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The family challenge
 

The family challenge

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"God has given the family a bigger purpose to embrace. A strong family is one that seeks to bless others, cares for people, and is a place where people can find God

"God has given the family a bigger purpose to embrace. A strong family is one that seeks to bless others, cares for people, and is a place where people can find God
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    The family challenge The family challenge Document Transcript

    • The familyChallengePassing the Faithfrom Your Heart to Theirs By Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN
    • Dear Reader, This book contains five selected chapters froma larger book entitled Disciplemaking at Home:Raising Kids to Follow After God, by Dr. ScottTuransky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN. The fivechapters chosen for this book stand alone andcommunicate a powerful message to parents aboutpassing the faith on to their kids. You don’t have tohave the larger book to gain the benefit from thissmaller one. If you want the complete book, youcan go to biblicalparenting.org to learn more. May God touch your heart and empower you topass the faith from your heart to the hearts of yourchildren. Blessings, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
    • National Center for Biblical Parenting76 Hopatcong Drive, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-4136THE FAMILY CHALLENGEPASSING THE FAITH FROM YOUR HEART TO THEIRS©2012 by National Center for Biblical Parenting.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without writtenpermission, except for brief quotations in books and critical reviews. Forinformation, write National Center for Biblical Parenting,76 Hopatcong Drive, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-4136.First eBook release, 2012First Printing, August 2012Unless otherwise noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEWINTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 InternationalBible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataThe Family ChallengePassing the Faith from Your Heart to TheirsDr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSNISBN 978-1-888685-51-0 (eBook) 1. Child rearing–Religiousaspects–ChristianityISBN 978-1-888685-50-3 (paperback book) 1. Child rearing–Religiousaspects–ChristianityTuransky, Scott, 1957-Miller, Joanne, 1960-Title. The Family ChallengePassing the Faith from Your Heart to TheirsYou may obtain a free eBook of this book by going towww.biblicalparenting.org/thefamilychallenge.aspThe names of people who have come to the National Center for BiblicalParenting for counseling have been changed. Some illustrations combineindividual stories in order to protect confidentiality. Stories of the authors’children have been used by permission.The National Center for Biblical Parenting is a nonprofit corporationcommitted to the communication of sound, biblical parenting principlesthrough teaching, counseling, and publishing written, audio, and videomaterials.To obtain a complete resource list or have Dr. Scott Turansky and JoanneMiller present their material live, you may contact the National Center forBiblical Parenting, 76 Hopatcong Drive, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-4136,(800) 771-8334 or visit the website at: www.biblicalparenting.orgYou may also want to take online parenting courses at Biblical ParentingUniversity. Learn more at www.biblicalparentinguniversity.comAlso, if you haven’t done so already, would you please commit to taking theFamily Challenge at www.414familychallenge.com and see the numbersincrease in your area of the world.You may email us at parent@biblicalparenting.org
    • Table of ContentsChapter 1: Introduction: Imagine the DestinationPart 1: Spiritual Development in ChildrenChapter 2: God Designed the Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 3: God Picked You to be the Leader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 4: Relationship is Foundational . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 5: Scripture + Creativity = Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 6: Practicing Faith Teaches that it’s Real . . . . . . . . . . . . Chapter 7: Family Time Once a Week . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 8: Connecting Children to the Bible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 9: Going it Solo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 10: The Church’s Great Opportunity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 11: Every Family Needs a Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 12: Grandparents Produce a Legacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 13: Good Leaders Prepare for Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 14: Will You Take the Family Challenge? . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2: Moral Development in ChildrenChapter 15: God’s Design of a PersonChapter 16: Building Internal vs. External Motivation in Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 17: Four Promptings of the Conscience . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 18: Building Initiative in Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 19: Leading a Child to Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 20: The Power of Your Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 21: Doing What’s Right: Transferring Responsibility to the Child . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 22: When Kids Sin or Make Mistakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 23: Teaching Children the Value of Integrity . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 24: Building Compassion: Thinking Beyond Oneself . . . .Chapter 25: Putting the Conscience to Work Outside the Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chapter 26: Conclusion: Nurturing Hope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
    • The Family Challenge Why does this book start with chapter 2? See the first page of this book. 2 God Designed the PlanIf parents have an unnoticeable faith, that’s the faith they’re passing on to their kids. 7
    • The Family ChallengeI t’s surprising how similar the believers in Moses’ day, who were getting ready to enter the PromisedLand, are to us in the twenty-first century. Let’s lookat the story. In the book of Deuteronomy, the believers arepreparing to possess the Land of Canaan. Over thelast several years, they’ve learned to trust the Lordin their own lives as they wandered in the wilder-ness. Now, they want to move forward to obey Godand serve him. The book of Deuteronomy is the storyof the rededication of their lives and the instructionsgiven by God of how to go forward with him, bothpersonally and in their families. These believers were headed into a new landwhere a number of evil influences threatened theirspiritual health. Huge temptations loomed for theirchildren. The people who currently lived in the landhad practices that went against God’s values. Howwould they be successful in a world that was so pagan?These people were just like us. They loved God, lovedtheir kids, wanted to serve the Lord, and they wantedto raise families committed to him. They would needto do that, living in a land that had evil influencesand temptations that could rob them of the blessingsof God. It’s interesting to note that in the past forty yearsall of the men of fighting age had died in the wilder- 8
    • The Family Challengeness. That was part of God’s judgment on the peoplefor being unwilling to obey his leadership. It means,then, that likely there were a number of single parentsand blended families among the Israelite nation. Theinstructions given to the people by Moses apply toevery form of family out there, not just to traditionalfamilies. The instructions are for moms, dads, grand-parents, adoptive parents, and anyone caring for kids. As the Old Testament story unfolds, the peoplewill go forward and do great things for God. But manywould also fail. Some children would marry paganwives. Sin was waiting at every turn. What wouldmake these believers successful, living in a world fullof pitfalls on all sides? The answer is found in Moses’instructions to them in Deuteronomy chapter 6. Hestarts by telling the parents what they must do. Verse6 says, “These commandments that I give you todayare to be upon your hearts.” Discipleship in the family starts with the commit-ment of parents to the commands of God. Raisingchildren is the most challenging experience you’llprobably ever have. Your commitment to the Lordwill help you get through the tough times and knowhow to help your child through many challenges oflife. The Bible contains the wisdom that you’ll needto teach your kids how to deal with sibling conflict,how to accept no as an answer, and how to respondwell to correction. God provides tools and methodol- 9
    • The Family Challengeogy, and the more you study God’s Word, the easier itwill be for your children to receive the faith that hasempowered you. The passage continues in verses 7-9 by givingspecific instructions for parents. “Impress them onyour children. Talk about them when you sit at homeand when you walk along the road, when you liedown and when you get up. Tie them as symbols onyour hands and bind them on your foreheads. Writethem on the doorframes of your houses and on yourgates.” You can break down those instructions into threeprinciples: Build Relationship, Share Scripture, andPractice Faith. Those three principles form the basisof the “how to” presented in this book. You Build Relationship by being with your kidswhen they sit at home, are traveling in the van, atbedtimes, and morning times. Building relationshipprovides the vehicle through which values pass fromone generation to the next. But building relationshipwith your kids is not enough. You also need to Share Scripture. God says in thepassage that parents are to impress the commandsof God on their children. Sharing scripture with kidshelps them see that the Bible is relevant, practical,and exciting. The commands of God are the standardby which we live. We are all accountable to God forour lives. 10
    • The Family Challenge Practicing Faith actually shows children how toapply the Scriptures to their lives. They learn in prac-tical ways what it means to demonstrate faith, hope,and love. Actions such as prayer, Bible study, service,compassion, money management, and commitmentto God’s church come out of the commands of God.Children pick up their faith from their parents, what-ever that faith is. Kids learn from their parents how to handleunfairness, manage resources, and think about others.If you’re connected to God and his Word, then kidswill see what it means to serve God in practical ways.Children are learning a biblical worldview as theylive in a home where parents are seeking to serve theLord. No greater gift can equip your children to besuccessful. Later in Deuteronomy 6:20-24, Moses furtherexplains how parents can Build Relationship, ShareScripture, and Practice Faith. He instructs them to tellstories about their own faith and that of others. Hesays, “In the future, when your son asks you, ‘Whatis the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and lawsthe Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him: ‘Wewere slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord broughtus out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyesthe Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—greatand terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his wholehousehold. But he brought us out from there to bring 11
    • The Family Challengeus in and give us the land that he promised on oathto our forefathers. The Lord commanded us to obeyall these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so thatwe might always prosper and be kept alive, as is thecase today.’ ” Children benefit from hearing faith stories fromyour life and from the lives of others. It helps themput their own faith into the context of history. As youtell children how you committed your life to Christand stories about how you made subsequent decisionsto follow him, they see that godliness is personal.Kids benefit from listening to you tell how God hasprovided for you, answered your prayers, and showncare for you personally as well as to your family. Asyou have opportunity, allow your children to hearthe stories of your friends and others who have madecommitments to Jesus Christ. One dad took his fourteen-year-old son to hear abaseball player share his faith story at a men’s eventat church. The boy was struck with the fact that thisman was working out his faith as a sports figure. Theexperience led to some helpful dialogue between thisfather and his son. Our world is rich with stories ofpeople who are demonstrating that their faith is morethan just a church experience. Faith forms the basisfor their lives. Children can learn that now. Theydon’t have to wait until they’re grownups to becomeChristians. They can serve God now in every area of 12
    • The Family Challengetheir lives. Each child has a story too. As you have opportu-nity, ask your child questions about personal faith. Beon the lookout for opportunities for your kids to sharewhat God is teaching them. An answer to prayer ora Bible lesson learned, gives children a testimony ofGod’s grace in their own lives. Pierre was fifteen years old when he was arrestedwith some other boys his age for throwing rocks atcars on the road. His parents were shocked. Theyhad raised him to know better. They were a Christianfamily and couldn’t believe that their son wasinvolved with other kids to do something so foolishand dangerous. The event led to some significantdialogue, a change in friends, and tighter limits ontheir son. A few weeks later, they accompanied theirson to court, but allowed Pierre to face the judgeand the consequence of community service for hisoffense. But here’s an interesting thing that happened tothis family. Mom and Dad had just heard a sermonabout the importance of being intentional about pass-ing the faith on to children. God used the teaching atchurch to help them realize that they hadn’t workedon it enough in their home. Sure, they took their sonto church for years and had him attend youth group,but at home, there wasn’t much talk about spiritualthings. Dad and Mom decided to make a change by 13
    • The Family Challengesharing their faith more spontaneously and openlyand by having at least one Family Time per weekcentered on the Bible. At first, Pierre was resistant, viewing the FamilyTime as part of his punishment, but that quicklychanged. Mom made the time special with a favoritedessert, and Dad looked for ways to communicatebiblical truth through activity and fun. On one occa-sion they talked about Jesus’ warning to the disciplesin Luke 12:1, “Be on your guard against the yeastof the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” They did anexperiment with yeast by putting a packet of yeastmixed with water into a six-inch Ziploc bag with atablespoon of sugar. Within an hour, the bag hadexpanded with carbon dioxide. Pierre thought the experiment was interesting,and it provided an opportunity for he and his parentsto talk about Jesus’ warning to his disciples. Jesuswanted them to be on guard about the influence ofthe Pharisees on their lives. Dad explained that, in thesame way that yeast changes the physical constitu-tion of the solution in the plastic bag, bad influencesin our lives change the constitution of our character. Change began to take place in Pierre’s life overthe next several weeks. Mom described it this way:“Pierre is changing. He seems to be more carefulabout his friends and is making choices that aren’t asself-focused as we’ve seen in the past. He’s thinking 14
    • The Family Challengeabout others and seems to be more sensitive to whatGod is doing around us. I’m sure that going to courtand our firmer discipline has helped, but I would saythat the increased spiritual activity in our family hasalso contributed greatly.” When asked about how things were differentnow in his life than they had been two months prior,Pierre said, “I realized that what I did was stupid. Ishouldn’t have done what the other guys were doing.I just got caught up in the moment.” When asked howhis family is helping him to grow and to be strong, hemade an interesting statement: “I have a great family.My dad and mom are Christians and they’re teachingme how to live like a Christian too.” Pierre has a lot to learn, and so do his parents,but the reality is that they’re all growing in their faithas a family. Dad and Mom are being more transpar-ent about their spiritual lives and regularly look forcreative ways to pass the faith on to their son. Theypray together as a family and talk about what they’relearning in their lives. Their willingness to be vulner-able and help their son understand biblical truths isinfluencing Pierre significantly. It’s not always easy,but they’re determined to help their son understandwhat faith in God looks like in practical terms. As the Deuteronomy believers faced the challengeof conquering the Promised Land, they and theirchildren encountered a number of obstacles. One of 15
    • The Family Challengethose was living in an environment that had ungodlyinfluences all around. Deuteronomy 7 describesthe nations that presently lived in that land. Theirungodliness created temptations that would be hardto withstand. God wanted his people to be successfulin the midst of all of the challenges they would face.That’s why he gave the instructions in Deuteronomy6:6-9 mentioned above. It’s the same today. Whenparents are active in their faith, transparent in theirspiritual growth, and eagerly passing on the faith totheir kids, then those children are better equipped toface the challenges all around them. Your kids are bombarded with worldly influences.How will they think about living their lives as chosenpeople entering a Promised Land full of blessings?Sticking true to God and his instructions will protectthem from the myriad of temptations and pitfalls.It’s great to provide your kids with spiritual activitiesand a good church where they can learn and grow,but nothing can replace the impact of your role asspiritual discipler of your children. It’s powerful. It’sGod’s design. Our goal in this section of the book is to lay out foryou a practical plan to pass the faith on to your kids.We call it the Family Challenge. When you take theFamily Challenge and commit to Build Relationship,Share Scripture, and Practice Faith with at least onestructured time each week, great things will happen 16
    • The Family Challengein you and your kids. And your family itself will growcloser together. The next few chapters will show youhow to make it happen in your family in practicalways. 17
    • The Family Challenge 4 Relationship is Foundational FAMILY is the most influential humanrelationship in people’s lives, whether they want it to be or not! 18
    • The Family ChallengeA s you seek to pass the faith on to your chil- dren, you’ll want to combine the three strate-gies from Deuteronomy 6: Build Relationship, ShareScripture, and Practice Faith. In this chapter, we’lldiscuss the first strategy of building relationship,since that’s the channel through which the other twocomponents become effective. Building relationshipis foundational for passing the faith on to your kids. So what is relationship and how do you buildit? Relationship is more than just living together asa family. Relationship implies a deeper connection.It’s a heart response toward one another that says, “Iknow you, I like you, I enjoy being with you.” Whenparents and children have a strong relationship, theyvalue one another and are open to learn. Building relationship comes naturally for someparents but is more difficult for others. Nonetheless,it’s not optional. Close relationships between parentsand children are the tool to help kids catch theconvictions they’ll need to be the world changers Godintends. So how do you do it? Relationships don’t justhappen, and certainly maintaining close relation-ships takes work. Some parents find connecting withyoung children easy. They curl up on the couch fora special read-aloud or a favorite movie. The sharedexperience leads to gentle hugs and feelings of close- 19
    • The Family Challengeness. Tickling games, fun desserts, cute nicknames,and family outings all bring closeness to families withyoung children. Older children connect in different ways.Conversations about feelings and opinions, playinggames together, and sharing in a hobby or skill, helpparents and teens to connect in heartfelt ways. Hereare a few things to keep in mind when seeking tobuild relationship. 1. Be intentional. If you’re expecting relationshipto grow on its own, you may be disappointed. Takeinitiative to get to know your child’s heart. Try differ-ent things and make mental notes about what worksand what doesn’t. 2. Stay focused. If the goal of an activity is todeepen closeness, then save the instruction givingand correction session for another time. Non-criticallistening breeds closeness. Eye contact and physicaltouch say, “I’m interested in you.” Parents shouldalways be sensitive to the relational component oftheir parenting, but some events and activities canhave the primary goal of developing closeness. In thatcase, you may choose to postpone interaction that maywork against your goal. For the moment, you mayhave to look past the wiggles of a preschooler or themisplaced values of a preteen. You’ll likely come backto some issues later, but in that particular activity,stay focused on relationship as much as you can. Of 20
    • The Family Challengecourse, that’s not always possible. Sometimes parent-ing requires that you give up what you thought mightbe a special relational time because a child needssome form of discipline at the moment. Hopefully,though, there are times when you’re able to focus onbuilding relationship as the goal. 3. Be available. Relationships don’t always growon a schedule. Your elementary age child may openher heart to you just as you’re trying to tuck her inat night. Your teenager may come home from anactivity and be eager to talk. Be on the lookout foropportunities when your child is reaching out to you.It may be subtle or at a “bad” time, but, if possible,stop what you’re doing and give your full attention. 4. Activities help. Working together to accomplisha goal is a great relationship-building tool. Cleaningthe garage, making a new recipe for dinner, or goingon a family trip to the park all have the potential todeepen relationship. Working and playing togetherbuild connection. 5. Develop traditions. Family traditions bringcloseness and develop strong family bonds. Holidaytraditions, vacation traditions, or even Saturday morn-ing breakfast traditions all contribute to relationshipbuilding. 6. Watch your timing and listen. Sometimes olderchildren respond well to being treated like adults. 21
    • The Family ChallengeSometimes they need to relive tender moments inmore playful ways. Building relationship requirescareful observation and sensitivity in order to meetkids where they’re at and connect in ways that touchtheir hearts. Remember, however, that building relationship isnot an end in and of itself. Some parents miss thistruth and end up with a family that’s self-focused. Godhas given the family a bigger purpose to embrace. Astrong family is one that seeks to bless others, caresfor people, and is a place where people can find Godin tangible ways. In short, the family is a place where childrenbecome disciples of Jesus Christ. Next, they learn howto become disciple-makers themselves. Some parentsmiss these essential goals, believing instead that theyare simply trying to raise mature, responsible kids.Yet God designed the family to be a disciple-makingcenter, where children learn what it means to servethe Lord and then reach out and help others see whata life committed to God is all about. That family canbe a strategic vehicle for transforming the world.Children learn how to hold convictions, solve prob-lems, and communicate a biblical worldview in a waythat advances God’s kingdom in the home, neighbor-hood, school, and the world. Biblical principles are taught in the home ineveryday experiences such as handling conflict, 22
    • The Family Challengeworking on chores, and getting ready in the morning.Close relationships between parents and children areimportant because they mimic the kind of love thatGod has for his children. Relationship is foundationaland God uses his relationship with us to help us learnand grow. In the same way, your relationship withyour children is a springboard for helping them catchthe convictions they’ll need to be the world changersGod intends. Relationship is more than just spending timetogether. Relationship involves connecting with achild’s heart. Some parents think that when thefamily jobs are complete, then they can enjoy somemuch-needed rest, but typically additional timesof relationship building are necessary to developstrong family bonds. One very committed mom whohomeschooled her kids said, “I used to think that Iwas earning all the relationship points I needed byhomeschooling my kids each day, but then I realizedthat my children needed more from me. I needed tospend time with them enjoying relationship outsideof school time in order to experience closeness withmy kids.” The essence of parenting is relationship, notparental business. Before parents enter into the busi-ness of parenting, they’re in relationship with theirchildren. Relationship comes before duty. It’s truethat parents must engage in the business of parenting 23
    • The Family Challengeby giving instructions, correcting, and setting limits.Those are very important parts of a parent’s jobdescription. Keep in mind, though, that those thingsoften put pressure on the relationship. Therefore, it’simportant to intentionally work on building relation-ship with each of your children. Since being a parentcan quickly focus on tasks, it’s important that parentsseek ways to connect emotionally even among thejobs of family life. It’s when the relational connected-ness between family members decreases significantlythat tension increases, and a parent’s ability to teachand influence decreases as well. Two parenting strategies help increase the close-ness among family members. Both take time, and theyeach approach the challenge in different ways. Thefirst is initiative, and the second is responsiveness.Both require margin or extra time in the schedule andflexibility in one’s personal agenda. Initiative looks for ways to consider the otherperson’s interests, needs, and desires. What is yourchild’s favorite food, color, friend, or activity? What arethe top three stressors in your teen’s life? What long-ings, hopes, and desires does your child have? Whenyou know the answers to these kinds of questions,then you can initiate in meaningful ways. Childrensee that you care when you take interest in the detailsand passions of their lives. It might be by makingtheir favorite cookies or bringing home an idea from 24
    • The Family Challengework that delights your child. You see your daughter’seyes light up and you know that you’ve touched herheart. You might ask yourself, “What can I do to bringjoy into my child’s life?” It’s not about giving thingsto a child; it’s about knowing your child’s heart anddemonstrating that you care. Because each child is unique and different, it’seasier to connect with some kids than it is withothers. Some children are external processors so youknow everything they’re thinking, providing easyopportunities to identify interests in common andareas to pursue. Internal processors may be more of apuzzle to their parents and might need different waysto experience closeness with Mom or Dad. Likewise,some kids are loud and demanding; others are natu-rally more sensitive and compassionate. Remember that the daily work of family life typi-cally results in a slow drain on relationship. Gettingthe house cleaned up, kids ready in the morning,homework done, and taxiing kids from one location toanother can be a challenge for any manager. The workinvolved to get food on the table and clothes cleanedis stressful and has the potential to put pressure onfamily relationships. Initiating relationship regularlyis like adding oil to the machine to reduce friction inorder to make the tasks easier to accomplish. Initiative is proactive. Responsiveness, on theother hand, puts you in observation mode, always 25
    • The Family Challengeon the lookout for an opportunity to connect.Responsiveness keeps a ready attitude for thosemoments when your child expresses a need, anexciting moment, or a desire to talk. The child whois overwhelmed with excitement about a new oppor-tunity, or discouraged by a disappointing event, bothhave one thing in common—an opportunity for aparent to connect on a heart level. Although adviceand problem-solving may help in those moments, it’smost important to share the emotion and empathizewith your child’s feelings. When you do, you canconnect with your child’s heart. Initiative reminds you to think about your child.Responsiveness keeps you ready for the surprisesthat may come along at any time. Both help contrib-ute to relationship building, and if you take advantageof the opportunities, you may have some significantrelational connections. Opportunities for closeness regularly presentthemselves, but recognizing them is only part ofthe challenge. The other part is bringing faith intolife in practical ways. That doesn’t mean that everyemotional experience needs a Bible verse or a prayertime. That would seem artificial, especially as yourchildren get older. But spiritual sensitivity oftenincreases when emotions are involved. Parents canhelp frame the picture for their children by movingexcitement to gratefulness for God’s provision or 26
    • The Family Challengediscouragement to relying on God’s grace. Spirituality,in part, is a way of thinking, and often parents canhelp children integrate their faith into what mightotherwise appear to be mundane everyday tasks. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 suggests four opportunitiesfor relationship building. When you sit at home, whenyou walk along the road, when you lie down, andwhen you get up. In reality, this passage talks aboutall aspects of life together, but translated into moderntimes, we can interpret it to mean when you’re hang-ing out at home, going somewhere, in the morning,and at bedtimes. Those are four strategic times thatprovide relationship opportunities. One mom affirmed the benefit of traveling togeth-er by saying, “When we’re in the van I have a captiveaudience. I try to plan stimulating questions or storiesto get kids talking and interacting. We require some ofour van time to be without electronics. Video gamesare shut down, headphones get put away, and theradio is off. It usually takes a bit of recovery time forkids to reenter a relational mode. They don’t oftenbounce right into conversation having been fullyengaged in an electronic battle with the universe. Infact, sometimes they even resent having to leave theirelectronic friends. I know that it takes a bit of timeto disengage with electronics and start connectingrelationally, so I’m patient to allow that to happen.Typically after a few minutes, a lively conversation 27
    • The Family Challengeerupts. Sometimes we share about our day, and othertimes we talk about something that’s happening, orshare opinions about an idea.” Storytelling about your day, or reminiscing aboutpast common experiences, is a good way to drawchildren into the conversation. When you make thesepractices common, children learn to create their ownconversation, tell their own stories, and ask their ownquestions. Listening and responding to your childrenincreases openness. One parent shared this observation: “I longed formy daughter to learn how to drive. She’s seventeennow and she’s been driving for six months. I didn’trealize what I’d lose when she got her driver’s license.We used to talk in the car as I drove her to sports,church, and other activities. Now, she’s gone a lot,driving herself to work and all of her activities. I missour times in the car together. We’re having to find newways to connect. If I knew a year ago what I knownow, I probably would have valued those togethertimes more.” Some parents are fast enough on their feet to passthe faith on to their kids spontaneously. But mostparents realize an opportunity after the fact, or seeone developing but don’t quite know how to respondin the moment. After a little while, in that case, aparent may return to a child and say, “I like what youshared during dinner today. I just want you to know 28
    • The Family Challengethat I’m praying for you.” Or, “Yesterday you weretalking about that problem you’re having at schooland I found a verse that might be helpful for you.” The impact of Sharing Scripture and PracticingFaith is much greater when it takes place in thecontext of Building Relationship. That’s why we’reencouraging you to take the Family Challenge.Passing the faith on to kids takes place spontaneouslythroughout the day, but often requires a planned timefor more structured teaching. The Build Relationship part of the FamilyChallenge makes your times more meaningful, andthe heart connection gives opportunity for childrento connect with God. It may be a favorite meal sharedor laughing together over a book of riddles. It couldbe an activity that engages everyone in the family,or just a simple conversation that sets the stage forthe time together. As you look for ways to build rela-tionship you’re teaching children an important valuein life: relationships are important. In fact, parentscan become facilitators to help children connect withGod himself. And of course that’s the goal. You havea significant role as a parent. Passing on the faithdoesn’t only happen by reading God’s Word at thetable after dinner. It takes place in the daily interac-tions of life through the relationships you have withyour kids. 29
    • The Family Challenge 5 Scripture + Creativity = ImpactRead God’s Word and it will grow in your heart. Read God’s Word with your kids and it will grow in theirs. 30
    • The Family ChallengeW hen Jesus wanted to communicate a king- dom principle, he combined it with a storyof a man walking on the road or a seed growing in theground. We call that teaching strategy “parables.” Thecreativity helped imbed the truth into the hearts ofthe hearers. In the same way that Jesus used stories,parents can use the language of children, which isactivity, to communicate God’s truth. Kids of any agelearn through play, and what better way to help themunderstand the principles of scripture than throughactivity. “But I don’t have a creative bone in my body,”said one interested mom. That may seem true, butmost people are more creative than they think, andthere are many resources and tools that help parentsuse activity to teach children about the Bible. You’llbe surprised with the creative ideas you can come upwith yourself when you’re studying the scriptures andthen talking to your child about them. The goal is tohelp kids recognize that the Bible is relevant, practi-cal, and exciting. When you read the Bible to your children, youwant them to know that it’s different than any otherbook. At the end of the story, take a moment and askthe question, “What’s the lesson learned?” We don’tjust read the Bible for entertainment, although it’scaptivating. Rather, the Bible is God’s message to us,and one never knows what will happen when the 31
    • The Family Challengescripture is heard or read. Hebrews 4:12 says, “Forthe word of God is living and active. Sharper thanany double-edged sword, it penetrates even to divid-ing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges thethoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Before you open the Bible, you might say withanticipation in your voice, “Son, I’m about to open theBible. Are you ready? It’s alive and I’m not sure whatwill happen when I open it. But I know that this bookis powerful. It changes our hearts. Today might be theday that God convicts me to apologize to someonefor something I said that was hurtful. Or, God mightspeak to me in the next few minutes about somethingimportant he wants me to do. Today, God might reveala new aspect about his love for me. I don’t know whathe’s going to say to you or to me, but I’m about to openup God’s Word to find out.” Reading the Bible is a time of excitement andanticipation. Sometimes God simply confirms hislove, or reminds us of his character and grace. Othertimes he prompts us to action or places a burden onour hearts to think differently or change a way that welive. You never know what might happen when youopen God’s Word. The word “devotions” in some families meanssitting around a table and reading a passage of scrip-ture. Although some children may find that approachhelpful, it’s very adult-like, and often doesn’t take into 32
    • The Family Challengeaccount the fact that God made kids to wiggle andbe silly. Why not use silliness to your advantage andmovement to teach God’s Word? Teens benefit fromlogical discussions involving biblical passages, butthey also appreciate it when the lesson is illustratedin practical ways. As much as it may seem that yourteens don’t want to be with you, teens really do wantto know what their parents think, and they want theirparents to know what they think too. In one family Dad determined to create acommentary on the book of Proverbs with his teen-age sons. They would read a chapter and then ask thequestion, “What verse in that chapter might we addto our pages?” They would identify a particular verseabout something such as listening, money, or anger,and then Dad would say, “What’s the lesson we learnfrom that verse?” Then, spread out on the dining roomtable, they had about 25 different pieces of paper,each one with a title at the top, representing a subjectreferred to in the book of Proverbs. There were pagesdedicated to anger, friends, money, wisdom, speech,and many more topics. One of the page headingswas “the immoral woman” and whenever the bookof Proverbs had something to say about that subject,the boys took notice and they wrote down the lessonslearned. They were very interested in that subject andthe conversations about sex made a lasting impact. That commentary was never published, although 33
    • The Family Challengeit would have been a special book. Maybe it would havebeen called, “A Commentary on the Book of Proverbsby a Dad and His Sons.” But it was published in thehearts of those boys. They learned to love God’s Wordand to value the book of Proverbs and the wisdom thatit provides. When you regularly pull out the Bible in familylife, you teach children a very important lesson, thatthe scriptures are our authority for life. The Bible isour standard and has answers for addressing the chal-lenges we face every day. Over the past several years there’s been an explo-sion in the number of children’s Bibles. These Bibleshave pictures, illustrations, and age-appropriatecommunication styles. They engage children withthe scriptures, helping them realize that the Bible isrelevant for them now. It’s exciting and practical fortheir daily living. The reason you want to purchaseage-appropriate Bibles for your children is to commu-nicate that the scriptures are for them now, and theyapply to their lives. It’s not just a book that they’ll findinteresting when they get to be adults. One grandpa told this story. “I bought an earlyreader Bible for my six-year-old grandson. He imme-diately opened it up to the story of Moses and theburning bush and started to read the words on thepage. He couldn’t read them all, so I helped him, butit was clearly a text designed for children who were 34
    • The Family Challengejust learning how to read. My grandson loved the factthat he could read the Bible. He held that book tightlyin his arms and proclaimed, ‘This is my Bible.’ “ One of the goals parents have is to change someof the erroneous beliefs kids have in their hearts. Forexample, some kids believe that “When my brother isannoying, I have the right to punch him.” Or, “If I’munhappy with life situations, I can display my displea-sure with whining, complaining, or a bad attitude.” Or,“My job description in life is to have fun and anythingthat looks like work should be avoided at all cost.”These beliefs create tension in the relationships infamily life and kids need to make some changes. It’samazing how many areas of a child’s thinking can becorrected by looking at God’s Word. The study of theBible is practical and kids learn valuable lessons aboutdaily life when parents share the scriptures with them. In the Jackson family, Dad and Mom weredisheartened by the competition and comparisonbetween their sons, Jamal, age eight, and Desmond,age nine. They often raced to sit in the best seat in thevan or wanted the first turn at the computer. Dad andMom decided to read them the story of the two guysin the Bible who wanted the best seat. Mark 10 tellsthe story. James and John came to Jesus and said,“Let one of us sit at your right and the other at yourleft in your glory” (v. 37). Jesus’ answer to them was,“Whoever wants to become great among you must be 35
    • The Family Challengeyour servant, and whoever wants to be first must beslave of all.” Dad and Mom then created the “Upside DownGame” to illustrate this biblical truth in a playful way.They had a race to see who could serve others themost in a five-minute period and they kept track withpoints on a piece of paper. Dad said to Mom, “I justwant to tell you how pretty you are.” Dad got a point.Mom got up and started to rub Dad’s shoulders. Shegot a point. The boys started to join in, first to Dad andMom and then with each other. Jamal said, “Desmond,you’re really good at baseball.” Jamal got a point. Thegame was enjoyable and when the time was up, theytalked about the value of service and putting othersfirst. Not only was it a fun family experience, but italso generated a different way of thinking for the boysover the next few days. Dad and Mom were able totalk about having an attitude of servanthood insteadof wanting to be first or best. The goal is to pass the faith on to kids so thatthey’ll put biblical truths into practice. But how is faithdeveloped in the life of a child? God gives the answerin Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing themessage, and the message is heard through the wordof Christ.” As parents open the Bible regularly withtheir children and talk about the lessons learned fromGod’s Word, then a child’s faith begins to grow. It’snurtured through more Bible stories and applications 36
    • The Family Challengethat apply to them. A constant diet of the scripturesprovides children with a way to think about them-selves, about God, and about their purpose in life. If you go to the doctor, he might give you aprescription and tell you, “Take this pill once a dayand come back and see me in a week.” A similarthing can happen in our spiritual lives by immersingourselves in God’s Word on a regular basis. The Bibleisn’t a quick fix. It provides deep, long-lasting solu-tions for life. If, for example, you’re having troublesand challenges, you might read about heaven inRevelation 21-22 every day for a week and see whatimpact it has on your heart. Meditating on heaven canhelp us get our minds on spiritual things and give ussome perspective on life’s challenges. If your child has a problem with selfishness, then itwould certainly be helpful to do some teaching aboutthe biblical concept of honor. It’s important to be care-ful about over-using God’s Word in correction so that achild doesn’t develop a punitive picture of God. Oftenpresenting the solutions from God’s Word in a positiveway gives children a vision for something better. Itmay be that memorizing Romans 12:10, “Honor oneanother above yourselves,” or Philippians 2:3-4, “Donothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but inhumility consider others better than yourselves. Eachof you should look not only to your own interests, butalso to the interests of others,” may be just the therapy 37
    • The Family Challengethat helps bring about a positive change in your child. God’s Word is relevant and every area of familylife provides opportunity for its application. TheBible contains the secret ingredients children need tobe successful in life, both now and for their futures.That’s why it’s so important for parents to spend timelearning God’s Word themselves and then passing thetruths on to their children. Using fun, activity, andplay help kids receive the truths. The Family Challenge encourages spontaneousintegration of the Bible with life, but by taking thechallenge, you also agree to plan at least one struc-tured time per week. A planned Family Time of 20-30minutes of fun devotions can open the door for manyspontaneous opportunities to apply that same truthfor weeks to come. Consider taking the Family Challenge. Schedulea regular time once a week to intentionally pass thefaith on to your kids. As you Build Relationship, ShareScripture, and Practice Faith, you’ll see the differencein your family. Your kids will begin to think and actdifferently. It’s encouraging to watch children growin God’s grace. At the heart of spiritual growth is anunderstanding of God’s Word. Your commitment toGod and his Word in your family will have a markedeffect on you and your kids for the rest of their lives. 38
    • The Family Challenge 6 Practicing Faith Teaches that it’s RealIf grasping faith for kids is like learning to drive, then the church is the classroom and the home is behind the wheel. 39
    • The Family ChallengeF aith is practical. It results in action. Faith forms the basis for our lives, both as children and asadults. Faith isn’t just Bible lessons learned at church.Faith isn’t just encouragement that helps us getthrough the day. Faith is the foundation we build ourlives upon. It affects everything we do. It’s more thanjust mental assent or head knowledge. Faith is ourlife. James 2:14 asks the question, “What good is it,my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but hasno deeds?” Then he answers it a few verses later in2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faithwithout deeds is dead.” It’s important to put our faithto the test by applying it regularly to our lives. Faithworks itself out in who we are. Faith must be practical for kids to grab hold of it.Parents pass the faith on to their children by practic-ing it with them. The Christian life is more than wordsand teaching; it’s action. When parents put faith intopractice, it begins to live in their hearts. When parentspractice faith with their children, it begins to live inthe hearts of their children as well. When you take time to pray with your kids aboutlife situations, then they get to see the power of Godat work. You don’t have to be afraid that your kidswill get discouraged just because God doesn’t givethem exactly what they want when they pray for it. 40
    • The Family ChallengeThrough prayer children learn that God isn’t a genie.He’s God. He wasn’t created for our benefit to makeus happy. We were created for him and we seek todiscover his will. Practicing faith is done in many ways and takes onmany faces. Ask yourself how you practice faith, andthen invite your kids to participate with you. When adad announces that he’s learning to be more compas-sionate and looks for ways to show it to others, kidstake notice. They see God actually working in Dad’sheart. When a mom asks forgiveness for yelling at herson, he sees God active in his mom’s heart. True faithin any of our lives changes how we live. It affects ouractions and the way we think about life. Kids benefitfrom seeing that kind of faith in action. Spiritual transparency can take place in thenormal conversations of life. It may have been that inthe past that you saw a beautiful sunset, felt grateful-ness to God, and shot up a prayer of admiration forhis creativity and beauty. But it was done in private.Now, you say it out loud, “God, that sure is a beauti-ful sunset you made.” You’re not trying to concoctsomething that isn’t there. You’re just revealing yourspirituality to your children. If you go back to Deuteronomy 6:20-21, you seeone of the practical ways to practice faith with yourkids: answer their questions using faith and your 41
    • The Family Challengespiritual history. “In the future, when your son asksyou, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decreesand laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tellhim.” The passage goes on to give spiritual history.Children often ask the question, “Why?” “Why do Ihave to do this?” “Why are you saying no?” Just asit’s okay for us to ask respectful questions of God, it’sgood for our children to learn to ask respectful ques-tions of us. When children ask questions, it’s often a goodtime to share convictions, beliefs, and the legacy ofyour spiritual faith. Even if you’ve recently come toChrist, you can share about how important he is toyou now and how you desire to serve him with allyour heart. Your family rules come from your convictions,and many of those convictions come straight fromthe Bible. Even those that don’t are often examplesof your desire to live out your faith. If you tell yourson to come for dinner, and he, not wanting to stophis activity, says, “I’m not hungry,” you now have anopportunity to teach about a conviction you have.His belief is that mealtime is simply for satisfying hisappetite and if he’s not hungry, then coming to thetable isn’t necessary. You, on the other hand, believethat mealtime is more than that. You want your familytogether and the social component of the meal is evenmore important than the food. Thus, your training in 42
    • The Family Challengethe moment provides the practical application yourchild needs to experience the faith. Your convictionsdemonstrate your value of family relationships. You have reasons behind your rules, and eachrule is a demonstration of your convictions. You cleanup the house because of a sense of stewardship. Yourfamily doesn’t allow siblings to hit each other to solveproblems, because you want to teach kindness andmore constructive forms of problem solving. You usemanners to show honor to others, and try to get some-where on time to demonstrate your integrity. As chil-dren live in your home, they’re experiencing the rulesof your family that come out of your convictions. Butmany times they see the rules and not what’s behindthem. This is a reality that’s even difficult for manyadults to understand. Regular discussions with yourkids about the convictions behind the rules oftenreveal how you’re living out your faith in daily life.Kids then can catch the reality of what it means tolove God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strengthand love your neighbor as yourself. You might say to your daughter who is headed outthe door, “I’ll be praying for you today as you try towork out that problem with your friend.” Or, “Son,would you please pray for me. I’m not feeling toowell and I have an important meeting at work.” Thosekinds of prayers acknowledge the need for God, butthey also demonstrate that you’re living every day 43
    • The Family Challengein a way that relies on God’s grace. You believe thathe has answers and that he cares about you in thepersonal, daily needs of life. When Jesus was teaching his disciples to prayhe included these words, “Give us this day our dailybread.” That phrase implies the need to come to Godregularly for his provision and care. Prayer not onlychanges others, but it changes us. When we pray for agrumpy neighbor, we often find ourselves more sensi-tive to his needs and patient when relating to him. Askids pray for help for a problem with a friend and askfor strength to get through a difficult project, they seeGod answer their prayers. This further strengthenstheir faith. Some parents feel uncomfortable praying outloud. They often view prayer as a private activityand their faith as very personal. Those things aretrue, but praying with others, especially children, isa great way to allow kids to experience the grace ofGod themselves. One mom said, “I realized that I waslimiting our family’s spiritual growth because of myfear of praying out loud. I determined to get over it,and praying with my kids proved to be the trainingground I needed. I was so touched by the simple, realprayers of my children, that I was able to pray outloud with them. Now I feel much more comfortablepraying in a group of adults when the opportunityarises. I realized that it’s not about having the right 44
    • The Family Challengewords. It’s about connecting my heart to God.” Some parents develop good habits of prayingbefore meals or before bed. Those are great exercisesof faith, but be careful that you have other timeswhen you talk about prayer and God’s Word. You don’twant your children to believe that God only showsup at mealtime and bedtime. God is ever present andeagerly seeks relationship with us. One dad had his watch beep every hour for awhile. His kids asked him why he was doing that.His answer was, “I want to remind myself that mytime is God’s time so every time it beeps I just say ashort prayer to God, thanking him for this next hour.It helps me be ready for the interruptions that oftenhappen around here. Instead of getting frustratedwith them, now I try to look at the interruptions asopportunities in one way or another.” When children watch their parents trying to liveout their faith, good things happen. That doesn’t meanthat we have to be perfect. Kids can learn from ourimperfections as well. Saying “I’m sorry” to a childdemonstrates humility. Admitting that you’re work-ing on something in your life, such as keeping calmunder pressure, is helpful for kids to see. The familyis a laboratory for growth for parents and for theirkids. Offering and receiving grace is a demonstrationof faith and helps children integrate their spirituallives into the rest of who they are. 45
    • The Family Challenge Another way that parents can communicate thefaith is by serving others outside the family. Givingmoney, time, or energy can help kids learn to thinkabout others and not just their own needs. In onefamily, the parents responded to a desire their sonhad to serve. This young boy heard about diseaseand suffering in Africa and wanted to help provideclean drinking water for the people there. The familyasked for permission to set up a table at their churchand raised money to give to an organization that builtwells in villages that didn’t have clean water. Looking for opportunities to work together toserve others is a practical way to demonstrate faith.Serving in a soup kitchen, visiting a nursing home,sending gifts to a missionary, or shoveling snow off aneighbor’s sidewalk are all ways to live out your faithwith your children. Sometimes the family can become rather self-focused with so many activities complicating theschedule. Although kids benefit from activity andevents, sometimes they develop the impression thatlife is all about them, their needs, their development,and their accomplishments. It’s good to give to others,and the earlier children learn that the better. Whenwe give money, time, and talents, we give a bit of ourown selfishness away in the process. It’s part of God’sdesign for giving. As you plan your family’s time, be careful that 46
    • The Family Challengeyou don’t allow it to plan you. When you take theFamily Challenge you set aside a particular period oftime for the Lord as a family. It may be only 20-30minutes a week, but that strategic time can produce apowerful impact on the lives of your children. In addi-tion, you’ll learn to live your faith out spontaneouslyin visible, practical ways. Thus, you’ll be intentionalabout passing the faith on to kids through BuildingRelationship, Sharing Scripture, and Practicing Faith. 47
    • The Family Challenge 14 Will You Take the Family Challenge?Send your son to church — spiritually feed him for a day. Live it out at home — spiritually feed him for life. 48
    • The Family ChallengeN ow we come to the place in the book where we ask you to make a commitment. We’vediscussed the importance of passing on the faith,given you tools, and provided helpful strategies tomake it happen. But simply reading about it doesn’timpact the family. It’s the action that has a lastinginfluence. Will you take the Family Challenge? Taking the Family Challenge simply means beingintentional about passing the faith on to your kids bothspontaneously as opportunities arise and through atleast one structured Family Time each week. TheFamily Challenge contains three ingredients: BuildRelationship, Share Scripture, and Practice Faith. Asyou determine to do these three things, your kids willsee more clearly what it means to follow God andserve him wholeheartedly. Take a minute and praythat God would give you direction and wisdom as youtake on the Family Challenge. Decide now, beforeyou read further. What will be your next step? Most parents have parenting books sitting ontheir shelves that they haven’t read. Still more havebooks that they’ve read but haven’t put into action.So, before you put this book aside, develop a plan forusing something that you’ve learned in these pages.There’s nothing like a plan for energizing you toaction. A plan provides a goal, next steps, and gener-ates hope to move forward in the face of challenges. 49
    • The Family Challenge Change in a family will always meet resistance.People find themselves in patterns and even if thosepatterns aren’t the best, people tend to stay in thembecause they’re familiar. If you’re going to make somechanges, then you’ll need to persevere for severalweeks. Over time, you’ll help your family act differ-ently, think differently, and learn to trust God for thechallenges they’ll face. Any call to commitment is a challenge to one’sheart. The heart contains things like desires, commit-ment, emotions, passion, and convictions. Justbecause something comes from the heart, though,doesn’t make it good. Some people’s desires oremotions prompt them to put off goals, give up whenfacing challenges, or take on other commitments thatcompete with the most important things of their lives. To help you establish your desire to move forwardto intentionally pass the faith to your kids, let’s look atthree words that describe things in the heart accord-ing to God’s Word: Conviction, Commitment, andPassion. When your heart is in it, then there’s verylittle that can deter you from progress toward yourgoal. You’ll need all three of these as you seek to takethe Family Challenge in your home. Conviction: The Bible teaches that convictionstake place in the heart. A conviction is a belief that’sso important, it results in action. You know the story 50
    • The Family Challengeof Daniel. He was certainly a man of conviction. TheBible tells us, “Daniel purposed in his heart that hewould not defile himself with the portion of the king’smeat” (Dan. 1:8 KJV). When Jeremiah described theNew Covenant that God would establish, he wrotethat it’ll be different from the stone tablets of the oldcovenant. God said, “I will put my law in their mindsand write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). Notice,in both of these passages, how convictions developin the heart and then result in outward actions. Weknow that beliefs take place in the heart because Pauldescribes salvation in terms of a heart commitment.Romans 10:9 says a key to salvation is when you“believe in your heart that God raised him from thedead.” Convictions are essential ingredients because theyhelp manage emotions and desires, two other partsof the heart. If your desire to do something contraryto your goal is high and your conviction is low, thenthe result is the temptation to do other things ratherthan work toward your goal. When your convictionsare stronger than your emotions and desires, thenyou can persist when you don’t feel like it or whenyou’d rather do something else. An inner convictionprompts you to strive toward your goal and not bedistracted or led astray. In this book we’ve taken you to several scripturesto imbed your thinking about the Family Challenge 51
    • The Family Challengeinto your convictions. That’s because we know that ifyou develop strong convictions to take action in thisarea, you’ll be far more successful at building a newculture in your family. If your conviction is based onScripture, it will carry more weight in your heart. One determined dad knew that he needed tospend time with God each day to be ready to talk tohis kids. That belief prompted him to listen to threechapters of the Bible each day on his way to work.Sometimes he’d listen to more and sometimes less,but when he arrived at work, he would take twominutes in the parking lot and write down a lessonlearned that would be helpful for his family. Hisjournal became a treasure. It often just contained thescripture reference and a few lines of application, buthe found himself going back to his writing over andover again in family conversations. His conviction tospend time with God made passing on the faith mucheasier. Commitment: The first word is conviction. Thesecond is commitment. Commitments start in theheart. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with allyour heart.” That internal desire to put God firsthappens deep inside a person, but it often meetsother internal struggles. Commitment keeps a personon course. Commitment is a choice. In order to takethe Family Challenge you’ll need to be committedto the process and stick with it when resistance and 52
    • The Family Challengedistractions threaten your plans. It’s amazing howone person can change a family when an underlyingcommitment comes from the heart. Many obstacles will likely get in the way of yourprogress. Things like busyness, the attitudes of others,and resistance from a spouse are likely to slow youdown at times, but your ability to hang in there afteryou feel like quitting is directly related to your heart.Moses knew that God’s people would face manychallenges when they entered the Promised Land, sohe challenged them to make a commitment in theirhearts to God’s commands. He said, “Take to heart allthe words I have solemnly declared to you this day…They are your life” (Deuteronomy 32:46-47). Your heart is the place where it all starts. As youallow the Lord to speak to you, he will bring your heartto a place of strong commitment, so strong that you’llbe able to do the work, overcome the challenges, andface the obstacles necessary for change. It won’t belong before God begins to work in the hearts of otherfamily members and your prayer is that, one by one,they too will develop a commitment to the time youspend as a family talking about God’s Word. In one family, Dad and Mom determined thatthey would pray together once a week. During that20-30 minute meeting they would look at the sched-ule and pray for their kids. They announced to thechildren that they were praying for them and even 53
    • The Family Challengeasked for specific requests that they could bringbefore the Lord. At first, kids shared trivial things, butover time, prayer became integral in all of their lives.The commitment of these parents moved prayerto a central place in their home and resulted in anumber of conversations about God’s grace, power,and provision. Passion: A third word to help you move forwardis the word “passion.” It’s interesting to see thenumber of times that passion is revealed in the Bibleas coming from the heart. Hezekiah was a good kingwho served the Lord with all his heart (2 Chronicles31:21). David said in the psalms, “I will praise you, OLord, with all my heart” (9:1) and “I seek you with allmy heart” (119:10). In each of these verses, the word“heart” communicates the idea of passion. When people do something wholeheart-edly, they’re doing it with zest and determination.Sometimes we say, “He put his heart into a job,”or “She has a heart for what she’s doing.” Passioncombines commitment, convictions, and emotion todrive the plan toward the goal. Children see the passion of their parents when itcomes to sports, money, or a hobby. Do they see thatsame passion about Jesus Christ? One dad, reportingabout his childhood, told this story: “My mom lovedJesus. Every Saturday morning, she would gather uskids around her and she would tell us stories from 54
    • The Family Challengethe Bible. She kept us captivated as she talked aboutvictories, tragic mistakes, and miracles in people’slives. While she talked, she’d peel apples. Each weekshe would peel and cut those apples and turn theminto the best apple cobbler I ever tasted. Still todayI have sweet memories of God’s grace and powerevery time I smell apples and cinnamon cooking.My mother’s passion for God’s Word was contagiousand now I enjoy reading it to my kids. I don’t peelapples, but my kids know that I love Jesus just liketheir grandmother did.” Do you believe that God has given you the oppor-tunity and the responsibility to pass the faith on toyour kids? If you do, make it more than a belief. Turnit into a Conviction. Make it a Commitment. AllowPassion to fuel your goals and plans to move forward.Watch God do some amazing things in your family. It’ll be fun to see what happens to you first andthen watch the little surprises that come from yourkids. One little boy came to his mom and said, “Mom,I was starting to get mad and I put myself in a breakto settle down. Now I’m fine.” Those words were atreasure since Mom had been trying to help her sondeal with anger. They had talked about the verse inJames 1:19 that says, “Everyone should be quick tolisten, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Momwas seeing God work in her five-year-old son. He hada long way to go but she was encouraged that God was 55
    • The Family Challengedoing a deeper work in his life already. Many of the rewards of passing on the faith toyour kids come over a period of time. You’re creatinga godly heritage and a faith legacy that kids will useas a foundation for years to come. The early spiritualtraining children receive as teens or elementary-agechildren, or even preschoolers, creates a vital lifelinefor their own personal faith. Kids learn that God hassolutions for every area of their lives. As they growup, they’ll continue to put their faith into practice.They’ll see that God’s Word has implications for theoffice, for a marriage, for friendships, and for conflict,money, and health. They’ll learn to integrate theirfaith into life in some relevant and practical ways. For now, though, you’re building a spiritual foun-dation for your children. Are you committed? If so, wewant to ask you to join with others around the worldwho are expressing their commitment to pass thefaith on to their kids by taking the Family Challenge.These parents and grandparents are committingthemselves to God and to their kids. They’re commit-ting to intentionally Build Relationship, ShareScripture, and Practice Faith. Take a moment andgo to www.414familychallenge.com and add yourcommitment to hundreds of others. Then look atthe map and see how God is working in the lives ofparents and grandparents all over the world to passthe faith on to their kids. 56
    • The Family Challenge If this book has blessed and challenged you, thenplease pass it on to someone else, or download thefree eBook called Take the Family Challenge andshare it with others through Facebook, at church, andthrough email. Or send people to our website, www.biblicalparenting.org to download it for themselves.Consider joining with us to help parents catch a visionfor passing the faith on to their kids. At the National Center for Biblical Parenting, wehave a vision to empower parents to pass the faithon to their kids and to mobilize churches to equipthem. We’re on a mission both in the United Statesand around the world. We would love to have youpartner with us to reach the next generation for JesusChrist. We believe the most strategic way to makethat happen is through parents. Please consider join-ing with us. In the next section of this book you’ll learn aboutmoral development in children, how it happens, andhow you can influence it. The study of the conscienceis powerful and will help you know how to developinternal motivation in kids. 57
    • The Family Challenge A Word to the ReaderDear Friend, As you know, the spiritual development of childrenis essential. Although many parents acknowledgethis to be the case, they don’t know how to pass thefaith on to their kids. This book is helping peopleall over the world know how to live out their faithin family life. Would you consider helping us equipmore parents? Maybe you’d like to give a copy of thisbook away to your friends or people that you meet.We want to make that easy. Please pass it on or sendpeople to our website to download it for themselves. We’re excited about what God is doing at theNational Center for Biblical Parenting. We have a verysimple yet compelling vision: empowering parents topass the faith on to their children and mobilize thechurch to equip them. Maybe you’ve heard of the international initia-tive called The 4-14 Window. It’s an attempt to drawyoung people to Christ during the most receptiveperiod in their lives, between the ages of four andfourteen. This isn’t just a work in the United States.It’s international. And now, the National Center forBiblical Parenting has been chosen to be part of thisglobal initiative.  It’s becoming more and more clear 58
    • The Family Challengethat God has placed us in a strategic position to makea major impact on families, both in the United Statesand around the globe. The opportunity is great. We would appreciateyour help. Maybe you’d consider giving a donation tohelp in this work. Will you join us as a financial part-ner? All donations are tax deductible. You can go towww.biblicalparenting.org/donate.asp to learn more. Blessings, Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN To make a donation, you may go to www.biblicalparenting.org/donate.asp To order more copies of this book, please call our office at (609) 771-8002 Or you may write to us at: The Family Challenge National Center for Biblical Parenting 76 Hopatcong Drive Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 59
    • The Family Challenge A Fun Bible Activity to Do With Kids Three Brave Friends (Parental Supervision Required!)Bible Story Tell the story from Daniel 3 in your own words,highlighting the following key points: King Nebuchadnezzar made a 90-foot-high gold idol and commanded everyone to bow down and worship the idol. If people didn’t bow down then they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the idol. The boys said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18) The king was furious and had the three boys thrown into the fiery furnace. The soldiers who threw the boys into the furnace 60
    • The Family Challenge were killed by the fire but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not burned or harmed. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bod- ies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:27) Nebuchadnezzar brought the boys out of the fire and said, “Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.” Then the boys were promoted and given more honor in Babylon.What’s the Lesson Learned? Do the right thing, even when it’s hard. That’sa lesson needed by children of all ages.Activity Cut out three “gingerbread cookie shaped” peoplefrom a piece of corrugated cardboard. Label the threecardboard-people Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Prepare a solution that is 2 oz. rubbing alcohol(70% isopropyl) and 1 oz. water. Mix together well andput the solution on a shallow dish. Let the “people”soak in the solution. After mixing the alcohol andwater move quickly to complete the activity beforethe alcohol evaporates. Using paper clips, attach the three wet cardboard 61
    • The Family Challengepeople to the hanger. Hold the top of the hanger withtongs so that you can keep your body away from thefire. Remove any remaining alcohol solution and holdthe hanger over a sink or safe area.PARENTAL SUPERVISION REQUIRED. Using alighter, light the three cardboard-people. They will beconsumed in fire but will not burn. Make sure thefire is out before touching the cardboard-people. Thepeople will not be harmed by the fire. There’s nosmell of smoke and they aren’t even singed.Discussion Kids like the fire activity but remember itspurpose is to teach a lesson. Ask children to repeatthe lesson learned. You might suggest some scenarios in life wherekids can do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Ifyou’d like some suggestions, here are a few examplesto discuss:1 • Friends your age are watching a movie that yourparents won’t let you see.The right thing to do: You choose to obey yourparents.2 • You break something important in your home. 62
    • The Family ChallengeThe right thing to do: Instead of waiting for yourparents to find out or denying that you were involved,you go to your parents and tell them what you did.3 • You sit in a desk next to an unpopular girl at school.The right thing to do: Instead of ignoring the girl,you talk with her and go out of your way to be kind.4 • You find out your friend doesn’t go to church.The right thing to do: You invite him to go with youto your church.Pray Together Take a few minutes and pray that God would givestrength to do the right thing this week even if it’shard.This lesson is taken from the series, Family TimeActivities available at biblicalparenting.org 63
    • The Family Challenge This book is offered free through donations frompeople who have a passion to help parents pass thefaith on to their kids. If you’re interested in more copies of this book,go to biblicalparenting.org/thefamilychallenge.asp tolearn more. If you’d like to help to get this book into the handsof others, please visit biblicalparenting.org/donate.asp.Thank you for your partnership. We’re grateful. 64