Parenting

How can Christian parents and grandparents hope to disciple their children amid the struggles of everyday life? Even more, how can we use these often chaotic moments as golden opportunities to lead them to Jesus?

On today’s episode of the Great Stories podcast, Charles Morris and David Wollen are joined by Christian parents, including David’s wife, Marci, who share their own unique approaches to raising children to know and love Jesus. Later in the episode, Charles Morris goes on to discuss the tender subject of what to do when your child walks away from the faith.

On this episode, you’ll also hear from two members of the Haven Team. Tamara Chamberlain is an author, podcaster, and mother of three children with her husband, Dale. She also serves as Haven’s director of project management. Troy Lamberth is a filmmaker, podcaster, pastor, co-founder of Five Solas Media, and father of three children with his wife, Melissa. He also serves as Haven’s executive producer.


More Resources for Christian Parents


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This post first appeared on The Good Book blog; used with permission.

The following piece is an extract from 5 Things to Pray for Your Kids by Melissa Kruger. In the book Melissa suggests fresh, biblical ideas to help you pray for tots, teens and all ages between. Today we wanted to give you a sneak peek at what the book looks like. This chapter uses psalm 121 to help you pray for God’s care of your child…

Father, I pray that you will help my child by…

1. Encouraging me

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD” (Psalm 121 v 1).

Being a parent is a wonderful gift, but it is also difficult. There’s no owner’s manual to guide us in all the choices we face each day. Praise God that we can turn to him for the help we need! Pray that he will guide your steps and lead you as you parent today.

2. Watching over them

“He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121 v 3-4).

As parents, we are limited. Even with modern technology, we can’t watch our children at every moment (although we certainly try!). Thank God that he is always watching over them, and that he never slumbers or sleeps. Pray that your child will know God is with them, no matter where they go or what they face.

3. Providing refreshment

“ The LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121 v 5-6).

We all need a place of refuge. The world can be difficult and lonely. Pray that when life is hard for your child—when they experience a broken heart, a difficult illness, or a painful consequence—they will turn to the Lord and find comfort in him.

4. Keeping them from harm

“The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life” (Psalm 121 v 7).

While we want to keep our children safe, we know we are often powerless to protect them from skinned knees, harmful gossip, and their own mistakes. Pray that the Lord will use the trials they endure to draw them closer to himself, and that he will keep them from all that he sees is harmful.

5. Protecting their future

“ The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121 v 8).

Our children make choices each day. As they grow, these choices increase in significance. Pray that the Lord would guide your child in the future as they choose what to study, which church to be part of, who to marry, or what job to pursue.

About the Author:

Melissa Kruger is the author of Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know as well as several books for adults. She blogs at Wit’s End, hosted by The Gospel Coalition. Her husband, Mike, is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children.


5 Things to Pray for Your Kids

Our culture says that the most important things for children are education, good health, treats, entertainment, and material things.

Yet as Christians, we know that children’s spiritual health is the most important thing. So we need to pray for them, but where do we start?

This little guide is both deep and easy to use. Melissa Kruger takes us back to the Bible to show us what God’s will for children is, so we can pray in line with it.

She selects 21 key areas of spiritual growth and character development. For each one, there are five short prayer prompts drawn straight from the Bible.

The sound of a child’s little feet pitter-pattering across the linoleum floor can bring so much joy to our hearts. But what about those times when that same sweet sound is accompanied by your child running a marker along the wall while he toddles away from you?

On today’s episode of the Great Stories Podcast, Charles Morris returns to his conversation with author, blogger, mother, and missionary Gloria Furman. Having written books like Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full, Glimpses of Grace, and Missional Motherhood, she has many life-giving words for Christian moms who never quite feel like they have enough time or energy to develop their own spiritual health and well being. It is our prayer that this episode be an encouragement to you and the moms in your life, as you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend.


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Are your kids as brave as Daniel, as wise as Solomon, or as humble as Ruth? The answer is probably no on all counts, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

On today’s episode of the Great Stories podcast, Charles Morris is joined by gospel teacher, parent, and author Jack Klumpenhower. He wrote a helpful Christ-centered book called Show Them Jesus on how to effectively teach the gospel to children in a way they can internalize it and carry their faith into adulthood. He also has some great insight into how adults can preach the gospel to themselves every day.


Going Deeper

  • Read Charles’ favorite quotes from Show Them Jesus here.
  • Get a copy of Show Them Jesus here.
  • Listen to last week’s podcast episode with Jay Stocker on Scripture Lullabies here.
  • Learn more about the Scripture Lullaby albums called Hidden in My Heart here.

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This testimony from Marci Wollen can be found on page 140 of the book Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story, by Charles and Janet Morris, released by Moody Publishers in March 2014.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have children.

As a little girl, I even dreamed of being a teacher so that I could be surrounded by children on a daily basis … that is, until I could have some of my own.

I had no idea the grip that this idolatry of family had on my heart. The Bible talks about children being a gift from God, and I always thought my motives were holy and pure. I longed day in and day out for God to give me the desires of my heart.

The problem was that those desires were not surrendered to God and his authority to do his perfect will in my life. I was missing Jesus.

I wanted to be a mommy more than I wanted anything else in the world. When my husband and I got married, I knew that I wanted children right away and thought my dreams would finally come true.

Little did I know that we would have to wait seven years before the birth of our first daughter. Each day, each month, each year that passed increased my pain, anxiety, and feelings of emptiness.

I felt like something was missing in my life and in my marriage. I truly believed that children would fill all those empty places in my heart.

My ever-wise God needed to remind me that the only thing that will ever truly satisfy me is himself, and that anything I give my worship to is sin. He began the process of extracting that idol from my heart. I’ll never forget the moment I truly surrendered it to him. I was reading my Bible and praying one morning.

My heart was so broken over not being pregnant yet again. I cried out to the Lord in desperation for him to fulfill this insatiable longing. Then I heard the Holy Spirit prompting my heart with this question, “Marci, what if I never give you children? Would you still love me?” I was stopped in my tracks. “Lord, you know my heart,” I said. The Spirit prompted again … “I want you to say it.”

It took me several tries, but little by little, I felt idolatry being uprooted from my heart. Finally, through painful tears, I uttered the words, “Lord, if you never give me children, I will still love you and I will still follow you.”

I have to admit that I felt a hole where that idol had been … but only temporarily.

Christ overwhelmed me in that moment with his comforting presence and I knew that as long as he was with me I could go on. Over time, the desires of my heart began to transform into the desires of his heart. Not my will, but his became my deepest wish.

But I wasn’t done with this idol yet. I was still missing all of Jesus. I thought that once I had completely surrendered, God would give me children. Yet two years after this event, I was still waiting.

A book I was reading challenged me to think about that one prayer request that I’ve prayed over and over. That was easy … I wanted to be a mom. The book pointed out how easily we get consumed by our number-one prayer that we believe God isn’t answering and we end up shifting our focus off all that God is doing.

I immediately stopped reading, pulled out my journal, and began writing down all the ways I saw God working in my life. I was amazed at how long that list was! I realized what an exciting adventure I was on, and I didn’t want to miss out on anything that God was doing in and through me. I thanked him for all the ways he was working in my life and for allowing me to serve him. I became so excited about it that I realized maybe I didn’t even have time for children right now.

Little did I know that at the moment I was composing my list, I was already about two weeks pregnant! But the pregnancy isn’t the happy ending. It isn’t the consummation of my dreams. More and more, Jesus is.

There was a time in my life when I thought that the gospel was just there to save me, and then I moved on. But the truth is, the gospel has been changing my life every day since.
 

A native of Colorado, Marci Wollen first believed in Jesus at age five, studied elementary education at Biola University, and now mothers daily for the glory of God. Marci is married to David Wollen, the executive vice president and COO of Haven Ministries, and mother to Elly and Hannah. You can find her story on page 140 of Missing Jesus by Charles and Janet Morris.

For Christmas, Lindsey M. Roberts, the editor of the All About Jesus blog, wrote about her experience being a single mom while her husband was deployed. Now, for New Year’s, Stephen, a U.S. Army Reserves chaplain, responds with an overview of his experience missing his son’s first year of life. 

Just over a year ago, I was wondering if my wife and unborn child would be alive a year later. I could not have imagined that in 2013, I would be the one missing.

When doctors found a mass on my wife’s ovaries in October of 2012, I remember feeling helpless and asking God why he would take from me my opportunity to fight for my wife and child. I asked him to please take me rather than them.

God spared them. On April 21, 2013, our precious boy was born. But three weeks later, I was on a plane to Afghanistan via Texas as a U.S. Army Reserves chaplain. God had also answered my prayer, and taken me from them in an unexpected way.

As 2014 opens, I cannot deny that I miss my wife and little boy. When I first left my then-three-week-old newborn, he couldn’t do much besides snuggle up on my chest and fall asleep. Later, when he was three months old and and he and my wife visited me in Texas, I could enjoy the early days of his budding smile.

Everything else has been snapshots of his life. I can watch him crawl on FaceTime, catch a few of his firsts in photos on my wife’s baby blog, and steal the occasional glance of his handprint, which I keep near to me in my office.

This past year, by God’s grace, I had my son, but he did not have me.

One of my greatest memories from this deployment, though, was provided by my son. As our family chatted on FaceTime one day, my wife stepped away and I was left alone (virtually) with the little red-headed monster. I called him away from his manifold distractions until he took a deep breath and grinned when he noticed me. All of a sudden, he was charging toward the screen. All faded to a fuzzy red before I was taken around the room in his little baby hand.

As much as I miss my wife and little boy, I do not bemoan my present circumstances. Something about loneliness and separation seems much more natural for this time of year than gathering with family for gifts and New Year’s celebrations.

When Jesus was born, unlike the depictions in paintings, it was not into a warm, festive atmosphere. He was born amidst a mother’s screams and cries, engulfed by the smells of animal waste, and forsaken by men, who left no room for Jesus in their inns or their hearts.

From the day of His birth, Jesus experienced the humiliation and suffering attendant to life in a fallen world, and would carry that humiliation and suffering to the cross, where again, men showed that there was no room in their hearts for Jesus.

So as I celebrated Christmas, and now New Year’s, in the dust-coughed, wind-bitten lands of Afghanistan, I am grateful.

Why? Because there will be a spot on the bed waiting for me alongside my wife when I return home. There will be a seat at the table and a patch of carpet next to my goofy, excitable little redhead.

And there is room in each of our hearts for Jesus, only because He made room for us at the foot of the cross by His grace alone.

No, considering the difficult providence of a year ago, I wouldn’t trade this year—with family far away and Jesus ever near—for anything.

Stephen Roberts is a chaplain for the U.S. Army Reserves and evangelist for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in northern Virginia. A graduate of Westminster Seminary California, Stephen is also an avid runner and on the board of Joy to the World Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization that is helping revitalize poverty-stricken Malawi, Africa. He’s looking forward to coming home in 2014 and spending time with his son.

“The world says the real meaning of Christmas is all sorts of things … shopping, family, big sales on TVs and refrigerators, but we know that it’s Jesus, right? That’s why it’s called Christmas.”
Thus says Clive, an archaeologist, to his brother archaeologist Ian in Phil Vischer’s newest DVDs for kids, Why Do We Call it Christmas?
 

 
Isn’t that so true? How do we explain to kids with our words that Christmas is all about Christ, when what we say with our actions is that it’s everything but? Even if we’re not the ones stressed as we rush to wrap presents, make cookies for Santa, and get the good deals at stores on Black Friday, the rest of our culture certainly is. How do we keep the focus on Jesus, and not on elves or presents?
There are more tools out there to help parents than you might think. We talked to some friends, did some reading, and got some creative ideas. Here are a few of our favorites.

This Christmas will be my son’s first. And even though he’ll only be eight months old, I’m already wondering how we’re going to explain everything to him next year, so I’m doing my research, too. But I know that the best things to do aren’t even things: We need to rest in God’s sovereignty and model a rich relationship in Christ. And then we lean on the body of Christ for prayer and practical wisdom.
What ideas do you have? What have you done to help your kids understand what Christmas is really about?
 
Lindsey M. Roberts spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and two children in Wisconsin.