Wednesday, July 25, 2007

'Tweens book

Book aims to help parents guide 'tweens'
Topeka native's book aims to help parents navigate children's pre-teen years
By Tim Hrenchir
The Capital-Journal
Published Saturday, July 21, 2007
Once a child learns to bathe, clothe and feed himself, his parents may think their role in his life is somehow less important.
"Nothing could be further from the truth!" writes Topeka native Paul Pettit. "You are needed now more than ever."
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BOOK SIGNING
What: Topeka native Paul Pettit will sign copies of his third book, "Congratulations, You've Got Tweens!"
When: 9 to 11 a.m. July 28
Where: Christian Book and Gift Store, 2121 S.W. Fairlawn Plaza Drive, where it is available for purchase, or online: www.amazon.com, www.dynamicdads.com and www.barnesandnoble.com
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A father of five with a doctoral degree focusing on family studies, Pettit has written a 160-page book offering tips to help parents navigate the "tween" years in which their child is between ages 8 and 12.
Kregel Publications this year put out the book, which is titled, "Congratulations, You've Got Tweens!"
The book, Pettit's third, uses a Christian perspective to help parents through a time when their youngster isn't quite a child and not quite a teenager.
Pettit said in a telephone interview this week that youngsters in their tweens are beginning to become their own person and show independence from their parents but remain highly impressionable and still need parental support.
In an ever-changing youth culture, Pettit encourages parents to meet their tweens "on their own turf" by eating lunch with them at school, knowing their friends and listening to their music.
He suggests parents involve their tweens in Scouting, sports, church groups, volunteer work and other activities that give them a sense of community.
Pettit's book also offers tips for "balanced parenting," which involves finding a healthy middle ground between the extremes of controlling their tween's life too much and too little.
He gives suggestions designed to help parents talk with their tweens on an honest and heartfelt level, such as asking open-ended questions about things in life that make them happy, sad or angry.
"Ask how they felt when they didn't make cheerleader or when they won the spelling bee," he said.
Pettit said his children particularly enjoy a game their family plays at the dinner table called "high/low," in which each talks about their high point and low point of the day.
Pettit and his wife, Pam, live near Dallas with their five children: Lauren, 15; Austin, 14; Evan, 11; Haley, 10; and Christian, 8.
Paul and Pam Pettit grew up in Topeka, where he was an announcer for Joy 88 Radio and a youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church.
The Pettits moved about 15 years ago to Dallas. Paul Pettit is director of spiritual formation at Dallas Theological Seminary, where he received a doctor of ministry degree this year focusing on the area of family studies. He also is president and founder of Dynamic Dads, an organization offering encouragement to fathers.
Pam Pettit received a master's degree in nursing this year from Baylor University and is a nurse practitioner at three hospitals in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Pettits teamed up in 2002 to write a book targeted at helping first-time fathers titled, "Congratulations, You're Gonna be a Dad!" Paul Pettit's second book, "Dynamic Dads," was published in 2003.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What is "Male Authority?"

8 Myths About Male Authority (and 8 Truths)
By Joel Hunter
God has given men a unique role as leaders of our homes and families. But how do we reconcile this in a culture that has become reactionary against men exercising biblical authority?

We live in a society that is pushing for male sensitivity and female strength. That's fine. But much of the current societal norms are a reaction to a perverted idea of God-given male authority. If men could understand the authority God gives to them, they would not have to surrender to the culture's emasculation of their role. If wives could understand their husbands' roles, they would see that support of their husbands' leadership would make themselves more free and secure, not less.
Many Christian men today are wimps. They hate themselves for it, and women do not respect them because of it. So, let me remind you of eight ways that our culture perverts the biblical understanding of male authority … then we will see the list of how a “real man” exercises his authority.
Myth #1: Male authority means male dominance. Men must understand that mature masculinity in Scripture has to do with our strength to serve and sacrifice for the good of the woman. Luke 22:26 gives the general servant-leadership paradigm: “'But among you, those who are the greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant'” (NLT). Ephesians 5:25 gives the home version of it: “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church.”
Myth #2: Exercising strength leads to abuse. The strength that is shaped to provide and protect will not turn to hinder and hurt. They are two different mentalities. Just like muscle does not turn to fat (though sometimes it appears like that), they are two different types of body tissues. When we don't exercise strength in the right way, we will lapse into throwing our weight around in the wrong way. “If you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face” (Rom. 12:8, The Message).
Myth #3: Men need to be more feminine to be sensitive. Was Jesus being more feminine when He sensed the woman who touched His garment being healed? Or when He commanded the disciples to let the children come to Him? Do not men have their own way of sensing the needs around them? If you stand in between my grandchildren and me, I'll guarantee you that I will not become more “feminine,” precisely because I am sensitive to them.
Myth #4: For women to be empowered, men must be disempowered. Paul did not need to become less powerful for Lydia to host the first church. Aquila did not need to be written out of Scripture for us to appreciate Priscilla. Indeed, one of the ways women are most empowered (like the woman at the well in John 4) is for a man (Jesus in that case) to use his strength to respect her. We insult women to think that they cannot deal with strong men. Indeed, we underestimate women when we think that they would rather control men than be the recipient of a strong man's love and respect. Strong women can “talk back” (that's what “helper” means in Gen. 2:18) and work right alongside a strong man.
Myth #5: We shouldn't raise our boys to enjoy “manly” activities. Not too many decades ago boys could play cowboys and Indians, army or contact sports without us worrying that they were growing up to be racist or right-winged warmongers or violent. Boys were taught to hunt in case they needed to survive in the wild. It made them more confident and more appreciative of nature, not more dangerous. The Scripture does not forbid those “adversarial” activities (soldiers, hunters, athletes) that build in strength or teamwork.
Myth #6: We need to feminize God in order to not favor men. The whole “God is a she” movement is ridiculous. Spirit has no gender, but we do not need to hide the fact that the biblical terms for God are masculine ones. We do not need to feminize “Our Father” in order to be brothers and sisters of equal value, standing and usefulness to Him.
Myth #7: If men lead in the home, then they will be free to boss women around in all society. Actually, male servant-leadership is not about “bossing” anyone around anywhere. The servant-leadership that a man is given in the home does not extend beyond it into society. So male responsibility for leadership in the Christian home (see Eph. 5:23) cannot be projected into business or government or any other societal institution.
Myth #8: Authority is about making declarations, not taking personal responsibility to see them through to a beneficial end. Wrong! Men have a terrible reputation for being opinionated without being responsible.
If there is anything clear about the Holy Spirit following the life of Jesus, it is that God follows through. God did not just issue commandments and leave us on our own. He came to help us practice them. The God who came to live with us and in us, the God who said “Lo, I am with you always” is our model for leadership. We can follow that example by staying close to those we lead and assisting them.
SO WHO ARE WE? 8 TRUTHS ABOUT MALE AUTHORITY
Being real men is not just about gender; it is about spiritual maturity in all areas of life. Therefore, manhood is about our calling and not about any competition with women.
Truth #1: We have a gender-unique leadership role in our marriages. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says: “But there is one thing I want you to know: A man is responsible to Christ, a woman is responsible to her husband, and Christ is responsible to God” (NLT). Then, in verse 8 it says: “For the first man didn't come from woman, but the first woman came from man.” I don't know why God made this arrangement. In many ways our wives are more competent than we are. Wise men will lean on their wives to decide many things for the family. In the end, it is not a matter of competence or even gender; it is a matter of following God's order.
When I was in grade school, my desk was closest to the door. That made me the leader for fire drills. Why was I the leader? Because I was more competent? No. Because I was a boy? No. It was because the teacher said so.
Truth #2: We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church and give ourselves up for her. Our authority is for sacrificing and protecting our wives, not for lording power over them. We don't need to be less strong to be a servant, nor do we need for our wives to be weak so that we can appear strong.
Truth #3: We are to train up our children without provoking them to anger (see Eph. 6:4). Our sense of authority must be strong enough to guide, correct and discipline our children (see Heb. 12:9) in a way that evokes respect and not anger. That takes an inner confidence that only comes with understanding the authority God has given us. I often told our sons when they were growing up: “It is not my favorite thing to discipline you, but it is the role that God gave me. Therefore, we will both do the right thing.” They are all great Christian men today, and dearly love their mom and me.
Truth #4: We are to conduct business with confidence and integrity (see Matt. 25:20-21). Men are not to be cowards when it comes to giving their all in the business world, nor are we to think of our capital as our own. Authority follows the man who has invested with Another in mind. Also, our wives are more likely to increase their respect for us when we have done our jobs with confidence and competence, using the authority we have in our arenas to produce profit for the good of all.
Truth #5: We are to provide leadership in the church after first prioritizing our household (see 1 Tim. 3:1, 4). Taking responsibility in the church is also a part of the authority we are to exercise. Of course, an overseer is a servant-leader. Taking responsibility to care for the church (God's family) is an expression of the authority God delegates to us.
Truth #6: We are to take the lead in battling that which could ruin our part of the world (see Gen. 2:15). Since the Garden of Eden, God has specifically given the man the mandate to “cultivate” (be productive) and to “keep” (be protective). The latter refers to the fact that even in a paradise, there are things that can creep in and ruin the good that has been produced. Therefore, the man has the responsibility and authority to guard his house and his family (and sometimes his workplace and his country) from that which could harm or pollute its well-being.
Truth #7: We are to train other men who will train other men (see 2 Tim. 2:2). Our responsibility does not end with our family. We are charged with training up other mature men also, who will train others. This kind of authority, again, is not a dominating kind. The whole “accountability” dynamic has gotten distorted into “I'm your spiritual boss” silliness. Mentoring is support, teaching and guidance for those who desire that kind of leadership in their lives.
Truth #8: We are to complement our wives in their leadership roles in family, church and society. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him'” (NAS). Helper does not mean weak. Which is stronger: the one who needs the help or the helper?
Therefore, part of our authority comes from listening to our wives. Another part of our authority is to empower and serve them so that they can also be leaders in the family, the church and society.
When we men remember that all of life is stewardship-that is, the management of God's goods for Him-we will not use the delegated authority we have in an arrogant or prideful way. We will use our authority to lift up others, as Christ did for us.

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Joel C. Hunter, D. Min., is pastor of Northland - A Church Distributed, located in central Florida. His wife, Becky, is thrilled to have him as leader of their home ... unless he tries to buy another yellow Jeep.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Raising Father

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (LCR) - At first glance, LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer looks like the shoo-in for "Father of the Decade."
Rainer and his wife Nellie Jo raised three successful sons. Two sons are in vocational ministry, and a third is a businessman, committed to marketplace ministry. All three young men have recently married godly wives and each would praise their father's parenting skills at a moment's notice.
Rainer, however, believes any accolades from his sons are filtered through lenses of mercy, grace and unconditional love.
Raising Dad, a new book co-authored by Rainer and his middle son Art, offers a balanced perspective on how fathers and sons "raise" each other. The book was released in June by B&H Publishing Group, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Art was inspired to write the book because "my brothers and I have a desire to say that we were raised by the world's greatest dad." Despite his father's occasional mistakes, Art said forgiveness came easy for him as a child because his dad quickly admitted his imperfections and genuinely sought forgiveness. "It was evident that he regretted his mistakes and that made it easy to pardon him," Art said in a recent interview.
Each chapter in Raising Dad begins with Art's perception of his childhood and ends with his dad's behind-the-scenes confession of fathering-gone-wrong. "Each time I read Art's part of the chapters, I fight back tears," Rainer writes. "Love is an amazing thing. It obviously keeps no record of wrongs. It is patient. It is kind. And it is giving. That is the grace I see when I read Art's words."
In the first-person narrative, Rainer offers a transparent analysis of his parenting skills and provides situational antidotes of how he occasionally "blew it" as a dad. "I am a father who is so far from perfect that I wonder what I did to receive such love from my sons," wrote Rainer, who also continually credits the success of his parenting to his wife.
The power of support, encouragement and pride
In the book, Art discloses three "gifts" his father gave him as a child that has impacted his adulthood: support, encouragement and pride.
"Support is powerful," he writes. "It can provide a child with the courage and willingness to pursue goals or accomplish tasks that he or she would otherwise feel beyond reach. Anything that I desired to do in life, he was there supporting me," Art writes. "Any direction that I wanted to go, I had his backing."
Encouragement is one step above support and was crucial in his relationship with his dad, Art adds. "My father was one of the greatest encouragers in my life and anytime I came to him with an idea or decision, he would push me to continue in that direction."
Pride was another element to Art's healthy relationship with his father. "I have yet to meet a child who did not long for the gift of pride from his or her parents," Art writes. "There is just something about hearing our parents say that they are proud of you. Even when I was a boy, I felt like a man when I knew that my dad was proud of me."
Rainer, on the other hand, candidly admits that there were times he was "totally perplexed as to exactly how to support and encourage my sons," especially in the area of dating. Yet, he advises parents to communicate their love and support to their children.
"If I may speak on my own fallibility, I would exhort, encourage, and plead with fathers to be a constant source of encouragement to their children." Rainer writes.
Limited time for unlimited love
Rainer further encourages parents to redeem the time with their children and intentionally make memories with them. "I was a busy dad," he writes in the book. "If I could do it over, I would see that those vitally important tasks weren't nearly as important as I thought. I would have realized that my boys were toddlers for such a brief season. My wife knew that. She did well. But I didn't. I was just too busy."
Issuing a clarion call for men to realize the fleeting time, Rainer writes that children are more important than one's job and ministry. He shared, "They are more important than our days on the golf course or hours in front of the television. The legacy we leave is not how much money we earned or what level of status we received. The legacy we leave is our children. Take delight in them. Have joy in them. Laugh with them."
The legacy of a dad
Art believes there is a connection between how he viewed his father and how he initially viewed God. "Because my earthly father was able to openly pour out his love on me, I feel more equipped to understand and accept God's torrent of love on my life," he said. "I would encourage readers to realize that God is the ultimate Father. He is the perfect role model, the perfect teacher. Fortunately, He knows your child, inside and out, better than you could ever imagine. Do not neglect your meeting with Him for guidance and wisdom."
In the final chapter, Rainer outlines lessons of fatherhood and encouraged readers to remember: children are a gift from God; children need unconditional love from their parents; time can never be recaptured; and there is nothing more important than a child's eternity.
"Fatherhood has been an educational journey that no school could provide," Rainer writes. "Art and his brothers have raised their dad well."

Raising Dad is available at LifeWay Christians Stores or online at www.lifewaystores.com

Friday, July 06, 2007

New Research on Fathering


(Newswise) July, 2007 — Two family scholars have studied the role of religion as a motivational influence in the lives of fathers and have written about their research in a chapter for a recently published book. Loren Marks, an assistant professor at LSU, and David Dollahite, a professor of family life at Brigham Young University, contend that religious beliefs and practices play a critical role for many men in their involvement with children, which they say is important in an era when many fathers are disconnected from or uninvolved with their children.

Marks teaches in the LSU School of Human Ecology’s division of Family, Child and Consumer Sciences. His primary research interest is how faith involvement influences family life.

In their chapter for the newly released book, “Why Fathers Count,”
Marks and Dollahite point out that although religion is a common influence in the lives of men worldwide, little empirical research has looked at how it affects fathers and why it is so influential for many men and their families. Since a substantial minority of Americans consider religion “the single most important influence in [life],” the scholars found value in learning “how and why family relationships, especially father-child relationships, are influenced by religion.”

In their study of more than 130 Christian, Jewish, Mormon and Muslim families across the United States, the participants contributed an average of eight percent of their incomes and spent an average of nine hours a week engaged in religious activities and involvement. Pointing to their faith community “family,” the participating fathers emphasized their faith communities helped them to overcome or avoid addictions, enhanced their opportunities and provided guidance for family life, and gave them an important context for brotherhood and belonging.

The first area that the authors address is spiritual beliefs that affect fathering. Highlighting the common strands of belief that exist in many religions, they suggest that one key influence is that “many spiritual beliefs encourage the view that human beings, family relationships and family responsibilities are sacred.” Specific spiritual beliefs that affect fathers’ views include the idea that a child is a gift from heaven, fathers are accountable to God for their efforts and fathers’ actions should reflect God’s patience and mercy.

Dollahite and Marks said, “It is important to note that each of these beliefs promotes father responsibility and involvement.”

The scholars also address the influence of meaningful religious practices on fathering. For example, they cite the value of volunteer service together, praying together, or engaging in sacred family traditions. But why are these practices helpful?

Marks and Dollahite first point out that religious practices are often important in bringing meaning and order to family life. They suggest that such practices are used as “ways to create meaning and restore structure, order and connection in a fast-paced and chaotic world that tends to ignore sacred and familial relationships.” Further, they also indicate that religious practices can create a sense of “sacred family time,” which tends to unify family members and promote connection. Prayer was also mentioned as a primary mechanism for solving problems within the family circle.

In addition to the personal and familial contexts of religious influence that Marks and Dollahite address, they also focus on the broader community context of the faith community’s involvement. There are almost no secular institutions, they argue, that have the same degree of contact with men as churches or faith communities do and which also have a profound capacity to influence men’s motivation and behavior in family life.

“We need a vision of how to establish deep, generative, sacred relationships with our children and those of their generation, particularly those who lack involved fathers,” said Marks and Dollahite. In their words, religion is important because “faith turns the heart of the father to his child.”

More information on the book is available at: http://www.whyfatherscount.com/

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