Be Unpredictable With Your Teen

One of the challenges of writing a parenting book is that advice can be taken out of context, that is one of the reasons I created the Parenting with the End in Mind Facebook Group.  I wanted to be able to discuss exceptions with readers. For example, when dealing with a three-year-old, consistency is essential. With a preadolescence, you may have to do something completely unexpected to get her attention. You will want to shake the smug “I got you figured-out” expression off her face.

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 HCSB)

Last year it may have been appropriate to send your misbehaving child to another room; younger children generally want to be near their parent. Now, that may be the completely wrong tactic. Because:

  1. She wanted to be away from the family.
  2. Isolation from you makes her peer influence stronger.
  3. Satan may feed her mind with, “See even your own family can’t stand to be around you.”

When you were a teen, did you think that your parents cared more about your room, your chores, your grades, than about you?  It is probable that you need to take a break from improving your child, to focus on enjoying your child. This change will throw her off balance, flip the script, do the unexpected and improve your relationship. When there is mutual respect again, you may find the conflicts over chores and attitudes lessens automatically.

I realize that the following ideas will require mental and emotional toughness. Parenting is hard and your life may have been easier when she just stayed in her room. Yes, it may appear that you are rewarding bad behavior, but you are paying it forward.  When you work on the relationship, you are planting seeds of good will.  Also, do not expect immediate results, your goal is to recapture your child’s heart; not get a couple of behaviors changed.  Ask God’s guidance as to the right variation of these ideas for your specific child.

  1. Start hanging out in her room when she is in there.

Go into her room without complaining or saying anything negative. Begin doing an activity that you normally do in the family room. As an explanation, “I miss being with you. I thought, why should you always have to come to me to hangout.” Do not initiate any conversation.  Your attitude is I am happy just being near you. Expect skepticism, she knows you. You don’t like to be with her, you just like to gripe at her. She will provoke you, so respond with “I was remembering when you used to ____ while I did this. I believe we can make more good memories.” Seize opportunities to join her routine, without making any demands. The break through you are watching for is:

  1. She makes her bed so you are more comfortable when you come in.
  2. She starts telling you about her life without you asking a question.
  3. She chooses to be with you in another room of the house.
  1. Surprise him by taking him out to get a snack like wings or a hamburger.

Watch for occasions to have him alone with you in the car, preferably not on the same day of the week. Try not to create a predictable pattern in the beginning. Do not take the food home. Eat in the car, at the restaurant, or at a park. Do expect him to say thank you, do not expect him to talk, do not expect him to put down his phone, do not use your phone, and do not stare at him.  Just be available to him, use the silence for prayer, use the silence to make a mental list of all the things like about him. Make sure that any words that you say do not have any sarcasm, criticism, or advise.  It is working when:

  1. You become more important than the food or phone.
  2. When he laughs at your jokes.
  3. When realizes, he is more important to you than his school work, or team practice.

When our children are young, we express our love in hugs and words. As they get older, we express our love in acceptance and time. In their attempt to determine who they are, they may reject us temporarily. But when we stay available to them, they will return relationally just like the younger son does in Luke 15:21-23. However, if they believe that behavior is all that really matters to us, then they may become like the older son- never really having a relationship with us at all. Can you imagine living with someone for twenty years all the while never knowing who they were?  Can you imagine living with someone for twenty years all the while never knowing who they were? Click To Tweet




NBC’s Comedy, “The Good Place” Demonstrates A Misconception About Heaven

Careful never to use the term “heaven,” Michael Schur’s sitcom, “The Good Place” demonstrates the problem in a commonly held afterlife formula.

Good Works – Selfish Acts = Your Life Score

Based on the numerical value of your score, you are sent either to “the good place”or “the bad place”.  This view is loosely taught by every religion except Christianity, even most agnostics respect the idea of Karma. Although the idea of good  earthly deeds causing eternal rewards is widespread, it is unusual to see it so plainly analyzed on television.

As the episodes progress, we discover that good works done for self-gratification do not count toward your life score.  And just because you mean well doesn’t mean your score will be high.  One character’s attempt to always be ethical made everyone around him miserable; therefore, his effort was not rewarded.

NBC’s show subtly asks these challenging questions  about bad actions:

  • What if the person’s childhood was so terrible that she did not receive a moral compass necessary for her to determine right from wrong?
  • What if the person’s lack of education keeps him from being able to understand cause and effect?
  • If someone has always lived a life of selfishness, would she even want to live in “the good place”?

I am curious as to how and if the show will answer those questions. But I do know that the “good place” portrayed in the show is nothing like the heaven described in the Bible.  The Bible destroys the premise of the plot.

There is no action good enough to get someone to heaven.

as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. (Romans 3:10 HCSB)

One of the reason’s God gave the simple ten commandments was to demonstrate how incapable we are at being “good”.  Adam and Eve had only one commandment, “don’t eat from this tree”, and  yet they refused to obey.

One act of rebellion destroys all the good.

Adam and Eve didn’t have to eat all of the fruit to ruin their relationship with God.  They ate one piece of fruit and immediately hid from God (Genesis 3:8). The unavoidable penalty for their rebellion was the death of their relationship with God. Sinners avoid the presence of a holy God. The unrepentant or prideful heart often  runs from God.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12 HCBS)

Imagine for a moment, that God did grade us on the curve and top .0001% kindest people entered heaven. What would happen as soon as one act of selfishness occurred in paradise? Heaven would begin the downward spiral that we have witnessed throughout time. Sin is a virus that can only be cured by the perfect sacrifice made by Jesus.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm. (1 Peter 3:18 HCSB)

 The only hope is in accepting God’s grace.

 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 HCSB)

No one deserves any afterlife other than “the bad place”. “The good place” is not earned. It is a gift made possible because Jesus died in each person’s place. He paid the penalty required.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:5,6,8,9 HCSB)

There is no one so wicked that Jesus will not forgive, if they acknowledge their sin and accept His offer of salvation. It means choosing to make Jesus their life’s priority. Although everyone fails in their commitment, God knows if someone is truly sincere or pretending.

 “Therefore, everyone who will acknowledge Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33-34 HCSB)

Can you image a wife denying she knows her husband? Those in heaven admit to having a relationship Jesus.

Salvation is so simple compared to the points system purposed in “The Good Place”. Heaven is a matter of who you trust; not a result of  your life score.

Following Jesus is Like Walking Through a Fun House of Distorted Mirrors

Have you ever been in “fun house” at an amusement park? Everything is distorted. Items are disproportionate, making you feel either tiny or huge. You will step into a room and discover you are walking on the ceiling. Looking into a mirror, you will realize your own appearance has changed. Life was strange like that for the disciples following Jesus. Could they trust their eyes?

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Believing Leads to Being at the Right Place at the Right Time

2 Kings is not chronological. The Bible’s purpose is not to record history; instead it declares God’s power and personality. Continually making His mercy and presence known, God intentionally reveals His character through the events recorded in scripture. Just as Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8), mankind as a group does not either.  God warns against sin, predicts punishment, disciplines sinners, and yet people continue to refuse to acknowledge Him.

Today’s events happened between the stories in 2 Kings 4:37 and 2 Kings 5: 27. It occurred after Elisha raised the woman’s son from the dead, but before Gehazi had leprosy. A king would not spend time with lepers. Also the woman’s husband, alive in 2 Kings 4, must have died by the end of this story or he would have been the one talking with the king.

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