If a child is to have his heart trained, he needs to know “why” a principle or virtue is true.  A child needs to know why saving, working, and generous giving is critical. A child needs to learn to cherish the truth and the author of that truth.   We need to give our children moral maps and explain the reasons behind them.
 Explain the Map to EveryoneIt’s not enough to teach our children how to act morally, we must teach them to think morally. To value morality. To love the map.   How will we do that?  Kids often don’t internalize values because the instruction lacks moral reason. Moms and dads tell kids what to do, but not why they should do it. Why it’s true? Why it’s wise.   Church, School, and Grandma teach them what to do, but a parent wanting DESTINATION IMPARTATION, explains the WHY.  They why-for teaching instills the moral principle into the child.  The first three years, the answer, “Cause mom and dad said so…” is fine, but from three years old on, we must start training our kids on why the map is true. Why they can trust us, trust God, and trust the map.Ryan’s dad saw him riding his bike on the church patio after church. He pulled his son (a third grader) aside and told him not to ride his bike on the patio after church. His son could have obeyed and the parenting moment was a success. But his dad went further. He explained that riding on the patio was inappropriate for many reasons, babies in strollers coming out the door, senior citizens coming through the walkway,  folks chatting with hot coffee, etc.  Next time, Ryan can think about the moral principle behind the action.

I talked to a mom recently who was talking to her kids (in their late teens) about why to wait to have sex. She had just finished reading a book on brain chemistry. She explained that when you have sex, Dophamine is released into the brain. It is the reward signal.  It creates the need/desire to repeat the behavior. she told them that sexual intimacy is one of the greatest generators of dopamine causing the person to get hooked.    All of a sudden you feel more in love with a person who has obvious character faults because you’ve brainwashed your brain in dophamine. She noted that girls get hooked and often end up becoming either clingy to a boy, or “cutting” when a boy breaks up with them because they bonded to them.  She noted that waiting for intimacy is so important as the Bible says, “Do not awaken love until it’s time” because once you awaken the physical aspect of a relationship, it bonds you to that person and makes it harder to bond to the next person, or the person you will one day marry.

Another father I know told his daughter they could not date until they were at least 16. But he went on to explain the why. He told them that the research shows that girls who “awaken” romantic love earlier than 16 end up in a sexual relationship much much earlier because of the same reasons as above. It only takes 20 seconds of any kind of touch to release Oxytocin into the female blood stream.  This leads to long term bonding.  A 20 sec hug or kiss with a guy physically reprograms your brain to think this person is someone worthy of long term bonding. This is why we all know girls who stay with guys who are jerks. Tell you daughters, explain to them, why God says not to bond too early. Why to save physical intimacy for marriage. You end up not thinking straight.  🙂  And all our teen daughters can see this truth in their friends.

When we teach our children WHY, they have a map they can trust for NOW and later.   A good GPS needs two things: One, A Good map.  Two, Signal Strength.

Signal Strength: TRUST

A GPS with the right maps is not helpful if you lose signal. I have been driving around with my iphone and lost the signal, and I couldn’t get access to the map I needed.  The signal strength needed in everyone and in parent/child relationships at every stage is TRUST!  Trust is the Signal Strength that makes GPS work.

that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Notice that God gives us the order. When we “fear the Lord”… We will then “keep his commandments.”   The word Fear is not the word “scared” that we think of. The Hebrews used this word, Yaw_Ray, to mean awe, respect, and honor. They were to YAW_RAY  YAHWEH.  They were to so trust, respect, and have awe for their God, they would know that whatever he told or taught them to do would be good. Would be true. Would be for their good. When you trust someone, you obey them. When you disobey, it’s because you didn’t trust.  The goal of parenting is to increase signal strength to our trust. We want out kids to trust us. We want to show ourselves trustworthy. When we blow it and make mistakes, we apologize genuinely to reestablish TRUST.   Trust is more important than anything. That’s how we win their hearts.

I was chatting with a parent who had college age students a few years ago. His kids were in rebellion over many of the parameters and values put in place by his parents. As mom and dad were wrestling on whether to “bring the hammer down” or “let it go”, they husband challenged the wife to do neither. Not ignore it, nor crush him. But to go after his heart. To win his heart through this process.  To show their son their love. To remind them he could trust them.  To lovingly admonish him.  But he said, the secret to that season was “Winning his heart”

I talked with a father of lunch who’s heart was broke. His son was in flat-out rebellion. He pleaded, talked, begged his son to change his heart, to trust mom and dad.  His son was going off the deep end.  After months/years of outward rebellion, lying, destructive behaviors impacting the entire family, the father sadly had to take his son out of the environment. He and his wife agreed to hire someone to come and “get their son” and take him out of the state for a month. He told me that he woke his son up in the middle of the night.  These men are here to take you to a place to get you help with you anger. His son yelled and screamed and protested. The husband and wife told their son, “We love you. This is killing us, but, we love you too much not to intervene.”   These parents knew that IMPARTING truth to their son was more important than his convenience, their reputation, or his self-image. They had to change his destination.  Fast forward, This father told me that he and his son have a much stronger relationship years later. He and his son have talked deeply about issues that led to that day. Talked about morals, values, and trust in one another.

Sometimes the why’s are practical. When my kids were young, I told them that if I tell “STOP” you stop with no questions asked. There may be a car, a danger, etc., later I will tell you why. You need to trust me. That practice saved my kids from running in front of a car several times.  Other times they are less dire circumstances.  Sierra reminded me that two years ago I took the kids rafting down the Miami River, I turned a “forcibly whispered” BE QUIET!  In retelling the story, Sierra noted that it was the first time in a long time both she and Javan listened the first time, right away. I was able to reach out of the raft and grab this little “1/2 dollar” sized turtle swimming next to us. Sierra retold the story of her love and fun with the turtle, but she had internalized, “Sometimes you trust dad, do what he says, and find out later why…”

So, if we as parents want to shape our kids. We need to have the same destination: Impartation. And we need to focus on BOTH MORAL MAPS and SIGNAL STRENGTH.   And, if we are not parents, or out of the parenting phase, awaiting grandparenting, we need to use these principles in helping the community and shaping the lives of young lives. BUT these principles are the same ones God is using for you. God is about Destination Impartation. He wants to impart his law to your heart through grace. he wants you to know why he gives his commandments. He wants you to internalize and love his law. he wants you -above all- to trust him.


When you are a kid, it’s funny to watch adults fight about trivial matters. Whether it was grandma and mom fighting over “who pays the bill,” or a road trip I once took to Texas with my grandma and grandpa. I remember them fighting over directions. I had never seen them fight.  Grandma was navigating. Grandpa was irritated. I was 7 and thought it was all hilarious.   Then I grew up. I realized how irritating a back seat, side seat, driver can be. Many a time I have been irritated at my wife during a road trip…but the GPS, offers something that can save any and every marriage.  A beautiful word: RECALCULATING! When you turn the wrong way, or miss an exit, or choose a different path, the GPS offers a new way to recalculate.

God offers the same thing.  Whether your kids are 2, 10, or 20… Whether you’ve done a good job or bad job so far… God offers a way to recalculate. To impart his love, grace, and law into your heart so you can instill it into those around you. And here’s the beauty.  When Grace combines with God’s law, you are more free, not less. You are more alive than ever.

To all of these, to all of us, God says, no matter what road you’ve been on, we can recalculate. I will help you be free. You can be free by increasing your signal strength of TRUST. By trusting my road map, and allowing me to take you to DESTINATION IMPARTATION. As my grace is imparted into your hearts.  Make Maps.  Increase Signal Strength.



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