Gospel Parenting by Josh Cooley

One recent Friday evening, my wife, Kelly, and I were discussing our weekend plans. Surprisingly, we were chatting by ourselves on the couch uninterrupted. Our four kids—ages four to ten—were quietly playing and reading in various rooms. No one was fussing or fighting. Nary a bump, thump, or explosion could be heard from anywhere in the house. It was a blissfully serene moment.

parenting-1Still, at the end of a long week, Kelly and I found ourselves counting down to 8:30, which in our family initiates that blessed yet fleeting 90-minute oasis between the kids’ bedtime and ours. It’s funny how situations alter perception, no? Ninety minutes at the dentist’s office is an eternity, like you’re trapped inside one of Salvador Dali’s melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory. But 90 minutes with your spouse after the kids doze off? That flies by like a fighter jet at Mach 2.

All moms and dads need those oasis moments. Parenting is hard, consuming work. It produces plenty of Hallmark moments, but certainly not every time. Yet children are God’s greatest blessing to a husband and wife. Psalm 127:3 says it best: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

Sometimes, during those “the days are long but the years are short” moments, parents need a reminder of what their main objective is. Psalm 78:4 leads the way: “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” In my work as a vocational children’s minister, this is my theme verse for ministry. But if I had to pick a single verse to be my personal parenting motto, too, this would be it. Why? Because viewed through a proper redemptive lens, this ancient psalm is packed with gospel meaning.

Throughout history, the Lord has done innumerable glorious deeds. His most glorious, of course, is providing his Son, Jesus Christ, as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. For parents, our chief responsibility—and privilege—is to share this gospel truth with our kids in everything we do. The apostle Paul calls the gospel a message of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3). It’s the cornerstone of biblical parenting—the foundation on which all other building blocks should be laid. Nothing else should take a higher priority in child rearing . . . not even “eat your veggies.”

parenting-2Have you shared the Good News of salvation through Christ with your children recently? Do it again! Have you told them about Jesus’ great sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection? Create another opportunity to do so! It’s a message that kids (and adults) can’t hear enough or rejoice in too much.

The gospel contains endless riches to explore. Sin, wrath, justice, mercy, grace, atonement, election, propitiation, regeneration, justification, redemption, adoption, sanctification, eternity, and more—these topics don’t take days to discuss with your children; they take years. Obviously, kids aren’t going to grasp all these important concepts right away. And therein lies the beauty of parenting! We get the great honor of shepherding their hearts throughout this long spiritual journey.

God’s love toward us through Christ is a treasure that exceeds value. It’s simple enough to understand, yet deep enough to continually provoke worship and awe. It’s a mystery we will never completely comprehend, a mountain we will never truly summit, an ocean we will never fully plumb. As Paul exclaimed in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

josh-cooley-1-year-devoSo proclaim the glorious gospel of Jesus to your children. Tell them about God’s might and the wonders that he has done through the Cross and empty tomb. Open the Word with them. Pray long and hard for them.

There are many great resources to help you along the way. May I suggest one? I wrote The One Year Devotions with Jesus, a 365-day devotional, to give tweens and teens a broad picture of the person and work of Christ and help them explore God’s redemptive plan through his Son. With the holidays approaching, it could make a great gift for someone you know.

Yes, parenting is difficult work. Quiet moments, disposable income, and sleep suddenly become prime commodities. And honestly, the “Pre-Minivan Era” memories of my old Mustang GT still cause a little heartache. But I wouldn’t trade my present circumstances for anything. The chance to tell the coming generation—four of whom are my own—about the glorious gospel message is beyond words.

It even beats that nightly 90-minute oasis.

cooley_josh_01Joshua Cooley is the children’s minister at Chapel Hill Bible Church (NC). His The One Year Devotions with Jesus, Heroes of the Bible Devotional, and The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids are all available through Tyndale. You can learn more about Joshua on his website, www.joshuacooleyauthor.com, or visit him on Facebook and Twitter.




Catching Heat – Win a California Prize Pack from Janice Cantore

In celebration of Catching Heat releasing we’re going to give away 3 complete sets of The Cold Case Justice series and one very lucky grand prize winner will win a complete set of Janice Cantore novels and a San Luis Obispo, CA prize package!



More about Catching Heat:

Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart’s parents, she’s desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind—the governor’s wife—behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where Alyssa Rollins grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.

Luke is eager to help Abby close the books on a case they both have personal stakes in. But as she uncovers long-held secrets, Abby stumbles into an explosive situation, and Luke fears that her obsession may prove deadly.


Buy here: https://www.tyndale.com/p/cold-case-justice-3-catching-heat/9781414396705


Enter to win one of 3 complete sets of The Cold Case Justice Series, plus one lucky winner will be chosen to win a California prize pack.



Complete the Gleam form to enter!

Catching Heat Prize Pack

Understanding Today’s Unchurched and How to Connect with Them

Drowning man with cross

Churchless people are all around us: among our closest loved ones, at our workplaces, in our neighborhoods. And more and more, they are becoming the norm: The number of churchless adults in the US has grown by nearly one-third in the past decade. Yet the startling truth is that many of these people claim they are looking for a genuine, powerful encounter with God—but they just don’t find it in church.

What are they (or we) missing? How can we better reach out to them? What can we say or do that would inspire them to want to join a community of faith? Containing groundbreaking new research from the Barna Group, and edited by bestselling authors George Barna (Revolution) and David Kinnaman (You Lost Me), Churchless reveals the results of a five-year study based on interviews with thousands of churchless men and women.

Looking past the surface of church attendance to deeper spiritual realities, Churchless will help us understand those who choose not to be part of a church, build trust-based relationships with them, and be empowered to successfully invite them to engage.

The Churchless softcover is now available on Tyndale.com.

Bulk Discounts are available!

Click on the image below to download the Churchless Discussion Guide.

Good Sports Worth More Than Gold by Jesse Florea

I’ve been a sports fan my entire life. That’s not an exaggeration.

My mom loves to tell the story of two-year-old me, watching the 1972 Winter Olympics. Diaper-clad, I sat transfixed as downhill skiers challenged the slopes. When the Olympic coverage ended and went to a different show, I stood up, ran to the TV, banged on the screen, and shouted, “More ki, more ki.” (I guess I had a problem pronouncing S.)

img-for-jesse-florea-blog-postSports have been a constant in my life when few other things have been. My mom divorced and remarried twice while I was growing up. We were CEO churchgoers (as in Christmas and Easter Only) until I was a teenager. But I played Little League baseball from age eight, starred on the basketball court from age six, and was the MVP of my middle school football team. Despite a sometimes chaotic home life, I always had quality coaches encouraging me to work hard and be my best.

Through sports, I learned about endurance, being a good teammate, obeying authorities (both coaches and referees), and setting goals.

At thirteen, I found out about God’s love. I prayed to accept Jesus’ forgiveness and dedicated my life to following Him. But my love of sports continued.

My mom bought me a book that highlighted the lives of famous Christian athletes. Reading their stories showed me how competition and Christianity worked together. Digging into God’s Word, I was drawn to the apostle Paul’s many sports analogies. I wanted to run to earn the prize, endure to the finish, and honor Christ with my abilities.

When my dreams of becoming a professional athlete were derailed by a lack of size and talent, I turned to writing about sports. During my sophomore year in high school, I started working for the city newspaper. I continued writing about high school sports throughout college and for more than twenty years after I graduated.

I saw the ups and downs of athletics. I witnessed courage, interviewed athletes after failure, and saw many of the life lessons that sports can teach.

You may not be a sports nut like me, but you probably just finished watching the Summer Olympics. Rowing, diving, biking, sprinting, basketball, gymnastics—I saw it all and cheered for the Red, White, and Blue. As I watched athletes from around the world compete for gold, I kept thinking King Solomon’s words, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!” (Proverbs 16:16).

img-for-jesse-florea-blog-post-3Wisdom comes from getting into God’s Word. That’s why I’ve cowritten two sports devotionals for Tyndale. I’ve seen the power of sports and God’s Word to change lives.

A couple of years ago, I met a mom whose hockey-star son had suffered two concussions, gone into a deep depression, and started doubting God. I gave her a copy of The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids. Months later, I received a letter from this mom saying that her son read the book and decided that he wanted to stay on God’s team.

That’s a wise choice. We should all be excited about being on God’s team. After all, we win in the end.

I didn’t always win on the playing field. In fact, during my junior year of high school, my basketball team went 0-17. Being on God’s team brings far more joy. When we live for God and seek wisdom, it’s way better than winning a gold medal . . . and we don’t have to wait four years to go for it!

florea_jesse_02Jesse Florea has been inducted to the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame for his sports writing. He’s cowritten several books for Tyndale, including The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids and The One Year Devos for Sports Fans.

He spends his days working at Focus on the Family, where he’s been the editor of Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine (for kids eight to twelve years old) for the last twenty years.

Raising a Young Modern Day Princess

Modern day princess

Modern Day Princess was founded by Doreen Hanna after she recognized the need for a rite of passage into womanhood for teen girls in our society more than a decade ago.

In 2002, she was invited to a summit at Focus on the Family for those who had recognized that same need in our culture. It was evident that God had led Robert Lewis to lead this rite of passage movement in the early nineties, and now it was growing exponentially at the turn of the century through more than a dozen men that were present that day. Doreen walked into the conference room to discover that she was the only woman present. However, she quickly saw that this “felt need” in church communities was being met for boys, but not yet for girls. She left the summit with the dream that Focus on the Family would one day publish her book or curriculum.

Twelve publisher rejections and six years later, her dream came true. Focus on the Family embraced her proposal and proclaimed, “This is what we have been looking for since we published Raising a Modern-Day Knight.” Doreen’s heart leaped as she signed the contract, and soon she was featured with her coauthor, Pam Farrel, on the Focus on the Family radio program. She initially saw it as an American-based rite of passage; however, by 2010 the program had been implemented in every state in the nation and is used in more than twenty-two countries across the world today.

Teens are one of our biggest concerns in society because we see the choices offered to them through every possible media, seeking to lead them to very destructive ways of living. We are called to impart wisdom, hope, and healing as leaders and parents in this crucial season of their lives.

Doreen boldly suggests that we equip our daughters with purpose, value, and strength through a rite of passage for our little girls. This passage and celebration is presented in Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess, which equips teachers, parents, and grandparents to guide their girls (ages 4–10) to embrace the fruit of the Spirit into their little hearts. Ultimately, we want to see them live this out daily, offering a taste of that fruit in their relationships with family and friends. The book provides practical applications through more than 100 activities created by coauthor Karen Whiting. In addition, there is a Dad’s Toolbox in every chapter, enabling fathers to model and encourage the growth of fruit in their lives and their daughters’.

Whether you are a pastor, teacher, leader, or parent, consider these resources as a guide to establishing life-impacting rites of passage for your girls today.

PackagingDoreen’s most recent book is Raising a Young Modern-Day Princess: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit in Your Little Girl (written with Karen Whiting).

Emulating the format of Raising a Modern-Day Princess, authors Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting seek to help parents and grandparents cultivate strong relationships and encourage the spiritual formation in their daughters using examples, Bible teaching on the fruit of the Spirit, and a variety of creative activities that are based on Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control).

By implementing the ideas in this book, mothers (as well as fathers) will be equipped to understand and guide their daughters through each step of becoming His “princess.” This will include perceiving a daughter’s unique personality and gifts, refining her character through training and discipline, and modeling the attributes of a daughter of the King.

This book is a follow-up to both Raising a Modern-Day Knight (by Robert Lewis) and Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna. While the latter book is aimed at parents of girls ages 12 and up, this book focuses on building the Christian character of younger girls.

Check out this excerpt from the chapter on Kindness!

Have you spoken a simple word of kindness to a stranger that turned that frown into a smile? Or did an affirmative nod of support during someone’s moment of doubt inspire that person to boldly move forward? Or did you share a verse with a friend who was seeking God’s direction—and it turned out your friend had just read the same verse? It’s an awe-inspiring moment when you realize God has used you to encourage someone else.

Try This Kindness Activity

Place a piece of celery in a glass of water. Add food coloring to the water and watch the celery gradually change color. Point out that a words of kindness can change people, like adding something colorful to their lives.

A Message for Fathers from Dad’s Tool Box

Your kind words expressing how pretty she looks are important to her, no matter how old she is. This reassurance is incredibly valuable coming from you. Remember, it is impossible to give sincere encouragement without kindness being present.

Download the first chapter of Raising a Modern-Day Princess by Doreen Hanna and Karen Whiting.

Visit Karen Whiting’s Princess Party Pinterest Page.

pic_full_hanna_doreenDoreen Hanna is founder and president of Treasured Celebrations Ministries (treasuredcelebrations.org) and is the coauthor of Becoming a Modern-Day Princess, a biblically based rite-of-passage program for teenage girls. Doreen is a faculty member and motivational speaker for CLASS (Christian Leaders, Authors, and Speakers Services), and has been a women’s Bible study teacher and trained biblical counselor for more than 25 years.