Why We Really Put Our Kids in Sports

Why We Really Put Our Kids in Sports

by Melanie Springer Mock

When my youngest son finished second at his first-ever cross-country meet, I nearly wept with joy. After years of club soccer and dabbling in lacrosse, baseball, and basketball, my 13-year-old kid was competing inmy sport—the one I’d been doing for almost 35 years—and succeeding. What could be better?

As his season progressed, I became keenly interested in his races, split times, and personal records. I helped as a course monitor for local meets, so I could watch his races more closely. When he finished a race, my first question was, “What was your time?” I already knew the answer, of course, having used a stopwatch to track his performance, which I would religiously check later against the state rankings for middle school cross-country.

In other words, I had become one of those parents.


Top 5 Ways to Keep My Cool

Fights, fights, everywhere.  In the streets, on airplanes, at political rallies.  I have never seen Americans so on edge and willing to fight at the drop of a hat.  How do we keep our cool?  Paul referred to the Corinthians volatile nature:  “quarrels, jealousy, flaring tempers, taking sides, angry words, vicious rumors, swelled heads, and general bedlam…”

(2 Cor. 12:20).  Sounds like he was watching CNN doesn’t it?

Photo Credit: picturepeoplela.com

I travel a lot on airplanes.  The other day, two men nearly came to blows over their bags not fitting in the overhead bin.  They squared off in the aisle until finally one of them moved his bag a few rows back.  The whole plane was saved from delay or canceling the flight because one guy “gave in and sat down.”

How do we KEEP OUR COOL?


Are SmartPhones & Social Media Too Dangerous for My Kids?

Dynamic Image
I don’t know which is worse, the parent who just hands their 12-year-old a SmartPhone with no guidance whatsoever, or the parent who denies their 17-year-old access to any social media or technology whatsoever because “It’s the devil!”

I’ve seen both extremes. Neither turns out well.

What is the answer? Think about it. If you could wave your magic wand and make your kid turn out perfect… what would that look like? Would they own a phone? Would Snapchat be one of their go-to apps? Would they ever post selfies?

In a world where little boys see too much, andlittle girls post too much… is it even possible for young people to learn to text, Tweet, and Insta responsibly? If so, how can we teach them this…and model this?

Is it impossible to picture your kids someday sitting in a college dorm using their phone to merely look up a homework assignment, check their work schedule, post a picture of their new coffee mug, and text you before bed, “I love you Mom!”?

Maybe this picture is a little easier to fathom if we had a realistic idea of what responsible mobile-device use looks like in our homes? In other words, what are helpful guidelines today’s parents can implement? More importantly, what do these conversations look like?

Here are 5 steps parents can take to help their kids learn to be responsible with their mobile devices:


Is Lying A Christian Virtue?


I find I’m not alone. Others receive the same emails from Christian friends — emails that are full of lies. They berate the government, the culture or individuals in the news. But when I check the veracity of what is sent I find that the information is usually false. It is made up, created to make some person or group look to be evil by their words or their actions.

When I contact the sender, I find that he never checked his content before broadcasting the email to all his contacts. He assumes the vicious attack is true because it is about a person or group he doesn’t like. These urban legends are not true, but the Christians who email them don’t bother to find that out. It is almost impossible to stay ahead of the lies that keep coming.

It is a new day for Christians. Lying seems to be an acceptable way of life. One day, when I was teaching doctor of ministry students at a conservative theological seminary, I brought up the subject of ethics and lies. Almost with one voice, those students let me know that “it is OK to lie, as long as we are lying for Jesus.”


Seasoned Disagreement


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6).

These words come from a person who knew how to love on people and how to argue with them as well — Paul. He never shied away from a difficult conversation, but he also wrote some of the most encouraging words in the New Testament. He was firm but gentle with Philemon. He spoke tenderly to the Philippians about Timothy and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:19–30). But only a couple of verses later (3:2), he spoke sternly about legalism and those who promote it. It didn’t seem like an odd transition at all.

Paul seemed to be able to say the nicest things and the hardest things in ways that made neither seem out of place or disingenuous. We all know that the Corinthian church had a lot of moral degradants, egotists and relationally challenged folks in their midst. Paul nevertheless referenced the saints among them (1:1–2) and thanked God deeply for them (1:3). Then he proceeded to correct them for a host of problems.

How could he make such rapid shifts in communication? How could he keep his love personal and not get too personal in his criticism?


The Importance of Being a Faith-focused Family

By Jim Burns

Disturbing findings about teens and faith in recent years reveal that a majority of high school graduates do not attend church the following year. While youth ministry experts point to several reasons for the phenomenon and seek answers that might change this downhill trend, Richard Ross, Ph.D., professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, found that teens prove three times more likely to stay in church after high school graduation if they encounter regular healthy faith conversations within the home. Faith conversations, including discussions and study about God and the Christian life, most often occur in what feels like a spontaneous conversation.

Because kids typically don’t initiate regular faith conversations, parents must be proactive in developing family times together to make a difference. In our own family, we found that our kids did better with a short, non-lecture format. Families seem to experience the most success when they keep these times fairly light and combine faith conversations with another aspect of family life like dinnertime or a fun activity. The best faith conversations come when the kids see their parents as fellow learners rather than in the teacher-to-student role.

Ideas for your family’s faith conversations can come from everyday experiences such as playground behavior, teachers’ personal points of view in the classroom, a grocery clerk’s actions, a neighbor’s needs, or an advertisement’s meaning. These regular conversations help establish a solid foundation for continued church involvement and spiritual growth beyond high school.

Several decades of research have revealed measurable outcomes with young people who have a positive spiritual experience in their teen years. The research affirms that when young people have a healthy spiritual life, they make better decisions about their friendships, school, and sexuality, and they tend to experience much fewer at-risk behaviors. Knowing that the casual conversations you have today greatly impact your child’s future, engage your kids on a spiritual level as often as possible, and keep the communication going throughout the teen years.

Jim Burns

Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family @ Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to thousands of people around the world each year. and has over 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim’s radio broadcast is heard on over 800 stations a day and heard around the world via podcast at HomeWord.com.
This article first appeared at https://homeword.com/articles/

Four Factors for Church Conversations


“I’d like to share some concerns with you.” “Would you mind if we sat down and talked?” “Can I speak with you about something that happened (or something that you said the other day)?”

We’ve all said or heard these various phrases and all their forms, and while we understand the perception of these words when we say them, we especially don’t like to hear them. They seem to bring up within us that a difficult conversation lies ahead. When we think about what might be said or what the conversation might entail, we get anxious and envision all kinds of various avenues the conversation may go. Notice that these italicized words are not rooted in reality. It is important for us to realize that we cannot imagine exactly how the conversation will go, and we also can’t put a characteristic onto someone based on a conversation we have with them in our heads.

Ever done that? Have you ever misunderstood someone simply because you imagined what they might say or do during a conversation to discuss an issue? When thinking about difficult conversations within the church body, we are better to start with the understanding of a certain kind of character we ought to have as Christians. An understanding of the following four suggestions can be helpful:


Engaging Difficult Conversations


“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people … religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin,” said Linus in a 1961 “Peanuts” comic strip and a 1966 cartoon. With the exception of the mysterious Great Pumpkin, Linus took his cues from a popular rule of etiquette still in effect today on subjects not to discuss publicly.

The idea of never talking about politics or religion was popularized throughout the 20th century as conflict arose over tension-filled topics when sharing personal beliefs. Although we still find ourselves struggling for ways to approach important subjects with grace and humility when we feel a strong sense of conviction, our etiquette is changing. People want to talk about the presidential election and how they believe God engages the world. Yet we often have ill-defined ways of going about sharing our convictions with others in ways that build up rather than cause debate. Thus, it is often easier to avoid a potentially dramatic exchange, opting for lighter conversations about weather, weekend activities and our latest TV series.

I am definitely a fan of hearing about people’s weekend adventures and how they engage with pop culture. I also love being able to hear why people think and feel the way they do even when nearing unknown territory. As a pastor and the director for the Leadership Center in Oregon, I get to spend much time with people, mostly college students, who thrive on unearthing their beliefs through exploring the unknown.

Through the Leadership Center, we recruit and send students to ministry sites for a semester or summer to help them discern their call while practicing servant leadership in an internship context. In addition to mentoring these students, I have the opportunity to teach at their colleges. Mentoring and teaching over the last several years has taught me much about future generations and the evolving etiquette of not just what we talk about but how we talk about what we believe. I have learned no topic is off-limits when encouraging another person’s growth. Students want to learn, and whether the topic is religion, politics, economics or ranking their cafeteria’s food choices, they want to engage in the conversation. They want to know why things are the way they are, what their place is in healing the world and what role God plays in it all. They do not want to have the conversations in a vacuum. They want to learn from people who have thought, prayed, studied and experienced the subject firsthand.


Parenting with A.W.E.

Listening- The Most Important Counseling Technique for Youth Workers

One of the primary goals of parenting is to help our kids become responsible, independently functioning adults. One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is the support and guidance along the way that helps them become responsible adults. Not many parents disagree about the importance of these issues. Still, many parents struggle with how to provide the help and guidance necessary for building responsible teenagers – and especially when their kids are being difficult.

Unfortunately, some parents turn to shame-based parenting in an attempt to motivate their kids to become responsible. Shame-based parenting takes place when parents attempt to influence their children’s behavior through shaming, nagging, and negativity. This simply does not work in the long run. Shame-based parenting may gain initial victories, but in the end, it is a short-term parenting strategy. It does little to help teenagers become responsible over the long-term.

I’d like to suggest a long-term parenting strategy that I believe is effective. I call it “Parenting with A.W.E.”  “A.W.E.” stands for Affirmation, Warmth and Encouragement. I strongly believe that parenting with A.W.E. is made possible by loving your kids unconditionally – even as Christ has demonstrated His own love towards each of us.


The Nerve of Some People

Have you ever come across someone who was really bold, but not necessarily in the good way? It’s the person you agreed to give a ride to, and along the way they ask you if they can make a second stop. It’s someone asking for money and then you watch them spend it on something they didn’t need. It could be the child who comes to the dinner table and announces why they don’t like what you cooked. Maybe it is the people who refuse to help, yet criticize the work being done.

The nerve of some people, right?

It’s the guy being crucified next to God. This guy being crucified for being a thief. Yeah, the guy who, according to Roman rule, deserved to be there. We’re given no indication that this guy, this thief, had anyone there who was about to miss him. That guy. He turns to Jesus and asks if he can get into Heaven.

Do you believe that?

The only thing more incredible than his request is the answer he receives from Jesus.

Yes. Yes?

Are you kidding me? I feel bad asking God for a day without any garbage. That request comes from me when I feel like I’m in some sort of place to ask it. You know, like after I’ve attended church, read my Bible and said something encouraging to someone. (Don’t even get me started on how messed up that kind of thinking is.)

This guy on the cross next to Jesus has some boldness. If I was the kind of guy who had some sponsors, this might be a perfect place for some product placement, maybe a chip company who believes they offer bold flavor. But I digress. This request takes guts.

What makes the request even more unbelievable is that this guy on the cross understands his predicament. He is just finishing his reprimand of the third guy on the cross, someone who clearly didn’t believe Jesus had what it took to answer any  questions, much less requests about the after life. This is what he says;

‘We’re up here because we belong here. But Jesus did nothing wrong. Hey Jesus! I just got an idea. Could I come with you into Heaven?’

Seriously? Bold. You can almost imagine Jesus looking over at the guy and responding with, “Are you serious? I’m dying over here.” But, of course, He doesn’t. Because He’s Jesus. The thief asks a bold question and Jesus gives a bold answer. ‘I tell you the truth. Today you will be with me in paradise.’


The nerve of asking this question, at that moment, almost feels like a sin. Perhaps the greater sin is that I, in all my understanding of a God of grace, choose not to make such bold requests.