Too Many, Too Much?


Two studies

An excellent recent online article reports on a study done at the University of Toledo where one group of children were observed playing with only four toys, while another group had 16. Researchers observed that the children with fewer toys were more involved in their play than the other group.

The author also observed that children can be quite content playing with cardboard boxes and simple household items.

Conclusion: Parents would do well not only to limit the number of toys they give their kids, but also choose toys that stimulate creativity.

In a similar vein, it may well be true that for adults, less is more. A speaker I heard on the radio this morning cited a study indicating that a higher percentage of people in materialistic societies were mentally distressed. Should that surprise us?

Biblical values vs. the cultural expectations

Jesus, better than anyone, understood how people think. He said, “. . . not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Paul said, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:7-8).

Current culture does not encourage contentment, but the very opposite. Advertisers know how to bait the hook, especially around this time of year.

The person who takes to heart what Jesus and Paul taught about possessions not only can distinguish needs from wants, but may also learn how to want less anyway.

The contented person does not say, “I wish I had . . . .”

But instead, “I’m thankful I have . . . .”

It’s all a matter of perspective.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Countering the Culture

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has written, “There is a coarseness, a callousness and a cynicism to our era. The worst of it has to do with our children.  Our culture seems almost dedicated to the corruption of the young” (Reader’s Digest, August 1995, 37).

Examples could be multiplied to illustrate Bennett’s premise. The media is one of the worst offenders.

Passing it on

Can we parents afford to abdicate our responsibility to teach our children the ways of God? The Bible has much to say about parents’ training their children to know God and obey Him (Genesis 18:19; Exodus 10:2; 12:24-27; 13:7-8, 14-15; Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:4-7, 20-23; Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7, 21-22; Psalm 78:6-7; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17).

As James Burton Coffman has written, “The silliest and most satanic attitude we have ever encountered in Christian parents is this, ‘Oh, well, we are going to let Johnny make up his own mind.’

“Indeed, indeed, that is exactly what the devil would have Christian parents do. If only Satan would be so neutral! The Evil One will exert every pressure possible to persuade children to forsake the Faith and wallow in licentiousness” (Commentary on Psalms 73-150, ACU Press, 48).

Making a difference

My dad used to tell me Bible stories on the way to school. It’s amazing how much teaching we can do by using a few minutes here, a few moments there. But for my dad to be able to drive and tell Bible stories he had to know those stories well. Can we do that?

What can we as individuals do to save this great nation of ours? We can pray. We can be the best citizens we can be. We can be faithful Christians and win souls for Christ—especially the souls of our own children!


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A Practical Parenting Tip from Paul

One young man

Timothy had a good reputation (Acts 16:2). Years later Paul could say of him, “For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father” (Philippians 2:20-22).\

What had molded Timothy’s character? Certainly Paul had a part, but as he wrote Timothy, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

“. . . from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15; see Acts 16:1).

Another young man

How different Timothy’s upbringing was from that of the young man described by Arlie J. Hoover: “A student who was an agnostic once told me that his mother deliberately raised him with no ideals, no values. She told him when he was very young, ‘I am not about to make you conform to my values. I just want you to grow up for yourself, make your own mistakes, search out the truth on your own, find your own worldview and life values.’

“This all sounds so sweet and reasonable and tolerant to most ears, but if you analyze this notion carefully it falls into a pile of nonsense” (“Toleration and Relativism: A Crucial Distinction,” Firm Foundation, 3-21-78: 181).


Timothy had a mother and grandmother who taught him the Scriptures. Is it any wonder he turned out so well?

Do you suppose this just might still work today?

family reading Bible-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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Unwise Wisdom

soccer players-tagged

Benefits of sports

A woman said of her young daughter, “My goal is to keep her busy.” I can certainly see the wisdom in that. Kids need to be so occupied with good things that they don’t have time to get into trouble. There is so much out there that can lead them astray. And so this mom signed up her daughter for two sports.

Sports can help fill the void. Sports provide structure and discipline. A child learns how to work together with others as a member of a team. Sports develop eye-hand coordination, as well as motor skills. Competitive sports provide opportunities to learn to lose gracefully. Much more can be said about the benefits of organized sports. And yet….

Misplaced priorities

When she said, “My goal is to keep her busy,” I couldn’t help thinking: What about keeping your daughter busy in church activities?

If sports and other pursuits so fill the schedule that the church gets the short end of the stick—if even that much—then isn’t something wrong with this picture?

Sports have their place. So do a lot of other worthwhile things. These days we have so many options—good options—that it is easy, as someone well said, to let the second-best pre-empt the best. “I will follow You, Lord; but first . . .” (Luke 9:61).

The church offers something no other organization can: a God-ordained environment for spiritual growth. How many parents realize what a positive impact the church can have on their children—both now and for eternity? There’s just nothing quite like it!

One Christian family I know found themselves running hard night after night to keep up with the activities they had their kids involved in. Finally they decided they just couldn’t maintain such a hectic pace. It was just too much. Something had to give. And for them, it wasn’t going to be the church.

For Christians, can there be any other option?

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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The Question and Its Implications

Out of the mouths of babes

As I was walking toward the church building, a cute little guy came riding by on his bike.

“Are you going to church?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. He then asked, “Is this church day?”

What a revealing question! To his parents was Sunday merely a day to take it easy, catch up on housework, or what?

In contrast

Growing up, my dad never heard his parents discuss whether or not to attend services. They just went (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The church was so much a part of their lives that it had a profound impact on my dad’s values and life choices.

But how would he have turned out had his parents’ priorities been different?

I wonder, whatever became of the little fellow who had to ask, “Is this church day?”

boy on bike-tagged

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Raising Polite Children

Where courtesy begins

When I phoned a family, the ten-year-old niece answered (whom we’ll call Emily). Her voice was quite pleasant, and she handled herself like an adult.

I thought, “Here is a polite child!

We’re not born polite. Emily must have had specific instruction and practice.

Well-mannered children stand out. Once a young girl phoned her friend. The friend’s brother answered, then called to his sister, “It’s the polite child!

How courtesy behaves

Usually courteous children become courteous adults. They keep the volume down on their car radio, never litter, are on time for appointments, say “Please” and “Thank you,” and listen when others speak.

What is courtesy? Isn’t it respect for others’ feelings and welfare (Philippians 2:3-4)? Isn’t it practicing the Golden Rule?

Thanks, Emily, for showing us the way!

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The Voice from the Other Room

A treasured heritage

I recognized the voice coming from another room as that of my father, who at the time had been dead for eight years.

Was I surprised? Not at all.

Monte and Susan, our youngest two, were listening to their grandfather’s oral autobiography, recorded before they were born.

In his story he often makes reference to the church and his involvement in it. He loved, served, and helped lead the church.

A lasting legacy

Many parents provide well for their children’s physical/intellectual/social growth, but little if anything for their spiritual.

Oh, how we need parents and grandparents who pass on to their children the brightly-burning torch of a godly example and biblical teaching (Psalm 78:5-7; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15).

Pity the child who doesn’t have this!


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