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September 28, 2015, 9:34 AM

Growing Champions - Actions Communicate Values and Beliefs

Dear Parents and Students,

Parenting is one of the most challenging, humbling, rewarding endeavors you or I could ever under-take.  Raising godly kids who love the Lord and are serving Him takes a lot of work, grace and strength from the Lord.  This week we'll be looking at how we can leave a faith trail for our children to follow in as they pursue Christ.


Nugget:  Actions communicate values & beliefs.

All kids love to play Follow the Leader.  The truth is young ones tend to embrace the values of people in authority whether that be a parent, teacher, coach, or relative.  In fact as values systems are being formed young people associate truth more with a person than a principle.  This underscores the importance of parents protecting and preparing the hearts and minds of our children, giving careful thought into who will have a say in their lives.  There is no such thing as a neutral "values free" education.  Our children are always being formed.  The question is by whom and for what purpose.

Let me illustrate the importance of living right before our kids.  Karl Marx grew up in 19th century Germany as the child of a Jewish baker.  In his memoirs, he recounts a time early in his life where his father uprooted the family and converted to a different religion for purely pragmatic reasons:  the village they moved to was Lutheran and if they wanted to sell bread they needed to be Lutheran.  Disenchanted, Karl would later grow up and pen the words, "Religion is the opium of the masses" and become the father of the atheistic Communist party that has infected the world for over 125 years.  His father's actions communicated what he really believed about God.  The rest is history.

What we do more than anything else indicates what we believe. We don't want to send mixed-messages to our children.  Like Paul we want to say to our champions whatever their age:

"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."  (1 Cor. 11:1)

Research reveals:

         89% of what we learn comes from what we see

         10% from what we hear

         1% through other senses

What are your kids seeing you do? What kind of "faith-trail" are you leaving for them to follow in?  I like to read my Bible in front of my kids so they can see that is something dad does; I write my tithe check on Sunday mornings before I leave for church (I don't show the amount, but I let them see that I'm doing it).  I take them to church early when I'm serving so they can help & watch & learn serving is important.  Living your faith out in front of them and involving them in your thinking enables them to "connect the dots" and internalize the faith.

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 21, 2015, 10:00 AM

Growing Champions - Effective Discipleship is Life-Oriented

Parenting is one of the most challenging, humbling, rewarding endeavors you or I could ever under-take.  Raising godly kids who love the Lord and are serving Him takes a lot of work, grace and strength from the Lord.  This week we'll be looking at how we can capture and create teachable moments to nurture our kid's faith.


Nugget:  Effective discipleship is life-oriented.              

If we want our children to follow God, we must make God a part of our everyday experiences. It's more natural and fits the way we really learn.  It helps our kids see the "big picture" as they see how God relates to every aspect of life, not just those that are church-related.

As Israel was in its infancy stage as a nation, God told Moses the most effective way to enjoy God's favor and blessing was to teach and train the children in the nation how to love God. As you read the passage below, listen to all the action verbs parents are instructed to do with their children: 

4 Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! 5 Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got! 6-9 Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates. (Deut. 6:4-9, MSG)

I try to walk through every open door I find into my kids' hearts and seize the "teachable moments."  As a teenager, I remember the "bubble boy" that filled the news.  The young lad's immune system was so weak he had to live encapsulated or die. Unfortunately, many parents do the same thing with their children.  Afraid of the evil lurking outside, the danger is to focus more on protection than preparation. 

Our goal should be to prepare our children to think and act Christianly so they will be equipped to engage with culture and society.  As our kids mature, the emphasis on preparation and internalization of truth and one's relationship with God must be developed. Otherwise, they will be dependent upon us and will not learn how to "own" their faith and how to stand strong in the Lord when they are out of our sight and care.

Practically speaking:

         Discuss movies, shows, music, pop culture, current issues and ask what message/values are being communicated.  How would Christ respond?  What is the loving, merciful, right thing to do?  How can we make a bad situation better and be a part of the solution?

         Don't ignore or sidestep the real questions of life. Tough questions shouldn't be avoided. (evolution, sex, marriage)  In fact, they offer some of the best opportunities to teach a biblical worldview. You may not have all the answers and that's OK.  Tell them you'll learn together and then research or talk to someone and find the answer.

When we skirt the tough questions, we send the message to our kids that we do not have the truth, know the truth, or the answers to those real-life questions lie outside the Bible in some other belief system.  Message Sent:  Our faith is not relevant.  IF YOU DON'T ANSWER THE QUESTIONS SOMEONE ELSE WILL. 

Seize the opportunities afforded you to disciple your kids.  Your grandchildren will thank you one day! J

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 18, 2015, 4:49 PM

Growing Champions - Be Intentional & Consistent


#1--Be Intentional & Consistent

"Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I'm going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives."  (Gal. 4:19, NLT)


Spiritually growth & maturity is a process... a life-long process. Paul likens it to giving birth.  There are joys, excitement when they baby kicks, but there also nights when you can't sleep, when the demands & responsibilities become inconvenient & uncomfortable. When we think about our families we must remember that creating a God-honoring family environment requires an intentional, consistent, sustained effort on our part.   We're not tinkering we're transforming & life transformation takes time.  

Practically, speaking:

·         Pray

§  Ask God for guidance regarding the topics you want to lead your family through, the timing of when to address these areas, & the resources you might want to use.

§  Pray for receptive hearts and minds, an ability to seize "teachable moments," and God's wisdom.  Remember, He wants you to disciple your kids and He WILL help you.

·         Plan

§  We want to growth to be a matter of choice, not something we leave to chance.  Planning is simply scheduling or creating opportunities to grow.  This may be as simple as praying with your kids at night, a weekly devotional time, or serving together as a family at church or in the community.

§  It can be a formal or informal time.  Remember, one size does not fit all.  What works for one family might not be best for your situation.  Keep in mind today's schedules and do what works best for your family.  If you aim for nothing you will hit it every time.

·         Persist

§  It takes time to establish new habits (21 days to be precise).  Once you have made a decision to start, be prepared for setbacks and challenges along the way.  This is just life.  Don't quit.  Work it around it. 

God promises us in Psalm 1:2-3 (NLT):

"But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do."

God is growing something good in our homes...champions

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 18, 2015, 4:46 PM

Four Actions to Ensure Your Child Gets a Good Education

I don't know about you, but I often check my mileage on my vehicles to see how well I'm doing on fuel economy.  Low average mileage alerts me to see if anything else is going on or something I might be able to fix or adjust to better my car's performance.  Just as we check "under the hood," we should also check on a regular basis what's going on in the hearts and minds of ours students.

We cannot take for granted the type, quality, or measure of academic and spiritual formation occurring in our school, more importantly, in our students.  We must work together, set high expectations, and hold ourselves accountable so that the purposes and plans God has for our children will be realized. 



1.    COMMUNICATE THE BIG PICTURE--we are to do all things, including school, for the glory of God.  We are to approach our studies as an act of worship to bless God, our teachers, and the world around us.  We don't want to just be consumers in this world, but contributors.  We want to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  The world doesn't need any more fluff or nice cliché's.  The world is looking for real, authentic, meaningful expressions, of Christianity that addresses human need with the amazing love of God.

2.    ENCOURAGE OWNERSHIP--many students today give up far too easily.  Most things that are valuable and worthwhile in life, however, come with discipline, tenacity, and perseverance.  Challenge your child to take initiative and responsibility for their learning, to ask questions, to go above and beyond, to give their best effort.  When we learn to take ownership of our education and cooperate with God, we're placing ourselves in a position to see God's influence grow in our lives.


"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col. 3:17)


3.    CELEBRATE EFFORT, NOT JUST RESULTS--God has gifted us each in "many diverse ways" (1 Pet. 4:10), with different skill sets, aptitudes, and abilities.  It is unfair to expect everyone to obtain the same results (i.e. each child receive the same grades).  I will never be able to dunk a basketball or play as well as Michael Jordan.  It is totally fair to expect your child to give school their best effort.  In the Parable of the Talents, the master did not hold his servants accountable to all achieve the same results (as this would not be fair since each started with different amounts--gifts and abilities).  Instead, he held them accountable to how they used the gifts they had received.  In essence, they weren't competing against others, but against themselves to be the best that they could be whatever that might be.

4.    INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT--If we want our kids to love God with all their heart, mind and strength, to approach all of life as an act of worship, to make the most of their opportunities then we must demonstrate this by our actions.  What is important to you will be important to your kids.  What you live by you impart.  What you permit, you promote.

                   Ask questions about school. 

  • What are you learning? 
  • Who are your friends?
  • How are you making a difference, being a blessing?

    ·         Inspect their work.

  • How are their grades?
  • Any missing assignments?  Behavioral comments?
  • How about attendance & tardies? --are they demonstrating responsibility?



Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris

September 8, 2015, 12:00 AM

The Link Between Family History and Resilience in Students

Yesterday, I posted a blog about the connection between students who know history well and their ability to display resilience. It might seem like a strange correlation, but a growing body of research now connects the two. When I know my history, I feel part of something larger and can be inspired to play my role. I’m encouraged by those who lived in tougher times and can learn from their mistakes. In a day like today—when resilience seems to be waning and stress is high—this is huge.

Today, I’d like to dig deeper on where this idea begins.

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t stem purely from knowing modern history, or even American history. It actually begins with a healthy family history. I first read about this idea when research was done on it at Emory University. New York Times writer Bruce Feiler tells the story of Dr. Marshall Duke, a prominent psychologist at Emory University in Atlanta (where I live). During the 90s, Dr. Duke was tasked with researching the nature of “myth and ritual in American families.” From his work, Dr. Duke discovered that one of the most important things a family can do is to develop a strong family narrative.

big family

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he says. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.” So Dr. Duke set out to help families build and talk about their history. It proved to be quite a breakthrough.

During this same period of time, Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara — a psychologist who specializes in children with learning disabilities — made a similar discovery about her students.

“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said. Wow. What a coincidence.

Digging deeper into the research, Feiler’s article reveals further insights about this issue. “Dr. Duke said children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong ‘intergenerational self.’ They know they belong to something bigger than themselves. Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.”

Feiler goes on to cite the work of Jim Collins (author of Good to Great), noting that “successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity.” In Jim Collins’ terms, they “preserve the core, while stimulating progress.”

Additionally, Collins also argues that the same truth applies to families, recommending that families “create a mission statement similar to the ones companies … use to identify their core values.”

Six Steps We Can Take

If this research is indeed true, then what should we do? How can we begin to build a sense of history into our families, our classes, and our teams? Let me begin to answer these questions below with a few basic strategies:

1. Tell the tales of the past.

Take time at meals or holidays to share funny or engaging family stories. At our house, we enjoy reminiscing about past trips, experiences and mishaps.

2. Start customs and traditions.

Create unique practices that are specific to your family, things you can do on holidays, vacations, etc. We have several “Elmore customs” like popcorn night, boat-time, and service trips.

3. Create a list of values and how you can practice them.

Our family met and came up with a set of values we’d all embrace. We chose to practice service, trust, good attitudes, hospitality, faith and risk-taking.

4. Begin using language that is exclusive to your family.

Note what funny or interesting terms are used and refer back to them. We have hilarious phrases, catchwords and rhymes that are for our ears only.

5. Refer to past history when current events align.

When facing a new situation, share how it reminds you of former events. My kids know the details of stories from the lives of their parents and grandparents.

6. Celebrate milestones together.

Healthy families are full of celebrations of achievement for new life stations. Birthdays, graduations, grades and performances are all remembered.

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