17. (And that’s not taking into account any savings for college.) Source: http://cnbc.com
I hate math! Hating math isn’t exactly a unique trait among teenagers, but if your teen dreads dealing with numbers, science may be at least partially to blame. Students who have severe difficulties in dealing with numbers may have a neurocognitive disorder that inhibits the acquisition of basic numerical and arithmetic concepts. The mathematical equivalent to dyslexia, dyscalculia can involve a wide range of lifelong learning disabilities involving math, despite otherwise normal intelligence. Examples of common indicators of dyscalculia include carrying out simple number comparison and addition tasks by counting—often using fingers well beyond the age when it is normal—and finding approximate estimation tasks difficult. While having trouble learning math skills does not necessarily mean a person has dyscalculia, helping a student identify his strengths and weaknesses is the first step to establishing strategies that will help the student learn math more effectively. Sources: http://ncld.org; http://sciencedaily.com
Carol Sallee is an author and speaker who lives in Bixby, Okla. where her husband, Phil, has been a pastor for more than 17 years. You can contact Carol through Twitter, Facebook, or on her website at thesalleegroup.com.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy new book releases from your favorite authors. But with so many options, it can be tough to determine which books to add to your summer reading list. To help out, we’ve built a web-based Summer Reading Guide featuring cover images, book descriptions, author names, purchase information, and more. So whether you’re planning to read by the pool, on the beach, or in your own backyard, make LifeWay’s Summer Reading Guide your first destination! www.LifeWay.com/SummerReading
A Decade of Grace Celebrating more than 10 years of Girls of Grace, award-winning vocal trio Point of Grace looks back at the first decade of their conference for teen girls
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By Lindsay Williams
It was fall 2002. Point of Grace was in the midst of promoting its critically-acclaimed album, Free to Fly, the group’s gold-selling release from 2001, which spawned five No. 1 Christian singles. The group would go on to garner 24 consecutive No. 1 radio hits, a feat unmatched by any artist in any genre. Their legions of fans were made up of teen girls who idolized them and parents who trusted them. The women of Point of Grace knew they had a captive audience with questions about life, love, faith, and pain deeper than they felt equipped to handle. They saw it in the faces of their fans in autograph lines after concerts and read it in handwritten letters personally addressed to the group. They realized they had a platform. The question was: What were they going to do with it? Shelley Breen, Denise Jones, and Leigh Cappillino saw an opportunity to influence the lives of countless young girls wading through the turbulent waters of adolescence, noting that just because a teen is raised in church doesn’t mean she’s immune to temptation or poor decision-making. “Growing up as a Christian music fan myself—at the time, loving Amy Grant, loving Sandi Patty… I wanted to know what they thought about things,” remembers Denise. “My parents were telling me things, and my youth leader was telling me things, but I wanted to know what they thought, too. “We had the ear [of our audience]. What a shame not to use that platform to speak into the lives of teenage girls.” ‘Beautiful Truths’ The first Girls of Grace event took place in the fall of 2002, in Lakeland, Fla., just three weeks after Shelley’s daughter, Caroline (now 10), was born. Today, more than 10 years later, the message of Girls of Grace remains the same: Shelley, Denise, and Leigh want young girls to realize their true worth experienced through a relationship with Jesus. Girls of Grace speakers and artists focus on topics pertinent to girls ages 12-18, such as insecurity, body image, dating and boys, relationships with friends and family, fashion, and identity in Christ. Through the years, additional speakers and artists have been incorporated, and now Point of Grace sees themselves primarily as hosts and visionaries for the event. “Our end goal was always to oversee Girls of Grace from afar the older we got,” Shelley explains. “Not that we
“[Girls feel] alone in this world because we have developed a community that never rejoices with each other’s wins or cries with someone’s losses. They don’t even know how to do that anymore.” can’t still talk to the girls, but we want to keep it current and young … The kids are great to us, but we don’t have the No. 1 song on the radio anymore. That’s just the way it is. We are in more of that mom role now than we are their peer.” “We were the big sister, now we’re the aunt,” Denise says with a laugh. This year’s Girls of Grace event—now compressed into a one-day format to accommodate for busy extra-curricular schedules of many teens—features celebrity fashion stylist Amber Lehman, author and speaker Annie Downs, pastor and speaker Chris Wheeler, fitness and health expert Constance Rhodes, and daughter of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, Trudy Cathy White. In addition to a special set from Point of Grace, the event features performances from artists like Group 1 Crew, Chris August, For King & Country, Meredith Andrews, Jamie Grace and more. The trio encourages attendees from the beginning of the day to find their “beautiful truth”—the nugget said or sung throughout the conference that they can grasp and carry home with them when they leave. “We know our God is a personal God. Our prayer is that God would be so specific in each of their needs and desires and reveal a beautiful truth, that they would walk out, not just changed, but encouraged and confident,” says Leigh. “I think this conference is just another tool to make them shut things down for a little bit, listen, have contact with one another and realize that the same things they’re dealing with, the girl next to them is dealing with, and they’re not walking alone,” Denise adds. “The enemy wants them to be as alone as possible. And for an event like this, for them to be able to have fun, to laugh and enjoy things, but also hear, ‘Hey, I’m not the only one who feels that way,’ I think it’s awesome.”
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In a world of instant gratification, constant accessibility, and endless streams of communication, the ladies of Point of Grace stress that at their conferences, they want to emphasize the importance of tangible relationships— something they feel is a lost art. “I’ve had a chance to get to know some of the girls who are friends with my sons, and their issues, in some ways, are much the same as when we were growing up,” Denise says. “You’re insecure about yourself, the way you look, your friendships. Where do you fit in? Where do you belong? “But the thing they don’t have anymore, or I feel like we really have to work on, is the connection with one another. We’re in this society where they text everything. They never speak. They never have one-on-one contact with one another. They’re going to avoid confrontation.” Denise attests it all goes back to Eden, when God first modeled the intimacy of relationships. “He walked in the garden; He walked with them,” she says. “[Girls feel] alone in this world because we have developed a community that never rejoices with each other’s wins or cries with someone’s losses. They don’t even know how to do that anymore.” The women contend that without real face-to-face relationships, teens will never be able to form the types of unshakable bonds that last though life’s hardest seasons—a
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bond they personally share with one another through years of singing, traveling, and investing in one another’s lives. “There’s something about email that’s incomplete, and something about texting that’s incomplete, because you don’t know what the tone is,” says Shelley. “Face-to-face, that’s really [God’s] intention. He didn’t send a smoke signal, He sent Jesus.” And that, my friends, is the beautiful truth. ✤ For more info on Point of Grace, visit www.pointofgrace.net. For a listing of Girls of Grace cities, dates and ticket info, visit www.girlsofgrace.com. Lindsay Williams is a freelance writer from Nashville, Tenn. She is a former editor of CCM magazine and most recently worked as a marketing manager at Thomas Nelson. She writes for a variety of LifeWay publications, Nashville Lifestyles, Crosswalk.com, WatchGMCTV. com, RelevantMagazine.com, and more. She blogs at TheSoundOpinion.com and frequently writes album bios for some of her favorite artists.
‘The Same As When We Were Growing Up’
Advice for Parenting Teens
Tips for Technology Parameters From Shelley Breen
From Leigh Cappallino
Leigh is a mother to Darby Mae, 10, and 8-month-old Andy. She and her husband, Dana—who serves as the group’s band leader and guitarist—are already preparing themselves for their daughter’s teen years. Leigh says there are three rules she applies to her teenage nieces and nephews and will continue to use as guidelines as Darby and Andy get older: 1. Listen to your kids. “They want you to listen to them— and that doesn’t mean listening to them while you’re doing the dishes, unloading the dishwasher, or making supper. It means stop what you’re doing, and make eye contact.” 2. Ask the hard questions. “Are you having sex? Are you drinking? We giggle about it and make light of it, but at the same time, we forget our children have opinions. Their opinions do matter. They want to talk to us, we just are afraid… I preach to myself, we’ve got to be stronger in our convictions and in our discipline.” 3. Ask the hard questions again, because the first time you ask, they’re going to see what your response is, and they may have not told the whole truth.
“It’s important to draw boundaries for your kids, and it’s hard. If your kid sees you on your phone all the time, then that’s what they’re going to do,” she says. “If you don’t have technology-free moments, connected-conversational moments, then when it’s time for a confrontation it’s going to be the last thing you want to do because [it doesn’t feel] normal.” She shares these practices, which she and her husband David and daughter Caroline try to implement: 1. Have one conversation at a time. When you’re not fully present, it calls into question the other person’s importance. 2. Have the toughest conversations in person. Emails and texts are only for facts and not for feelings. 3. All family meals should be technology-free.
Suggestions for Raising Healthy Boys From Denise Jones As a mother of teens, Denise prays her boys will find godly wives and in the meantime will honor God with their relationships as they start dating. She and her husband, Stu, have developed an open line of communication with their boys and began a tradition with their oldest, Spence, 15, that Denise says they will soon begin with Price, 13. “Every night, [Spence] has to ask Stu a question when they’re lying in bed at night. It can be, ‘What did you eat today for lunch?’ or it can be the serious things. And we learned really quick that he wanted to ask him some serious questions. He feels safe. He can ask his daddy about things he’s hearing in the locker room.” “I’ve watched my husband and my boys connect in a new way due to those conversations. Kids run these fast-paced lives, and they still need conversation with their parents. They may not act like they want it, but they need it, and they do want it. We have to be the mature ones. We have rules, everybody has rules, but you’ve got to have relationship with the rules.”
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Got a Minute?
By Jason Ellerbrook Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. If only that children’s rhyme were true. Anger often results in wounds that go unseen but never heal. There is something about your words that has a lasting impact on your children. Make sure your words bring healing and not harm. Living in a state of anger will impact your family. A 2012 study from Harvard University found that nearly 1 in 12 teens has an anger disorder. Study leader Ronald Kessler called it “one of the most common mental health disorders in adolescents.” Dad, your emotional state will have a direct impact on your teenager’s emotional state. So how do you break the cycle of anger in your household? Four principles can help you develop the foundation for a relationship that can calm the gusts of anger that arise during life’s storms. 1. Learn. Your teen is changing every day. No longer can you look at your teenager and see him as the cute 2-yearold bouncing on your knee! You have to see him and love
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jason Ellerbrook is the Men’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Men. He is a regular contributor for the Stand Firm devotional for men and Home Life magazine’s “Men of Honor” section. ©©iStock
Speaking Louder Than Words
him for who he is today. Try to find out his taste in clothes, music, and television. Relationships are built on conversation. Ask yourself: “Would I pursue a relationship with this person if he wasn’t my child living in my house?” If the only thing you have in common with your teen is your last name, then you have some work to do. 2. Listen. Your teenager has so much to say. He might just use a few words to say it. Make sure when he is actually engaging you in conversation that you focus on what he is saying and nothing else. Don’t feel like you have to have the answers. In fact, sometimes you are better off having more questions than answers. Allow your mind and soul to soak in what your teen is saying and what he is feeling. Try and put yourself in his shoes. You were a teenager once (probably a long time ago). Understand that he is desperately learning how to communicate and wants to be understood by someone. Be the person that understands him, or at least try. 3. Love. Be the source of unconditional love in your son or daughter’s life. No matter what he does that results in success or failure, let him know that you love him, you are thankful for him, and you are proud of him. Your teen needs to know that you can be her safe place. When she is walking through a valley she needs to know that as long as she has an earthly father, she will never have to walk it alone. 4. Laugh. Have fun with your teen. He needs to see you smile and laugh. He needs to smile and laugh with you. It is important that he sees you at your best with your wife and with him. A successful businessman and author told me he was convicted when his daughter asked him, “Why do you treat your clients better than you treat us?” You need to find your greatest joy in the relationships you have with your family. Someday you will be replaced in the work force, but you are the only husband and dad they will ever have. God gave you a family as a blessing. Treat that blessing as such and enjoy it!
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A Different Angle:
single parent Like Joseph, you can find victory through your challenges as you walk hand-in-hand with God, allowing Him to transform and renew your mind.
By Gayla Grace
“I really hate single parenting. There is no one with whom to discuss the difficult decisions.” My friend’s Facebook status gripped my heart. Knowing she was recently widowed for the second time, I could only envision her struggle. Single parenting brings out negative emotions. Feelings of discontentment, abandonment, anger, sadness, or hopelessness rear their heads frequently. How do you stay above the waves of turbulence? Romans 12:2 instructs us, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” We are either conformed to the world, allowing feelings and circumstances to drive our behavior, or we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. In Genesis 37, we find a great example of a man, Joseph, relying on God’s presence to overcome challenging circumstances that could have easily resulted in negative emotions. When we follow Joseph’s path, it’s obvious he had every right to be resentful. The favorite son of his father,
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Gayla Grace trudged through her single parenting years with two young daughters. She later remarried and is now a mom/stepmom to five children, ages 12-28 and ministers to stepfamilies at her website, stepparentingwithgrace.com. ©©iStock
Do Your Emotions Control You?
Isaac, he was hated by his brothers. They plotted to kill him but instead stripped him of his beautiful coat and threw him into a pit to die. Feeling guilty that “he is our brother, our own flesh” (Gen 37:27), the siblings retrieved him from the pit and sold him into slavery for a meager price. For 13 years Joseph suffered humiliation, suffering, and intense loneliness, though he had done nothing wrong. How easy it would have been to give into feelings of anger, self-pity, and bitterness, confused as to why God allowed such treatment of him. But Joseph met his challenges with courage, determined to seek after God’s calling for his life even when he didn’t understand his circumstances. His absence of grumbling through suffering revealed his unwavering trust in God, relying on His presence to transform his mind. And after years of adversity, God rewarded Joseph for his faithful walk. Genesis 39:2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master.” Perhaps you struggle with feelings of anger, bitterness, or sadness as you walk a dark and lonely path as a single parent. It’s easy to let your feelings dictate your behavior. But, like Joseph, you can find victory through your challenges as you walk hand-in-hand with God, allowing Him to transform and renew your mind. Proverbs 23:7 (KJV) says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Negative thoughts create negative feelings, but we don’t have to get stuck there. We can replace wrong thoughts with right thoughts. We can create positive selftalk. We can change “I can’t” to “I can.” But it takes an intentional choice to live as a victor instead of a victim, giving up self-pity and self-absorption, and replacing it with a mind, transformed and renewed.
A Different Angle:
blended family Creating a safe place for our children and step-children and spouses to show healthy emotions is key to the success of our families. We shouldn’t fear each others emotions, but rather show each other the Truth.
deceitful hearts By Dedra Herod
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” —Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)
Painful but true. Feelings and emotions run rampant during the tween/teen years, but they don’t have to rule your homes and hearts. Learning how to manage your home and emotions during these pivotal years takes wisdom that we as human do not possess outside of what God bestows upon us. At least my house never did. Most mornings it was all I could do to cry out to God and ask Him to allow me to get over myself. It was hard to maneuver through all the emotions of blending families, raising teens who had their own hormonal struggles. Then you add in my middle-aged emotions...well, it was not a pretty scene. Trust me. Standing firm on the biblical truth that our hearts are deceitful is a necessity when emotions are flying. We went through a really difficult period, and had to focus on what
our hearts were saying. A really smart and loving woman from our church saw my desperation. We prayed and then spent the entire day writing down how I felt. We wrote down all the lies (emotions) I was believing and then spent the day searching through God’s Word for the Truth. Beside each lie we wrote a Truth. It was exhausting, but amazing. It was hard work, but I was shocked at how many lies my emotions were tied to. I will never forget that day and how that sweet and loving woman poured into our lives. I took that exercise and started to apply it to what was happening in our home, asking questions like, What are you feeling? Is that a Truth or a lie? Is that emotion that you are feeling prideful or biblical? I know it sounds hard to do. It is hard. Relationships are hard. Forever relationships are hard. Giving into fear and lies is easy. Loving well is hard. It reminds me of the Jason Gray song, “Fear Is Easy, Love is Hard.” I love this part in particular: “I’m sorry baby” is what he should’ve said But she wouldn’t listen even if he did They’ll die without forgiveness soon But no one wants to make a move When fear is easy and love is hard Creating a safe place for our children and step-children and spouses to show healthy emotions is key to the success of our families. We shouldn’t fear each others emotions, but rather show each other the Truth. Creating a safe place for all of us to learn how to live to the glory of God is vital to furthering the Gospel here on earth. “Fear Is Easy, Love Is Hard” from the Jason Gray CD A Way To See In The Dark, Written by Jason Gray & Andy Gullahorn, 2011Centricity Music Publishing/Nothing Is Wasted Music/The Gullahorns Music
Dedra Herod is wife to a husband that refuses to be tamed, mom to three college kids that make her laugh, and whose desire is a home where everyone loves to hang out, as long as they clean up after themselves.
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Falling out of Favor
Ever feel like your teen favors the other parent? You may be right...but that doesn’t mean you aren’t needed. By Sissy Goff
Why adolescents act the way they do. Why your daughter is embarrassed by almost every word that comes out of her father’s mouth. Why your son grows more moody with every inch of his growing body. Why she cries at the drop of the hat and then blames you. Why he treats you like the servant, chauffeur, and laundry service, all rolled into one. Why adolescents act the way they do. As a counselor who has worked with and watched these angst-ridden adolescents for 20 years, I could give you several reasons teenagers act the way they do.
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Hormones are flooding their brains and bodies in ways that wreak havoc on them physically and emotionally. Their brains are literally short-circuiting, which affects important issues such as their memory and self-confidence. It is literally like a war is being waged inside of them. And, more often than not, their emotions are the biggest casualty. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that, as their parents, your emotions are often the biggest casualty. Michael Gurian, a renowned psychologist and author, refers to adolescence as the most frightening episode of life a girl or boy will experience. It is also the most frightening episode of life you as their parent will experience. Their emotions are running amok. At the same time, they live in a pressure cooker any given day. There is tremendous stress to make and keep friends, perform well
in school, attract the attention of the cute boy (or girl) across the room, play basketball well, paint the perfect portrait, memorize every line, and score a goal in every game. It is hard to be a teen—much harder than we give them credit for. And all of this pressure is going on in a brain that’s malfunctioning, a body that’s changing at lightning speed, and emotions that are constantly (and dramatically) in flux. The pressure cooker called school (or youth group, or the soccer team, or basically anywhere they are exposed to other kids their age) doesn’t allow for the high degree of flux they’re feeling. While internally they’re probably the worst versions of themselves they’ll ever be, they’re externally having to act like the best. They have to be “cool” and “popular.” They have to—or believe they have to—look and act a certain way to be accepted. ©©iStock
“Three things amaze me, no, four things I’ll never understand—how an eagle flies so high in the sky ... how a ship navigates the ocean, why adolescents act the way they do.” —Proverbs 30:18-19, The Message
The only place they don’t feel that kind of pressure is at home. They know you love them. They know you will accept them no matter what. And so you, dear parents, get the dregs. You’re their safest place. And, often, one parent becomes safer to some degree than the other. Maybe you’re a single parent with an ex-spouse who is the proverbial buddy parent, always entertaining and never really parenting them. You feel like the bad guy. Or, maybe you’re married to a parent who seems to do no wrong in the eyes of your teenager. Years ago, a girl I was counseling was arguing with her mom all the time. “It’s as if I can’t do anything right,” the mother said. “She yells at me constantly. When she’s not yelling, she’s ignoring me. If I fix chicken for dinner, she wants fish. If I buy her a sweater in her favorite color, her favorite color changed last month and I didn’t notice.” The daughter, behind closed doors, said something different entirely. “I know that if I pushed my dad hard enough, he’d give up on me. I don’t really think he thinks I’m worth it. But, my mom is like my rubber band parent. No matter how hard I push, she always comes back. She’s the parent I feel safest with.” And that is precisely why her mom got the worst of her behavior. She felt safe. She knew that she was loved and there was nothing she could do that could change the love her mom had for her. Sounds an awful lot like Christ, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, our responses don’t often line up with His. In the midst of so much felt rejection, you get hurt and want to pull away. Maybe you even unconsciously start to gravitate toward your younger daughter, who
You’re their safest place. And, often, one parent becomes safer to some degree than the other. still seems to want to spend time with you—to like you—and just feels easier. Or, you watch your son favor your spouse, whom he obviously considers the fun parent. Suddenly his un-understandable adolescence is no longer just affecting you, but affecting your marriage, as well. It’s hard to know how to connect in the midst of so much hurt—hurt that affects you and your family. But they still need us to. He needs you, even in the midst of his adolescent angst. She needs you to connect. He needs you to find ways to enjoy and believe in him. She needs you to continue to press in relationally, just as much as you do with her little sister. One thing I’ve learned over the years in my counseling office is that teenagers need their parents to be bigger than they are. They need you to be stronger. Basically, they need to be able to push you and know that you’ll stand your ground. You may be hurt, but you won’t be crippled by the worst they can throw at you. You will get your feelings hurt. And there are times you can say, “Wow. That was painful.” There will definitely be times you need to say, “That comment just lost you your phone for the weekend.” You can still be stronger and be impacted by your child. But they don’t
need to reduce you to tears every time they say something hurtful. Doing this, being a bigger person and parent, requires a great deal of intentionality. It requires intentionality in your spiritual life and your own emotional life. Our counselors talk about these very ideas in our book, Intentional Parenting (Thomas Nelson, 2013). Spiritually, to be bigger in this way is only possible with a great deal of faith. Pray like crazy that God will give you the strength to be stronger. Stay in God’s Word to remind you of His strength and power in your life, as well as His consistent love. Emotionally, you need outlets other than your children. You need places you can process your hurt by them, away from them. Talk to your spouse, a trusted friend, even a counselor. They can help you feel supported and give you practical tools to counter and give consequences when the emotions get out of hand and start to disrupt your home and marriage. Adolescence is harder than we give teens credit for. But parenting an adolescent is much harder than they give you credit for…until they have adolescents themselves. And then, as we hear so often at parenting seminars, they will come back to you and say, “Mom, I had no idea how difficult I was,” or “I can’t imagine how my dad did it.” But you can. And you will. God is loving and parenting those adolescents right alongside you. And He can give you all of the love and strength and grace that they—and you—need. ✤
Sissy Goff is an author, speaker, and counselor at Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville, Tenn. Her newest book is Intentional Parenting (Thomas Nelson, 2013).
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more like Christ
July 2013 31
s u s e J g n i k t s r A a p e o H St o Your Int ©©Thinkstock
ear e r G .D. By J
y the time I turned 18, I had probably “asked Jesus into my heart” 5,000 times. I gave Jesus his first invitation at age 4, but as I got older, I was never entirely sure that the previous time was sincere enough. I would be convicted of my sins, and would ask Jesus into my heart again. And again. And again. Each time trying to get it right, each time really trying to mean it. I would have a moment when I felt like I got it right and experienced a temporary euphoria. But it would fade quickly and I’d question it all again. And so I’d pray again. I used to think I was alone in my doubts, but whenever I talked about this I would have such a slew of people tell me they had this experience that I concluded this was endemic. I believe that part of the problem comes from the shorthand, clichéd ways we speak of the gospel. The usual evangelical shorthand for the gospel is to “ask Jesus into your heart” or to pray the “sinner’s prayer.” Shorthand is fine insofar as everyone knows what the shorthand refers to. But in our day “the sinner’s prayer” often becomes a substitute for repentance and belief. I am not trying to say that the sinner’s prayer is wrong in itself. After all, repentance and belief are in themselves a cry to God for mercy. But the sinner’s prayer has become a Protestant ritual that people often go through without considering what the prayer is supposed to embody. God doesn’t give salvation in response to a prayer; repentance and faith are the instruments that lay hold of salvation. You can express repentance and faith in a prayer, but it is possible to repent and believe without a formal prayer. On the other hand, it is possible to pray a sinner’s prayer without repenting and believing. I am concerned for a lot of people in the church today who are falsely assured of their salvation on the basis of a prayer they prayed that someone told them would punch their ticket for heaven. The group in Matthew 7 that was turned away from heaven with the terrifying words, “Depart from me; I never knew you,” will all have prayed a prayer. This group must be woken up with the commands to repent and believe. I wrote Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart (B&H 2013), you might say, to comfort the unnecessarily troubled and trouble the unjustifiably comforted.
When and how Should we Lead Our Kids to Trust Jesus? Is There a Danger in Leading Them Toward the Sinner’s Prayer? As a father of four young children, I have often reflected on the best way to lead them to faith. I want their decision to follow Jesus to be significant, but I also don’t want them to go through what I went through, constantly questioning my previous religious experiences. If you present kids with, “Don’t you want to be a good girl and make daddy happy and accept Jesus and not go to a fiery hell?” then of course they’ll say yes. “Praying the prayer” in such a situation may have little do with actual faith in Christ u and have more to do with t yo e ’ n o mak making daddy h, “d t i w happy. l and and
kids d gir Jesus of nt e o n s pre e a go acceptl?” theaying u o b and ry hel s. “Pr ion If y to at want happy a fie say Yea situ ual o daddygo t ey’ll such ith act ore . m h t w t o e in n do rse r” hav happy cou praye little and the have Christ ing daddy ak may h in h m t i t i fa do w to
For that reason, many parents don’t want to push their child to make a decision for Christ. What if we coerce them into praying a prayer they don’t understand, and that keeps them from really dealing with the issues later when they really understand it? Might having them pray the prayer too early on inoculate them from really coming to Jesus later, giving them false assurance that keeps them from dealing with their need to be saved? I understand that fear. At the same time, I know that children are capable of faith. (In fact, Jesus tells adults that for them to be saved they must become like children, not vice versa!) And Jesus says that those of us who make it difficult for little kids to put faith in Him ought to have a millstone tied around our necks and be thrown into the sea (Matt 18:1–6). So I don’t ever want to discourage my kids from faith.
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What a great evidence of the grace of God to be able to say, “For as long as I can remember, I have recognized the lordship of Jesus and believed that he did what he said he did.”
The dilemma is resolved, however, by seeing salvation as a posture toward Christ and not as a ceremony. There is only one posture ever appropriate to Christ: surrendered to His Lordship, and believing that He did what He said He did. From the very beginning of their lives, I want my kids to assume that posture! So I explain to them often what Christ has done and encourage them to pin their hopes of righteousness on His work and not theirs. Whenever they think about their hopes for heaven, I want their minds to go to what Jesus did on Calvary. And when I encourage them to walk in holiness, I want the motivation—from Day One—to be the finished work of Christ on their behalf. It’s like sitting down in a chair. If you’re sitting down now, that is proof that at some point you made the decision to sit down even if you don’t remember the moment. There was a moment you sat down, but the proof is in the present posture, not the past memory. The same is true with my kids and Jesus. Whenever I talk to them about Jesus, I encourage them to assume the posture. Whether they recognize when they are older the exact moment it happened is less important than that they know they are in it.
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To be honest, I would even be fine if my kids ended up not knowing the precise moment they “received Christ.” What a great evidence of the grace of God to be able to say, “For as long as I can remember, I have recognized the lordship of Jesus and believed that he did what he said he did.” The bottom line: It’s never too young to begin trusting in and surrendering to Jesus. At every point in our children’s lives, we should be leading them to adopt a posture of repentance toward Christ and faith in His finished word. What other posture would we ever want them to take? ✤ J.D. Greear is the lead pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and author of Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011) and Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013). He and his beautiful wife Veronica live in Raleigh, N.C. and are raising four ridiculously cute kids: Kharis, Alethia, Ryah, and Adon.
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On Your Knees
Be Patient, be kind By Kevin Garrett
To understand that emotions were given to us by God • We were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) • Jesus experienced anger and sorrow (Mark 3:5) • Jesus expressed joy and love (John 15:11-12)
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To hope in the Lord • Hope even though they cannot see the outcome (Rom. 8:24-25) • Place their hope in God’s Word (Ps. 130:5) • Hope in the name of Jesus (Matt. 12:21) • Hope in the Lord and be strong (Ps. 31:24) To understand that God loves them, as do you • Nothing can separate them from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39) • If humans can love children, how much greater is God’s love? (Matt. 7:9-11) • Jesus laid down His life for them (John 15:13) • God is love (1 John 4:8b) Remember that these years will come to a close and the sanity for which you long will reign again. Now and evermore, God reigns. He is sovereign. This process will produce an adult in the long run. You have been given the glorious responsibility of helping guide your child toward that end. Pray for your teen without ceasing. The investment you make during these years affects not only your child, but how she raises her children, as well. Remember that God is love. Remember that God is faithful. Remember that He loves you and your teenager. Lead the way in exhibiting your faith, hope, and love. ©©iStock
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” —1 Cor. 13:4-5 Emotions can drive parents crazy. It seems that once a child becomes a teenager, she becomes a different creature altogether. While it is hard to walk the tightrope of knowing what to say and how to say it lovingly, you can still pray for your child. In fact, prayer is the first and most important thing you can do. Measure your attitude against what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13. Be patient and kind to your teen through the challenges of raging emotion. God has given you the task of raising your child. This task is an honor and a privilege and a joy. Take courage—with God’s help, both you and your teen will see it through. When you pray, utilize the Scriptures below to guide your thoughts and focus your prayers. Take time to read each Scripture, to study its meaning and to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you peace. Above all, remember to love your child through any situation during these years. Pray for your teenager:
Talking through emotions
Ahh, the annual youth retreat. A time when a dating relationship can develop on a bus ride, be solidified at the youth camp, become rocky by midweek and polarize the group due to a messy breakup before the bus leaves on the return ride home, only to be blissfully reconciled as the bus re-enters your hometown. Emotions. When dealing with sons and daughters, it is important to remember that we are all emotional creatures living in a fallen world, and that you were once a teenager as well. In the tumultuous time of emotional and physical change, small things can be magnified and the responses to those crises can be even more magnified. A teen can even move from one emotion to another in the roller coaster of these years. Love your teenager through these difficult times. When your teen comes into the house and is upset by the way someone treated her, remind her that God created us with emotions. It is perfectly natural to respond to things emotionally, especially when hurt. Jesus expressed joy, sorrow, and even righteous anger at times. Encourage her to understand that having emotions is a natural part of life, and to have faith that times will get better and that she will get through this time. In the event of failure, such as not achieving a goal she set, let her know that there is hope in the Lord. Let her know it is difficult to balance emotions and hope.
Hope in the Lord involves clinging to the realization that, no matter how bad it gets, God loves her and has a plan for her life. As sinful people in a fallen world, faith in God’s love, provision, and deliverance must outweigh the response to a temporary problem or crisis. Help her to develop this long-term view instead of focusing on shortterm problems. Help her learn to put her hope in God. If a breakup or other emotional event occurs in your teen’s life, respond with empathy. Remember how real those emotions felt to you when you were a teenager. No, it’s not the end of the world, but it is serious in the world of teenagers. Pain is pain. Love her through this process. Do your best to alleviate as much of that pain by not trivializing it. In your mind and heart, put yourself in her place and try to understand. Loving your child through the wild ride of teenage emotions can be challenging. Remember that this is temporary, and help your child navigate these waters with love and compassion. Emotions are not bad, but must be understood in relationship to faith, hope, and love.
Kevin Garrett has served in music ministry, collegiate ministry, and student ministry. He currently serves as associate pastor for education and outreach at Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston, Ala.
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Reviews 30 Days to Taming Your Emotions Deborah Smith Pegues Harvest House
Early in her book, 30 Days to Taming Your Emotions, author Deborah Smith Pegues states a pretty powerful word: “When you believe God’s promises, you do not have to tolerate any giant in your life.” Christians, she said, have a number of “giants” that threaten to rob them of true fullness and keep them from experiencing real relationship with God and others. Those giants come in many emotional forms—they are everything from anger to stress, from envy to perfectionism, from pride to hurtful attitudes. 30 Days to Taming Your Emotions does exactly what the title suggests. It provides a lesson—through biblical references, modern-day stories, and practical advice—for 30 separate days on how to recognize and overcome such emotional giants. Perhaps more importantly, Pegues shows how to move positively forward in relationships. “When you walk in emotional security,” she writes, “you look for ways to give people more power by trusting them, caring about them, appreciating them. It will bring greater balance to your life as well as those you are empowering.” While not written specifically to parents of teenagers, 30 Days to Taming Your Emotions provides definite benefits as it deals with emotions often found in the life of a family. When individuals and parents live out their family life with healthy emotions—built around a relationship with Christ— everyone around them benefits. “When we have a relationship with God, we come to understand that He is sufficient to handle any emotional demand placed on us,” Pegues writes.
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Simple Surrender Hayley DiMarco Lifeway Press
In a culture that says surrender is a bad thing, Simple Surrender challenges girls to break free of that mind-set. “When you surrender to God, you give Him responsibility for your life, your hope, and your future,” writes author Hayley DiMarco. “And you realize a beautiful truth: you aren’t the Artist, but the canvas.” A seven-week, magazine-style Bible study, Simple Surrender examines pivotal moments in the lives of six Old Testament women—the Hebrew midwives, Ruth, Rahab, Abigail, and Esther—who had the courage to fully surrender to God and His plan for their lives. Written mainly by best-selling author Hayley DiMarco, the study also features articles, quizzes, and modern-day profiles to help girls explore various aspects of surrender: humility, reverence, love, and redemption, among others. Leaders will find the Simple Surrender Leader Guide and DVD pack helpful if they want to lead a group of teen girls through the Bible study. The leader’s guide contains teaching plans to guide a weekly discussion, while the DVD pack includes video segments featuring Hayley DiMarco designed to start each week’s conversation. Simple Surrender is designed to meet girls where they are— and in a format they know and love—and invite them to live lives that truly matter. “You may never know the difference your life made,” DiMarco writes. “But you can be sure that when you’re surrendered to God, your life is not wasted.” Cheryl Sloan Wray is a freelance writer who lives in Alabama with her husband, Gary. She is the mother of 20-yearold McKenna, 16-year-old Delaney, and 8-year-old Sydney.
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winning over worry Constant anxiety can damage relationships and stunt your faith. But you can win back turf lost to worry, even if it isn’t easy. By Nita Andrews
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scenario in my mind wasn’t real but at the time, it certainly felt real. The sight of the hammer-shaped “escape” tool was all I needed to start down the road of fear. The tool represented an accusation—something like, “You haven’t taught him enough about all the types of dangers he could face in his car!” So, I made up for lost time by becoming a full-time worrier. The hammer, built to break the safety glass of a car, ended up shattering my thought life for weeks. No one could cajole me out of my trance. They could state the obvious, saying, “We live eight hours away from the coast and he doesn’t often drive near lakes.” It didn’t help. I would wake in the morning after hours of rehearsing my fears. My mind couldn’t stop asking, “Would he be able
to break the window in time to escape and catch a life-saving breath?” If you had asked me at the time about this worry, I would have said that it randomly appeared. I also would have said that it seemed natural, reasonable, and even worth the effort, as a sign of caring about my son. Today, after learning about anxiety, I think that a much larger loss was tugging at my sleeve and I was avoiding it with my over-active imagination. I know now that I didn’t want to grieve the fact that my son was moving out. I am grateful I gained an understanding about the cycle of worry. It helped me to see worry as a self-made weapon and to own that I have the power to pick up or lay it down. Worry is aptly called a ©©Getty
It was May and my son was graduating from high school. After the ceremony, he was given several gifts to help him celebrate his accomplishments, including an emergency repair kit for his car. It included a set of socket wrenches, jumper cables, and a tool to break the window if his car ever left the road and landed in water. I remember the horrible feeling only too well. It was the middle of an ordinary afternoon when my mind started racing with images of my son trapped underwater in his car struggling to get out. Soon my heart was aching as I pictured him in a desperate situation to survive. I imagined getting the phone call that every parent dreads. I knew the
“tempest in a teacup.” Even while we state our trust in God, it is easy to nurse a familiar or imagined enemy rather than facing the hardest unknowns about love and loss. So, what exactly is worry? To understand worry, it is helpful to look at anxiety and define the physical reaction that takes place during a time of threat or fear. This autonomic response causes your body to flood with adrenaline and blood. Your limbs get warm and ready to respond. This is protective and helpful. God hard-wired us for such a response and it is a gift. Anxiety is a wise tutor when seconds count. It narrows your survival action. Worry is different. It scatters like buckshot. It is a sustained rehearsal of myriad fears. It activates the same adrenalin that flows in a crisis, but the threat resides only inside the theater of your mind. Worry is emotionally running in place. It has no destination. Not a real one, anyway, because reality and fiction have blurred together. Fortunately, God meets us where we are. When Jesus encountered folks caught in a tangle of worry, He asked a question to underscore the trap of worry. Jesus asked, “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?” (Matthew 6:27, ASV) He also said just two verses earlier, “I tell you, do not worry about your life.” Wow. That’s direct. winning back worry’s turf One of the most comforting things to realize is that God has blessed us with keen minds that help us to be more aware of what’s going on, and we have the ability to make good choices.
1. Get familiar with your “doom loop.” We all have two lenses that reveal our view of the world. One lens tells you that the world is a benevolent place and God is redeeming all things. Counter to that, you can pick up a lens that tells you that a thousand arrows are aimed at you. Listen to your self talk. Is it a “doom loop?” A doom loop, popularized by Dory Hollander’s The Doom Loop System (Viking 1991), is an internalized tape we hear about why things won’t work, can’t work, and are doomed to decline and death. 2. Enlist others to call you out on “making stuff up.” When you are actively making stuff up, tell someone (in person) about the doom you are forecasting. In the last few years my husband and I have said so many times, “You are making stuff up again… you don’t know that for sure.” It is a game changer to step outside a moment and say this. After all, we don’t have all-seeing and ever-present data, but when we feed worry we pretend that we do. Helping each other become more aware of how we’re creating false scenes in our minds is one of the ways we put checks and balances on our irrational worrying. 3. Shield your life in the pattern of Psalm 1. Psalm 1 describes a wise man. He listens to wisdom and walks away from bad advisors: How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!
Worry is different. It scatters like buckshot. It is a sustained rehearsal of myriad fears. It activates the same adrenalin that flows in a crisis but the threat resides only inside the theater of your mind. Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (v. 1-3). Fear-based advisors (or tapes in your head that sound like authoritative truths) can make you physically ill. Commercials on TV play to our “fear” images. There’s an insurance commercial that says, “What you don’t know will hurt you” and another that shows a tree falling on top of a car. They highlight mayhem in ways I never dreamed possible. They trigger more doom, just like the escape tool began to rob me of confidence in my son’s survival. If I am off-balance (as I was at graduation time) and I see an ad that exploits shock or fear to sell a product, I change the channel. That’s not to say insurance is bad, but we all can be aware that the ad agencies are touting the need for their coverage by exaggerating the perils in life.
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Personal Space 4. Find clarity by honor. Forget predicting the unpredictable future while you live outside of Heaven. The only place to find clarity is in building a life of honor. Look for principles that are true about how life works (Psalm 1 calls this the law) and follow those. Meditate on them day and night. The wise person moves from fear to trust by trusting the Lord of the harvest will be present to bring good out of toil. Do honorable work. It’s funny, but fear dries up because you don’t have the luxury of hours spent inventing tragedies. Give your energy to tangible needs. This works wonders to dampen a beehive of nerves.
5. Believe there is a seed of peace. Poet Christian Wiman said “There is a seed of peace in the most savage clamor.” Wiman fought cancer and often had to search within horrible news to detect a seed of peace. You can do this work as well. At some point you may have to say, “This is war! I authored this script. Therefore, I can, with God’s help, write a better one!” You might salvage your thought life—one thought, one hour, and one day at a time, and that’s OK. Believe me, on a future day you will look through the lens of benevolence again.
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Nita Andrews, M.A., is the founder of Creative Lectio, a curriculum for self-expression and contemplation. She leads classes weekly in Listening to the Arts and lives in Tennessee, with her husband, Al, and two teenage sons.
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Sources: “The Doom Loop System,” by Dory Hollander (Viking, 1991); “My Bright Abyss” by Christian Wiman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).
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In it together A parents of teens Bible study.
We are, by design, emotional people. And, like every other aspect of the human condition, sin infects human emotions so that they separate us from God and each other. How can our emotions be transformed in a way that ref lects God, in whose image we were made? This month’s lessons will explore how Christ redeems every bit of us, including our emotions. They will look at how we are handmade my God (Lesson One), separated from God by sin (Lesson Two), transformed through the power of Christ (Lesson Three), and led by the Spirit, so that our emotions bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Included in these Teaching Plans is a Devotional MAP (Meditation, Application, and Prayer) supplement for each teaching point. Use the Scripture from each teaching point with each corresponding MAP suggestion to build your own four-day devotional plan. Meditate on the words of Scripture, Apply them to your daily life, and Pray for yourself and your family as you continue in your daily walk with Christ. David Crim and his wife, Cindy, are the mission coordinators of the Two-Thirds World Network. They live in Manila, Philippines, where he also serves as Senior Teaching Pastor at the International Baptist Church of Manila.
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Getting Started: Display a rug, tapestry, or other woven item. Note that the item was woven by many threads. Ask: What are some of the “threads” God used to create human beings? Read Psalm 139:13-14. Explain that today we will discover that our emotions are threads woven by God into our being.
God created our inward parts. • Ask: What are the steps that we take to create something? How does this compare with God creating life? • Point out the phrase “inward parts” in verse 13. In Hebrew culture, this term denoted the mind, the soul, the seat of desires, affections, and passions. Highlight that our emotions were given by God and contribute to who we are.
God handcrafted us. • Write the words “knit me together” (v. 13) on the board or a large sheet of paper. Ask: What artistry comes to mind when you hear those words? (Weaving.) How do human emotions blend with other threads to make us the woven tapestry we are? • Lead the class to discuss how our emotions can reflect the reality that we are handmade by God.
As creations of God, we were made to bring praise to Him. • Ask: How does the human body inspire awe and wonder? • Ask: How can we praise God with our emotions? Since we are wonderfully and remarkably made, why do we lose control of our emotions for sinful purposes? What needs to happen in people so that their whole person brings praise to God? • Lead members to acknowledge that emotions are a part of our human makeup, created by God. Pray, asking God to reveal how we should submit our emotions for His spiritual transformation.
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MAP: Pray, thanking God for creating everything about you.
MAP: Meditate on the word “knit.” Consider the many threads that a weaver uses to knit a rug or tapestry. Reflect on the many threads that God has used to knit you together as a person (personality, skills, body, mind, talents, etc.).
MAP: Consider how you can Apply your emotions in ways that bring praise to God.
The Point Human emotions are some of the threads that God used to handcraft us.
Personal application I give thanksgiving to God for handcrafting everything about me, including my emotions. I will submit my emotions to God’s will so that I can bring Him praise.
family application We will allow our children to express their emotions, while training them to express them in appropriate ways that bring praise and thanksgiving to God.
Getting Started: Display a cloth that is tattered and threadbare. Lead the class to discuss how the cloth is a metaphor for the impact of sin in our lives. Read Galatians 5:17,19-21. Explain that today we will observe how sin perverts everything good that God made and causes conflict in our lives.
Sin causes internal conflict. • Instruct members to underline or highlight the word “desires” (“lusteth,” KVJ) in verse 17. Ask: What did Paul mean by “the flesh”? What internal conflicts are a result of sin’s distortion of our emotions? • Ask: How does sin cause our emotions to be opposed to God?
Sin causes external conflict. • Highlight Paul’s observation in verse 19 that the flesh (sinful nature) produces fruit (works) that are obvious. Ask: What have you observed of the obvious impact and influence of sin in the world and in your relationships? In the list of obvious works of the flesh in verses 19-20, which are related to the perversion of our God-given emotions? How do these cause external conflict in your life?
Sin causes eternal conflict. • Ask: What do you think Paul meant by the word “practice” in verse 21? Point out that the word refers to intentional and habitual behaviors, and that those who habitually sin against God cannot inherit eternal life (“the kingdom of God”) unless they repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus. • Ask: Why do believers sin against God? Remind believers that we are called to live holy lives.
MAP: Meditate on the genuine desires of your heart. Be honest with yourself and with God. What is the evidence or impact of sin on your desires and emotions?
MAP: Meditate on the phrase “works of the flesh.” As you reflect on the past week, how have the works of the flesh been obvious in your life? How have sinful emotions caused external conflict in your life?
MAP: Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? If you haven’t, pray right now, confessing your sin and need for forgiveness, confessing your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection to redeem you from sin, confessing your repentance of your sin, and confessing your intentions to follow Jesus in faithful obedience.
The Point Sin can cause conflict in every area of our lives, including our emotions.
Personal application I will repent of my sin and submit my life to Jesus so that the works of the flesh do not cause conflict in my life.
family application We will consistently confront and correct emotions driven by the works of the flesh, causing conflict in our family.
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Transformed People Romans 12:1-2
Getting Started: Display a tarnished piece of silver and then clean it with silver polish. Ask: How does polishing the silver illustrate the work of salvation in our lives? Read Romans 12:1-2. Explain that today we will learn that the powerful presence of the Spirit transforms our emotions and everything else in our lives.
Be a living sacrifice. • Explain that the word “present” in verse 1 evokes the memory of the Hebrew priest offering a sacrifice on the temple altar. Ask: What does it mean to daily offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God? • Ask: What does the word “holy” mean? (Explain that the biblical word means “to be distinctively different.”) • What evidence is there that a Christian’s life is different from the rest of the world? What is acceptable to God? What is unacceptable to God? How can a believer’s emotions be presented to God as a holy sacrifice?
Do not be conformed. • Use the illustration of a Jell-O mold, pointing out that when liquid gelatin is placed inside the mold, it takes the shape of the mold when it sets. Ask: What worldly patterns of the world serve as a threat to godly emotions? What are the emotional patterns of the world that we are tempted to follow? • Ask: What are some ways we try to reform ourselves? Point out that we cannot reform ourselves entirely. Call on volunteers to share times they have tried to reform their emotions but fallen short.
Be transformed. • Write the word “transformation” on the board or a large sheet of paper. Call on members to share examples of transformation they have observed in nature. Ask: What does the butterfly teach us about spiritual transformation? • Ask: According to the last part of verse 2, what is the reward for submitting to transforming power of God? Point out that Paul used a word that means “to test or prove.” Ask: In what ways can our emotions test or prove God’s good and pleasing will?
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MAP: Meditate on the various ways you have experienced God’s mercy in your life. Spend time in prayer, thanking God for His mercy in your life.
The Point Only the transforming power of God can shape our emotions to please God.
MAP: How will you apply verse 1 in consecrating your emotions to Christ?
I will daily submit to the Spirit’s transformational power in my mind, freeing me from the world’s emotional patterns and restructuring my emotions as a holy sacrifice of worship to God.
family application MAP: Meditate on these questions: What needs transforming in my life? How does my life reveal the will of God to a watching world? In what ways will I daily submit to God’s transforming power and worship him with all my life?
We will lead our children to please God by giving their entire lives to Him as a sacrifice of worship.
Getting Started: Bring two or more broomsticks to the class. Enlist volunteers to place a broomstick inside one of their pants legs and to walk in a circle around the room. As the volunteers walk, inform the others to notice the difference that the broomsticks make. Read Galatians 5:16,18,2226. Explain that in today’s study, we will discover how the Holy Spirit can change the way we walk.
Walk by the Spirit. • Explain that the word “walk” in verse 16 refers to a person’s behavior; how a person conducts his or her life. Ask: How does a person have the Holy Spirit in his or her life? (Highlight that at salvation, every person receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.) • Explain that while the broomstick made the volunteers limp, the Holy Spirit has a godly impact on our walk. • Ask: How will our conduct, including our emotions, be changed by the presence of the Holy Spirit?
Be led by the Spirit. • Call on volunteers to share their definitions of leadership. Write the following definition of leadership on the board or a large sheet of paper: “Leadership is influence—nothing more, nothing less” (John Maxwell). • Ask: Since the Holy Spirit is a gift from Jesus, how will Jesus’ character influence our behavior, especially our emotions? What emotional attributes will the Holy Spirit lead us to imitate?
Bear the fruit of the Spirit. • Bring a variety of seeds and write the type of each seed on a paper label. Mismatch the seeds and the labels and call on volunteers to try to match each seed with the appropriate label. • Place a placard on the wall on which you have written “the Holy Spirit.” Discuss as a class emotions that do not match the seed of the Holy Spirit. • Read again Galatians 5:22-26. Call on a volunteer to read John 15:4. Ask: What is the only way that a person can bear the fruit of the Spirit in their lives? How can our emotions bear the fruit of the Spirit?
MAP: Pray, submitting to and asking the Holy Spirit to form your walk.
The Point When I walk by the Spirit, His presence influences my emotions so that they bear spiritual fruit.
Personal application MAP: Meditate on the word “influence.” What people or circumstances influence your emotions? What needs to change so that you will be influenced by the Holy Spirit?
MAP: How will you apply the principle of John 15:4 to your life so that your emotions bear the fruit of the Spirit?
Every day I will decide to walk by the Spirit and submit to His influence in every area of my life, including my emotions.
family application We will teach our children what it means to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
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“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” -2 Peter 1:5-7