Family Life


Summer Camp?

Christian camp or conferences for upper elementary and teens can be an affirmation of parental instruction.

When I was a teenager (this is Carol), I was a counselor at a girls’ camp.  It put me in contact with some Christian women who looked at things differently from my mother…especially social issues and food.  I’ll never forget the white bread, peanut butter, jelly, and applesauce centered on each table 24/7!  In addition, some of their applications of scripture made me start thinking scripture our for myself.  I’d never been exposed to their particular slants.

The lesson here is that it is good for teens to hear others’ views.  It helps them sort things out for themselves.  I had been well-grounded in the Bible as the only source of truth.  I had already been urged to think about what I heard from others and evaluate whether it lined up with scripture.  But, I hadn’t had much practice.  I had not heard many adult opinions outside of those of my aunts and uncles and Sunday School teachers.  As a result of this new exposure, I did some thinking for myself.  Thus began a life habit of searching the scriptures when controversies came up.  So camp was a valuable experience.

Don’t rob your own children of exposure to other’s ideas.   Discussions around your table can teach them to reason and think about spiritual and social matters within the boundaries imposed by God.  That is IF you have cultivated a safe haven for all…not a controlled environment where only your ideas are “right.”

They need to hear about “matters indifferent” as well ….where the Bible leaves things open to opinions. It seems to me that a parent’s responsibility is to pose questions and facilitate thoughtful discussions on controversial subjects as a means to teach thinking skills.  This is far different from isolation and shutting teens away so they won’t fly toward sin.

Mind control won’t work; it often causes a strong will to burst the chains that bind them.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t have clear boundaries and show that consequences of one’s choices can hurt.   The Bible certainly draws clear boundaries.  Sexual purity is one.  There is no ifs, ands, or buts about that marital boundary no matter what society may debate.  In contrast, modesty is a different story.  What has to be covered varies with the culture and climate.  I am wearing sandals and shorts today.  My great grandmother would never have done that.  Why is it okay for me and not for her?  A good question to pose to your daughter along with a few more to stimulate thought.  Does she know the definition of modest?  Why should fashion designers set our standards?

Anyway, you get the two points.  Summer camp can be a valuable experience.  Learning to think through their own application of biblical principles produces young adults who are more equipped to stand on their own two feet.

Summer Survival!!

By now many of you are asking, “Can I make it until September 3?”   Here are some ways to help you enjoy the last summer days:

I hope you will reflect some this summer on marriage and the kind of love our Christian marriages are designed to show us.  Do not despair.  No marriage is perfect.  That is why we all need a Savior.

Another summer thought might be to get past the word “election” or God’s “elect” which is so offensive to everyone and, instead, think on the love God has for you… wooing you like a Bridegroom.  Then you will become a “warm-hearted Calvinist” before you know it!  What all these men I’ve researched had in common was to bring to their teaching the love of God that they experienced themselves.  Talking about doctrine without that experience leaves us all cold.  Don”t do that to your grandchildren or children this summer.  You only have a few weeks left.  Or days with them if you are a grandparent.  Don’t waste those moments when the love of God can be communicated through the Word of God.

There is nothing wrong with “election.”  Don’t get me wrong.  It is a biblical concept.  There is no explaining it away.  Ephesians l doesn’t hesitate to use it.  But, wrap it up in the love of God that is so graphically illustrated in the “Song of Solomon.”  Charles Spurgeon once said that children are capable of understanding the most complex of biblical doctrines if explained in their words and at their level.  I have certainly found that to be true.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that formal instruction in the home needs to be kept short and sweet.  Plan for it.  Do it.  I like to introduce it before a meal and then talk about it while passing food around.  Or if that doesn’t work, then I try to grab an opportune moment to make an application.  Sometimes in the most unlikely of times.  Find what works for your family and DO IT.  You have to prepare yourself.  For me, it is at sunrise.  Then it is fresh on my mind for the day.  Just one or two main ideas that are very applicable.

Need some help?  I do.  So I turn to warm-hearted Calvinists.  Roger Ellsworth has written simple and short Bible lessons on just about any book or topic.   His applications stand out,often  and you, if you know your kids, can easily make them fit into what their needs are this summer.  I am using his book on JOSHUA this summer, but he has lots which you can get on Amazon or HERE.
Preparation and formal instruction often must give way to “grabbing the moment.”  There are going to be lots of opportunities to use what you have prepared during a wild summer day with children.  I am hoping my five grandchildren will build a Memorial Stone (Joshua 4) to help us remember that God has been with us in an extra-ordinary way during this year after the death of their grandfather.  I hope that one day one of them will say, “Why are these stones here?”  And I will be able to tell them of the many times this year when I have had only the love of God to rest my head upon at night!

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Don’t forget that all children need to know that God’s great love is a motivator for following and obeying him.  Fear of God must be a part of their understanding the glory of God and how far above them he is in purity and goodness.  I believe parents and grandparents will one day be asked, “Why did you spare the rod so many times with this child and let him go his own way?”  I still believe the slotted spoon is a necessary equipment of even an old grandmother.  I fear the question, “Why did you let him dishonor you over and over again?”  Surely, you know if you read this blog, that the Ten Commandments are a rule for righteous living that is written in stone for every generation.IMG_1742

Mingle all of this with outrageous fun.  I just bought two rough collies.  Shirley is a four year old girl. Gilbert is a wild puppy!  Oh, the fun we are having with them both.

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Their names are from “Anne of Green Gables,” the Canadian classic that makes for good summer reading.  Don’t forget to drop everything and read some fun things too.

And, of course, sing.  Music touches the heart and stirs us to love God more.  Naturally, we want to please the one we love, so God’s love motivates us to respond to others (even smelly, messy, loud children) with patience, kindness, and good deeds.

Have a wonderful rest of summer!