Favorite Tweets for July

The end of the summer sneaks up on you, huh?

Good-bye to one hot month. Hello to another one. My prediction for the August? An 238% increase in the number of football-related tweets. Since I'll be a coach this year, I might actually contribute some myself.

I'm at football camp this week. And today is a special day, my Spiritual Birthday.

My Favorite Thoughts from Twitter-World

@PastorTullianThe only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.

@DavidAllstonGod does not come into your life to fill a gap. He comes in to take over your life. 

@berkun:  The paradox of writing is you must spend endless hours alone in order to write well enough to connect with people you'll never meet. 

@JamieTheVWM I never ask other parents for parenting advice. Instead I look for adults I admire and ask what their parents did. 

@JimGaffigan:  “I have too much time on my hands and I want to stew in a broth of my own filth.” - People who take baths

@The90sLife"What doesn't kill you makes you smaller." - Mario  

@ChrchCurmudgeonNice to see 1000s of young people using technology to land a man on the moon. Oh, wait. You're taking pictures of your latte. 

@RickWarrenI've been with the poorest of the poor in over 100 countries and America's poor are rich compared to the poor elsewhere.

@PaulTrippNo need to rule the people and circumstances of your life. They are under the careful rule of One wiser than you

My Top Contributions to Twitter-World

Self-doubt is not about humility, but about pride. (via

Why does my son completely freak out when I try to pull his tooth? I'm removing a loose tooth, not your intestines. #insensitiveparenting

"The Bible was not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives." DL Moody 

Thank you, , for your help in parenting my kids.

Me: "Buy these shorts." Wife: "I'm thinking what shirts I'd wear with it." Me:"I don't do that." Wife: "You should."

I think we just saw Homey the Clown making balloon animals.  

Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Parenting

Hannah has pretty much always been a healthy eater. She does love fast food, but also craves a salad, and most fruits and vegetables. Broccoli has always been a favorite.

When she was much younger, we were at a restaurant and I found myself giving her these instructions: "Hannah, no more eating your broccoli until you eat some of your chicken nuggets."

Really? Did I just tell her to choose processed chicken over a healthy veggie? Yep, I sure did. And I immediately knew that something was wrong with my parenting skills.

Earlier this month, I gave Hannah another unusual punishment -- she was not allowed to read books for a few days (she was only allowed to read her Bible, write in her journal, or draw pictures). A little odd that I would punish a child by not letting her read, right?

The day before I had given her specific instructions about needing to be done reading. And minutes later, she "figured" that I would say it was OK. Wrong.

As much as possible, we want the consequence to fit the crime. And she does love reading, especially in the mornings and during relaxing afternoons. So, I took away her privilege to read her own books, after having (yet another) conversation about trusting in our authority instead of being autonomous in her decision-making.

So for a couple of days, she read the Bible more, and did a lot of drawing and creating. And she was happy to get back her privilege to read.

Punishing a child by not letting her read -- yet another way that our parenting skills seem a bit "off."

Related Links:

Bad Behavior: He Can't Help It

Have you ever wondered if kids who behave badly really can't help it? I'm not saying that children are not responsible for their actions. But what if the brains of some are hardwired that makes impulsive reactions more natural?

Last month, at our Elevate Summer Camp, a child pulled a fire alarm one afternoon. I've known this child for over a year, and I've seen him making foolish choices and then honestly regretting them later. I talked with him about what he did, and I know exactly what happened. He saw that the alarm said "Pull" and he just did so. Immediately, he realized what he did and said to the girl next to him, "Don't tell anyone what I just did." Thankfully, she did.

He made an impulsive decision. He often lives as if there is no filter between his desires and his actions. I don't think he is alone in having this problem of difficult-to-control urges towards negative behavior. For example, researchers have discovered an association between alcoholism and genetics.

The Science of Aggression

With many children that we have ministered to in Allendale, there seems to be an excessive amount of anger and aggression. No matter how many times we converse with them, or how many consequences they get, they still impulsively react with anger (that does not dissipate quickly). We know that there is a connection between Anger and Fatherlessness, but is there something going on on a deeper biological level?

Researchers from Germany have used molecular imaging to monitor the presence of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine typically calms neural and bodily activity, so a lagging release of this chemical is a key factor in anger and aggression. As the team noted, "For many people, anger is an almost automatic response to life's challenges" (emphasis mine).

Helping Them Manage

So, if negative behavior cannot be controlled (or at least, controlled with great difficulty), how should we respond? Should we just give up, and throw in the towel? Of course not!

In working with kids who have issues with ADHD and emotional self-control, we have to help them learn to manage their challenges. We cannot go to the extreme of excusing and allowing their behavior, and we cannot go to the other extreme of blindly punishing behavior that is more childish than foolish and rebellious.

We have to give children the bigger vision, that includes these principles:
  • "We love you."
  • "We accept you and understand your challenges."
  • "In order for you to succeed, we have to help learn to control your behavior and make better choices."

A Theology of Impulsivity 

But I also know that asking a child (or an adult, for that matter) to "do better" will always be a losing battle. For whatever desires and impulses we have, the natural self will win if the person is in the battle alone, especially if there is some sort of ingrained biological tendency.

The Christ-follower, however, is not alone in this battle. Those who have the Spirit of God living in them have a power-filled desire to control their actions. Instead of a mind vs flesh battle, we live a spirit vs flesh battle (Galatians 5:16-17).

When we are tempted with selfish and destructive impulses, we can remember these principles from the article Temptation Is an Invitation:
  1. Temptation is not a sin
  2. Resist the devil
  3. Draw near to God
  4. Know the Word
  5. Look for the exit sign
  6. Rinse and repeat 

Related Links:
 **image courtesy of adamfast via sxc.hu

Kids and Missions

I love that my each person in my family understands that we are on a mission in Allendale. And it is even more so for our friends, the Osborns, who serve in Papua New Guinea.

Do you want another example? I read about (and watched) a video series from the Wild family, on this post. The purpose of these videos is to encourage children to consider the joy, adventure, and challenge of serving in foreign missions.

It is easy for both adults and children to get caught up in our own culture, and day-to-day desires. Everyone does not need to serve on foreign missions, but many do. Why? Because despite the fact that the Bible is the number one published book of all time, there are still many who have never heard the gospel taught to them.

In reference to the people group that they are ministering to, the Wild family realizes that "they were not forgotten by God. He already had them picked out especially for us, and we were picked out for them. Isn't God amazing?"

I encourage you to watch these videos with your children. In the words of one of the Wild brothers, "We hope that the Lord will use these little homemade movies to draw many young hearts to follow strong after Him."

Related Link:

More on Lazy Parenting

Continuing thoughts from a post earlier in the year . . .

Too often as parents, we (and I am more guilty than anyone) have our goal to make life easier for ourselves. I want my kids to do good not because it is honoring to God, but because then I don't have to deal with them.

Ugh. How lazy of me. But I'm thankful that God continually makes me aware of this self-oriented perspective. 

I have to realize that gospel-oriented parenting is as much about me making a disciple of my child as it is God using my children to draw me closer to him.

For more reading, check out these posts from other sites:
**image courtesy of allyaubry via flickr

You Guys Are Being Selfish

My kids have watched this hilarious video by Julian Smith at least 6 times. We crack up at all of his works (at least the ones that I let them watch).

Isn't that ridiculous? He's got more waffles than he can eat and more than the other two guys put together, and yet he still calls them selfish?

Recently, I had a chance to use this video as an example with my kids. It was the end of the day ("free time") at our Elevate Summer Camp, and all of us were in the gym playing -- jump rope, basketball, or just tossing balls and frisbees.

At one point, one of my kids (holding 3 balls) was running away from another child who wanted a ball. I am consistently harping on them about being selfish. Our conversations center around the need to love others, and to worship Jesus instead of worshiping stuff. I try to orient it all around the gospel.

But on this day, I figured a lighter tone would work. I pulled aside my offending child, and said, "Hey. Do you remember the Julian Smith video with the waffles?" He immediately smiled.

I continued, "Remember how he had lots of waffles and didn't want to share two of them with friends? And remember how he said they were being selfish?" His smile grew bigger.

"Well, you have 3 balls, and your friend had none. Even if you gave him one, you were still have more than him. You're being like the waffle guy. You're being selfish, and yet you're mad at the kid asking for one little ball. Should you be the waffle guy?"

He agreed that he should share and went on his way. Issue solved. Boring lecture avoided. Heart reached.

Now, to figure out how I can use more of Julian Smith's videos as parenting illustrations.

Related Links:

Family Ministry Is About Unity

Traditionally, churches have divided their ministries into categories like Children's, Youth (or Student), Adult, Men's, Women's, etc. However, in recent years there has been more of an emphasis on Family Ministry. The Orange Conference is one of the most popular events that promotes this (though I myself have never attended).

Family ministry is centered on the idea that the categories of child, youth, men, etc, are fluid and arbitrary. Sure, we need to divided people into groups for the sake of ministry and programming. But when you make these divisions, churches often find themselves with ministries that have disconnected visions.

In that viewpoint, Family Ministry in a church is about unity -- unity within God, unity within the church, and unity within the family.

Unity with God

The Bible outlines that God has a main purpose for people, that they would worship Him (Matthew 22:38; Luke 4:8). This lifestyle of worship is not static, but we should be continually growing in Him.

It is important that children understand this, that discipleship is not so much about being a "child" until 6th grade, then a "youth" until 12th grade, then a "college student" and then an "adult." Our maturation should be a continual and gradual incline, not a series of steps.

Family ministry can help a child to understand this, that his purpose is to continually know, pursue, and respond to Jesus throughout his entire life.

Unity Within the Church

One main danger with segmented ministries is that Ministry Kingdoms become common. Divisions and passive-aggressive battle lines form and solidify, as each ministry clamors for needed resources and attention.

And this division filters down to the the members of a church. People focus more on the ministry that suits their current needs and desires -- if they have children, they'll say that Children's Ministry is most important. But a single leader (or a ministry team) over a family ministry can eliminate these divisions, by giving unified purpose and direction to the various programs and initiatives.

Unity Within the Family

Many churches have a programming structure in which they teach the same topic to all age groups on any given Sunday. This concept facilitates family conversations, as they can all discuss that week's lesson in the car or around the dinner table.

While this idea is useful in many churches, I do not think it is essential to promoting conversation. The church can use many other tools to assist parents in discipling their children. The important thing to communicate to children is that God calls them to follow Him at every stage of their lives.


Having a centralized family ministry can help a church be unified as it makes disciples of all ages. Family ministry can promote and foster our relationships with God, within our churches, and within families themselves.

Does your church have a family ministry? How does it "categorize" its members and attendees?

**image courtesy of donzeladef via sxc.hu

Christian America?

Is America a "Christian" nation, or has it ever been? Was it founded by Christians or Deists, and did they launch this nation with principles based on their own personal beliefs.

These questions form heated discussions in our culture today. Virtually everyone who debates this come to the table with a bias, and tends to read their own beliefs into their discussion. For the record, I am all for debate, but I will say that I detest when people try to say that one political party is the "Christian" or "God-following" one.

America Upon His Shoulders

I just finished reading America Upon His Shoulders, which was given to me a few years ago. I've enjoyed learning more about the founding of our nation, and hearing it from a Christ-centered perspective.

There is no doubt that most of the "Founding Fathers" of the United States held a deep belief in a sovereign and just God. For example,
  • "We shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise friends to fight our battles for us."  Patrick Henry
  • "Thou gavest Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation."  George Washington
  • "God governs in the affairs of men."  Benjamin Franklin 
Interestingly, even Mr. Franklin (an admitted non-Christian) knew that Bible-based principles would lead to a strong government, as he wrote to the French (in 1778), "He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity will change the face of the world."

However, this book makes some overstatements, such as stating that the media has "taken away permission to speak the name Jesus." This untrue hyperbole has no place in debate. Also, I am always cautious of pulling applications out of passages (especially from the Old Testament) to support points. After all, Israel is not equal to the church, and neither of these are equivalent to the United States.

What's the Point?

The issue of application is where I'll close. It seems like the purpose of this book is to rally Christians to stand up and speak out about the guiding principles and morals of our nation. And it attempts to make a connection between the decline of our country and the growing secularism.

The last sentence may be true, but I think I would disagree with the solutions. What our nation needs is not more moralism, but that people's hearts would turn to God. And this heart-change is not accomplished by legislation, but by Christians engaging those around us in love and truth.

If Christians main strategy is to withdraw into holy huddles, only coming on to scream "Immorality!" from blogs, TV, and the pulpit, we will not change this nation. In fact, I think one reason that the country is in the current situation of moral decay is because the church has done this withdrawal.

Yes, we need to speak out about the truth and vote as the Spirit leads, but that is not going to win the souls of men. What we need to do is engage our neighbors on a personal level, and reach them where they are. Our primary mission must never to be a nation that is guided by Christian principles, but a nation that is full of Christians that live by God's principles and the Spirit's power.

And you cannot legislate that.

Related Links:

Favorite Tweets for June

Warming up for the championship game
Summer is about half over! Yikes!

Here are some great tweets from last month:

@JaredCWilsonOne day all our theological nitpickery will be exposed and we'll go, "D'oh. I was a jerk." And Jesus will say "Yep, you were. But welcome."

@BoomBamBunny: There's no b,c,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,n,o,p,q,r,s,u,v,w,x,y, or z in team either. 

@eschneeberg@johnsowers Congrats on being recognized today as a White House Champion of Change 

@DavidAllston:  John 3 is a passage about judgment. We are under God's judgment and we are responsible for that judgment and only the Judge can save us

@mitchmillerme:  Shame keeps us from real relationships

@MensHumorIt's weird to think that before Twitter all of this nonsense just stayed in people's heads.

@Lecrae:  Enjoy the ups and downs in life. The ups should make us grateful, the downs dependent.

@KatieHorton:  Discipleship is not a system or a program. It's a reckless abandonment; a way of life. @gracechurchsc @jimthompson777 #TheInstitute

My words of wisdom, in 140 characters or less:

[Dial #]. Person answers: "Hello?" [I think: Dang! Who did I just call?]

Check out these 3 videos on mentoring, & check out what is doing.

It's funny when an 18 year old tells a 13 year old about "the good old days." 

"The most damaging aspect of contemporary living is short-term thinking." Rick Warren

Encouraged by the 75 students & leaders from serving in with love & energy. 

Sender asked for: waffle cut in the shape of a dino, breakfast at AJ's, & a shooting star shaved in his hair. Guess which 1 he got today?

Instead of granting money, we must empower "people based on shared responsibility, mutual support, & accountability."