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12 Ways to Move Your Kids Forward Towards Spiritual Maturity

12 Ways to Move Your Kids Forward

Towards Spiritual Maturity

Joey and Carla Link

April 3, 2019
In school, kids have to take tests to see how well they are learning the material being taught. If they don’t pass the tests, they will be held back instead of advancing to the next grade because they can’t move forward without sufficient knowledge to absorb new material.
Do you periodically evaluate your kids to see how they are maturing and growing spiritually? Peter ended his second letter in the Bible by saying –
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 3:18)
It is one thing for kids to pray and accept Jesus as their personal Savior, becoming “saved”. It’s another thing for them to know what grace is and that it is the grace of God that saved them.
Kids and teens today often have a surface understanding of the Gospel. They will say they are saved because Jesus died for them. But do they truly know what Jesus went through to die for them? Are they really appreciative of the gift Jesus gave us so they have freedom in Christ vs. just having a fire insurance policy to get to heaven?
Every parent has the responsibility to help their children grow up in their faith so that when they leave your home they can live for Christ maturely on their own.
Here are 12 Ways to help you evaluate basic areas of spiritual growth, taking into consideration what is appropriate for the ages of your kids. These are good to think through at least yearly to evaluate their spiritual growth.
  • Do they obey God’s principles of right and wrong??
  • Do they know how to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ? Do they know what Scripture they would share? Do they have these verses memorized? (Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ wrote the “4 Spiritual Laws” for this purpose. It is good to carry this little pamphlet in your wallet to have handy when you need it.
  • Do they know how to disciple someone, teaching Spiritual truths?
  • Do they know how to lead a small group Bible Study?
  • Do they consider the preciousness of others putting their needs first?
  • Do they have a daily quiet time, do they read the Bible and talk to God?
  • Do they know the books of the Bible? Can they find the books of the Bible without the index? Do they have favorite verses in the Bible? What are they? Do they memorize Bible verses?
  • Do they know how to pray conversationally?
  • Are they familiar with other religions and how their teachings contradict Christianity?
  • Does their belief in God show in their words and actions?
  • Do they look forward to going to church each week? Do they listen well to the sermon, taking notes? Do they come up with ways to apply what they learned? Are they blessed when they worship God in song or do they just sing along, looking around thinking about other things?
  • Do they have a servant’s heart?
Please remember – these are goals you are working towards as you disciple your children in the Spiritual truths of God’s Word every day of their lives in your words and actions. Are your kids “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” their focus being on becoming holy rather than focusing on being happy? Are you?

Are Your Kids Mature Yet?

Are Your Kids Mature Yet?

Joey and Carla Link

March 27, 2019
Every parent celebrates “sphincter day”! OK, it may not be a national holiday, but the day your child learns to use their sphincter muscle to go potty in the toilet on their own initiative is a day of triumph for parent and child. It’s a day of celebration because you get to save money on diapers and because it is a huge sign of maturity for a toddler.
Every parent wants their kids to mature as they grow up. But what does “grow up” look like for your child? To be mature is to be fully developed, complete, and “grown up” for a given age. It is a process that requires consistent parental training, but even the best training won’t mature a child past what their age can process and handle.
While every parent wants their child to grow up and be mature, living through it is not always easy. Becoming mature is a constantly moving, changing, developing and evolving process which includes them growing and maturing physically. Some kids mature quicker and some are more delayed.
Letting a child scamper up a climbing wall or swing between the monkey bars when they say they can do it can be a hair-raising call for parents, because they fear the child might fall and get hurt.
It can also be easier to hold a child back from maturing because it’s simply too much work for the parent to guide and even push their child where they need to grow. Sometimes it’s just easier to not have to push and fight a child who doesn’t want to “grow up” in a certain area.
One area Christian parents often overlook helping their kids mature in is their spiritual growth. I (Joey) grew up going to an Awana program at our church. I received the Timothy award one year for memorizing the most verses and growing in my faith. While memorizing the verses was the easy part, I don’t remember my parents or anyone else asking me what the words or terms I was memorizing meant. In reality, they were just that, words I memorized.
Our grandchildren go to an Awana program and we facetime them every Wednesday afternoon to work on the verses they are memorizing and talk with them about what the verses mean.
You take your kids to church but when do you ask them what they learned and how they will apply it? Our kids knew this question would be part of our Sunday lunch table discussion so they paid attention to their teachers and the sermon and were prepared. You can help them memorize books of the Bible, but when do they learn what is in that book and why God chose to include it in the Bible? It wasn’t until I was sitting in Old Testament survey class in the Bible College I attended that I actually felt like I understood the Bible. Oh, how I wish I had greater understanding before that.
Oftentimes Sunday school, Bible studies and youth groups are good at reminding kids how God wants them to live, yet they are often greater at keeping the kids entertained to keep them happy. Oswald Chambers, the author of “My Upmost for His Highest” encourages and challenges Christians to be more concerned with their holiness than their happiness. Are you more concerned with your children’s holiness than their happiness?
How Are You Helping Your Kids Grow Spiritually?
  • Do you help them memorize Bible verses each week?
  • Do you help them understand what the meaning of Bible stories are?
  • Do you ask them what they are learning in church, Sunday school, Bible studies or their own personal study of the Bible?
 Asking them can be one thing, but helping them understand is every parent’s responsibility.
Next week we will give you 12 ways to help you evaluate where your child needs to mature spiritually.

Are Your Kids More Important to You Than Your Spouse?

Are Your Kids More Important to You

Than Your Spouse?

Joey and Carla Link

March 20,  2019

 

Joey and I will be celebrating 41 years of marriage this week. In the early years of our marriage Joey was a youth pastor. We went to the high school’s sports and music events, both of us led Bible Study groups and planned youth outreach activities.
My involvement in all of this came to a screeching halt when we had our first child. I became a stay-at-home mom while Joey still attended all these activities. When he got home he wanted to spend time with his son. Our marriage was paying a price, but our attention was focused on other things.
Things came to a head when Michael was 6 months old. Early on in our marriage before our 1st anniversary, we decided we would go away for a weekend every year on our anniversary. After we had Michael, Joey started talking about where we would go for our anniversary and I told him if we went anywhere Michael would go with us. Joey had other ideas. We drove about 3 hours north to where my father lived and we left Michael with him to go out to dinner. Then we drove to a nice hotel on the beach. I had been kidnapped by my husband! He told me we were going to have a weekend together alone.
We talked a lot and made some good decisions about spending more time together. We had never heard of child-centered parenting but we had been living it in spades.
Why should your marriage relationship be the most important relationship in the family? When you became one in Christ on your wedding day, you made a commitment to love, honor and cherish your spouse for the rest of your life. Your vows didn’t say “except for the years our kids are growing up.” It said for the rest of your life. How are you going to give time to loving, honoring and cherishing your spouse when your kids are more important to you than he/she is?
Here are three ways to be intentional about your marriage.
  1. Love The definition of love says it is a close friendship with affection and physical attraction. To love your spouse, spend time with him/her as friends. I (Carla) have been to and watched on TV more Los Angeles Dodger baseball games than most men do. Joey has certainly been to more ice skating shows than most men would stomach. Show interest in what each other likes to do. Hold hands. Look at each other with a twinkle in your eye.
  2. Honor – To honor someone is to hold them in high esteem and respect. It means you don’t treat the other in rude and disrespectful ways and you view the opinions, wishes and values of your spouse as you would your own.
  3. Cherish – To cherish someone is to treasure them. How do you treasure your spouse? We take good care of the things that are important to us, giving them special care. When was the last time you gave your spouse “special care”?
Spend your marriage loving, honoring and cherishing each other and you will be leaving a legacy for your children that they will treasure and your empty nest years will be golden. If you don’t set this example for your kids, where will they learn it?

Playing the Blame Game

What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home

Playing the Blame Game

Joey and Carla Link

March 2019

Comedians are good at making us laugh. Flip Wilson was a good one and he came up with a classic line in the 1960’s that kids stilluse today in different ways. When Flip Wilson was caught doing something he shouldn’t have been doing and he got the stink eye for it, he always got out of it by saying “the devil made me do it.” Eve was the first to use that phrase in the Garden of Eden when God caught her eating from the forbidden tree. That line didn’t work well for her either but even adults try to make it sound like the real thing.
How well do your kids take responsibility for what they did or should have done versus making excuses for choosing not to do it? It’s human nature to blame someone else. King Saul blamed the prophet Samuel for not showing up on time (I Samuel 13) and God took the kingdom away from Saul as a result.
How many times do your kids blame you for something like being late or not showing up on time when you got caught in traffic or simply delayed? When your kids blame you, they are really challenging you and your authority just like Saul was doing to Samuel. It was God who told Samuel when to go to Saul as a test to see what was in Saul’s heart.
You would think King Saul had learned his lesson by having the kingship torn from him, but just two chapters later (I Samuel 15) God gave Saul the responsibility of going and destroying “All the Amalekites, cattle and possessions“. When Samuel shows up he hears the cattle and sees King Agag is still alive. He asks Saul “What is this I hear?” and King Saul blames his soldiers for not carrying out their duties.
What do your children say when you realize they haven’t done what you asked them to do?
  • “I forgot to do it”
  • “I didn’t see it”
  • “I just couldn’t remember”
  • “Oh, I must have missed that, I will do it now”
Parents rarely realize that when their son didn’t fill the dog’s water dish and said “Oh Mom, I forgot! I’ll do it right now,” that he is lying. He remembered when he came into the kitchen for breakfast. He practically tripped over it to get to the refrigerator. He was hoping you didn’t see it was empty until he was at school and you would fill it yourself.
Rare is the parent who actually catches this or deals with this child for lying. Usually their child only gets off with a warning to watch the water bowl more often. If any of your kids are characterized by saying these phrases, you need to have a serious talk with them (if 6 yrs. and older) about lying and treat it as a sin.
The key really is what instruction did you give your child and what did they do with it? If you are in the process of teaching them how to be responsible, that is one thing, but once you have given them ownership of doing the task, it’s now time to hold the child accountable. Every single time his/her chores or schoolwork isn’t done, he needs to sit in isolation until he is willing to go through the repentance process followed by a correction from you. (We explain this in depth in the Mom’s Notes “Understanding Freedom’s, Pt.1 & Pt. 2)”.) Do you want to see a change in your child? Stop giving reminders and start giving correction.
So, do your kids own up to their responsibilities when they are caught? Or do they play the blame game by lying or blaming their siblings? Most of the time when your kids are playing the blame game, whether it is what they say or how they blame someone else, they are lying.
  • If you find your kids are lying to you in similar ways as above, we suggest you get the Mom’s Notes presentation, “Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire” that helps parents deal with a lying child.
  • If you find your kids are not taking ownership of the tasks and responsibilities you give them, we encourage you to get the Mom’s Notes presentations, “Understanding Freedoms, How to Transfer Ownership to Your Children Pt 1 and Pt 2″.
  • All 43 Mom’s Notes are available on CD/MP3 and Notes/PDF
How well do your kids own their behaviors and responsibilities?These are key character qualities parents need to be sure their kids have before they leave your home. The sooner you begin working on them taking ownership of completing their responsibilities with no blame game in sight, the least likely they will dig it out again in their teen/adult years.
James 4:17 is a great verse for you and your kids to memorize to allow God’s Holy Spirit to help you parent your kids. Have God’s Word remind your kids of the good they ought to do and to know there are consequences for not doing it.

What Kind of Conscience Do Your Kids Have?

What Kind of Conscience Do your Kids Have?

Joey and Carla Link

March 2019

Jiminy Cricket was first seen by children in the film “Pinocchio”. His advice to Pinocchio was to “Always let your conscience be your guide.” His job was to remind Pinocchio when what he was going to do was wrong that it could get him in trouble.
Conscience is defined as “an inner feeling or voice viewed as acting as a guide to the rightness or wrongness of one’s behavior based on one’s moral value system.”
Our conscience is like a stoplight
  1. It gives your kids a green light encouraging them in what they’re doing right
  2. It gives your kids a yellow light warning them when what they are thinking of doing will get them in trouble
  3. It gives your kids a red light telling them to stop what they are doing immediately when they shouldn’t be doing something
What Kind of Conscience Do Your Kids Have?
Do your kids have an active conscience that they listen to or are they more characterized by turning it off or ignoring it? Both will get them in trouble. In I Timothy 4:12 Paul warns about being drawn away by those “whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Being seared means you have lived your life your way instead of God’s way for so long your conscience has become hardened, or no longer cares what is right or wrong.
Does your child have a conscience that can encourage as well as convict them or is it seared?
In 1 Samuel 24 David had the opportunity to take out King Saul who had been chasing him and trying to kill him because Saul was jealous of David’s success and popularity. Like a good mystery movie, Saul goes into a cave to use it as an outhouse while David and his men were hiding in the back of the cave. All of David’s men told him this was his chance to kill his enemy. David snuck up on Saul and cut off a corner of his robe. Saul left the cave completely unaware that David and his men were there. David was “conscience stricken” for what he had done and forbid his men to attack him.
How often are your kids stricken by their conscience when they don’t do what you have instructed them to do? You tell them not to run in the house. What do they do when they are tempted to run? Do they realize when their heart is telling them not to run it means they need to stop? Or do they run anyway, not paying attention to your instruction? If they wipe their heart’s reminder away, they are rewriting on their conscience what they think is right and what they think is wrong.
If your child sees you are watching him, he may stop and walk because his/her conscience is talking to him. You are the visible red light of his conscience.
The next time he wants to run in the house he might hear the still small voice in his head that tells him not to run but the voice is now weaker, and you his parents, his visible red lights, are not around, so he runs. The next time he doesn’t even think about whether he should run in the house or not, he just runs because he has done it so often he has hardened his heart toward listening to your instruction not to do it.
How to Write On Your Kid’s Conscience:
  1. Parents need to instruct their kids in what is right and what is wrong.
  2. Parents need to model the teaching or demonstrate it to the kids to show them what they are expecting. Role playing is a good way to do this.
  3. Parents need to tell their kids if there are exceptions to the instruction, and explain what those acceptable exceptions are and when they could be used.
  4. Parents need to be consistent in giving correction to their kids when they do run after their kids have apologized for doing so.
Parents, we know this is tough when you are busy with other things, but once you give an instruction to your kids such as running in the house is forbidden, you must be paying attention to your kids when they are playing and catch them when they run.
You can also test your child when you call his/her name or ask him to get something for you to see if he runs or walks to you. This is when the question comes, will he be conscience stricken by listening to the voice you have planted in his head that running in the house is wrong, or will he go ahead and run.
If your child makes the right choice and doesn’t run, you need to put another voice in his head praising him for listening to the green light he chose to obey. That is the encouraging word from you telling him what a great job he did for not running in the house. Let him know how proud you are that he chose to do what is right when you knew he really wanted to run. Give them an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert as a reward and to remind him of the blessing for doing the right thing.