More on Baptism

I have written a handful of posts about children and baptism, including:
I believe that baptism is a critical part of the spiritual formation of a child (or an adult, for that matter). It's not the ultimate goal, but a part of the process of following Jesus.

I also have believed that a person should only be baptized after becoming a professing believer in Jesus. But I've been strict -- maybe too strict, and not always for the right reasons -- on what it means to be a professing believer in Jesus. It's a fine line to walk, especially since I carry a weight of responsibility for my children.

That's why I've been thankful for a couple of recent articles by Justin Taylor, writing for The Gospel Coalition. These have solidified some parts of what I've believed, and challenged other parts. But as a whole, they have helped me understand the grace and power contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  1.  The Fear of Baptizing Children.  This article addresses what I refer to above as "not always for the right reasons." Instead of being motivated by hope, joy, and expectation, I am often hindered by my own fear and lack of faith. By restricting my son who wants to be baptized, have I -- as Julian Freeman puts it -- suffocated him?
  2. Once More on the Baptism of Children.  Justin gives a few more resources to help the reader in this process.

I hope you enjoy these as well.

Thoughts Askew

I love looking through the quarterly Furman Alumni magazine, especially when I read about someone I went to school with, such as the friend who is now a astrophysicist (never knew one in real life, before her) or my former chemistry lab partner that joined the Peace Corps.

Sometimes, though, the stories aren't so happy. Such is the case with Major Ken Dwyer (I'll always know him as "Kenny"). We came in as freshman together, and as a ROTC member, he was always in top-notch shape. He probably enjoyed games of sand volleyball more than hours in the library, but can you blame him?

A few years ago, however, he was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan. Injured as in losing an eye and an arm. This husband, and father of 2 kids, has had his life changed completely. But the trauma would have been worse if not for the support and help of the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

In honor of Kenny, another Furman classmate, Alastair McCandless, is walking across America to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Foundation. You can learn more about his journey on his blog, Thoughts Askew.

You can help by donating to the project, by encouraging him with a blog comment, or by just praying for his journey, and by praying for Major Dwyer and his family.

The Logic of Lying

Dear Children of All Ages --

I have some advice for you -- those of you who want to break some rules (or bend them, depending on your perspective), especially if you want to couple that with outright lying.

We can debate whether what you did was outright wrong (my perspective) or a misunderstanding (your perspective). We may not get anywhere there (though I had already addressed a parallel issue two months ago).

But if you are going to claim that you did nothing wrong (to the best of your knowledge), do not tell a bold-faced lie to cover up what you and your accomplice(s) did. If you did nothing wrong, why would you need to lie about it?

So, either you did something wrong and you knew it, or you were innocent but then did wrong by lying. You can't be innocent of both counts.

Busted, and busted again.

Logically Yours,
--  Me

Related Link:

**image courtesy of ktylerconk via flickr

A Sometimes Napper

More often than not, Sender (age 5+) does not nap. He does have rest time, though, just about every day.

He stays in his bed (supposedly) for 90 minutes or so. Usually we give him books, or sometimes he just plays with stuffed animals or other small toys. The only reason he's allowed to get up is if he needs to go to the bathroom.

Of course, he uses "going to the bathroom" as a way to get up multiple times during this rest time. Either he's manipulative, or he has severe bladder issues.

As I said, sometimes he falls asleep. Mostly he stays awake and plays. And every now and then, he'll stay awake (and play and get up to go to the bathroom), but will fall asleep just minutes before we planned to allow him to get up.

And sometimes he falls asleep having outlined himself with some of those stuffed animals. . . .

And sometimes, even though it's 88 degrees in the house, he bundles himself up with 3 warm blankets. . . .

Related Links:

Knowing That God Is Real

Last year, we had an interesting discussion about how and if we can know that God is real. Here is a recap of the series.
  1. How Do We Know That God Is Real?  My son Elijah asked me this a few years ago.
  2. A Response to Comments  There was, apparently, some misunderstandings and some bad reasoning.
  3. More Thoughts  From a friend who left comment.
  4. Do We Need Evidence for God?  When I was a young believer, I went through a season of doubt and confusion.

The Bible and Spanking

Such a funny image, I had to use it again
In The Dangers of Spanking, and of Not Spanking, I addressed the cultural debate about whether it is right to spank a child. (I say, "Yes, in the proper context.")

But there are two extremes that that we must be careful about -- that there is there is one way to dsipline according to the Bible and that the Bible does not at all direct parents to spank. I'll talk about both of these.

"This Is God's Way"
Let's be clear. The Bible does not give a clear procedure for how to discipline a child. If a speaker or author claims to say, "This is how the Bible says to spank," you should immediately be on guard. Don't completely ignore the person, because there may be good principles. In fact, principles (based on grace, love, authority, and safety) are what we need to be looking for.

You cannot claim that the Bible teaches a specific way to spank, any more than you can claim that the Bible commands parents to homeschool their children.

"The Bible Doesn't Command Spanking"
Some folks, both in and out of the church, make the case that the Bible does not at all promote spanking as a tool of discipline. Many point to the Proverbs passages about the "rod of discipline" (such as Proverbs 22:15) and equate the rod with a symbol of authority.

However, we must also note that there is a level of pain or discomfort associated with a rod. When the author of Hebrews speaks about a father disciplining a son (in chapter 12), it is clear that there is something unpleasant about discipline. A physical consequence seems to be warranted (though not commanded).

And even if the Bible would not address this topic, that does not mean that we shouldn't do it. The absence of evidence is not evidence.

For more on this topic, please checkout the following articles:

More on Allowances and Responsibilities

Responsibility Chart
Earlier this year, I asked if you gave your kids an allowance. Your insight has been extremely helpful for us, as we considered how to equip our own children to be good stewards of their finances.

As a follow up, here's what we've decided to do for our family. Maybe it will help those of you who are in the process of deciding (along with all the great feedback I got on the original post):
  • They each get a monthly allowance of half their age (therefore, Hannah, age 10, gets $5 per month). This amount seems less than what most readers do for their children. Shhhhhh. Don't tell our kids.
  • They have a set of daily and weekly responsibilities; these things are what they can do to contribute to our family. (We have the right to add additional tasks, of course.) These contributions include:
    • Putting away dishes (all 3 kids)
    • Hand-washing dishes after breakfast (older 2 kids)
    • Vacuuming
    • Taking out trash
  • They can earn extra money by volunteering (or being assigned) to do additional work.
  • They can lose money if they are not doing good work (not getting dishes clean, dawdling in their tasks, etc). We are focusing on repeated offenses, not one-time mistakes.

We'll continue to modify this list with time. We advised years ago to keep giving them some challenging work to do; don't let it all be what comes easy. We want them to develop a strong work ethic and a solid sense of personal responsibility.

Now that they have their own spending money, it's interesting to watch what they do with it. They are to take the first portions for giving and saving, but the rest can be spent (or saved for later spending).

Within days of her first allowance, Hannah spent $2 on a candy apple. She insists she's going to save to buy American Girl paraphernalia at the end of the year. We'll see how that goes.

Elijah's a keen saver, as is Sender. I think Sender finally used some of his spending money to buy some potato chips at a baseball game last week.

Related Links:

Helicopter Parents Need to Release Their Kids

Just as bad as parents who don't provide guidance and training for their children, are those who fail to release their children. A common term for this phenomenon is being a "helicopter" parent -- one who continually hovers around their child, ready to step in to protect and rescue.

A young child does need protection (since "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child" -- Proverbs 22:15), though many parents (as I have been at times) could stand to give there child more room. But definitely by the teen years, a child needs significantly more independence. They need to feel the weight of responsibility and consequences, while also feeling the joy of accomplishment.

The moral: Don't be a life-long helicopter parent.

See this graphic below, and be sure to click through to the article by The Art of Manliness, for more on this topic.

Related Link:
  • Parent Link (an equipping event by Grace Church, from January 31)
**first image courtesy of isakoc via; second image from Art of Manliness

The Dangers of Spanking, and of Not Spanking

We could endlessly debate some things:
  • Krispy Kreme vs Dunkin Donuts
  • Clemson vs South Carolina
  • Allendale vs Greenville. (OK, maybe I'm the only one who will make that last argument.)
But nothing gets parents (or even non-parents) in a more heated discussion than whether or not children should be spanked. It's a common debate among that many parents want to chime in on.

For the record, I believe that a spanking can be an effective consequence for a young child, if done correctly. Most of the pushback from the culture has been due to when spanking mistakenly is equated with abuse (as with the case of Kevin & Elizabeth Schatz).

While studies have concluded that spanking as a disciplinary tool has negative effects on a child, these studies fail to differentiate among the different contexts and processes that the spanking is given in. Many of these categorize spanking with all forms of hitting (and even kicking!).

Physical abuse of a child is a terrible thing. But to say that all spankings are physical abuse is akin to saying that all verbal corrections are forms of verbal abuse. Yes, they can be abuse, but they are not necessarily so.

A dad once told me that he didn't spank because in the past he had gotten angry and felt he had taken it too far. I admired his awareness of that danger. But I also pressed him to deal with that issue of anger. Avoiding spankings for fear of abuse is not much different than avoiding confrontation for fear of hurting someone emotionally. There are dangers, but that is all the more reason to examine our hearts and motives, and to continually trust God in the matter.

What might you miss out on by not spanking? Well, I know for my kids (especially at a young age), nothing gets there attention like a spanking applied in a context of love. Three-year-olds are not meant to be reasoned with. 

Is a spanking warranted for every negative behavior? No. In fact, I think this is one way that spankings get abused. We parents can get very lazy (at least I do), wanting one uniform way to deal with all issues. Some situations may warrant more conversation and time-outs. But in some cases (like rebellion and slow-bedience), a physical spanking -- coupled with love and gospel-centered conversation -- is the best way to address the issue.

What are your thoughts? I know you have some!

Related Links:

**image courtesy of chetbox via flickr


Here are some statistics listed in Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story (John Sowers). Children from fatherless homes account for:
  • 85% of youth who exhibit behavior disorders
  • 85% of all youths in prison
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displace anger
  • 71% of high school dropouts
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers
  • 63% of youth suicides

These stats are especially applicable to what we see in Allendale, SC, where 70% of households do not include a married couple.

But I'm sure there are fatherless children right around you. The question is, "What can you do about it?" Are you involved in the lives of fatherless children, to encourage, mentor, and care for? This involvement can come in many forms:
  • volunteering in your child's school
  • coaching
  • serving in an after school program
  • tutoring
  • etc.

If you are not already, I encourage you to get involved soon. Those children need every chance they can get to succeed, and you could be just the positive influence that they need.

Marriage Articles

Thirteen years ago this month, Joanna and I started dating. How little did we know back then! If we had known how complicated things were going to be, we might have run scared! But God has been gracious to continually draw us closer to Him, and to each other.

Are you married? Here are some articles that could give you some great things to think about.

A Picture-Perfect Marriage. Tim Challies begins a series on marriage by focusing on the end of the story. In order to know what our marriage should look like now, we need to have a picture of what it should look like in the end.

How Differences with Your Spouse Can Make Your Marriage Stronger.  Michael Hyatt advises us to identify, acknowledge, and leverage our differences. 

Beware of These Marriage Killers.  "Dr. Gottman’s research clearly demonstrates that conflict is not the cause of unhappy marriages—happy and unhappy couples fight about the same things. How conflict is handled is what makes the difference between a disaster or master marriage. Most couples wait for six years after they know their relationship is in serious trouble before they seek counseling."

Why the World Is Wrong About Marriage. Jen Smidt compares "Good Advice" from the culture with the Good News from God.

Related Links:
**image courtesy of theswedish via

Birth Due Date Theory

You've heard of the Birth Order Theory, which is the idea that birth order has a significant impact on personality. It's one of those concepts that I never thought was true, until I had my own kids.

But we have another idea -- the Birth Due Date Theory. This is the concept that when a child was born relative to his or her due date is related to his or her personality. (I'm not implying causation, but here might be.)

Is it true? Well, it seems to be true for our kids:
  1. Hannah was born 9 days late. Nowadays, she can be pretty pokey, taking her time and getting distracted by her own creative thoughts. She's rarely in a rush, much to the chagrin of her Type A parents.
  2. Elijah was born exactly on his due date. Today, he is precise in his thinking, and (to a fault) in how he corrects others. He wants things to be done in a specific way, so we have to be careful in giving clear and complete instructions. He gets his stuff done, and moves on.
  3. Sender was born 5 days early, on December 23. He didn't want to miss the excitement of Christmas. Now, he is constantly full-speed, and is a walking and talking party. He is always up for a talent show and any other form of entertainment.
What about your kids? Do you see a correlation between being their being born early/on-time/late and their personality?

Favorite Tweets for February

It's been a busy month.
This month, based on a suggestion from a friend, I'm not only going to list my own tweets (oh, vanity!), but my favorite tweets from others.

I'll start with great tweets from others:
  1. @JamieTVWM:  I told my kids to go outside for an hour. They're acting like I told them to move out to the woods for a year.
  2. @kevinbglenn:  "Your theology of heaven is displayed by how you spend your time and your money." Matt Williams
  3. @kellyoxford:  I just google searched the word "askew" and I would be a full on 100% jerk if I didn't tell you guys to go waste a few seconds and try it.
  4. @PlattDavid:  Prosperity theology wrongly exalts God's gifts (things we receive from God) above God's glory (the treasure we have in God) 
  5. @epicparent:  "The problem with children is that you have to put up with their parents." ~Charles DeLint
  6. @DanDAlberto:  "I'll never, ever accept the idea that triviality, mediocrity, and futility are appropriate goals for any human being." -  

Now, some mediocre tweets from yours truly:
  1. Best part of kids going to bed = being able to play the "inappropriate" songs with my wife on Just Dance 3.
  2. "Don't use busyness as an excuse to avoid what God really wants for you." Mike Chibbaro
  3. Are diet soft drinks bad for you? // I'm going back to regular Dr Pepper
  4. "The call to follow Jesus is a call to surrender all." Larry Sizemore, Fairfax Baptist Church
  5. "The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others." Oswald Chambers 
  6. We can't fall in love with what we're doing & our successes. We need to fall in love with Jesus. Bill White
  7. If I'm burned out & exhausted, it might not be because I'm working too hard for Jesus, but working too hard for others or for my own ego. 
  8. At rest time, my 5-year-old decided to remove his clothes & put them on backwards, including his underwear.  
  9. Took a 25 minute detour from teaching chemistry to explain to my class that their true identity is not based on their gifts or performance.