Category Archives: Parenting

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Announcing A New Homeschool Parenting Blog

mother and babyMy husband Paul and I homeschooled our children from the time they were born until they grew up — a total of 30 years. Although the girls are now grown, homeschooling is still dear to our hearts.

Recently, I felt that the Lord was giving me a renewed desire to write  for the homeschool community, specifically on character building and parenting topics.

of course I canI assure you that the Out of the Fire blog will continue on as it has in the past. But if you are interested in Christian parenting and character building issues, I invite you to check out my new Character Building for Families blog. (Even if you are not homeschooling your children, you might find some things to interest you!)

Thank you so much for reading my blogs! I’ve made so many friends across the world through Out of the Fire, and hope to make many more through the Character Building for Families blog.

Blessings in the Lord Jesus,
Lee Ann

Are Character Building Studies Necessary?

Nearly twenty years ago, I published my first book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1. I had originally written the materials for our family, simply because, at the time, no one else was writing such things, and we had a need that was not being met. By the time we made my book available for the world, two other homeschool families had also come up with similar ideas. We were pioneers, I guess. Now, there are hundreds of character education books to choose from — for both children and adults, from both secular and Christian viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at some of the questions people voice about  character education:

Why is  teaching character  with a book important? Won’t it just sink in naturally? You know, we teach by example more than by our words, don’t we? Well yes, and no. Being a great example is important. Speaking the right words, while not following through by living the way we speak, is not generally very productive.

But teaching by example alone can be rather hit-or-miss. We’re not going to have opportunity to thoroughly model everything our kids (or adult  believers we are discipling) need to know about integrity, based on isolated incidents that arise naturally.

Personally, I think it is important not only to show people how, but also to give them a “why” which is founded in the Word of God. Seeing a concept clearly laid out in the Bible, and taking the time to study that concept together, anchors its truth in our hearts. And, if we build a foundation one block at a time, “line upon line, precept upon precept,” the results are going to be more solid.

Isn’t character education just bringing about behavior modification? I’ve heard this criticism a few times, and my answer is, “Not if it is done right.” The goal should always be heart-change. Our aim should be for our children (or adult Christians we serve) to desire good character because they want to be like Jesus, not just so that they can avoid unpleasant consequences, impress other people, or be successful. Outward change without inward transformation is hypocritical, and it can rarely be upheld for any length of time. Somewhere along the way, the real person will leak out!

That is why, in our own character education materials, we focus on applying the presented concepts to the heart. We tell people using our Character Building for Families manuals that the parents are going to have their character built right along with their children — and we’ve had quite a few parents write to us, testifying to the truth of that statement!

River Life Adult and Teen Character Study

Tragically, the Church has often fallen into the mistake of telling our young people that if they will just “be good,” God will love them and take them to heaven.  That is behavior modification and a false gospel message.  True character education brings to the student an understanding of Who God is and how we should become like Him, coupled with the knowledge that we can only accomplish this through asking God to do it in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our goal should be to raise up disciples who have a passion for the Lord Jesus, not to merely make them valuable community citizens. The  outward good behavior will naturally come, as we address and repair the issues of the heart.

Will character training solve our home problems (or our church’s problems)? I’m sorry I can’t promise you that. It would be nice if it did, wouldn’t it? My children did not become perfect by repeatedly studying  our character materials. Neither did I. But we made some progress together. The Character Building for Families lady still messes up sometimes.

Every one of us is in a lifelong process of growing into the image of Christ. We learn to be kind, and somewhere down the road, God will take us into deeper levels of learning to be kind. Step #1 is to equip ourselves with the recognition of where the old, selfish nature is still at work in us and the knowledge of how to overcome it, but the walking-out process is challenging and ongoing. Character studies are a tool, but we must wield the tool we’ve been given.

Are you still interested in stepping into the journey? Please visit us at our Character Building for Families website. In addition to our books, we’ve got many free Christian and homeschooling helps there to serve you.

The Truth About Character Building

Volume1So, I write character building resources for children and adults, for parents to help their children grow in godliness, for churches to instruct new believers in becoming Christlike, for individuals hungry for holiness.  Will studying character building books make you a model Christian?  Will they solve your integrity issues?  Here’s the truth: NO.

Christlike character is not something that can be gained from a book.  It is not something you can discipline yourself into achieving.  If we are not careful, we can become legalistic about good character in ourselves and in others.  You see, godly character cannot be applied from the outside-in.  It starts in the heart and spreads outward.

Volume2As I see it, Bible-based character building resources are meant to be tools to make us aware of Who God is and to spark a desire to be like Him as we see Him for Who He is.  They provide a framework, a guideline, to get us to think about His purity, to drive us to gaze at Him, so that as we gaze, we are transformed into His image.  They are not self-help materials that promise, “Do it this way and you will be perfect.”  They are not a set of rules.  They are not the answer.

Jesus is the answer.  True godly character comes from being with Him, in His Presence, spending time in love relationship with Him.  As we do that, Holy Spirit, Who dwells inside of all believers, begins to transform us into the image of Jesus.  He starts to nudge about this and that thing in our lives that He wants to make better.  Most of the time, when we are so close to Him, we don’t even notice the transformation taking place in us until after the fact.

RIver Life TeacherWhen I was first baptized in the Holy Spirit, I had a terrible temper.  But that melted away, because He was living in and through me, until one day, I discovered with shock, “I haven’t had a temper tantrum in the last six months! How or when did that happen?”  Today, it would be a totally foreign thing to me to blow up in anger.  Why?  He just did that in me.  It didn’t come by me striving for it.  Sure, there are times we must consciously exercise discipline over things we see in our lives that need to be different, but by and large, it is His transforming work from the inside-out that makes a genuine change.  We just cooperate with Him by staying attuned to Him and yielding ourselves — kind of like letting Him lead in the dance while we follow.

When we get hold of the truth of just letting Him re-form us, rather than striving to do it to ourselves (or to our children), we have freedom and joy in our Christian life.

So, how do you really come into having good character, excellent integrity?  Hunger after Jesus.  Listen for His whispers.  When He speaks, yield to Him.  He’ll get you where you need to be.  You are His workmanship, not your own. 

Full Gospel Family Publications

Understanding Honor (Part 4) — Who Should Receive It?

We said that on the most basic level, all people are to be honored, just because they are human, created by God in His image.  The Bible goes on to talk about specific people upon whom we should bestow honor.

You’ve heard the statement, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” and it is true.  We tend to take for granted those we are closest to.  We see their faults clearly, and sometimes we forget how much we love them in the midst of current difficulties.  But we can train our minds and our mouths to dwell on their good points. 

Other believers – 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each of us esteem [honor] others better [more] than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:3, 4 

Be kindly affectionate to each other with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. Romans 12:10

Honor all men. Love the brotherhood …. 1 Peter 2:17

Husbands/wives –

Likewise, husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; so that your prayers are not hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.Colossians 3:18, 19

Submission is not a popular topic in our day.  But essentially, submission is deferring to someone else and honoring him.  In the case of wives submitting to husbands, this honor is conferred by recognizing the husband’s role as head of the home and allowing him to move in the authority God has given him for the protection of the family unit.  For more on how honor between the husband and wife is meant to work, see Ephesians 5:21-33.  It is supposed to be a harmonious giving and receiving of honor, and when done rightly, blessing flows to all concerned. 

Parents/old people – Proverbs 30:17 gives us a vivid picture of what God thinks about those who do not respect their parents: “The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.”  Bluntly, “If you don’t want to come to a bad end, don’t scorn your parents.” 

Throughout the Bible, the commandment to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long” (Exodus 20:12), is repeated time and again.  Paul points out in Ephesians 6:2 that it is the first commandment with a promise attached to it – long life.  Honoring our parents is important to God, not only while we are young and growing up under their roof, but also once we have reached our adult years – even when our parents are old and feeble. 

Because our society has lost its respect for those who are not beautiful and full of youthful vigor, it is easy for those of us in the Church to slip into not esteeming the elderly as we ought. Yet God says, “You shall rise up before [stand up in respect toward] the white-haired head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:32). 

Children – If we would see them from God’s perspective – who they are in Christ, what they will become as they mature, how valuable they are to Him – perhaps it would help us listen to them better and be more patient with them.  We always see Jesus treating them tenderly. 

Years ago, Romans 15:1 came to my attention in connection with having patience with my small children: “We, then, who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  The verse could apply to anyone who tries our patience through their weaknesses or their need for care, from the very young to the very old. For me, it became a verse to help me bear the nonstop needs of my little ones. 

So, children must be honored, too.  We must remember that they have feelings that can be hurt deeply.  We need to listen to them, encourage them, and otherwise give them time and affection. 

On the other hand, indulging their every whim, not disciplining them, and giving them the same freedoms as adults when they have not yet learned to handle responsibility is a false honor that only brings destruction to their future.  Genuine honor keeps things in perspective, looking at the long term goal of bringing them up into their full potential in Christ Jesus. 

Next time: Honoring those in authority.

Previous: Understanding Honor (Part 3) — And Moves on to Them 
Next: Understanding Honor (Part 5) — Those in Authority 


All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World, by Lee Ann Rubsam