What’s in a Name?

Welcome Karis Leona Choy!

Karis Leona Choy was born on Thurs June 18th at 10:34pm! She is my fourth child but first daughter. Everything has changed!


Father’s Day

Names Matter

The first human names were significant. Adam means “man” and Eve means “to live” or “have life.” The bible adds that Eve was the “mother of all.”

Throughout the bible the naming of and changing of names was significant. Abram (“exalted father”) changed to Abraham (“father of many”), and Cephas (“rock”) to Peter (“stone”).

Epiphany Resource for Parents

The season from Thanksgiving to Christmas is my favorite time of year! I love the changing weather, the music, the food, the gatherings, the special concerts, church events, and parties! However, our family tries to focus on the real meaning by utilizing an advent wreath, special readings, and participating in special events. But what happens when it’s all over?

experiencing epiphany

Lindsey Bridges has put together a wonderful resource to help parents recover from the holidays! Anyone need something like that? We sure do!

How to be an Awesome Dad!

Dad’s don’t begin parenting thinking, “I hope to be a complete failure!” Most of us want to be awesome dad’s, right!? I do! I’m not claiming to be an awesome dad. But I learned something this weekend that may help.

Awesome dad

Backpacking in the Shenandoah National Park.

Manhood Adventure

This weekend I took my 1o year old son Elijah on our first backpacking trip. This was also part of his rite of passage into the double digits (he turned 10 in March)!

Developing the Character of Your Child: Parenting Snapshot #4 (of 4)

Relationships are central to character development. That’s as true of us parents as it is of our child(ren)! Character is primarily shaped in our child(ren) in three relationships: God, self, and others.

Character Development

In our home with three boys life goes by at lightening speed. School, church, sports, and friends in the neighborhood take enormous time and energy.

Who has time to shape character? Thankfully it’s not about adding something else. Character is primarily shaped in the context of relationships.

But character is usually not shaped by accident. The more intentional we are about the process the more likely character will be formed.

My wife and I have found the following 6 principles helpful in the shaping of character in our three boys:

#1: You’re Getting Them Ready to Leave From the Start!

From the first day with the nanny, babysitter, pre-school, or care taker you’re prepping your kids to LEAVE! What they need when they go is character.

We can’t buy built-in-character at Wal-Mart. Our goal is to prepare them for the situations that parents cannot anticipate. We simply won’t be there to help.

#2: The Challenge of Growing Independence

  • School means growing independence from parents.
  • Children will face new experiences that their parents will not be there to help them with.
  • Children will be developing their own ideas about life.
  • Your parental goal is to raise kids to leave your home.

#3: Defining the Character Issues

  • There is behavior that is wrong but not necessarily defiant. i.e. Selfishness, which can be subtle.
  • Loving others is the core character trait to instill in our kids. Pray for this daily.
  • Make the most of every illustration of the following traits: honest, kind, helpful, considerate, loyal, hard-working, self-control, moral integrity. Celebrate when you see these in your kids or others.

#4: The Problem with Rules

  • You cannot make enough rules to cover everything. Cannot anticipate every circumstance.
  • Rules can help produce a self-righteous spirit in children. Can clean the outside but doesn’t change the heart.
  • Children who can keep the rules on their own have no need of Jesus.

#5: Understanding Your Child

A few years ago my wife and I started taking an annual relational inventory of our children’s relationships. Each of our three boys are unique and SO different. They have different needs. And the character shaping for each one is unique.

We’ve developed questions to help us understand our children in the three critical relationships in his life. We try to do this during our summer vacation. This helps evaluate the last year, celebrate the wins, and prepare for the upcoming year.

1. Relationship to God.

  • Focus on understanding what God means to your child.
  • How do his actions and words indicate what he thinks about God and the Bible?
  • Does he/she have a sense for their need for God?

2. Relationship to him/herself.

  • Is he/she aware of his own strengths and weaknesses?
  • Does he understand his own personality?
  • Know that your child(ren) are uniquely shaped by God, no accidents!

3. His relationships with others.

  • What kind of relationships does he/she have?
  • What kind of kids are they attracted to be around?
  • What are the strengths and weakness of these relationships?

#6: Benefits of this Type of Relational Analysis

  • Character development needs conscious evaluation for growth to occur.
  • Raising kids is a matter of character development.
  • To do this well you must understand your children and the heart issues they struggle with.

Two books I HIGHLY recommend: Raising A Modern Day Knight (sons) and Raising A Modern Day Princess (daughters).


QUESTION: what has helped you develop character in your child(ren)?

The Gospel Centerpiece: Parenting Snapshot #3

With three boys our day-to-day life is an adventure. In the midst of daily craziness keeping the gospel front and center is a daily challenge. But it’s THE KEY to the heart of our children.

Gospel Centerpiece

The gospel centerpiece assumes two things. First, that you agree that parenting is a matter of the heart (see The Heart of the Matter is the Matter of the Heart). Second, that you agree that the goal of parenting is the glory of God (see Critiquing Your Goals).

Here are three practical steps to help you keep the gospel central in your parenting:

First Step – Discern Heart Issues

When things happen:

  1. Don’t focus primarily on the conflict, e.g. “who had it first” or “who started it.”
  2. Rather, focus on the heart issues that produced the debate in the first place.
  3. As we see from Luke 6:43-45 and Proverbs 4:23, the heart is the central issue.

Examine the following examples in this light.

 APPLY: through the course of the day, ask your kids questions that reveal what’s in their heart. i.e. Were you trying to get revenge? Were you afraid? Did you just want what you wanted or were you thinking about others?

The answers help get to what’s in your child’s heart. Then you can emphasize the need they (and us too) have for Jesus to change them from the inside out.

Second Step – Use Scripture that Addresses the Heart Issues at Hand

Obviously this step assumes a growing knowledge of the Bible yourself. Therefore, you want to develop a stash of Bible verses that deal with the heart, parenting, etc.

Everyday Talk by John Younts (currently $1.99 on Kindle) is a great resource. It’s based on Deuteronomy 6:1-7 … It’s a practical guide for talking with our kids about the Lord throughout the everyday talk.

Can you believe that my kids struggle with selfishness! I began seeing this a few years ago and at first I would get mad! That really helps! NOT! I began praying for my heart and the hearts of my kids. Then I printed Phil 2:1-4 and gave it to my oldest son and put a copy on my desk. We reviewed it daily for a couple weeks, talked about it, and prayed together. Selfishness is not gone, but I have seen his and my heart change!

I’m currently reading a #Proverbaday with my oldest son. We highlight at least one verse that stands out to us each day. Then we share over breakfast and then at night. Through this we’re growing in wisdom.

Third Step – Pray with Your Children

Don’t force your kids to pray. Invite them to pray. Be creative. And teach them what prayer is and how to do it.

A few months ago I began going through the Lord’s Prayer with my sons. I outlined the prayer for them, explaining what each part meant. Then I asked my oldest son if he would pray at night twice a week. When I put him to bed on Tues and Thurs he prays. It’s still simple. But he’s learning and growing through it.


QUESTION: What would you add? What’s been helpful for you to keep the gospel center?


Critiquing Your Goals: Parenting Snapshot #2

What is the goal of parenting? Is it raise a “good” kid? Or raise them to be responsible adults? Or just to survive until they leave the house?

Goals of Parenting

My goals have included having great looking, brilliantly smart, NFL playing, and wealthy kids so they can support their parents! Might just be me! These goals are WAY off the mark, at least for a family who trusts and follows Jesus.

For parents those who trust and follow Jesus, we need to consider what He says about the goals of life. I hope the following considerations are helpful in your parenting journey.

Let’s begin, not with parenting in mind, but with the core goal of life. Here’s the question: What is the chief end [i.e. goal] of man?

The first question of the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith answer this – “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.” This sets the foundation of our parenting.

We All Have Goals

  • We want our children to succeed. This desire is addressed in many ways in our culture.
  • Helping parents succeed in becoming successful parents has become a growth industry in America.

Some Common Goals of our “Religious” Culture

  1. Special skills: sports, music, scouting, academic achievement, etc.
  2. Biblical knowledge/information: youth messages, studies, Sunday school.
  3. Good behavior: good but not the primary goal.
  4. Good education: is it possible to be well educated and still not understand life?
  5. Control kids: I like this goal, don’t we all! But this will not last!

The One True Biblical Objective

The overarching biblical objective is to be consumed with glorifying God and enjoying him forever. Consider these verse in the Bible:

1Corinthians 10:31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)

Colossians 3:17And 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. (NIV)

Important Point: we must teach our children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God.

  • Cultural influence has driven parents to take delight in delighting their children with material things.
  • This is illustrated by the four year old driving an electric powered Corvette around his driveway.

How Can We Counteract These Influence?

1. It’s not easy. There is no quick solution. But it’s simple!

2. Only in God’s light can we see light. Psalm 36:9 says,
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

3. As a parent, we need to model thirsting for God. Psalm 63:1 says,
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

The goal of these truths is to teach to your children to entrust themselves to God.

Questions to Consider

Pray and talk through these questions with your spouse and/or those helping with your parenting. This has helped my wife and I tremendously:

  1. How do you define success in parenting?
  2. How would your child(ren) answer, “What do your parents want most for you?”
  3. What are the values taught and caught and practiced in your home?
  4. Is knowing and loving God enough for you? Your kids?
  5. Are you sending mixed messages?
  6. What 1-2 steps can you take to bring glorifying God into the center of your parenting this year?

I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions!

The Heart of the Matter is the Matter of the Heart: Parenting Snapshot #1

Parenting is not only hard work, it’s heart work! And while we can’t be perfect parents, we can be effective parents.

Heart of the Matter

In the next four days I’m going to share a few parenting SNAPSHOTS. These SNAPSHOTS are parenting principles my wife and I have been learning the last 10 years. They have helped us and many families we’ve served over the years. May they help and encourage you in your parenting.

These principles are taken mostly from the great work of Ted Tripp. His book Shepherding a Child’s Heart is at the TOP of my recommending reading for parents.

Let’s look at snapshot #1, “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.”

Here are four things to consider in regard to your parenting philosophy:

1. Behavior comes from the HEART!

Proverbs 4:23 is a key passage to grasp and build upon:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (NIV)

It’s so easy just to focus on behavior. We want “good” kids, right?! We want them to be “on their best behavior.” But how they act flows from what’s in their heart. Just like their parents! Kids (and adults) fight because there is something we want and don’t have (James 4:1-3)!

What your children say and do comes from the heart. True of us too!

Great news! God is the heart-knower! He knows what the heart is really like. And it’s not always pretty, is it!

God knows “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Prov 22:15). Folly is unwise behavior that ignores or denies God.

2. Jesus Focuses on the Heart

Here are a few examples:

Matthew 6:21 “Where your treasure is that is where your heart is.”

Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart,for they will see God”

Mark 12:30 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

Luke 6:45 “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Focusing just on the behavior of our kids is like hanging good apples on bad trees. A bad tree only produces bad apples.

3. Children Will Work with Whatever Parents Give Them

What you train them with is what they will become. Manipulation will lead to manipulation. Threats will lead to threats. Emotional appeal will lead to emotional appeal. The major problem is that none of these strategies point to Jesus!

4. The Gospel Must be the Center Point of Discussion Regarding Change. To Do this You Must Take Your Kids to Jesus!

Your goal is to help your kids understand their need for that new heart that can only come from Jesus. Sin in the real problem. Jesus is the real solution!

You can’t be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent (Mark Batterson says that in Praying Circles Around Your Children). Pray daily for your child’s heart to be soft and open to Jesus.

When you’re correcting or disciplining, bring the gospel to the center. Urge your kids to pray and ask Jesus to change them. And then pray that for and with them.

Don’t expect quick fixes or fast change. We’re tilling ground, sowing seeds, and watering soil. It’s the Holy Spirit who will bring about real heart change, usually over time.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

~Proverbs 4:23

Stay tuned for tomorrow’ s post, Critiquing Your Goals: Parenting Snapshot #2.

QUESTION: What do you do that helps get to your child’s heart?