Do you call today good? A VBS post

I've been preparing for VBS, as most everyone in Children's Ministry must at this time of year. Often children's teachers feel that, because they teach such simple truths week after week, they miss getting fed themselves. I've felt that way. Teaching an adult Bible study allowed me to study and teach truths for where I was in life—probing deeply into issues I faced as a Christian adult. But children's teachers teach very basic material, and frankly, it often fails to challenge and feed like adult material would. But this VBS material creates a veritable feast for me to study. I've been forced to go back and forth through the gospels to see certain essential truths about Jesus. Sure, I've read them before, but as I prepare to teach children five basic truths about this person Jesus, I've put these essentials in order and in a few words.  And as any writer knows, a few of the right words explode with a punch.

First, Jesus had eyewitnesses to His power and His position. From the moment He began His saving ministry, He was identified by the voice of God from heaven who called Him "My Beloved Son."

Second, He performed miracles that identified Him as more than a man. He commanded nature by calming waves (demonstrating power over planetary tides and forces we don't understand even today, like wind and storms) and making inanimate objects like bread and dead fish multiply. Try figuring out the physics of that—no natural phenomena can account for that! He proved He was God in all four gospels.

Third, He really and completely died on a cross. Pilate made sure of this by sending a top officer to confirm what any Roman soldier would know well—the difference between a dead man and a wounded man. Jesus died, as my mom would say, as dead as a doornail.

Fourth, He rose again, and His tomb was opened for inspection, in spite of guards posted to prevent any tampering. No one expected it. The disciples were 'scattered' and scared. The women brought spices expecting to find a decomposing body. His closest supporters had to be convinced of His resurrection. This is not the way myths or legends start. Jesus had predicted this, and it happened as He said it would.

Fifth, His disciples were radically changed by what they witnessed. They were willing to confront the same Jewish mob just 50 days later, not as fearful disciples, but as men sure of what they knew, and as men filled with the Holy Spirit. Their witness pierced the hearts of three thousand that Pentecost, birthing the same church which continues to this day--the one that has grafted into it you and me, that is, if you too believe this story and submit to this Jesus.

If you do, today is your independence day. It seemed more like Black Friday to the first disciples, but it's no wonder they call it by the name we now use–Good Friday.

We All Win By Helping Parents

Parenting is hard.    -   signed: Captain Obvious

Parenting special needs kids is harder.   -   signed: Colonel N.O. Kidding

I was reminded of that yesterday as I worked alongside a young mom who has a special needs child, along with a precocious two year old. Together, these two wonderful kids created a full-contact, ab-building, 2,000 calorie-burning workout for their mom. And that was before lunch.

This mom loves her kids, and has a wonderful attitude about the role God has given her. She even has room in her day to help out around the church--probably too much for her sanity--but she loves that too.

When I watch young parents do all the wrangling, wiping, and wardrobe-malfunctioning that goes with raising children, I'm humbled and amazed. If you're one of those child wranglers, and especially if you have a special needs child, pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that it's a season in your life that will pass quickly, at least it will seem so when viewed from the empty nest. I'm praying for you--that you will enjoy this season of life, and that you'll keep your perspective.

God gave you your children to train them to be Godly, and that makes your work even more important. It also means that the rest of us, the church and community, need to help parents. Children are the next generation of workers, warriors, innovators, and leaders. Any society that desires to thrive and succeed should help in raising the next generation.

Sure, parents have the primary responsibility for child rearing, but we all have a stake in the task. We all pay the price when children are neglected. The government has a role in helping by creating a safety net of programs like Head Start and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. But little things matter, too-- little things like what individuals can do. You can help out in the church nursery or offer childcare to a single parent friend while she goes shopping. Want something smaller? How about offering encouragement instead of an icy glare when a harried parent's child acts up at the grocery store? How about sympathizing with the mom who got her kids to church (with shoes on!) even if they were a few minutes late?

We all have burdens to bear, and parents more than most. The Bible tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I'm no theologian, so I don't know exactly what the "law of Christ" is, but I bet the point is "If you want to be like Christ, help each other out." Parenting is a tough job, but we can help both others and ourselves by helping train the next generation.

Lies or Simply Misunderstandings?

I promised that I would start providing snippets from my new book "Ten Deceptions That Destroy Godly Parenting." The book started as "The Ultimate Father Figure" because it details how God parented the nation of Israel, and how Jesus taught His disciples. I felt led (compelled actually) to change the title to distinguish this book from the thousands of parenting books on the market. As I prayed for ways to do this, God led me to see that for every truth He has for parents, Satan has a lie that undermines those truths. That was Satan's strategy in the garden, and because it worked then, he continues to use that strategy. Even more important to me and to the book, Satan's lies played havoc with my own parenting, so the book is very much a personal testimonial to the damage these lies do. My mission is to help parents avoid the lies, deceptions, and myths that can rob us of our effectiveness. But as I fleshed out my mission I needed to know, are these lies of Satanic origin, or are they simply misunderstandings people generate on their own?

People certainly do muddle things up as they seek their own way apart from God, and I don't want to give Satan more credit than he's due. As I debated this internally I recalled a passage in Scripture that answers the question with authority. Jesus said in John 8:44 "Whenever he (Satan) speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."  Jesus tells us that Satan was the original liar, and all lies ultimately proceed from him. Sure, we humans become 'carriers' for the disease of lying, but the germ started with Satan.

What does this debate mean for parenting? Isn't this just a theological issue with no practical application? I don't think so, and here's why. If parenting is a God-given job with the purpose to produce Godly offspring as Malachi 2:15 says, then God has a plan for how to do it. Satan wants to undermine that plan, because he is opposed to all that is Godly, and sabotaging the work of Godly parents is a strategic emphasis for Satan. You only have to look at the current state of the family to see that Satan has worked overtime to attack this precious institution.

If parents only need to dispel misconceptions then the answer is more information, but if in fact the greatest threat to Godly parenting is the demonic activity of Satan, then we must look to Spiritual resources that God alone can supply. Any parenting book will suffice if all we need is more information, but Christian parents are in a life and death struggle for their children's souls, and I intend to sound that alarm. Parents need to be warned about the work of their enemy, and that's what "Ten Deceptions That Destroy Godly Parenting" sets out to do. The only real weapon God gives us is His Scripture, and "Ten Deceptions" is at its heart a Bible study. My entire confidence in the book is vested in the Scripture it contains, not in my own words.

I struggle with the vanity of asking God to bless this book, and of promoting it to you through this blog, but I honestly feel this is an urgent need in the body of Christ. I'll let the apostle Paul have the last word on this matter. He said in Colossians 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Don't be taken captive!

Movie review - Gravity and parenting

Everyone else seems to want to talk about the film "Noah," but I haven't seen it yet. I'm not sure I want to give my dollars to support it, based on what I know. I do want to talk about the movie "Gravity" however. I've seen it—twice—and I enjoyed it thoroughly both times. No doubt I'll watch it again to pick up some more of the subtle aspects of this incredible movie. Sandra Bullock plays Dr. Ryan Stone, a medical engineer making her first trip into space. A series of mishaps leads to the destruction of the shuttle, which is her ride home, and so we follow Dr. Stone's harrowing quest to return to the world of one G. The story is simple but riveting, and the special effects set a new bar for all space movies. There are even some great spiritual, even Christian, lessons in the film, although I'm pretty sure the makers did not set out to provide them.

First of all, Dr. Stone, though highly successful in her field of medical science, is broken—her soul ravaged by the death of her four year old daughter. The shadow of this event never disappears from Dr. Stone's consciousness. She admits to using her work as a way to ignore the pain.  To me, this raw portrayal shows that life, particularly life in relationship, is more important than achievement. Certainly this is a Christian value.

As a Christian, and as someone passionate about parenting God's way, I find one scene particularly intriguing. Near the end, at the crucial point where the heroine is alone and desperate, she says that she would like to pray, "if it's not too late." She then says "I don't know how to pray. No one ever taught me to pray." I sat up at these words, because this was both transparent and real.

Hollywood movies anger me most when they totally ignore God. They act as if people can go through life never considering the big questions of creation, purpose, and the afterlife. But at least Gravity did not ignore God. As Dr. Stone faces death, she admits, like any rational person would, a need to speak to her Maker. Her problem, as she saw it, was that "no one ever taught" her to pray. It's a very sad moment in the film, particularly as it reflects the majority status of Americans. So many who live in our modern world have never prayed, and they even believe they don't know how. What a tragedy.

Dr. Stone's admission reminds me how important it is that parents pass their faith on to their children, even in the simplest of ways—like teaching them how to pray. I'm not recommending the movie as a way to teach about God. In fact, there's very little reference to Him in spite of His creation so vividly displayed in the movie. Gravity has a PG-13 rating, and I recall a few bad words. It's intense, and more than one person in the room with me closed their eyes during some necessarily scary parts! But I appreciate Dr. Stone's transparency when she faces imminent death.

(Warning! I'm about to spill the ending, so you may want to skip the next paragraph.)

I'd love to have a real life conversation with Dr. Stone. The character had an incredible ride—a brush with death, and she survived! Did she remember her crisis of faith? Did she begin that day to pursue the big questions about God and the afterlife? I'd like to think so, but I suspect the Hollywood version of a strong career woman would fall right back into the head-in-the-sand pursuit of secular happiness. Near death experiences ought to make us change the trajectory of our lives on this earth, because that's a rational response to the prospect of death. Dr. Stone saw death coming, and for just a moment, she at least thought rationally about the possibility of God.

Proverbs 22:3 says "The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on and are punished for it." Anyone who has the sense to see the need to pray when they are facing death, but then ignores that most important question when the emergency has passed, that person is 'naive' and the Bible says they deserve the punishment they get. As parents we have a duty to help our children think about the important questions of life, and the Bible is our only reliable source for the answers.

In that moment, in zero G, Ryan Stone understood clearly the gravity of her situation-- the situation of every person on earth. How about you?

Cell Phone Safety (review of a helpful book)


Originally posted at by Jeremy Carroll on March 26, 2014.

My wife and 8 year old son picked up a book from the public library last weekend that, as it turns out, is quite helpful and informative. It is a short little book called "Cell Phone Safety" by Kathy Allen.

Most parents will have to deal with the issue of their children having and using a cell phone. Many parents want to help their children learn to use their cell phones responsibly but don't know where to begin in talking with them. I believe this book gives parents a good track on which to start. For children, it asks the right questions to help children begin thinking for themselves about this responsibility.

A few notable points:

The book is written directly to children, most likely younger teenagers (older teens might find it "immature"). While it's certainly not perfect nor comprehensive, I believe there are several good things to note about it. Addressing topics like "Phones are not toys," "Public v. Private Info," "Identity Theft and Dangers," "Cyberbullying," "Think Before You Send," and "Screens Taking Time Away from Real Life" makes this a book from which both parents and children/teenagers can benefit.


"Cell Phone Safety" encourages open, honest communication between child and parent. On several pages the statement is made "Talk to a parent or trusted adult." The book elaborates a "trusted adult" to be a teacher or someone similar. Parents definitely need to be intentional about keeping the lines of communication open, but children need to be reminded often (from outside the home helps tremendously) that their parents are not the enemy.

While cell phones certainly enable fun aspects of social life, they are not toys. Owners/users of cell phones, regardless of age, must remember that these devices are a tool for sending and receiving information, and that's not a game. This book doesn't gloss over or minimize the reality of the dangers of sharing private information publicly.

In light of the "it's not a toy" point, "Cell Phone Safety" encourages and emphasizes responsibility on the part of the child, not just the parent.

Dealing with questions like "What's the harm in telling posting about where I am?" and "What's the harm in responding to a number I don't know?" undergirds the serious nature of information sharing and helps children understand the risks.


Similarly, kids and adults alike should adhere to the point of "think before you post/share" and in many cases, you simply cannot "un-send."

Kids and adults alike can, also, benefit from periodically and intentionally unplugging; I know I can.

Boundaries are not a means to end fun but a means to ensure safety, just like crosswalks and traffic lights are on the road. Working with your child to set and understand boundaries will go a long way toward cell phone and online safety.

All in all, if you are struggling with how to help your child understand the importance of online/cell phone safety, this little book is a pretty good place to start. If you are just beginning crossing into the territory, as we are, of adding an additional cell phone in your home, this book will give you a path to walk on as you begin.

Note: This is simply a short review of a book I read. I have no affiliation with the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book. I have found its contents helpful; perhaps you can, too.

Family Devotions That Won't Burn You Out

When my kids were little, I tried to do family devotions every night. That lasted about 3 weeks, and then life happened. Once I stopped, I never went back. How could I have kept it going?

I knew that Scripture commands us to teach God’s ways to our children (Psalm 78:4-7) but when the going got tough, I got off track and never found it again! I learned the hard way that overcommitting can lead to burnout. I should have set realistic goals for doing a devotional time with my kids. If I had paid attention to Scripture I could have known God's principles for teaching children. One of those principles is that our teaching should be in the everyday matters of life, as Deuteronomy 6:7 expressly tells us. Another one is clearly shown by Jesus. He used object lessons and parables to teach His followers. Those adults needed object lessons to help them learn, so it should be no surprise that kids need them too. 

Actually, Jesus was just following God's example. God expressly instituted Passover as an object lesson for parents to share with their children. Read about it in Exodus 12:24-27, 13:14-16. Passover came only once a year, so maybe daily devotionals weren't required. with these lessons in mind, here are a few hints to help you teach your children in a fun, memorable family devotion time.

Helpful hints for starting and maintaining family devotions:

Always use a visual example, or even better, an activity, to illustrate the biblical truth.

Set a weekly family devotion time on your calendar.  Daily devotions (at least the fun kind) are too hard to maintain.

Prepare well.   One memorable devotion weekly teaches better than a boring one done daily. Since the helps I recommend include good lesson plans, your preparation can be simple and quick.

Make it fun by letting your kids learn at their own pace. They may only remember the funny face you made and fail to learn the Biblical point. That's ok. Relax. Count on the fact that you've got 51 more to do and eventually, they'll learn.

Determine to stay with it even if you don't get a standing ovation each time. Make it a priority and build it into your family's routine.

Clear other responsibilities.  Turn off cell phones.  Let others know that this time is important to reduce interruptions.  Plan a simple meal on that evening so clean up is easy.

Pray for God’s help discerning what is going on in your child’s heart, and choose a topic that addresses it.

Encourage participation by asking open ended questions (not yes or no) if part of the lesson includes discussion.

Look for applications of the lesson throughout the week. (this follows the pattern of Deuteronomy 6:7)

Engage older children to do the activity and teach the lesson to the younger ones.

Find and use available resources - there are some great ones out there, including the six books from the National Center for Biblical Parenting called Family Time Activities. The icon above is a link to purchase them.

Another great source is available free by subscribing to

How To Study Your Bible

Since every piece of advice you will receive from this blog will be consistent with God’s Word, I want to help you with your Scripture study skills. These are my own personal strategies, and probably not what you'd receive in a seminary course. These tips have helped me learn about God’s most precious gift – His revelation to us. (I know that Christ is God’s most precious gift, but I consider the Scripture to be integral to knowing Christ. When God opens His written Word to me, I am as close to Christ as I can be in this life.)

My first tip is to realize what you are doing when you read the Bible. You truly are encountering the Risen Christ. These words are His words, written by Him to reveal Himself to you. If you approach the Bible with any other mindset, you are “eating candy in the middle of a banquet” as the Steven Curtis Chapman song says. You may taste something sweet but you’ll miss the nutrition you could be getting.

Second, approach the Bible with ‘the fear of the Lord.’ When I do, I acknowledge that God has the right to tell me what to do. If He does, then I am duty-bound to obey what He tells me. If you are ready to do what He tells you from the pages of Scripture, you are ready to begin reading. The converse is true too: if you are not ready to obey, then you are not ready to read. That’s why the rest of the phrase is ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ This is the beginning point in gaining wisdom. You can gain information without it, but you won’t be any wiser for the experience. Think of the Pharisees who knew the Scripture but who were so far from the will of God. They had information but lacked wisdom because they weren’t prepared to obey it.

Third, ask questions as you read. Be inquisitive about any part that you don’t understand. When a word or phrase is unclear, start digging to uncover the meaning God intended to convey. Here’s a recent example for me. I read the book of Jonah and realized that God used the term ‘appointed’ 4 times in this short book: God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, a plant to grow up over Jonah, a worm to attack the plant, and a scorching east wind to wither the plant. I was puzzled about that word and felt there might be more to know. I used a Bible concordance and study software to learn about the Hebrew origin of the word, along with other times the exact word was used. That led me to a breath-taking revelation about God’s sovereignty. It prompted a great time of worship. I’ll save that explanation for another post, but you can discover it for yourself.

Here are seven good questions to ask while you read your Bible:

1. Who is speaking? (God, the human author, the character in the story, etc.)

2. Where is this happening? (In the promised land, in exile, in Judah, etc.)

3. Why did God choose that word when I might have chosen another?

4. What other verses corroborate this one? (The best commentary on a Bible passage is the rest of the Bible. Reading similar passages always sheds light   on the focal passage.)

5. What other verses seem to contradict this one? (this is especially rich because I often learn subtle nuances about God and His Word as I figure out why the contradiction is apparent, not real.)

6. What is the context of the verse (within the passage?) For example, Christ’s discussion of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:12 is preceded by a long   discussion of the value of children.

7. What is the context of the passage (within the whole book?) Staying in Matthew 18, both the discussion of children and the parable of the lost sheep are found in Jesus’s address to His disciples when they ask who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus’s reply needs to be read as an answer to a specific question.

I hope these suggestions help you enjoy and learn more from God's Word.

Help! I'm Facing A Parenting Crisis!

When Parents Reach the End of the Rope

The greatest gift you can give to your child is a parent who is ready to face the challenges of life with a plan. So before we can offer parenting solutions, we want to help you get back to a place where you can use them. Please stop for just a moment and do the following:

1) Start by taking a deep breath or two, or three. Then pause, close your eyes and talk to God. He is your heavenly Father and he promises to give you wisdom. James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."

2) The next thing to do is to regain hope. When hope is lost, parents often resort to all kinds of unhelpful parenting strategies. There are a lot of bad ways to parent. You want to avoid them. Keep in mind, though that there are a lot of good ways to parent too. Likely some of the strategies you've used in the past are good but just aren't working right now. You need a different plan. We're going to help you find that new plan and develop it.

3) In order to create a new plan, we first have to define the problem. If you have more than one child, it's important to focus on one child at a time. Even if the problem has to do with how those children relate to each other, each of your children needs to learn how to deal with his or her own part of the problem.

To help you define the issues, take out a clean sheet of paper. In a column on the left hand side begin to write down all the behaviors that your child exhibits that are creating a problem for you and your family. This isn't a list you'll show to your child. It's just preparation to move forward. First list the behaviors because they're symptoms of an underlying problem. Just list things your child does that are unhelpful or wrong; be as specific as possible. This task may take a couple hours or even a couple of days but defining the problem is an important part of the solution.

4) Next, look over your list and group the negative behaviors around negative heart issues. You're looking for patterns of behaviors and common themes. A child who is demanding about food is likely also demanding about bedtime, transitions, and about what to wear in the morning. As you group the various behaviors you'll see that your child has several heart quality weaknesses that need to be addressed. The heart quality list is shorter though and may include things like dishonesty, lack of cooperation, anger, or selfishness. You may have 50 negative behaviors on the list, but they boil down to five negative heart qualities.

5) Once you have your list of negative heart qualities, using a new piece of paper, identify the positive heart qualities that need to be developed. You will likely have 3-5 positive heart qualities that your child needs right now. That's normal. You might include cooperation, responsiveness to authority, kindness, or self-control. Most children have several heart qualities that need work and when you focus on them you'll see some positive change.

6) Stop again right here and pray. Thank God for revealing these things to you. Commit your heart to God now, even before you have the solutions you need. Ask God to provide you with strength, hope, and the courage to address these issues on a deeper level. You'll need some significant wisdom in the next steps so make sure your heart is right with God and that you're asking him for direction. Remember the words of Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."

7) Now it's time for some solutions. Having 3-5 qualities is still too much to work on at one time. So choose one heart quality you'd like to see your child develop first. Next, choose an arena or area where you'd like to see the new heart quality demonstrated. For example, "kindness with brothers and sisters", or "thoroughness with homework" or "unselfishness with friends" or "cooperation when given an instruction." The heart quality and the arena need to be specific so that you have something measurable.

8) Next, identify some specific steps you can require of your child to get from where you are now to where you know your child needs to be. Look for ways to involve other leaders and authorities in your child's life. Think about how to explain the how and why to your child so he or she catches a vision and is equipped to move forward. As you implement your new plan, remember that firmness doesn't mean harshness. You want to communicate that change is necessary, but you don't need anger in your message.

9) Next ask yourself this question, "How will the development of this quality help my child be more successful in life both now and in the future?" Once you have that question answered you'll be ready to have a meeting with your child.

10) Sit down with your child at a peaceful moment and explain several things. Start with a few qualities you appreciate about your child emphasizing good reports you're hearing from teachers, friends, or other leaders, steps of maturity you're seeing, and positive growth your child is demonstrating. Then say, "But there's one area that I think is holding you back. That is..." and then name that heart quality that's lacking. "So, we're going to be working on this quality in the next several weeks."  Sometimes just raising the awareness level or pointing out the new direction in a positive way is all that's needed to prompt progress. So avoid threats or bribes. Explain clearly what you're seeing and what progress will look like. Talk about the benefits of developing this quality in life, both now and for the future. You'll be revisiting the problem and evaluating progress over the next few days and weeks so stay positive at this point. As time goes on you'll be able to further develop the plan and add consequences if necessary.

11) Over the next several hours and days point out the issue that you're looking to see changed. Raise the awareness level with observations and reminders. Coach your child to success with ideas and encouragement to move forward. Offer affirmation for steps of progress, small as they may be.

12) Plan to meet regularly to discuss progress. This may be daily or weekly, whatever is appropriate for the situation. Your intent is to affirm progress, encourage the child to continue on, and keep the issue forefront in your child's mind. Depending on how things go you may have to confront, remind, or implement a consequence in order to show your child that you intend to help him or her to move forward and that you're not content to stay where you are.

From Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller, National Center for Biblical Parenting (

Helping Children to Tell the Truth

(by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, NCBP) Honesty is the basis for any relationship because it develops trust and upon that foundation simple things like communication and responsibility rest. When a child lies, that trust is broken and the relationship suffers. Parents often don’t know how to handle dishonesty especially when they find common discipline techniques don’t fully address the problem. A more comprehensive plan is usually necessary since dishonesty often has several components. Here are some suggestions for dealing with honesty and lying.

1. Young children often confuse truth and fantasy so some extra teaching in this area will be helpful. Talk about reality and truth and how they are different from fantasy, wishes, possibility, pretend, and make believe. Require that children use cues to identify anything other than reality. Here are some ideas: “I think it happened this way,” “I think this is the answer,” “I’m not sure...” “Maybe...” (possibility) “I wish this were true,” “I’d like it if...” (wish) “I’d like to tell you a story...” “I can imagine what it would be like to...” (fantasy)

2. Use the Bible verse Proverbs 30:32 to teach children to stop talking in the middle of a speaking mistake. When you sense a child is beginning to stray from the truth, stop them. “I want you to stop talking for a minute.” Sometimes children just get started with one lie and keep going. When parents try to argue with children about a lie, it often perpetuates more lies. Sometimes you just have to say, “Stop talking about that and choose something else to talk about.”

3. If a child lies impulsively, work on self-discipline. Sometimes children who are impulsive blurt out things without thinking. Other times they start talking and don’t know how to stop. This impulsivity component can lead to dishonesty because of a lack of self-control. It’s not always malicious lying, but it’s still not good and shouldn’t be excused since the problem often gets worse. Even though children may have poor impulse control, they must learn to tell the truth. The route, though, may contain more self-discipline training than some of the other suggestions.

4. Teach children about the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of the doubt is a gift we freely give to people. It’s the tendency to believe someone and it comes naturally with relationships. But once someone is found to be dishonest, he or she loses the benefit of the doubt, and it then needs to be earned back by being “caught” doing the right thing. Once a child has lied, everything becomes suspect. You may even question something that is found to be true later. A child may be hurt by this, but that hurt is the natural consequence of mistrust which in turn comes from lying. Being believed is a privilege earned when children are responsible in telling the truth on a regular basis. Tell your child that you would like to believe him but you can’t until he earns that privilege back by being honest. The road back to being trusted is a difficult one, but it is possible. Teach your children that it’s much easier to remain trustworthy then to try to earn trust back. If you’re child has already lost the benefit of the doubt, clearly define what honesty looks like and then check up on him often. Your goal is to find your child trustworthy again.

5. Some situations won’t be clear. Children may lie to avoid punishment. You find yourself in a predicament because proof seems impossible yet you have a sense that this child is not telling the truth. When possible, don’t choose that situation as your battle. It’s too sticky. You will usually have other clearer opportunities later. Children who have a problem with lying, demonstrate it often. Choose the clearer battles and use those situations to discipline firmly.

6. Confrontation should result in repentance. This may seem unrealistic at first but keep it in mind as your goal. Children who are confronted with the fact that they are telling a lie should immediately confess and apologize. A child who is defensive is relying on arguing and justifying as manipulative techniques in order to avoid taking responsibility. When a child is caught in a lie have that child confess. You might ask the question, “What did you do wrong?” and have the child say, “I lied.” Confession is the first step toward change but is often quite a challenge.

7. Be proactive in teaching about honesty. Tell stories from your life or read stories like The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Boy who Cried Wolf, Pinocchio, and Ananias and Sapphira from the Bible. There are several good books at your local library on this subject that are written for children and are well illustrated to capture their interest.

8. Memorize Bible verses dealing with honesty. The Scriptures have a way of appealing to a child’s conscience and changing a child’s heart.

9. Honesty requires courage and humility. Dishonesty always occurs under pressure. Pray with your child for strength to do what’s right even under pressure.

Good and Angry cover
Good and Angry cover

10. The book Good and Angry, Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kidshas a whole chapter (Chapter 8) on lying. The entire book would be helpful for character development in your child. Chapter 8 focuses on building integrity. By putting your focus on the positive instead of just trying to remove the negative you can see significant progress.

11. Look for underlying issues in a child’s life. Some children who lie are lazy and just don’t have the character necessary to work hard. The solution to lying may, in part, require more work to develop that character. Other children have a poor view of correction and react defensively whenever challenged or corrected. Developing a plan for addressing correction wisely may contribute to honesty as well.

Dishonesty is a character weakness. God wants to grow your child to be strong on the inside. That strength comes from his power and grace. Spend time praying and talking about the Lord with your child. Make that spiritual connection more clear so that your child can sense the Holy Spirit’s conviction on an ongoing basis.

5 Bad Behavior Challenges (with 10 helpful Scriptures)

Five ‘Bad Behavior’ Challenges

(and Ten Scriptures to Help) 

Whenever you must confront a child, be sure to take them aside and speak privately to them so that you don’t involve other children or embarrass the child.

1.     A child just doesn’t want to do what you tell them (clean up, join in group time, etc.).

Scripture 1:  Proverbs 18:13 -  He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

Application:  This verse is for us teachers.  Listen to what the child is saying (verbally or non-verbally).  Is the child afraid, upset about being left by the parent, or unclear about what is expected?  Try to learn the reason for un-cooperativeness before addressing it.  One way to encourage cooperation is to give good, clear directions.  Praise those who are following directions.

Scripture 2:  Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you…

Application:  The Bible tells children to obey their parents, and the authority of the parent is passed to the teacher for the time children are in your care.  This delegated authority is handled by us teachers as a sacred duty, not to abuse it, but to do what‘s best for children with that authority.  We can properly remind children that their parents expect them to obey us.  This is our Biblical basis for helping them learn to obey in classroom situations.  Of course, if teachers can re-direct a child rather than draw a battle line, that will often defuse the situation.  Remember that learning to obey is a lifelong task!

2.     A child reacts with angry outbursts.

Scripture 1:  Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Application:  When children become angry, your best response is a gentle tone of voice.  Your angry or loud voice in response will add tension and stir up more anger.  This doesn’t mean you cannot be firm, but make sure your face and voice don’t add more tension to the situation.

Scripture 2: James 1:19 - …be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…

Application:  Since this verse does NOT say, don’t become angry, but to be SLOW to anger, we want to help children slow down the anger process.  In the heat of the moment, just getting the child to express the reason for anger in words will help.  You might say “Use your words to tell me what is wrong.”  You are helping them learn to deal with their anger.  You may need to use the ‘break’ technique to allow them to calm down before addressing the reason for the anger.  Remember, the anger itself is not wrong but the resulting actions often are.    The old technique “Count to 10 before speaking” actually has a biblical basis!  Once the anger subsides, we can talk to the child about the cause of the outbreak.  Often this will lead to discussions about sharing and selfishness (see problem 4 below).  Sometimes children simply have thinking errors, e.g., thinking they can’t get more crayons if someone takes theirs.

3.     A child hits another child (or verbally attacks/teases others).

Scripture 1:  Galatians 5:14 – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Application:  Help children to see that we should do to others what we want them to do to us (Golden Rule – Luke 6:31).  God knows that we love ourselves, so He uses this self love to teach us how we should love others.  If we want something for ourselves, we should want that for others.  If we don’t want to be hit, then we know that we should not hit others.

Scripture 2: Matthew 5:9 -  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

Application:  Peace is not simply the absence of fighting.  We make peace when we pay attention to the feelings of others.  We are like God when we help people get along with each other.  We want to teach children that it is everyone’s responsibility to help make and keep peace.  In the classroom, we want children to observe and be aware of others’ feelings.  If someone doesn’t have their fair share of toys, every child can help by sharing.  Encourage children to regularly stop what they are doing and notice what others are doing.  Philippians 2:4 says “…do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  As children become aware of others’ needs, they have opportunities to show empathy.  (A great Bible story to tell is about Abigail, Nabal and David in 1 Samuel 25.)

4.     A child won’t share.

Scripture 1:  Acts 20:35 – It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Application:  This is true because God says it is true.  We are blessed (happy) when we learn to give to others.  God is a giver, and we are made in His image.  I think maybe this is the first verse I ever memorized.  My mom said it to me constantly, and I really believe hearing and knowing this verse made me a cheerful giver.  In practical application, I don’t take a toy away from a child and force sharing that way.  When we do that, we teach brute force to the offender, and we only satisfy the selfishness of the one who didn’t have the toy.  That child needs to learn how to handle hurts, and to ask politely.  Among preschool children, asking the child with the toy to give the toy to the next child when they are through usually allows that child to share from the right spirit, not out of compulsion.  If they won’t share, I set a timer for a reasonable time and tell both parties what will happen.

Scripture 2:  2 Corinthians 9:7 – God loves a cheerful giver.

Application:  We need to point children to the Lord as the one we need to please.  This verse not only points out the benefit of giving but also stresses the attitude of the giver.  To give and be jealous is not our goal but to truly enjoy when others are happy.  Share with the giver how their gift made another person happy.  Again, as much as possible do not force sharing.  Redirect the child without the item to something else to help them manage their disappointment and learn to be patient.  Encourage examples of sharing by celebrating them publicly.

5.     A child is too sensitive, crying or sulking whenever they get offended.

Scripture 1:  Psalm 31:4 -  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

We want children to learn to deal with disappointments in life and learn godly coping skills.  God allows difficulty in our lives so we will learn to trust Him and seek Him.  When a child is too sensitive, we want to find out why (go back to situation number one!) and make sure there is not something going on and causing a child to act out of character.  We need to be good observers of family interaction at drop off.  Is the child sad or are the parents unusually stressed?  No matter what the reason for hyper-sensitivity, we can help children deal with disappointments by pointing to the strength we have in God.  After salvation, children have the Holy Spirit within them to help.  Even before, we can help children know about God as our helper (Psalm 46:1 – a very present help in times of trouble).

Scripture 2: James 1:2  Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (strength to endure).

Application:  When we are disappointed, we usually have thinking errors—things like “I never get what I want” or “I’ll never get to be the one to go first”.  We may have to spend time helping children see the truth that we don’t always get what we want.  Everyone can’t be first.  Also, we need to help children see that bad things (disappointments) help us know how it feels when others are disappointed.  And since God is sovereign, the things we go through are allowed by Him for a greater purpose—not to hurt us but to help us grow strong.  A great antidote for moodiness is a dose of thankfulness.