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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)



Joey and Carla Link

November 6, 2019


In the last 24 hours how many times have you heard your spouse remind one of your kids to do something they already know to do? How many times have you done so? It’s common and normal, but it is a bad habit that is not real helpful in assisting kids togrow in maturity.


Recently I (Joey) had a parent ask us “How can I get my child to be more responsible at getting their chores done? It’s a typical question parents struggle with. I asked this parent how many times she reminded them to do them. She sheepishly admitted she reminded her kids to do them all the time. I asked what motivated their kids to own their chores – just their reminders? When working with another family, Carla asked the mom how many reminders did she have to give until their kids got around to doing their chores? Her response was there wasn’t a set number of times. Carla told her there definitely was. She had been counting all day and with all three of their kids Mom and Dad gave 4 reminders before the kids moved. Why did it take four times? They knew that was when their parents’ tone of voice told them they better get them done now or they would pay the price.


Why would a child want to remember to do something they don’t want to do when their parent will remember for them? Every child wants to do his/her own thing and no child wants to be responsible until they have to be. It is the parents’ role to help their child mature and own their behaviors and responsibilities, and it will be work for both the parent and the child for this to happen.


Parents need to stop reminding and

children need to learn to think and

follow through with responsibilities on their own.


How to get kids to work on responsibilities


  1. Have your kids list all the responsibilities they have.
  2. Ask them to rate between 1-10 (1 is low 10 is high) how well they do them without being reminded.
  3. Ask them to write down why they think they have to be reminded.
  4. Ask them to write down one way they can work on the 2 items on their list that take the most reminders for them to get their chores done. If they can’t come up with anything, let them know you will come up with one.
  5. As parents, be willing to come up with consequences that will help them remember. Be sure and praise them when you see them working on them.


Something to look out for:

When kids start to demonstrate responsibility, they will often expect to have more freedoms. This can catch parents off guard, but it’s a good sign of their growing maturity. They not only take their plate to the sink for example, they will do the dishes without being asked as well.


When a child is taking ownership of more and more of his/her responsibilities, he develops maturity in other areas that a parent may not be fully ready to trust or turn over to him. It is also a good time to give him the freedom to fail. In other words, ask him if you can trust him with that ownership and if he says “yes”, give it to him. Don’t be afraid to take it back if he misuses that freedom.


The best part of all is when as a parent, you start to realize how mature and responsible your child actually can be and this may give you sufficient motivation to bump up your next child to taking ownership of his/her responsibilities!

Sweets & Treats

Sweets & Treats

Joey and Carla Link

October 30, 2019
This is the time of year where kids’ get more sweets and treats than they normally do. The question is, what do they do with this freedom? If they are younger, do they know how to manage their behavior when they get some extra sweets like candy orcupcakes? If they are in the pre-teen/teen years, have they learned how to say no to another piece because their body has had enough?
The first time we took our kids to a high school homecoming parade we were surprised and caught off guard at all the candy that was being thrown from the floats and at all the kids running into the street with grocery bags to fill up. Of course our kids wanted some. We told them they could pick up what was thrown to them but they couldn’t run in the street to get it. For kids to learn the ability of how much is enough when their sweet tooth is craving more is a great opportunity to teach them self-control. A chaperone for one of the floats noticed our kids and she came to them and gave them each a large handful. What a reward for their self-control!
Self-control is a root character trait that shows up in many ways in kids’ lives. When kids are toddlers and preschoolers you are their self-control mechanism by monitoring how much food they can have and how much they need to have of different food groups.
As they grow, parents move from putting food on their kids plates to letting them serve themselves.  This is another training opportunity to watch and see if your kids have the self-control to eat what they don’t like because it’s good for them, or will they skip the vegetables, or take a very small amount so they can have more of the foods they like. I am using food as an example because of the epidemic of overweight children – 13.5 million kids in the United States in 2018. (US Center for Disease Control)
Teaching kid’s self-control is second to obedience training when it comes to training your children to build a solid foundation of core values.
How well are your kids developing self-control? Here are a few questions for parents to evaluate
  • Can they walk in the house vs. running?
  • Do they put their backpacks and coats away when they walk in the house?
  • Do they take their dishes to the kitchen sink after eating?
  • Can they lose at a game and be a good sport about it?
  • Can they speak kindly and nicely to someone who is in a bad mood?
  • Do they pick up their toys when they are done playing with them without you telling them to?
When kids are given the freedom of having or using a cell phone, for the most part they are responsible enough to remember where they put it when they set it down and to keep it charged. Why? They keep track of them because it’s important to them. In the same way, teaching kids the self-control necessary to have consistency in being respectful in their attitude and actions towards others should be a goal in training your kids “in the way they need to go” (Proverbs 22:6).
How well are you doing?
  1. We encourage you as parents to observe your kids in the next few days and make a written list of things and areas your kids do and do not show responsibility, respect and/or self-control in.
  2. Together with your spouse, choose the most irritating one on that list and decide how you are going to work on it, including what correction you would give. Have a talk with each child about the one you want them to work on and ask them (6 yrs. and up) to come up with one way they can work on it that week.
  3. Be prepared to follow through with a related consequence if they don’t work on their self-control in their assigned area. For instance, we had a child that had a favorite shirt, but could never get that shirt or his other dirty clothes in the laundry basket. We took the shirt away until we could see self-control in other areas. Remember, when you take something away they have to earn the right to have it back.
  4. Give some grace when you start. Be willing to remind them for the first few times you see they could have used what they came up with to work on it. Just as it takes us a few mistakes to change a bad habit, the older your child is and the more ingrained the habit, the longer it will take to change it. If you don’t give them a consequence after a few reminders it will never become important enough to them to do it as a habit.
A good Bible verse for them to memorize is I Corinthians 10:31.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Encourage them to write it out and put it somewhere where they can see it throughout their day to remember all that they do is for God’s glory.

 The Halloween Question, Do We Participate or Not?  

 The Halloween Question

 Do We Participate or Not?           

     Joey and Carla Link

       October 23, 2019


When I (Joey) was growing up, my parents felt that participating in Halloween activities was a celebration of the devil, therefore we were not allowed to participate in the many Oct. 31 activities. But as a 3rdborn child, I wasn’t told this, so after school one year when I was about 10, I went to an afterschool party and then my friends and I went trick or treating on the way back to my house.  To say my mom was not happy with me is an understatement! But I didn’t know it was wrong, and I didn’t have all her beliefs.


It’s easy to expect our kids to have our convictions, but they don’t absorb them by osmosis. Convictions must be taught. And please note, teaching is not a one time or one year event. It can take several years for your kids to embrace your conviction about what is right or wrong with Halloween, especially when friends and relatives are pulling them another way.


Christian parents themselves are confronted with this question every year when many don’t have a feeling one way or another or one spouse grew up trick or treating to their hearts content and the other wasn’t allowed to.


Questions to ponder about Halloween to help you with your convictions:

  • Is Halloween a celebration of the devil?
  • If your kids participate in Halloween, will it be teaching them the devil is fun?
  • Can they dress up and go trick or treating just for fun?
  • Many churches have fall festivals and dress up parties, “Trunk or Treat”. If you participate at Halloween time, is this a celebration of Halloween?
  • Carving pumpkins with your kids is a fun activity and lighting them and putting them on your porch is pretty. Did you know the jack-a-lanterns are supposed to be scary faces and are placed near doors in order to ward off evil spirits? How about letting your kids paint happy faces on them instead?


Hopefully this will not disappoint you, but our goal and responsibility is not to set your standards but to help you think through what are right and wrong standards for you and your kids.

The reason we challenge you with the above questions is because as your kids grow into the pre-teen and teen years, you will need to answer these kinds of questions because their friends both Christians and non-believers will be questioning and challenging them as to why they can’t or won’t participate with them.


The bigger questions are:

  • Do your teens understand who the devil is and what it looks like when their generation celebrates him? 2 Corinthians 11:4 says “he masquerades as an angel of light.
  • Do your kids know how to fight the devil (temptation to do wrong)? Jesus did in Matthew 4 and he even had conversations with Satan as He was tempted 3 times over 40 days and nights to do things Satan’s way.


Jesus’ disciple wrote in I Peter 5:8-9,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith...“


Do your kids know how to resist the devil’s temptations?

  • When they are tempted to say something wrong or speak badly to a sibling, can they hold back until they can speak kindly?
  • When they are tempted to speak disrespectfully to you or hit a brother or sister because they don’t like what they did or said, can they control their own actions?
  • When they hear you call their name and they want to choose not to respond and say “Yes Mom/Dad”, can they override their feelings and do what is right?
  • Can they hang around with friends who don’t have the same moral standards as they do and instead of talking like them or acting like them be a model of what’s right to them?


We aren’t sure we understood what October 31st meant to other cultures until we were in Mexico in late October one year. They call it “All Saint’s Eve” and they believe the dead can come alive again. They set up tabernacles to their dead relatives in their yards and in the street. We walked around for a bit and then went back to our hotel for the rest of the day and night due to the sick feeling in our bodies and souls. It gave us an entirely new perspective on that day.


Ultimately the questions about celebrating Halloween must be prayed over and you must be in agreement on what you choose to do. Then you need to lovingly be prepared to answer your kids’ questions by explaining to them why it is either right or wrong for your family.

Romans 14:5 is a good verse to work from when you are considering what to do with October 31st.

“One person considers one day more sacred than another;

another considers every day alike.

Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”



One Final Thought:

We are called to love each other not judge other Christians for

what they choose to do or not to do with October 31st.

Are your Kids Rule Keepers?

Are your Kids Rule Keepers?

Joey and Carla Link

October 16, 2019


While adults know the rules, they don’t always think they need to live by them unless they get caught. Which of us does not slow down, no matter how fast or slow we are going when we see a police car on the side of the road?  We were recently travelingthrough New York City and as we approached a tunnel, there was a sign that said “Don’t cross the line while in the tunnel”. Obviously, that wasn’t good enough, because they had to put up barriers to keep them in their lane.


The same thing happens with our kids. Your parenting signs would say “Don’t ride your bike in the street” or “Pick up your toys before you get a new one out”. But when the parents aren’t looking, their kids do what they want because the most painful consequences they get from their parents are threats they know their parents won’t follow through on, yelling, reminding and lecturing. Certainly not painful enough to stop them from doing exactly what they want when they want.


So how do you get your child to obey your rules?

Most of us don’t like rules. We don’t like being told what to do, when to do it or how to do it. We like to be independent and make our own decisions because we believe that we know what’s best. This holds true for kids as well as adults.


  1. Keep your rules simple. Think of putting it on a sign. That’s how short it should be. They get a toy out whenthey put one away.
  2. Know your reasonfor the rule. Make sure your kids (if they are old enough) understand it or they won’t follow it.
  3. The rule needs to make practical senseto your child. “Don’t ride your bike in the street” isn’t practical to a child who thinks he is old enough to. “Don’t ride your bike in the street because the driver of an oncoming car may not be paying attention and he could hit you,” makes practical sense to a child.
  4. When your child steps out of line, he/she needs a painfulconsequence. The fines the adult drivers going through this tunnel got were obviously not enough to stop the majority of them from changing lanes. If the state impounded a person’s car for a week or month it would make a difference, but of course they can’t because they don’t have any place to put the impounded cars. In the same way, parents can take away their kids freedom’s, but like a car, the freedom they lose needs to be something they want and need to use.
  5. Parents need to obeyrules too!If we had one of our grandchildren in the van when we drove through that tunnel in New York City and they asked what the posts were for, how embarrassing for the adult community at large that the kids would learn they don’t obey the rules. Children are always watching us and not much gets by them.


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says…Don’t be a listener who forgets

but a doer who acts for he will be blessed by his doing.”

James 1:22, 25


“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.”

Proverbs 10:17