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Is Your Child’s Heart Clean?

by Joey Link

February 2015

 

Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone,

and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them.

Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’” Mark 7:14

I remember going to the beach with our kids when we visited our families in Southern California. Every summer they played in sandboxes and had fun swimming in pools, but there is nothing like going to the beach and finding both in one place. We have great memories (and pictures) of our kids playing and digging in the sand after going into the ocean. Our kids worked hard to build sandcastles. One of our daughters would bury herself in the sand because she liked the warmth of it. Oh how dirty she got. There was not a part of her untouched by the dirty sand.

It reminds me of Jesus’ teaching in Mark 7:14 where He says, “NOTHING on the outside of man that goes in makes him unclean.” Our kids can roll around in the sand all they want. Carla can look pretty muddy after a day working in the yard. I look like a scarecrow after working in my woodshop on a project, sanding and staining the wood. Jesus said none of this makes you unclean.

Jesus’ disciples (like many Christians today) didn’t get what He was saying. Jesus told them what goes in the mouth from the outside goes into the stomach and gets discarded. Jesus went on to say that what comes out of the heart of man is what makes him unclean and needs to be taken care of.

We know you are committed to making sure your kids get their teeth brushed and their bodies bathed. Have you ever thought about how much time and effort you give to clean up your child’s heart in comparison to how much time and attention you give to cleaning his outward appearance?

Stop your kids from the normal flow of life to wash out their hearts – scrubbing out bad actions, motives, and attitudes. What a blessing it is when they become teachable to you and God once again. Be more concerned about what goes into your children’s heart than what goes into their mouths.

“What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 

All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Mark 7:20-23(NIV)

Are Your Kids Teachable?

Are Your Kids Teachable?

January 2015

by Joey Link

 

I was watching a college bowl football game and a running back made a terrific play and was able to run 60+ yards for a touchdown. They showed a picture of the running back’s dad raising his hands to the sky at first I thought it was a touchdown sign, but his face looked upward toward heaven and I could read on his lips “Thank you Jesus.”

 

Then the announcers said, “This kid’s dad has had a huge influence on his son… what a terrific kid he is.”

 

It’s good when we as parents can influence our kids, but it’s even better when people see and understand the influence we have ON our kids.

 

What kind of influence do you have on your kids? How do you know if your kids are being influenced by you?

 

Our son Michael bought a house a few years back that needed a lot of work done to it. Even though the home we purchased when we moved to Iowa was a fixer upper and he helped me work on it throughout the years, I never saw myself as teaching him how to fix up a house to the degree his needed. As he worked on his house, I praised him for the great job he was doing.

This Christmas, he was home and as we were looking in one particular room of our home, he said to me, “This room is where I learned to do electrical work.” I was stunned. I remember him helping me put outlets in, but I don’t remember “teaching him” how to do electrical work.

 

I learned the principal ‘more is caught than taught’ while taking the parenting class Growing Kids God’s Way. This recent conversation with Michael drove this principle home to me again. I learned how much is taught not through my words, but through my example and how I live my life.

 

Are your kids teachable? For our kids to learn from us, their hearts need to be teachable. This means they are looking to learn, improve or better themselves. How do you get your kids to be teachable? I think it goes back to thinking about others vs. thinking about themselves because the greatest commandment next to loving God with all your heart is to “Love your neighbors as yourself.” (Matthew 22:36-40). When kids are so focused on themselves, pleasing themselves, and wanting others to think about them; when their hearts are saying “me, me, me,” they aren’t thinking about learning how God wants them to live or how to give of themselves to others and as a result their hearts are not teachable.

 

How do parents get their kids to be focused on others first so they can be teachable? By looking for ways they can help others vs. others helping them. Teach them how to support, encourage and build up each other. To do this requires a heart attitude that would rather give than receive.

 

As you are out, teach your kids to look for the opportunity to open a door for other people coming behind them. Carla uses a walker full-time. You would be surprised at the number of people that walk around her, tell her to get out of the way and pretty much walk through her before they will open the door for her.

 

SHOW THEM THE WAY – Young children are often eager to help you or their siblings. Instead of getting annoyed at their interference, find a way for them to “help”. Sharing a toy is another way a young child can show he is thinking of others first.

 

When your kids are 7-12 yrs. old, one day a week can be “Other’s 1st” day (not that you don’t encourage them to think of other’s first on other days, but rather put a special emphasis on it this day). Have them write down on a piece of paper one way they will show others they are thinking about them first and put it under your pillow. You can read the notes and encourage your kids when you see them doing their one thing. If you see a child thinking of himself, go to him and ask him what he just did would look like if he was thinking of others first. Then ask him if he is willing to show you he will do it.

 

How do your older kids walk in crowded stores or hallways? This is a simple way to see who they are thinking of. We always wait until last to leave any event or building. Why? So we don’t have to worry about children and young adults running into Carla.

Take the time to watch how they walk in crowds and teach them to make room for others as they walk along. Your kids need to know and use theses magic words when they bump into someone by accident – “please excuse me.”

 

As your kids move into the teen years, are they looking for opportunities to help and encourage their siblings or peers to be the best they can be? Rare is the child who would not want help with school work from an older sibling. When our girls were teens, they had what they called their “Grandmas’ Club.” Since their grandparents lived in other states, they found 4 elderly widows in our church and found ways to this day to love and serve them. It was not unusual for them to invite younger girls to join their outings with these ladies, showing them how to love lonely people.

 

Teachable hearts are those that say, “I can adopt a “Grandma”, or “I can help my sister with her math.” Your children will not mimic how you have shown them to serve others first unless you have shared with them WHY it is important to do so.

 

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind 

let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 

do not merely look out for your own personal interests,

but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

 

What are you doing to influence your kids? Being around them so they can see how you handle what life throws at you is half of it. Parents need to realize their kids are watching them whether the parents are deliberately trying to show them how to demonstrate Godly character or not. Remember, “More is caught from your life than taught from your words!”

The Family Months

The Family Months

by Joey and Carla Link

November 2014

The months of November and December seem to be “family” months. Thanksgiving and Christmas are wonderful times for families to get together, give thanks to God and have fun together. But what is family? While kids enjoy the blessings of family along with the gifts they get and the time out of school, do they really know what “family is?” Do your kids see the way you are raising them as “This is our family” or “These are my parent’s rules?”
Joshua said in his book to all Israel when his family was being pulled to live by worldly standards that many Israelites were choosing to follow, ” As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) Do your kids know your family standards and why they are so important?

Do your kids understand why only certain kinds of clothes and jewelry are appropriate for your family to wear and others aren’t? How about the words that come out of their mouths – are they words that honor God and fit your families values?

It’s one thing for your kids to fit in with their friends, but it’s another thing for your kids to begin speaking, acting and taking on characteristics of their friends, especially when these characteristics don’t fit your family’s values and beliefs. Some parents simply say, “Don’t act or talk like that!” For a small child that works. But when kids start the elementary school years, they need to know why we as a family don’t do this so they can uphold your family values. And just to be clear, “Because I said so,” doesn’t give kids understanding or build conviction into their hearts.
Are your kids characterized by wanting to be part of your family? If they are, praise them and encourage them when you see it. If they are characterized by different values, ask them questions to find out why they want to wear clothes you don’t approve of and how that pleases God and how that makes your family look to others.

This was brought to my attention once again me a few weeks ago when we were teaching in the Lancaster, PA area and I saw a large Amish family, ages around 5 -25 years wearing their traditional attire. Girls were in long dress with white head coverings, and boys wore black pants, had beards and black hats. I was impressed at how they were passing on to their children what they believe God wanted them to look like and how He wanted them to live out their faith. It was a great example and challenge for us as Christians. Do we teach our children what Godly values are and give them all the reasons they need to live and follow your family’s faith and traditions?

Are You Spiritually Strong?

Are You Spiritually Strong?

by Joey and Carla Link

October 2014

Untitledphoto courtesy of googleimages.com

 

We started talking about what spiritually strong parents don’t do a couple months ago. Did anything on that list hit you where it hurts? If so, have you been working on it? You can find this blog here.

 

When we talk to Christian parents, without fail they tell us they want to raise God-honoring children. Well, you can’t raise God-honoring children unless you are a God-honoring parent, which is another way of saying you need to be a spiritually strong parent to raise spiritually strong kids. So, let’s take a look at one key thing spiritually strong parents often DON’T DO!

 

Spiritually Strong Parents Make Their Kids a Priority Over Activities

Spiritually strong parents show their family they are a priority. We can get so busy we don’t see those who are living in the same house with us. Quite frankly, kids are often in the way of our next “to-do”. Don’t just tell your kids they are important to you. Show them they are!

 

Your kids will want to participate in everything available for their age, but do they need to? It is common for families to have their children running from one activity or sport to the next after school every day of the week. Parents don’t want their kids to miss out on what other kids are doing. What you wind up with are exhausted, cranky kids who do not excel at anything.

 

Ask a young adult if he/she thinks the activities they were involved in as kids advanced them academically or career-wise. We have asked many, and 95% of those have responded they did not. Yes, your child can learn about being part of a team by participating in a sport. Does that mean to learn this lesson your child has to be in soccer, football, swim team, gymnastics, dance and more? In God’s eyes people matter far more than any activity or event you or your child has the opportunity to be a part of, and spiritually strong parents know this. Make time for your kids, no matter what their age.

 

How do you show your kids they are a priority?

Hard Is Not Bad

HARD IS NOT BAD

by Joey & Carla Link
September 2014

Do you ever feel discouraged in your parenting? Do you feel like giving in or backing off from raising your children the way God wants you to because it is just too hard?

 

The next time this happens, perhaps you will think of this story. There was a girl born to a well-to-do family. She was much loved and desired, until she caught an illness when she was 2 yrs old. This illness left her blind and unable to hear. The family hired a woman named Anne to work with her, expecting little in return. They greatly underestimated the determination and spirit of the this woman they hired.

 

She worked tirelessly with this young girl, putting up with her horrible temper tantrums along the way. It took two long years, yet Anne taught her charge to read and write using braille and to communicate with others through signs. Anne wasn’t this girl’s mother, yet she was committed to seeing this young lady succeed, even with the imperfections God allowed her to have.

 

And succeed she did. The reward was great when her student, now a young woman, graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. Anne had spelled every word of every lecture into this girl’s hand during her college years. Can you imagine?!

 

Helen Keller went on to become a prolific author and speaker on behalf of those with disabilities.

 

Your child has imperfections too. You may be raising a strong-willed choleric who is determined to be in control, or a lazy phlegmatic who doesn’t see the need to get anything done in a hurry, or a happy-go-lucky sanguine who is easily distracted and doesn’t get their stuff done without constant reminders from you.(Do you want to know more about temperaments – see the Mom’s Notes presentations, “Understanding Your Child’s Besetting Sin, Parts 1,2,3”)

 

And your child is being raised by imperfect parents. Do you have the determination of Anne Sullivan to train your children in the character they will need to succeed, or are you too busy with other things to give this the time and effort it takes? Anne could have done the bare minimum when working with Helen and that would have been okay with everyone but Anne herself.

 

Bev Linder, author of the book A Never-Give-Up Heart, said in her recent blog post to parents of children of special needs,

 

“Hard is not bad”

 

Hard is not bad, it is just hard. Don’t give up parents and don’t give in. Biblical parenting is hard work. Keep the big picture in mind. God gave you each of your children to train up to love and serve Him with all their hearts. Do you want your kids to succeed in God’s eyes? By God’s grace, be more determined than your children are.