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Are You Raising Pigs? – What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home

What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home

Are You Raising Pigs?

Joey and Carla Link

February 27,  2019
I was serving as a youth and family pastor soon after Carla and I were married. We hosted a day campout with several young families. It was a fun time of hiking, swimming and eating. At dinner time, everyone was to bring their own meat to cook over theopen fire. We sat down to eat by a couple with boys ages 6-9 years. The Dad of these boys had cooked juicy steaks for his family while I (and most all other families) had made hamburgers for Carla and I. One of their boys, eyeing our hamburgers said, “That’s not fair, they get to have hamburgers,” to which Carla and I were thinking, we will gladly trade and enjoy their mouthwatering steaks.
Dad tried hard to explain how much better the steaks were to his boys but he couldn’t sell it to them. They continued to look at us eating our simple hamburgers with envy as we looked at their steaks getting cold on their plates.
In a similar way, all parents think they are trying to help their kids understand something so they will accept it, but if they are not open-minded and teachable, they won’t hear a thing that is said. They will pick out one or two words or minor points to try and question what you are trying to tell them which usually begins an argument. Their goal is always to show you are wrong and they are right so they don’t have to do what you want and say.
This is why Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:6 Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Parents often throw their Godly wisdom at their kids which they trample on by arguing with you, like a dog gnaws on a bone. You are allowing them to trample on your wisdom by allowing the arguments to go on. How do you throw your pearls of wisdom before pigs? When you are trying to teach your kids when they are not listening to you or are not teachable.
We live in Iowa and two things it is known for is pigs and corn. We have been near hog confinements before and they stink, have insects everywhere and are generally gross. Your kids end up trampling on the wisdom you are trying to share like a pig in the muck making them wise in their own eyes. The result is the verbal and mental stink of a hog confinement.
How teachable are your kids?
  • Do they listen to you when you try to share God’s wisdom with them?
  • Are they asking clarifying and comprehension questions to learn how to apply what you are trying to teach them?
  • Do they show you in their actions how they are trying to incorporate what you are teaching them?
OR:
  • Are they looking for ways to discredit what you say to them?
  • Do they throw a personal illustration back at you when you tried to help them understand, using it against you?
  • Do they have a look of disinterest or “I don’t care” on their face when you are trying to give them understanding?
  • Do they give you some sign of agreement then go and do what they want?
Having a teachable mind or spirit to you, as their parents, as well as other mentors, is a key character quality. Without a teachable mind, kids will flounder, working off what seems best to them at the time.
While our kids were growing up they attended the conferences we taught at, and they helped out in various ways while there. I remember one time a man came up to us wanting to offer our son a job just because he could see how teachable he was. The man said “I can make anyone a great deal of money if they are teachable and they let me train them.” He went on and said, “Teens today think they know it all and don’t need someone to teach them. If they would only learn to listen and be teachable, the world would open up to them.”
How teachable are your kids? Is your home full of pigs that won’t listen to what you say? How do you get teachable kids? Stop reminding them, lecturing them, challenging them, and letting them get away with bad behavior and bad attitudes. It always starts with you, the parent.

Belief or Conviction?

What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home

Belief or Conviction?

Joey and Carla Link

February 2019

Many times parents think their kids are convicted about an issue such as being responsible when they really only have a belief (or opinion) about it. Belief is defined as “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists; they can trustsomeone or something.” Conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion.”
How “firmly held” do you think your kids hold to the key values and core beliefs you have taught them? Have they taken ownership of these beliefs or are they opinions that are changeable?
Kids can believe something is right, but friends can change a belief through persuasive argument. I had a young man in my youth group that believed it was wrong to say certain words. His Christian friends would use the words, but he would not because he was convinced that these words his parents had taught him were wrong for him. He chose to live by this verse in Ephesians 4:29, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Did you catch that? Something could be right for others (but in this case they weren’t right for his Christian friends to use), but wrong for him. This is what conviction is, not being swayed by peers or others opinions, instead they are “firmly holding on” to a belief or opinion.
For your child to have conviction he must be convinced in his own heart (not just in his head) what is right and what is wrong and why it is right or wrong, James 4:17 says “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” And in Ephesians 4:27 it says we should not give Satan a foothold by continuing in a sin.  Each time his Christian friends used a foul word for example, Satan was climbing the ladder to their hearts and once he got there he would rule their mouths.
Today there has been so much blurring of the line between what is right for Christians to do and how far they can go before it becomes sin that it could be hard to tell where the lines are, like a baseball batter’s box line after a player blurs out the line when he slides into the base. This challenges those with conviction and often isolates them, and no kid wants to be isolated from his/her peers.
Instead of being concerned with how far can you go before you cross the line, the real question parents need to consider is “What do my kids really believe in, what convictions do my kids hold fast to?” For parents of kids under 10 yrs. of age, you are still in the developing their character stage of training your children. Do you have a plan for training your kids in Biblical character values? If you don’t work on it from preschool on up they will not try to work on it when they are teens.
For instance, does your child believe Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave as a fact, or do they have the conviction of knowing why he died on the cross and what saving them from their sins means? If it is only a fact it is only a belief. If they have taken ownership of that fact then how does that influence and impact their lives? What influence will the power of the cross have on the decisions and choices they make every day in multiple situations that question how they were raised and how they should and will live?
Today many kids growing up in Christian homes are walking away from their faith in the college years because they don’t have the conviction that Jesus really died for their sins, therefore they don’t have a real and personal relationship with Christ which squelches the Holy Spirit’s voice or influence in their lives so much that their opinions, ideas and beliefs are questioned and even challenged by others.
I (Carla) went to a California state university. The first day in a Religious Studies class that was required for General Ed, the professor said, “Who of you are Christians? If you are, stand up.” While I was deciding what to do, others were standing up. I had a choice to make then and there. I stood up. The professor then told us that he would mock us, belittle us and badger us the entire semester until we changed our beliefs and if we didn’t, we would fail the class. Out of the 150 students about 20 stood up and I decided it was enough of a group to give me the strength and courage to see it through. The professor was true to his word, but none of us changed our beliefs.  A visit to the dean by all of the Christians in the class ensured that none of us failed either. I studied why I believed what I did harder than I ever had and it strengthened my faith in unbelievable ways. Not only that, our group of “Stand-up Christians” grew every single week!
The following are ways to help your kids move from ideas, opinions and beliefs to conviction.  
Dialogue about the following:
  1. Ask them what the difference is between belief and conviction. Most teens have never given this any thought. This would be a great family discussion with kids 10 yrs. and up.
  2. Ask them what they believe in and what they have convictions in and why.
  3. Have them make a list of life choices they might change and what they would never change even by persuasive argument from others.For instance, abortion in today’s polls show people’s views, including Christians, have changed on this in the last decade. What do your teens believe about having sex outside of marriage? Do they have convictions as to what is right and wrong in how far they should go in a relationship physically? What would your child do if she got pregnant or he got someone pregnant? What circumstances would they consider abortion to be right in God’s eyes? It is one thing to believe in something from an intellectual point of view. It is quite another to live by that belief and choose to live by it no matter what.
  4. Ask them how much they would be willing to sacrifice for their convictions. Would they take less money or lose a job because people did not like their convictions? We know someone who lost a promotion because when instructed by management to lie about something to the employees under him, he refused.  He told them he wouldn’t lie, and they needed to find another way to let the employees know what was going on. If something bad happened to your teens or someone they loved, would they question their faith or trust in God?
  5. The apostle Peter was convinced Jesus was the Christ, the son of God. He was willing to die for Jesus, and he eventually did. History says he was crucified and wanted to be hung upside down because he did not deserve to die like Jesus did. A good question to ask your teens: How much conviction do you have for how God tells us to live in the Bible?  Will you follow no matter what it costs? Luke 9:23, 26 says,
Then he (Jesus) said to them all:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, 
and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
If anyone is ashamed of me and my words,
the Son of Man (Jesus) will be ashamed of him.”
Christian martyrs and the Christians who were killed for not denying their faith at the hands of ISIS just 4 years ago in February 2015 stood up for their faith knowing it could or would cost them their lives. Do your kids stand up for their beliefs in Christ in their world like these Christians did in theirs? Do you show them how to do it?
Statistics today show that over 80% of kids raised in evangelical Christian homes deny and even leave their faith during the ages of 19-22 years. That should terrify you. If you asked these kids if they believed in God most would say they did. If you asked them if they thought they should live the way the Bible told them to they would tell you the Bible was written for another time, it wasn’t relevant to today’s society or that they did live by it when it was convenient for them to. They may believe in God but they aren’t convicted they need to live His way.
How are you going to be sure your kids have conviction and not just belief in their faith when they leave your home? Next Sunday look at the teens in your church. Picture them in a line in your mind. For every 6 kids only 2 will stand up for Christ in their college years. If you want your kids to be the “2”, you need to take this on, helping them take ownership of their beliefs so they become convictions.
We highly recommend you plan special dates with your kids in the teen years to learn what they believe and to work with them on how they will move their belief to conviction. This will yield you immense joy as you know your teen’s convictions and you build in-depth relationships with them.

Do You Love Me?

What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home

Do You Love Me?

February 14, 2019

Joey & Carla Link

 

It opened on Broadway in 1964, winning 9 Tony awards before its run ended in 1972. In 1971, it was released as a musical comedy-drama movie, winning 3 Oscar awards.  The movie was filled with songs with greatlines that had you humming the song all day long. Here are three of them. Can you guess the movie?
  • “If I were a rich man daidle deedle daidledaidle daidle deedle daidle dumb”
  • “Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. Find me a find, catch me a catch.” 
  • “Do I love you? For twenty-five years, I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”
It’s from the musical/movie “Fiddler on the Roof”. The setting of the story was in 1905 Russia and like most countries at that time, a father pledged his daughter in marriage to a man whether she agreed to it or not. But Tevye, the father in the story had a daughter who wanted to break this tradition and marry a man she loved. In this classic movie comes the question “What is love?”
As a parent when your child gets a crush on someone or wants to begin dating you are concerned, wondering if they know what they are doing. Is it puppy love or is it going to lead them into a dating relationship? Will you approve of this guy or girl? Will he/she be the best person for my child?
These Questions Often Go Through Parents’ Minds:
  • Have I taught my kids what they need to know about love, dating and the ramifications of giving their heart away to the wrong person?
  • Do they really know what love is?
  • Do they even have a definition of love or is it just a warm feeling that they can’t describe or explain? Do they know the difference between love and attraction?
  • Do they have right boundaries for dating so they won’t compromise their purity or other privacy areas that could cause them problems?
  • Could this guy or girl break my child’s heart?
These questions and this process is why we created “Dating, Courting and Choosing A Mate WHAT WORKS?” A 2-part video teaching series and workbook by Joey & Carla Link taught before a live audience of teens and parents. It equips parents to prepare their kids for this normal change in life.
We’ve taken the most common questions we have heard over the years from parents and answered them with a unique plan for each teen to develop what is right for them according to their convictions approved by their parents. This plan can take away a lot of the worry and stress in the whole dating/courting process.
In this email series “What Your Kids Need to Know Before They Leave Home”, we know how to handle the whole dating process is definitely on the list of things to address. They need to develop a philosophy that is biblical that works for them and you. They need to set their emotional and physical boundaries so they don’t get hurt and so they don’t compromise what God intended for them, which could leave them in a bad marriage or a single parent.
In this video series we list the “4 Pings of Attraction”. Each “ping” addresses a level of attraction teens/young adults feel. The more “pings”, the greater the possibility your teen will be drawn into a relationship with this person.
Pings are Attractions. 
►  Ping 1: Physical attraction. A girl thinks a certain guy is cute and her heart goes “ping” when she sees him.
►  Ping 2: Social attraction. He likes spending time with her, enjoying her sense of humor and intelligence.
►  Ping 3: Emotional Attraction.  She feels jealous when this guy pays attention to other girls. She gets possessive of his time.
►  Ping 4:  Spiritual Attraction. He is attracted to a girl’s spiritual maturity, her love for the Lord and how God is the center of her life.
Parents, how are you preparing your teens and young adults for the pings that go off in their head and heart? “Pings” begin in the later elementary years when your daughter’s friends say “He likes you, he likes you! Do you like him?” Valentine’s Day often becomes a starting point for kids to begin thinking about whether they have a crush on someone or not.
“Joey and Carla!
I just went through your teaching on “Dating, Courting & Choosing A Mate, WHAT WORKS”. Your teaching and approach is fantastic!  This is a unique concept; Your Friendship Dating Model is such a logical, well thought out, one of a kind process that deserves attention from all Christ followers.”
-A Blessed Mom 

Testing your Kids

Testing your Kids

Joey and Carla Link

February 2019

When our kids were hitting the middle years, I wanted to continue building our relationships by having some good quality talks over a meal. I chose lunch time, giving them a break from school. For my monthly dates with each of my kids, I have fond memories of eating McDonald’s fries with my son, Arby’s roast beef sandwiches with one of my daughters and Taco Bell with the other daughter.
Last week in this series on “What Parents Need to Make Sure They Teach Their Kids & Teens,” we gave you a list of questionsparents can ask their teens over lunch. This list is a good starting point for parents to think through how their kids are growing spiritually and assimilating their biblical training.
In school, when a teacher wants to know if her students understand the material she has been covering she gives them a test. Have you ever thought about testing your kids on how they are doing at maturing and training their character? How about the subject of their Christian growth? Do you hold them accountable for reading their Bible, having devotions or praying? How often do they talk to their Heavenly Father?  Many adult Christians don’t have these as habits in their lives because they didn’t grow-up doing them. If your kids develop these disciplines while in your home, they will have a better chance doing them on their own when they go to college.
We want to encourage parents to test your kids like Jesus tested his disciples. In John 6, crowds were following Jesus because of the miracles He was doing and they were listening to his teaching. Jesus saw a teaching opportunity with his 12 disciples so he asked them “how can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Jesus knew there were over 5,000 people and there probably wasn’t one place to find enough bread to feed them. In John 6:6, the Bible says, “He (Jesus) said this to test him (Phillip), for he himself knew what he (Jesus) was going to do.”
Giving your kids tests is following the example of Jesus! When you decide to give your kids a test, please remember to do it in a time of non-conflict- meaning, when you are not upset with them and when they are not upset with you. Give them a scenario, asking them like Jesus did what they would do or how they would handle it.
Your goal is not to trap them or trip them up but to help them think to see how they might respond to challenging temptations Satan will throw at them once they are out of your oversight.
If asking questions like this is abnormal for you, we would encourage you to get our book “Taming the Lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think”.  In it you will learn how to ask your kids probing questions to make them think so they can decide what the best thing for them to do would be.
Testing your child is giving him/her a chance to succeed or fail while they are still living under your roof. It reveals to both of you areas that they are weak in and what still needs to be worked on with your support and encouragement. It is teaching them to think outside the box that is the world’s way, dealing with real life scenarios Satan will throw at them that may not seem harmful at the time, but gives them the chance to choose to do it God’s way and to show you and them what is truly in their heart. (Acts 5:29)
In future blogs we look forward to working through additional areas you will want to breathe a sigh of relief about when you are at your teen’s graduation from high school, assured he/she knows how to live their life for Christ.

What Parents Need to be Sure They Teach Their Kids & Teens


What Parents Need to be Sure They Teach Their Kids & Teens

Joey and Carla Link

January 2019

 

 

Someday, your kids will be preparing to move out of your house. About that time, parents start to wonder if they have taught them what their kids need to know to go out and live in this world in a way that is honoring to Jesus Christ.  This is especially true for those parents who have heard of the statistics that show over 75% of kids that grow up in Christian homes walk away from their faith in Jesus in the College years.

This is why this series of Parenting Made Practical’s email blogs will focus on “What Parents Need to be Sure They Teach Their kids”. While it’s not meant to be a final checklist, we hope it will be a starting point for you to develop your own list to start conversations with your middle schoolers and teens and then look for opportunity to test them to be sure what is in their hearts. Knowing the Biblical principles you have taught them all their lives are embedded in their hearts will give you confidence these principles will motivate your kids on how they need to live for Christ.

If you don’t have teens, this series of blogs will be a good starting point to teach your kids 6 yrs. on up the way God wants us to live to show the world His glory. If you start teaching them these principles when they are 8-12 years, when you test them it is probable they will pass with flying colors!

If your kids are teens, we encourage Dads to begin taking your kids out to lunch or breakfast once a month and use items from this list to discuss what your kids believe and what kinds of choices they will make in various areas of their lives that could compromise their belief in God.

Some questions to ask and talk through with your kids/teens:

  • Do they really believe Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior or do they go to church just because the family does? Are they living your faith or have they taken ownership of faith in God for themselves? “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
  • Can they ever doubt God or their faith and still be a Christian? How can they deal with disappointment, trials, suffering, if things don’t turn out the way they planned? Will they blame God for failing them, for not answering their prayers their way? If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5
  • How are they growing as a Christian and what will their plan be to grow spiritually when they leave your home? “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ” 2 Peter 3:18
  • How will they find a good church? What will they look for in a good church?
  • What does “fear the Lord” mean? Do they think that is the way they should live? Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
  • How will they convince themselves to forgive others when they don’t think that person deserves it? Do they know they must forgive no matter what or God won’t forgive them?  “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
  • Jesus said, “if you want to be great, you must become a servant of all.” What do they need to do to live a GREAT life? And he (Jesus) sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’” Mark 9:35
  • What beliefs vs. convictions do they have? Do they believe there is a difference between the two? Do they think the difference would make a difference on how they should live? “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
  • Will they stay true to the family identity you raised them with? If yes, what would they say your family identity is? If no, what would they want to change if they could?
  • How will they treat others? Will they put the needs of others first if they don’t like that person? “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
  • Are they being ruled by “the love of money?” What would stop them from being ruled by money? What would that look like? For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” I Timothy 2:10
  • How are they going to resist the lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh in regards to keeping their bodies pure? “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” I John 2:16
  • How are they going to resist the lust of the eyes when it comes to wanting new video games or clothes and jewelry? Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”  I John 2:15-17   (All Scripture taken from ESV)

We could list a lot more, but this will give you a starting point for some areas parents need to be sure their kids have convictions in, but also ideas for mom’s and dad’s to discuss with their teens how they are doing in their walk with the Lord as they look to leave their home one day.

Some of the best memories I have with my kids is taking the out to lunch to just talk. Sometimes I had an agenda of something I wanted to ask them and sometimes it was a time to just chat and let me hear about their world and offer some insight and wisdom to save them from some normal teen pitfalls.

Next up “How to Test Your Kids”