PLEASE STOP Paying Your Kids to Know Jesus

Over the last few months I’ve seen too many parents and children’s ministry leaders and directors who are skewing the Gospel of Jesus with well-intentions. For some reason in our we are compelled to feed the cultural idea that the end justifies the means.

I read (and often fight against) ministry program after program having kids earn Bible Bucks or Jesus Money at church. Play money is awarded when a child successfully memorizes a Bible verse, or the Books of the Bible, or completes their “homework.”  Stores are set up where kids can purchase meaningless prizes in exchange for knowing John 3:16. I even know of a KIDMIN teacher who paid her kids an actual ONE DOLLAR BILL for stopping for a few moments in class to listen to God.

Even parents have jumped on this bandwagon.  They are having their kids earn X-Boxes and extra dessert for reading their two chapters a day, and are doing so unashamed.

I can go on and on about how this is so unhealthy for your environment and community. I can explain how it sets certain children up to fail, because they can’t physically follow through with what you are asking of them. I could give you insight on how this is completely unfair to the child of divorce, or who have experienced trauma.  Instead I will slap you with this:

WHEN YOU PAY KIDS IN ANY WAY TO LEARN ABOUT JESUS YOU ARE PREACHING A PROSPERITY GOSPEL. 

A prosperity gospel preaches and teaches that in return for your faith, or works, or tithes God will return the favor and bless you with wealth and/or health. This is the dangerous ministry that is often taught by most televangelists and some majorly known pastors in the Christian community…and it just might be taught by you.

When I tell a child that knowing Jesus and learning to know the Bible is worthy of a paycheck we are completely tainting the truth that His grace is a free gift. We set our kids up to think that there is always instant gratification in our relationship with God. We teach them to focus on the prize of the world instead the prize of Christ.

Bible bucks

By paying kids to know Jesus, we are training them to think of Jesus as some sort of slot machine, who if you pull the right lever, read the chapters, memorize the verse, Jesus will spit out some sort of blessing in return.

Out of all the bribes we make our kids day in and day out…Knowing Jesus should NOT be one of those. How disappointed will they be when their faith doesn’t pay dividends in a way they expect? What’s going to happen when they do all the right things in life, and they don’t get that job they want?

Will this type of faith, that is dependent upon earning something, be foundational enough, or more importantly, relational enough?

Jesus is about relationship–and relationship is built on love, and trust and time and effort, not “what can you do for me?”

When we pay our kids to learn about Jesus as a “harmless incentive” we are missing out on the opportunity to share the real gospel –it’s about what Jesus did for us at the cross that matters, nothing else.  He doesn’t owe us, we owe Him.

Paying kids to know Jesus:

Cheapens the Gospel

Devalues the Bible

Stifles the Holy Spirit

And Sets Kids Up on a faith that is not rooted in authentic relationship but rather superficial temporal motivations.

I know we want our kids to read their Bible. I know it’s important for them to form habits.  I know that we want our kids to know the books and commandments. But is it worth teaching the absolute adulterated perspective of Christ and His sacrifice in order to get there?

We don’t need incentive programs, we need Holy Spirit revival.  We need to spend as much time on our knees praying for movement in their hearts instead of developing stores and money and payment programs.  As parents and ministry leaders, we first must believe that Jesus in and of himself is absolutely enough. We must have the faith that when a child tastes and sees how good the LORD is, he will be hooked. We must trust that God can come in and give that conviction to a child to know and be known by Jesus.

So, I beg you, please, in your ministries, in your homes, please, please, please, stop paying your kids to know Jesus. It’s just not helpful.

Comment and share!

LG|LP

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How PROM Can Destroy our Daughters

It’s prom season. I don’t even know people. My mind has been flipping around thoughts, that happen to run into my emotions and then I find myself confused and disgusted and convicted all at once.  The Prom, which is another fancy and loaded word for High School dance, is a time where students spend now on the average of $1100 to go hang out with the same friends they see all the time, every day. Yes, $1100.  A house payment.

Now before I go on I have a few things to say :

1. I never went to my prom, and to this day I have no regrets about that. I didn’t keep in touch with friends from high school ,really. Most of my friends were upper classman, so I don’t feel I really missed anything .  I went to the prom after parties with my older friends, so that’s honestly all I really cared about at the time–the after party!

2. I don’t think the idea of Prom is horrible or evil. I love the idea of my kids hanging with their friends, doing life, making memories.

prom_dresses

What I do have a problem with is the cost of this high school dance, the pressure on girls, and the obligation of parents. I posted my frustration on my Facebook Status today and found that I am not alone. Girls are spending anywhere between $400-$600 on average on their dresses. Then add the cost of shoes and accessories, Make up and hair-dos are approximately $200-300. Then there is the limo service and the fancy dinner. Parents are selling kidneys to make sure their girls get what they want.

There is even a boutique at a local mall that will record which dress you purchase and which school you attend to insure that no other girl will have your dress.

I want all three of my daughters to feel beautiful and magical. I want all of my daughters to love dressing up, and to embrace the fun of womanhood.   I want my daughters to appreciate the uniqueness of being a woman, and growing into sophisticated and loving red lipstick.

But, the pressure people.  The pressure is real.

We are a fairly minimal family. We don’t have a lot of “things”. We buy what we need when we need it. We stretch our times between haircuts and buy the groceries we are going to eat. My husband is in social services, I am in ministry. We have learned over the last 10 years of our lives that there are more important things in life than things.

Even if I had hundreds of thousands in the bank, I would not spend $600 on a dress for my daughter to wear. I love her, but no.

I can’t help but think of the long term, detrimental character flaws we are encouraging in this generation of girls. I see women in the store wearing $2 t-shirts, $5 sunglasses, and carrying Michael Kors $300 purses. We, too, are guilty of overpriced and overpaid for cell phones. (I’m not perfect, people!) We all are throwing water and  are creating little Gremlins.

Our baby girl-gremlins, who think that $500 for a dress isn’t “that bad.” Or paying $90 to have someone put mascara on you is normal.  We are creating environments where each of these girls are pitted against each other, wondering if money really CAN make you look better….even worse…if money CAN really make you FEEL better.

Will the girl in the $600 dress FEEL more beautiful than the girl in the $100 dress?

The answer: It depends on YOU.

It depends on how YOU raise your daughter.

Are you raising her to reflect the beauty of her spirit? Are you challenging her to see that kindness is more beautiful than MAC makeup? Are you helping her to develop the glitter in her smile, and the sparkle in her eye because her actions and words are based on love? Are you teaching her biblical truth about jealousy and envy, and the importance of building people up and not tearing people down?

It matters.

Yes, it’s just a dance.

But it matters.

It matters that your daughter doesn’t just look beautiful or even feel beautiful.  It matters if your daughter KNOWS she is beautiful because she is created by a God who took the time to fashion her every curve, the lines of her smile, and the crescents of her eyes. Your daughter needs to know that our physical beauty is fleeting, but the beauty of our souls, the love of our hearts is what truly defines us.

Even the most “Christian” girl, in the most loving environment can struggle to embrace the truth of who she is in Christ. It is our jobs as moms to help them fight these battles, to not stand down to the enemy who seeks to destroy our daughter’s self worth. Every exultation from other girls about money spent, and things acquired can threaten the truth deep in our girls spirits.

Fight for your girls! Tell them that they are perfect, just as they are. Hug them and love them and prepare them for the difficulties that come. At midnight, when it’s all over, and the dress goes back on the hanger to never be worn again, we want our girls to have character, and class and truly reflect God’s glory.

What is your favorite PROM memory? Comment and Share

LG|LP

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No Money Back Guarantee For You

I’m driving to pick up kids the other day, one hand on the wheel, the other scooping sugar out of a packet with a candy stick. My youngest bought Fun-Dip to give out for his Valentine’s Day party. I couldn’t resist, so I grabbed one as I ran out the door, so I could shamelessly eat it in the privacy of my car.

fun dip

I remember when I was a kid how old and ancient it seemed the age thirty was. Now that I’m a few days away from being one year closer to FORTY, I realize there are certain things that aren’t guaranteed as you grow older.

  1. Sophistication. I would watch the grown ups, the ancient people on the Awards shows and my grandmother’s Soap Operas during the day, with their long cigarettes, and love lives and Bermuda love triangles. Every adult seemed to have some level of sophistication that someday, when I was thirty I would acquire. As I was driving with my Fun Dip sugar trickling down the front of my dirty shirt, my hair in a bun, I realized that I am anything but sophisticated.
  2. Wisdom. I am at a place in my life where I have no idea what I’m doing. For the first time in a long time, I’ve exhausted all my ideas of what my ideas were. I’ve run out of any type of solution to any and all of my problems. Although I am wiser, I have by no means gained near enough wisdom to successful live the rest of my life. The more I  “mature adults” I meet, the more people devoid of any type of deep knowledge become my friends. Our age does not define our level of wisdom.
  3. Career. I thought by this age I would be on the downside to retirement. My mom worked for the same company for 28 years. By now I should have some sort of idea as to what I’m going to be when I grow up. For the last 14 years I’ve served in full time ministry in some capacity. But, sister, let me tell you, there isn’t a whole lot of financial return on that . Yah, yah, I’m making an eternal investment, yah, yah, I’ll have my reward in heaven. Even though I am completely content with what God has for me, I sincerely expected to be a little more stable in this particular area at this particular time of my life.
  4. Future. It seems every few weeks I hear of someone I know, who’s husband has a heart attack or has passed away. More women are getting cancer. When you are young, there is a switch in your brain that hasn’t been flipped, and you’re in this state of bliss where you actually believe…not so much that you will live forever…but that you won’t ever get old enough to die. But as your friends become grandparents and your own kids move out and go to college, the reality sets in. Today could be the only future you ever know.

My closet eating Fun Dip escapade was a reminder that even though I’m getting older and there is nothing in life guaranteed, that I’m not sophisticated or even wise…I can enjoy small moments. I can taste the sweetness of life. I may be acting a fool at 38, but I appreciate every moment of it. In a way that I didn’t appreciate things at 15 or 25. I definitely didn’t appreciate straight up sugar on a stick the way I do now. And that’s growth my friends. That. Is. Growth!

LG|LP

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No Mercy, Kids! No. Mercy.

Zac’s been home sick a few days. I was so over hearing “I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “I don’t want to be sick anymore!”

I decided to be a great mom, like a super great mom. We turned on some National Geographic Show about polar bears brutally eating innocent little baby seal, ate pizza and played cards. When playing games with my kids, my rule is: No Mercy. (Well okay, maybe a little.) But the one thing I will NOT do is let my kids win.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it?

We were playing Skip Bo and Zac only had one card left in his pile, I had four. He was so arrogant, just knowing he was going to win. But then mom AND

Boom

 

But the thing is, Zac doesn’t lose well:

skip bo

 

He was so mad, he threw the cards everywhere and stomped his way upstairs.  I sat and patiently waited for him to come back down and pick them all up. It took a good 20 minutes or so before he worked through his tragic loss and picked up the cards.   I thanked him and we moved on.

I just don’t “get” the everyone deserves a trophy, where we don’t take score, and all kids are winners. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is way harsh and mean. Losing well is a necessity in life. We spend way more time on this earth losing, than winning. If our kids can lose well, even at a game, then they will be more prepared to deal with the real losses, the ones that actually matter.

What do you think? Do you let your kid win at games? Comment below.

Let’s Chat!!

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10 Things To Teach Your Daughter

I pain at the thought of my daughter leaving for college, but it’s happening. In less than a year, she will be off in the world, the cold, harsh world. I keep telling myself that the first year is my test. My LSAT, my SAT, my GMAT. It will be the time to see if I did my job well as a parent. I am suspecting I got lots of things right, but I still have nine months or so to ‘cram’. I know I”ve taught her character, and empathy and love. But I have a laundry list of things I need to make sure she knows before she leaves.

1. FINANCES: I need her to know how to budget, how to save and how to balance her account. This is is something I was never taught and it still bites me in the butt!

2. CHURCH: go to church even if you don’t feel like it. It’s a priority. Church will make sense even if th wrld doesn’t.

3. IRONING: I watched my grandmother iron all my Poppy’s shirts for the week. I was never really taught, but I watched. My mom was a working mom and everything was sent off to the cleaners (which to this day is my preference! Thanks mom!!) But she needs to know how to iron, the cleaners isn’t always in the budget–which I will teach her first, remember?

4. COOK: I want to teach her to cook (5) full meals from memory. Anyone can follow a recipe. But cooking from memory is when you really learn–and make mistakes.

5. GROCERY SHOPPING: My daughter can shop for clothes like a master. In fact, rarely do I shop without her because she’s so Boss at it. But grocery shopping is a whole other bag of tricks. It seems easy and logical, but really it’s not. To be able to shop on a budget and your food be able to last you as long as you need it is an art! Trust me, I’m the Master at this!!!

6. MEDICATION: I was in my 30’s before I knew the real difference between Motrin and Tylenol. I want her to know what she is putting in her body and side effects.

7. DOCTOR VISITS: I want her to be able to communicate effectively with her doctor without me around. I don’t want her to shy away from the intimidation of doctors. I want her to take control of her health and fight until she gets answers.

8. CAR MAINTENANCE: I want her to know basic mechanics and how things work. She needs to know what a raditor does, how to fill the wiper fluid and what to do if her blinker goes out–especially that there is no such thing as Blinker Fluid — but that’s a story for another time.

9. TOOLS: I want her to know the difference between a hammer and screwdriver, a wrench and pliers. She doesn’t ever have to use them if she doesn’t need to, but I think she needs to know what they are.

10. DRAINS: How to unclog a drain. With our long hair and constant showers, our drains are about to get all backed up. It is necessary for a woman to know how to pour some DRANO down the sink!!

Luckily she is amazing at housework (it’s her OCD) and knows how to sew on a button. She is committed to learning to sew on a machine and knows how to set goals and accomplish them. I am certain she can teach me a thing or two, or three.

I don’t want her to go into this world unprepared. I want her to be empowered with the knowledge of simple things. What am I missing? What are important practical things you are teaching your daughter?

COMMENT AND SHARE WITH ME! I don’t want to screw this up!

 

LG|LP