It Takes A Team To Raise Good Kids

You may, or may not, remember the 1986 Basketball Eastern Conference Finals.  A young Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were squaring off against Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.  What many people remember from that series is Michael Jordan’s game 2 performance.  In that single game alone, Jordan scored 63 points, which still stands a playoff game record.  The thing that stands out to me, and to most of my Boston friends, is that the Bulls lost that same game.

Photo courtesy of ©

Michael Jordan set a playoff single game scoring record that stands 25 years later, but his team lost the game, and ultimately lost the series.  I think it goes to show, that it takes more than one person to win a basketball game.

It also takes more than parents to raise a great young man or woman.  It takes a team.  Many parents try to do it all by themselves.  They try to be the superstar parent.  They may even score 63 points all by themselves.  The trouble is, parents can be the Michael Jordan of the parenting world, and still lose their kids.

I have written previously about how kids need multiple voices speaking in their life here.  Kids who have no voices speaking into their life, outside of a miracle, are not likely to grow up to be Godly men and women.  Kids who have a all-star parent have a better shot; but how much better off is the kid who also has a youth pastor, or a children’s pastor or Sunday School teacher who is investing in their life?  How much better off is the kid who has close family friends that they know they can go to when they need help with something?

The reality is, even if you are the best parent in the world, there is coming a day when your child will want to talk to someone else about their problems, not you.  In fact, in may be because you are such a great parent, and love your kid so much, that they don’t feel comfortable coming to you.  You are too close to the situation.  When this happens, will your child have not just someone, but the right someone, they feel comfortable talking to?  Will they be going to their friends who will tell them who knows what, or going to someone that you know reflects your families values and priorities?

Who they are going to go to for advice depends on the team you are building when they are young…or whether you are building a team at all.

The End is Near

Monks on the island of Cyprus have an interesting custom.  These monks, by torchlight in the middle of the night, visit a catacomb where the bones of other monks are kept.  While there, they pray and chant for their deceased brothers.  At first this ritual may seem bizarre, or even a bit morbid, but they do it for a very important reason.  This ritual is practiced to keep the reality that death is inevitabel to us all front and center.  It doesn’t matter who you are, the richest, the most popular, even the most spiritual person, will die like everyone else.  These monks want to remember that truth, so that they are reminded to spend the little time they do have here, wisely.


When we realize how scarce our time is, we value it a little differently.  For example, I added it up, and I only have about 751 weeks left with my son Jack before he leaves for college.  No way around it, Jack will turn 18 one day, move out of the house and I will no longer have him to myself.  751 weeks, give or take a few, and there is no way to get more.  This reality makes me value my time differently, makes me spend it a little differently, makes me prioritize my time with Jack over other things that are really trivial in comparison.

Too many people invest their time poorly.  They spend their time earning lots of money, only to find out when they reach 70 or 80, that they have burned all their relationships and have no one to spend that money on.  They are even too old to spend it all on themselves before they die.

Others spend their whole life building themselves up.  They build their career, their platform, their legacy.  The trouble is they never take the time to invest in others, so that someone picks up their mantle and their legacy continues after they are gone.  They spend their whole life building something that will die with them.

What are the things that really matter?  Fortune, fame, glory?  For me it is my relationship with God, family, friends, my ministry at the church.  Your list might be different.  Whatever your priorities in life, it is important to realize you only have a limited time on this earth to invest in them.  When that time is up, it is up.  You can’t reallocate how you spent your time after your gone.  You can’t go back and focus on the things that really matter after life is over.  And, the reality is, the end is getting near.

When was the last time you thought about how short life really is?  When you think about the brevity of life, what priorities come into focus?  Are you focusing on them currently, or do you need to start spending your time differently?

Why Teens Rebel


I have heard it more than once.  “Can you pray for my son.   He is just going through that tough time in life that all kids go through and rebel?”  It is a statement that surrenders to the idea that every kid, with few exceptions, has to go through a difficult time where they rebel against their parents.  But, why is it that so many teens seem to hit a time where they want to do their own thing, and go their own direction?

I know that every kid is different, and no doubt there are many reasons kids rebel, but I think that one reason some teenagers rebel against their parents is because their families are simply boring.  Here is what I mean…

Think about the average family for a minute.  They wake up late, leaving no time to spend together in the morning, except to argue  about who needs in the bathroom.  Then off to work and school, typically sitting in the car in complete silence, or perhaps with the radio on.  They spend their days separated, then the kids return home after school to an empty house that is full of nothing to do except passively watching TV and updating their Facebook status.   Then there is taco night for dinner, followed by dad heading off to the living room to watch TV, mom to clean the house, and the teenage son or daughter bored out of their mind heads out to hang out with friends.  When they return home, the TV is still on, like it has been for 6 hours straight.  Before everyone starts winding down and heading to bed, there is some light arguing about how there is still homework to complete.   The teenager slams their door shut, talks to their friends on the phone, sends a few (hundred) text messages, then falls asleep.   The next day, and almost every day thereafter, the same boring routine is repeated…again…and again.

Think about this routine for a minute.  It’s boring.  It’s mundane.  It lacks a sense of purpose.   And it drives kids to look for something better to do.  The trouble is they often find something more exciting in all the wrong places.

Tim Kimmel in Grace Based Parenting writes,

If we fail to address our children’s need for a significant purpose, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily end up living useless and unproductive lives.  In most cases, our lack of deliberateness in grooming their sense of purpose sends them into the future with a foreboding sense of irrelevancy and far more vulnerable to Satan’s counterfeits.

Read that line again, “Sends them into the future with a foreboding sense of irrelevancy and far more vulnerable to Satan’s counterfeits.”  That I believe is why many teens rebel.  Searching for purpose that their family doesn’t provide, they have went out looking for it, and have stumbled across something fake.  It might be a person, an activity, a substance, or something else, but they have found something that offers them greater purpose and joy than sitting around bored, watching TV all day, and arguing over homework.

What if families offered something better though?  What if families offered something that catches the imagination of their kids? What if rather than sitting glued to the TV every day, they served together in a soup kitchen once a month feeding the homeless?  What if families gave up their vacation one year to go on a missions trip together?  What if rather than ignoring each other at home, families spent time serving in their church and community together?   What if parents spent time showing their kids there is a God ordained purpose for their lives, a purpose that cheap substitutes cannot fulfill?

If this happened, I think Satan’s counterfeits would seem far less appealing to teens.  I think less kids would rebel.

I don’t want to oversimplify a complex problem.  Again, I realize that there may be many reasons kids decide to rebel against their parents and their values.  I wonder, though, if one of the reasons kids do rebel is because their families are just so boring?  Because their family lack a sense of purpose, and the counterfeits seem to offer something their family does not?  What do you think?


We have been having a ton of fun talking about kindness in kid’s church this month.  This past week we had the kids write up a want ad for a fake newspaper, asking them to describe what an ideal kind person would be like.  All the responses were great, but this was my favorite…


As the father of a 3 year old, who typically picks the most inopportune times to need use the restroom, I am always thankful for a kind person who gives a bathroom to the bathroomless!

This coming Sunday is the last week we are talking about kindness.  In March, we move on to courage.  Also, if you haven’t heard yet, our Sunday morning service times will be changing in March to 8:30, 10:30, 12:30 & 6:30.  So be sure to be on time!

How to Create the Best Day Ever For Your Child

The other day I stumbled across a video of Nigel Marsh at TED ( sharing on “How to Make Work-Life Balance Work.”  This is a great video for anyone who is busy, and feels like life is out of balance, to watch… especially busy moms and dads.  It talks about the realities of achieving the perfect balance of work and family, and  how even small efforts we make can have a huge impact in the lives of those we love.  Honestly, Nigel’s dream perfect day is a little different than mine.  As a non-drinker, rather than stopping by the pub, my preference would be Starbucks with a good book.  That being said, the point of the talk is well made.  Here is the video….

If you can’t see the video click here.

Then today I came across this video at Dad-O-Matic ( that shows Nigel’s principle in action.  It demonstrates how a little effort from a dad can light a kids face up, and turn something as simple as a birthday cake into a lifelong memory.

If you can’t see the video simply click here.

The small things we do can make a big difference can’t they?  They small things really do matter, especially to our kids.

What is a small investment you can make in your child today?

Homeless – How Well Would You Do?


This great site put out by Urban Ministries shows the tough choices the homeless and unemployed are forced to make, and why it is so difficult for them to get back on their feet.  Take a few minutes to see how you would do if you were in their shoes.

I did this twice.  The first time I couldn’t find a way to make ends meet without breaking the law.  The second time I made it to the end of the month with $742 in my pocket, but I owed a buddy $150, my phone got shut off, my car was in danger of being repossessed, and I was ignoring both some major tooth and chest pain.

Here is the site….

How well did you do?

How to Help Your Child Make Wise Media Decisions

There is a lot of junk out there for kids to absorb.  TV, music, movies, video games, the internet are all have messages, both good and bad.  So how do you help your child decide what messages are okay to listen to, and which should be ignored?  Here are a few ideas….


1. Plugged In Online –  There are a several good sites out there that review media, but one of my favorites is  Plugged In Online provides reviews for movies, videos, TV, music, video games, you name it.  This site, which is put out by Focus on the Family, highlights the positives and negatives in each of its reviews, including whether there is swearing, sexual or inappropriate scenes, spiritual content, and more.  In my opinion, Plugged In Online gives parents a balanced perspective to help them decide what their kids should be tuning in to.

2. Parent Link – This resource is put out by Calvary (with the help of Group Publishing) almost every month.  Each issue is packed with articles containing all sorts of parenting advice, but there is always a page dedicated to reviewing new movies, music, and video games.  Look for a new edition in your bulletin this week.

3. Talk to Your Kid – No fancy website or brochure here to help you as a parent guide your kid to making wise media choices, just old fashioned conversation.  Perhaps rather than just flat out telling your kid they can’t watch that TV show, or go see that movie, take the time to explain why.  Explain your convictions.  Bring your faith into the conversation.  Don’t just control your child and tell them they can’t go, but take the time to fully explain why you are taking this stance.  Try to win them over to your opinion.  Try to influence them, not just control them.

4. Limit Your Child’s Media Intake – Even if the content isn’t bad, the quantity can still be harmful.  Some studies show that the average kid spends 8 hours a day consuming media!  Impose some boundaries on your child’s media intake.  I know one family that had a rule that for every minute their kids wanted to play a video game, they had to read their Bible for a minute before they even picked up the controller. Tell your kids to turn off the TV and go outside and play, to go read a book, or to actually go hang out with a friend as opposed to “talking” to them on Facebook all the time.

These are just a few quick ideas for making sure your kids make wise choices when it comes to the media they consume.  What else can parents do to limit the poor media influences in a child’s life?

How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

Quite often as a children’s pastor I get asked by parents what I recommend to keep their kids safe online.  This is an important question for parents to ask.  The average kid is first exposed to pornography on the internet at age 11.  And beyond pornography, there is a lot of other junk online as well.

There are also a lot of great tools out there to protect kids, and one that I always recommend is Covenant Eyes (  The thing I love about Covenant Eyes is that it is more than a filter, it also provides accountability so parents can see when and where their kids are trying to test the limits.

If you have never been heard of Covenant Eyes before I would encourage you to watch the video below to see what it is all about.  Or you could simply come out to parenting class this Sunday that Pastor Clark and I are teaching.  We are going to be meeting in Room 106 at 10:15.  This week we are talking about how parents can monitor and have good conversations with their children regarding the internet, cell phones, television, video games, the whole deal.

Here is the Covenant Eyes promo video….

If you can’t see the video above simply click here.

Same Kind of Different As Me


I just finished reading Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together (affiliate link).   This is a powerful book.

This story illustrates how one man can make a difference.  But, it’s not the man you would suspect.  You would expect the different maker to be the wealthy art dealer, the man of means.  The hero in this book is not that guy.

In his own words, “There’s somethin’ I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God’s opportunity.”  God can take our brokenness and weakness to make a difference.  In fact, he seems to prefer to use broken people.  This book shows that God can use anyone to make a difference in the lives of others.  Ecclesiastes 9:15 puts it this way, “There was found in a certain city a poor man who was wise, and by his wisdom he saved the city.”  This book is about a poor man that makes a huge difference.

It’s also about learning to love others.  It’s about learning to love those that society rejects.  Society may not value those who seem down and out, but God does and he wants us to as well.  This story shows the difference reaching out and loving someone who is unloved can make.  It can change the destiny of not only that person, but the lives of so many more.

This is a great read for parents to read to their slighty older kids (their are some mature themes like racism, slavery, etc..), people who intersted in social justice and social change, or anybody who is interested in loving people more like Christ loves them.

This is a short book that I would encourage everybody to read at some point.  You can pick up a copy here in softcover from Amazon or here on Kindle.

Welcome Home


Somehow we made it, and we actually made it early.  Becky, Jack and I spent this past week in Missouri visiting family.   When we heard there was a major snowstorm heading towards the northeast on Sunday & Monday we were a little nervous as our flights home were scheduled for Monday night.  Then we started hearing of 1,000’s of cancelled flights, and travelers stranded until Thursday.  So when it came time to leave for the airport we were a little concerned about getting stuck in Chicago where our layover was.  But, they still hadn’t cancelled our flight, so we jumped in the car and headed for Lambert Airport.  By the time we made it on the plane to Boston they had one runway open at Logan, and we were actually able to land 9 minutes early.

Ironically, the last time we were back to Missouri it was the summer and we were concerned we were not going to make it back then as well as a hurricane was heading up the east coast.  We made it back to Mass then too, that time right on schedule and a little before the storm arrived.

We didn’t make it back before the storm this time though, so I still have about 2 feet of snow to clear off my drive way!  Welcome home.