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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

By Joey & Carla Link

December 11, 2019
Have you ever had something like this picture in your parenting? You can see something is clearly notworking but deciphering it makes you have to stop what you are doing and deal with it.
Trees should not have fall leaves with 2 inches of snow on the ground. In the same way, kids should obey their parents and not argue or talk back. They should respect their parents and all adults in positions of authority over them. Do you notice when your kids are not obeying or respecting you or their grandparents?
Think about these situations and how your kids respond to them (age-appropriate)
  • When you go shopping, do your kids move out of the way of other adults, small children, disabled and elderly people when going through a doorway or do they rush to get there first and don’t bother to hold the doors open for them?
  • Do they speak to older people kindly at church, or do they ignore them?
  • Do they speak kindly to other kids when playing or do they have to have their own way, especially when the kids are siblings or younger kids?
  • Do they have an attitude when you ask them to do something?
  • Do they stop saying “Yes Mom” when you call their name? While this may not seem like a big deal, did you give them the freedom to stop saying it?
  • Do they say “please” and “thank you” without being prompted by you?
  • Do they gladly share their things or is generosity a foreign concept to them?
  • Do they treat you like a peer telling you what they are doing or do they ask you for permission first?
  • Are they more focused on themselves or about the needs and wants of others?
  • When playing games or sports do they play their way or go by the rules?
  • Are they experts at controlling others with their roller-coaster emotions?
If your child(ren) is characterized by the things mentioned above, is it so common to you that you don’t notice it anymore? Why not pray and ask God to wave red flags in your face so you will be prompted to deal with these terribly self-focused behaviors and attitudes.
In Isaiah 5:20 in the Living Bible it says,
“They say that what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.”
Is this what you are teaching your kids by NOT dealing with these behaviors?
What can parents do?

Mom and Dad need to have the same standard of what is right and wrong.

  • Do you and your spouse agree on the standards you are raising your kids by?
  • Are your standards Biblical and practical?

Parents must recognize when their kids are being self-focused and disrespectful.

  • Do you see it?
  • Are you open to your spouse or others showing you when your kids are violating your standards? Ask your friends to point a specific behavior out to you when your kids do it.

Parents need to have a plan other than lecturing and reminding when standards are violated.

  • Most parents don’t have a plan on what to do so they react when their kids’ behavior is disrespectful to them and others instead of proactively dealing with it/them.
  • With your spouse, choose 2-3 typical behavior violations and develop a plan for what you will do next time they come up.

Be willing to act no matter what the cost to you or your child’s reputation.

  • Their life-long character is more important than their child/teen friends.
  • Be willing to accept a little embarrassment and deal with your child. In the long run, others will appreciate and respect you for it.
Ultimately a parent’s biggest issue when training your kids to be focused on others before themselves is to be consistent. This is why we wrote the Mom’s Notes presentation “Fighting the Consistency Battle“. We would highly recommend you download the MP3 and PDF and listen to it together, then work through the Notes, making a plan on how to be consistent when working on your child’s behavior which will be reflected in his character.

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Getting Your Kids Back in Line

Joey & Carla Link

December 4, 2019

Does it seem like your kids are telling you what to do vs. you telling them what to do? Do your kids dowhat you tell them to? Do you feel like your kids are running your home instead of you?
Carla and I remember thinking this with our kids. We thought we had things under control but couldn’t seem to get our son to do what he was told to do, much less with a good attitude. What were we missing? Everyone thought our kids were really good kids. Our kids told us they loved us and we went to their games and music events. We had regular family days and had good times together with lots of laughter, but something just didn’t seem right.
We led parenting classes for years using the “Growing Kids God’s Way” parenting curriculum. We were watching it with the class one time and the video was about the funnel. The behaviors that go in the funnel (meaning they are surrounded by boundaries) are the ones your kids aren’t old enough or mature enough to manage themselves or they just won’t manage them appropriately. When your kids are living outside of their funnel, they are taking freedoms they don’t deserve and you didn’t give them the freedom to have. The #1 way to get your kids back in the funnel was to have them ask for permission for everything and anything they wanted.
When was the last time your child asked you for permission to go to a friend’s house vs. tell you they were going? Or they told you they were going outside to ride bikes vs. asking if they could? Or they took the liberty to do something they wanted to do instead of what you told them to do? Give each of your kids a percentage of the times they are characterized by doing these things. It might surprise you.
When your kids ask permission for something they want to do they are acknowledging they are under your authority and are not equal to you. When they are outside the funnel and are taking freedoms they weren’t granted and don’t deserve, they are telling you that you are not in control, they are.
Kids can seem to be responsible but then they “forget” to get their homework done because they were in the middle of a game on their computer and didn’t want to stop playing, or they didn’t get their chores done because they were distracted with what a sibling was watching on their phone. They can make all kinds of excuses, but the truth is they didn’t want to do their homework or their chores so it was easy to find something else they did want to do. Why do you give in to their pitiful excuses? What are you teaching them if you don’t throw the excuses out and deal with their lack of responsibility?  What a difference it would make if they asked for permission to finish their game or watch the show with their sibling!
When you tell your kids they have to ask for permission for everything they want to have or do it will drive you nuts because they will be interrupting you all the time. But stick with it and keep in mind the bigger picture. The difficulty for you will be paying attention to when they do something they didn’t ask for permission for. When our kids were pre-teens and teens, we gave them permission to tattle on each other when they were doing something they didn’t ask for permission for and that took care of this problem!
We encourage you to listen to what your kids are saying when they want to do something. Do they ask for permission or tell you what they want to do?
It’s one thing for a parent to give their child the freedom of responsibility and not having to ask; it’s another for a child to take it.
Taking freedoms = Prideful attitude, not obedient to authority
Parents giving freedoms = Trustworthiness, Responsible
When you, the parent, have given your child freedoms and responsibilities vs. them taking them, you have so much more trust in your child that you don’t have to worry about them abusing that freedom. If they do, back in the funnel they go!

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer

November 27, 2019

God directed King Solomon to build a temple.  When it was completed, through a prayer of thanksgiving to God, King Solomondedicated the temple to Him. It is a great reminder to us all to remember to thank God for all things big and small.
Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said:
“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below-you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.  You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it-as it is today.
Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’  And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!  Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.  May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.  Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple,  then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,  then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come,  and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel-being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple – then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name – for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm -when they come and pray toward this temple,  then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,  then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
When they sin against you-for there is no one who does not sin-and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near;  and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’;  and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name;  then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.  And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy;  for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you.  For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”
When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.  He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:
“Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses.  May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us.  May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors.  And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.  And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.”
1 Kings 8:22-61(NIV)
It is our hope that you have a wonderful day with those you love.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude or Grumbletude?

Gratitude or Grumbletude?

Joey and Carla Link

November 20, 2019
At Thanksgiving we are taught to be thankful for all the blessings God has given us. But before our kids can be thankful, theyneed to appreciate what they have and what they don’t have.
I remember taking the teens of our church on a “Planned Famine” when I was a youth pastor in Southern California. It is a 30 hour program sponsored by World Vision International to help teens learn and care about world hunger. Teens enlist sponsors to financially support them through the long 30 hours they don’t get to eat. The money would be used for world hunger projects.
While they drank juices and soups at meals, there was no food. The liquid kept their blood sugar up but by no means filled their empty stomachs. At the end of the 30 hours, the teens shared what they learned before having dinner together. These kids did not share thankfulness for food, they shared “gratefulness“.
Being thankful is a  

feeling;
being grateful is an action.
If you were to ask most grandparents they would say “kids today enjoy their stuff but aren’t grateful for what they have been given.” The teens in the 30 hour fast learned to be grateful for food.
How can you help your kids be more grateful?
  1. Have them read what the Pilgrims actually lived through as they landed in America. Find a book you can read as a family this month at dinner.
  2. Have them learn what it was like for the pilgrims to cross the ocean without GPS and weather apps. Living with the fear of unknown storms and or running into pirates with no protection, it was a perilous undertaking.
  3. Do they know kids who have a parent who has cancer, or whose dad is out of work? Talk through what hardships they face and how your family can encourage them.
  4. Ask them how they can show they are grateful for things they take for granted-like food, water and a bathroom!
Show them how to do without
  1. Challenge your teen’s to go a week without using their cell phone and they will be grateful for it when they get it back. Take away the computer, video games, movies, TV and all electronics for a week or two and they will begin to be grateful for their entertainment value.
  2. Take a long drive to a place you have never been before and tell your kids they have to figure out how to get there with no GPS or the internet.
At a Teen Camp a few years ago, I took the teens into a room with no windows with all the lights on for the Sunday morning session. I began worship by teaching on the early Christians from Acts and how they had such great fellowship, worship and teaching. I said we are going to have church like they did this morning.
Then I turned off the lights, lit one candle and said there was no power in the days of the early church. I asked them to assume I was not there and asked them to start without me.
  • They asked for song sheets and I said they didn’t have a copy machine, so no song sheets.
  • They tried to sing from memory and they fumbled through the words that they didn’t remember.
  • One started to read from her Bible what she had learned in her Quiet Time earlier that morning but I asked her to put it away because they didn’t have Bibles back then either.
After 20 minutes, we turned the lights back on and started to truly worship. They were very open to the teaching that morning as they worshiped together and built each other up in their faith.
How can you help teach your kids how to be grateful this Thanksgiving for what they have, where they live and the family they are blessed to be in?
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
let us shout joyfully to Him. Psalm 95:2

Are You A Welcoming Family?

Are You A Welcoming Family

Joey & Carla Link

November 13, 2019

You are having your small group from church over for a family picnic and swim in your pool. Children of all ages are coming. Your kids are 5, 8, and 12 yrs. old. You asked your kids to answer the door when people arrived as you are busy in the kitchen and your husband is in the back yard getting things ready. You are really surprised when you hear your 12 year old daughter’s ruderesponse to a greeting from one of the moms in the group.
Do your kids know how to welcome people into your home and into your family’s life? Do you prepare your kids to greet and talk to people at events such as the one above?  Do your kids stop what they are doing when people come to visit you in your home, stand up and go to them and graciously say “hi”, or do they wait for you to call them over and prompt them to greet the guests in your home?
  • Do your kids look people in the eye when they are speaking to them? During Carla’s lengthy hospital stay after the car accident we were in several years ago, our kids were frequent visitors to see her. After a few weeks a doctor stopped me in the hall and told me what a fine son we had and he would go far in the world. When I asked him why he thought that, his response was he appreciated that Michael looked him in the eye when he talked to him. He said few kids his age did that. At the time Michael was a senior in college! Teach your kids to look people in the eye when they are speaking to them and when they are being spoken to.
  • Do they know how to properly shake hands with an adult? When a child puts out his hand to shake an adult’s hand and does so firmly he will get respect from the adult.
  • Have they learned to carry on a conversation with someone older than they are and be genuinely interested in what that person was talking about? We travel with our ministry to families and often stayed in homes of people our kids didn’t know when they were little. We worked with them before our arrival on questions they could ask the adults and how to respond to questions they might be asked. They rarely disappointed us in the way they conversed with others.
All of these are key characteristics for maturing and learning social skills your children will need when they grow up. With today’s communication being done through texting, kids are not getting the valuable social skills they will eventually need to effectively communicate.
In conversations kids and teens are usually either self-focused or others-focused. It’s either all about them or they learn to be interested in the feelings and needs of others. A key concept I (Joey) learned as a youth pastor was, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Either your children learn to care about others or others won’t be interested or care about them.
Do your kids care about others vs. themselves? 
  • Do they care when someone in the family is emotionally or physically hurt?
  • Are they sympathetic to others feelings or is it all about what they think and feel?
  • Are they more interested in getting their own way or do they show interest in what others want to do?
  • Are they more likely to dominate the conversation or be uninterested in what is being talked about and possibly change the topic or get out of the conversation?
The priority God puts on caring about others before yourself:
  • If Rahab hadn’t learned to be hospitable to people, Joshua’s spies would not have had a place of protection (Joshua 2:12-14)
  • God’s punishment for Nabal for refusing to offer hospitality to David’s men was death!(1 Samuel 25:2-39).
  • One of the responsibilities of elders and deacons was to be hospitable (1Timothy 3:2Titus 1:8).
  • Jesus modeled hospitality by feeding a crowd of 5000 eager to hear his teaching! (Matthew 15:32-39).
By sharing what you have, you never know who you are sharing it with. Two men walking on the road to Emmaus invited a stranger to eat with them and found themselves eating with Jesus (Luke 24:13-32).
Peter tells us in (1 Peter 4:8-10) to serve one another in love “without grumbling.”
If your kids don’t have a good attitude about people coming to visit you or them, they have not genuinely learned to love others which is a foundation teaching of Jesus to be able to be used by God to serve others and they will miss a blessing by God.
I will never forget one time when we were on one of our summer ministry trips driving on a highway in TN. This was before cellphones were common. A car was stopped on the side of the road with a lady sitting in the front seat. I passed her then pulled over and backed up to her car to see if we could help. It was apparent that she was disoriented. We drove to the next exit and called the highway patrol, then went on our way.
Later that night I wanted to know if the lady had gotten the help she needed so I called the highway patrol to inquire. They told me she had dementia and had left a care facility and they had officers out looking for her going a different direction from where we found her. Because of our call and concern they located her and got her back to the treatment facility where she needed to be.
I could have had an attitude about the extra time it would take and not stopped or taken the time to get off on an exit and find a place to call for help, but I had learned a long time before that to put others’ needs before my own so I stopped. My kids learned a huge lesson that day as we talked about it and discussed what could have happened to that lady had I not stopped even though I didn’t want to. What do you think that experience taught our kids?
Some discussion questions to talk about with your kids:
  • Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about their siblings compared to themselves
  • Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about their friends compared to their siblings
  • Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about what you think is important for them to do vs. what they want to do
  • Have your kids grade themselves on how well they care about how God wants them to live out their lives vs. how they want to live
  • Have your kids grade each other in these areas as well (you should grade them too but don’t let your kids grade you. How you and your spouse are doing in these areas should be a conversation just between the two of you)
Talking about how they graded themselves and each other should prove to be a lively discussion for your family! Whenever you feel one of your kid(s) is being selfish in the way they think and act, having them grade themselves and comparing those grades with the ones you give them is always a point of reference to get them to think about how to reach out to others.
“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”
1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV)