15 Things I Would Tell My 15 Year Old Self

  1. You are going to come face to face with the pleasures of partying and hedonism. It Michael High Schoolwill come very close to killing you and it won’t satisfy the deepest cravings of your heart. It’s a very seductive lie.
  2. Relax! Don’t worry so much about what people think of you.
  3. Plan now for what you are going to do when you are done with High School. It seems like a million years a way but it’s not.
  4. Girls are good. But they are not the sole meaning and purpose of life.
  5. Make sure that you are really drawing closer to Jesus rather than just going through the preacher kid motions.
  6. Try your best to keep perspective. You will be strongly tempted to think that these teen years are all that matter. Which will lead to way too much drama and inner turmoil. Truth be told, your best days are ahead of you!
  7. You and your family don’t have much money, its OK. Again, don’t worry so much about the car you drive or the clothes you wear.
  8. Don’t drop out of High School (which I did). Study hard.
  9. Take some chances (don’t worry about looking like an idiot) and try to make the basketball or football team.
  10. You do have some good friends at church. Open up, tell them how much are struggling at school. Don’t deal with it all by yourself.
  11. Don’t be so terrified of the cafeteria and the fact that you do not know anyone. Find one person to sit with and talk to. You can do this.
  12. You are not as smart and wise as you think you are, talk to your mom and dad more.
  13. The friend with the maroon Camaro is going to get you in trouble. Walk away.
  14. You will grow up and love to read. Why aren’t you reading now? Read!
  15. Those skin tight jeans are not nearly as cool as you think they are.

It’s crazy, as I started compiling this list I began to realize how much of a hold fear had on me during my teen years. Fear of man. Fear of fitting in. It’s probably why songs like THIS still resonate with me. Confidence in who I am and how God has made me would be one thing I would want to change about my 15 year old self.

What would your list look like?

 

Talking To Your Kids About Sex And Dating

It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in a highly sexualized culture here in America. Here is the scary part, this sexualized culture is discipling our kids. Friends, schools, movies, and social media are having a huge impact on our children and much of it is not good. It makes no sense that the culture is talking about sex all the time but all too often the church (and parents) have nothing to say about it. As parents we must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with our kids about all the issues they are facing on a daily basis.

This past week I went away for an overnight trip with my youngest son. I used a resource called “Passport to Purity” by Dennis and Barb Rainey. With the help of this resource (cds and workbook) we probably spent about 6 hours talking about peer pressure, dating, sex, pornography, etc.  We also did some fun things like going out to dinner and watching the new Spider-Man movie. I consider it my responsibility, and honor, to talk to my children about such important topics. A number of years ago I did the same thing with my oldest son and Marcie (my wife) has done so with our daughter.

One of the things that I am proud of as a father is that both of my sons learned about the birds and the bees from me. Not from some friends on the school bus. Not from a dirty movie. I love the fact that I was able to step into their life and tell them about sex, dating, and what the bible has to say about it.

passport-to-purity-by-family-life

I would strongly encourage you as a parent to take the time to talk openly, and honestly, to your kids about dating, sex and peer pressure. Passport to Purity is geared for kids who are between the ages of 10-14. If they are much older than 14 they will think Passport to Purity is a bit too childish.

So Passport to Purity is a great tool for younger kids, but what do you do if your kids are older? I would like to share with you a few parenting ideas and then give you some questions that you could use to generate a good discussion between you and your son or daughter.

A Few Ideas To Ponder

  • Get to know the young man or young woman that your child is dating. This is not weird! The only reason we think it is weird is because our culture has completely lost its way when it comes to the role parents should play in the lives of their children. What is weird is allowing your child to date someone that you don’t know. 
  • You need to talk to your kids about dealing with peer pressure. There is a HUGE amount of pressure at school to conform to a worldly lifestyle. You need to help your kids think about some biblical ways to resist negative peer pressure.
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to save sex for marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18-20, 1 Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
  • You need to give your kids a biblical reason to pursue purity in general (Leviticus 11:44-45,  1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Titus 2:11-12, Ephesians 5:3-4).
  • You need to make sure that your kids know that God’s boundaries are meant to lead them to deeper joy and contentment. God gives boundaries because he loves us and wants what is best for us.
  • Talk to your kids about the importance of dating someone who knows and loves Jesus. Missionary dating is a really bad idea. Look up and discuss 2 Corinthians 6:14 (unequally yoked).

A Few Questions To Ask Your Kids

  • What are some of the ways that you feel the impact of peer pressure? Especially in regards to dating and sex?
    • Our kids are under constant peer pressure in a variety of ways. We need to guide them and help them to understand how to resist negative peer pressure. The story of Daniel is a great place to go. A teen-age boy who glorified God by standing up under tremendous pressure.
  • Read and discuss 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Ask your child how these verses relate to dating, sex and peer pressure.
  • What kind of boundaries should you set when it comes to dating?
    • It’s best to set these boundaries before they begin dating.
  • Are there any other challenges you are having right now at school or life in general?
  • Are you struggling with lust or pornography?
    • “Finally Free” by Heath Lambert is a good resource for purity, pornography, and sex.
  • How should you respond to someone who is pressuring you to have sex (or is pushing past your boundaries)?
    • As parents we need to give our kids the tools to say no!
  • As a parent write down some of your own questions.
  • Ask your son or daughter if they have any questions.
  • If your child is dealing with some guilt and shame give them heavy doses of God’s grace (Psalm 86:15. 2 Corinthian 5:21, Ephesians 1:7, Hebrews 14:6). HERE are a few books that talk about guilt, shame and the gospel.

If you have any thoughts or questions I would love to hear from you!

Parents Must Lead The Way

Moms and dads, I know you have a lot on your hands. Life is crazy busy and at times it feels almost overwhelming to keep all the different plates spinning. I know this is true because I have three kids at home with one graduating from high school this year. So without question I understand all the hard work that you do on a day to day basis.

With that said, I want to encourage you to think about something that I believe will have a revolutionary impact on you and your family. Here it is, moving into deeper relationships in your local church. Of course I could remind you of all the places that God’s Word talks about the importance of developing meaningful relationships in the church (Proverbs 27:17, Romans 12:5, Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Corinthians 12:25-27, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:24-25). An understanding of God’s Word clearly reveals that one of God’s primary instruments for growing us spiritually is through relationships within the church.

But this is a post specifically for parents. So, I want to lovingly, graciously, encourage you to lead your children when it comes to helping them see the value of getting involved in the life of the church. I recently had a conversation with a man here at New Life Church. His kids are out of the house and have families of their own now. But he was thinking back to all the relationships that his kids had in the church while growing up. He was speaking fondly of older men and women who took the time to get to know his children. He spoke of how his children benefited spiritually from others who invested in them. There is so much for our children to gain, even if they don’t see it now, from rubbing shoulders with people of all ages who know and love Christ.

Can I challenge you just a bit? One of the things I hear is that “we want to give our kids the choice of whether or not they go to children’s ministry, youth group, church, etc.” I want to push back on this way of thinking. What if your 6 year old tells you that they have decided that their only source of nourishment is going to be Skittles and Mountain Dew? What if your 8 year old tells you that they have decided to stop brushing their teeth? What if your 13 year old tells you that they have decided that they no longer desire to go to school? Would you simply tell them that they need to follow their heart and make their own decisions? I certainly hope not. Here is my point. There are many instances in life where we need to lovingly guide our children because they don’t always (massive understatement) make the wisest decisions. Helping our kids make wise and godly decisions is a huge part of what it means to be a spiritual leader in the home.

Again, I know life is hard. I know life is busy. It’s hard to keep it all together. But let me wrap up this post by helping you to see what a life long blessing it will be for you and your children to make it a priority to be an active part of the church family. Involvement in the church is not just something you have to do. God has designed the church to strengthen, encourage and build you and your family up in Jesus Christ. Do we always agree with everything that happens in the church? No. Are we, and our kids, going to have to build relationships with other sinners (like us)? Yes. You won’t find the perfect church because the perfect church does not exist. Moms and dads, let’s lead the way when it comes to showing our kids the importance of deep, messy relationships in the local church.