Parenting with Popcorn

popcornThe other day I was watching the movie “Up” with my family (which is a fantastic movie by the way), and as it ended my ten-year-old son explained to his grandparents why it was such a good movie. “It has a different message than believe in yourself.” I couldn’t help but smile.

In 2009 I want to encourage parents to think about their calling to raise children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ” (Ephesians 6:4) It is a calling that has become a popular but unfortunately empty phrase in pop-Christianity. It’s popular because it sounds good and noble. It’s empty because few know how to do it. Consequently, parents feel that they’re raising their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” by finding a popular youth program in which their children can be involved. Popular youth programs certainly have some benefits – particularly in that they can provide a place for Christian youth to get to know other Christian youth. But there is an implicit danger too. Their danger is in giving parents (and youth) a false sense of satisfying the calling of Biblical discipleship.

Raising our children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” goes hand-in-hand with the Old Testament instruction that the Jews call the Shema, from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which shows how their understanding and relationship with God is perpetuated. They are to impress God’s Word upon their children by talking about it when they wake up in the morning and lie down at night, sit in the house and as they walk by the way together. It is a call for parents to be constantly training their children in what it means to belong to God.

Talking about God’s Word as you walk by the way teaches us that being a Christian isn’t something that you do at a particular time of day or particular day of the week. It is a wholistic way of life. Parents have to show their children what it means to be a Christian parent, a Christian worker, a Christian neighbor, a Christian friend, a Christian interpreter of culture. Learning how to understand our culture from a Biblical worldview brings us back to parenting with popcorn. We must learn how to watch television and go to the movies with our children and ask the right questions that help us see what is true about them and what is false. Who is the protagonist of the story and what qualities are we encouraged to admire? Who is the antagonist of the story and what qualities make him the antagonist? What is the conflict that needs to be resolved and what is its cause? What is the solution to the conflict? Does the reason for the conflict agree with the Biblical reason for conflict? Does the protagonist have the means to solve the conflict within himself? What is the “moral” of the story?

The answers to these questions help you evaluate the message that our culture embraces and, if we are not learning to evaluate these from a Biblical worldview, that we will also learn to embrace.

Nathan and I will be teaching this semester during Gospel U. a class designed to help train you how to look at things in our culture through a Biblical worldview. I also hope to begin including in the monthly newsletter articles that review popular TV shows, movies and books from a Biblical worldview. To that end, I would like to have your input as to what shows, movies, and books you are interested in seeing reviewed. Please send me an email,, with your suggestions.

This is just one way that parents can begin to walk along the way with their children and train them how to process the messages of our culture.


Shema is a transliteration of the first Hebrew word that begins the command, “Hear, O Israel…” The Shema is such an important affirmation and declaration that faithful Jews say it every morning and evening.

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