"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children." Deuteronomy 6:4-7 

Fighting Words

  • By Zach Hoffman
  • 25 May, 2017

Finding Courage While Facing Bullies

Young Biff: What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?
Marty McFly: What did you just call me?
Young Biff: Chicken!
Marty McFly: Nobody! Calls me... chicken.

Back to the Future Part II

 

If anyone deserved a fat helping of justice it was Biff Tannen. The iconic bully of the Back to the Future movies always knew how to push Marty McFly. In fact, he successfully tormented Marty in two separate time periods! Nobody wept for Biff any time (any time period ?) he got what he had coming to him… and yet, what would life be without Biff? What would Back to the Future be like without this menace?

He is someone we love to hate. Maybe you have imagined what you would do if you were in Marty’s shoes. A swift kick? A cutting insult? An elaborate and humiliating act of vengeance?  

Yet, if you have ever actually faced a Biff in your life, you know that we are lost for words when we face the people who truly scare us. You will either want to fight or run, but you might not take pleasure in either option. Overall, you just wish for the threat to end, and the ridicule to stop. Their words eat at you. You digest them and they burn going down as you wonder if they might be true. Are the names they are calling you represent who I really am? Has this person seen right through me? However, for you there might have been the refuge of home. You could walk inside and close the door on the damage he or she was doing to you- at least for the day.

Our children are not afforded such an escape. They cannot close the door, because they can carry a bully in their pocket. He can sit on the kitchen table and mock them as they try to finish their homework. He can even be the last thing they see before they fall asleep. Within the phone or tablets that they carry lives a frightening world that never sleeps. A beating can get a million views in a day. Children can be dragged into a cage match where they have to defend themselves in the comment section where the whole world is watching.

Much has already been written about this, and I knew you were thinking the internet needed another blog article about bullying. (“You’re welcome!”) I do not seek to add anything new to the conversation about spotting bullying or reporting bullying. Instead, I want to suggest that there is a way to face bullying without looking inside for courage. Rather, in every moment of need there is a way for your children to instantly go to their Courage, and there they will find shelter. Also, while suffering the threats of a bully, there is a much bigger lesson about a life of faith in Christ that can be taught.


At pastors' conferences there is one activity that everyone does and does well: sitting…lots of sitting…endless sitting. We sit all day while we listen to speakers, and then we sit down for a meal at the end of the day.

I was at such a conference, and I was, of course, sitting. I was agitated and restless. Then to my horror, a stiff, boring, and unsmiling type of personality got up to give a devotion. He took the podium in all seriousness then he piously took his hands and pressed them together in the classic gesture of prayer and he said: “Lord, train these hands for battle.” The rest of the sermon was serious, but it was beautiful and prayerful. He taught us how to fight against all who cause us to suffer by demonstrating for us that the fighting happened through prayer.


If your children are bullied, it might be time to teach them fighting words. Inward courage is good, but it can fail us. There is a courage that we can seek, and we are promised that we will always find it. Courage has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us; therefore, we never need to be afraid. Teach your children to pray in the heat of battle, and they will find that Christ is their courage.

When they tell you they are afraid of a bully instruct them to pray before going around the next corner. When they are possibly facing kicks or punches, do all that you can to protect them, but, in addition, teach them that Jesus was also hit and ridiculed. “Prophesy to us, Messiah, who hit you?” (Matthew 26:68) They have one who was also suffered the black eyes and the bruises.

He knew relentless insults, gossip, and rumors. The Pharisees were always on and never off as they tried to trap him in his words by day, and plotting against them at night. Christ knew their innermost thoughts. (Luke 5:21-22)

He could hear them planning to kill him even as he tried to sleep at night. 

He who overcame walks beside all who feel as if they are being overcome. He will show them how to respond to Biffs, but he will also show them how to respond when his little church is crushed by sin, death, and Satan. What is happening to them has been happening to the church since the resurrection. He will train their hands for battle by responding to their prayers. He will show them how to endure this and all things that are to come, and he promises a victorious end to the struggle:  "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:21)

By all means do everything every other good blog would tell you about how to responding to bullying. Do not minimize any issues or brush them off. Be proactive in protecting your children, but at the same time teach them the fighting words: “Deliver us from evil.”

Joshua 1:9

Impressed

By Zach Hoffman 15 Nov, 2017
Photo by David Straight on Unsplash
By Zach Hoffman 25 Oct, 2017
Here is a fun to way to share the story of Martin Luther with your children!
By Zach Hoffman 24 Oct, 2017

It is interesting how we look back through history to find the exact moment that something significant and world-changing happened. There is no clearer example of this than that fateful evening Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

God had been building these ideas in Luther for some time before this seminal moment.

 Luther was going to become a lawyer, but he was literally thrown off course. He found himself in the middle of a life-threatening lightning storm in 1505. He prayed: “Help me St. Ann! I will become a monk!” He kept his word, and became a monk upon surviving the storm.

In 1510, he visited Rome and saw first-hand the corruption that had run rampant throughout the Catholic Church.

Afterwards, he lectured on books of the Bible as a professor at Wittenberg. He had made his way through Romans and Galatians where he said things like this:

By Zach Hoffman 11 Oct, 2017

A couple weeks ago, both of our daughters had trouble going to sleep. Tracie and I were watching Monday Night Football when they both came out and complained: “We can’t sleep.” (Insomnia is apparently contagious.) We had already sent them back to bed a few times that evening so we decided to have them lay down in the living room while we watched football.

They were both awake as the game was just beginning. Sometime before or after the national anthem there was a moment of silence for the victims of the massacre in Las Vegas. Tracie and I both looked at each and waited for the inevitable question to be asked. There was a tense silence for a few minutes.

And … nothing happened. Whew!

Neither of us were ready at that moment to answer questions about the nature of life and death from a pair of frightened and confused children.
By Zach Hoffman 10 Oct, 2017
Last month we had a 7-day challenge to read through a series of devotions titled: "Parenting Under Pressure". Now we're really going to stretch you! I hope you're ready. We're going to do...wait for it... an 8 day reading challenge! 

Below is a link to begin a reading plan that will take you through the book of Romans at two chapters a day. You can download the YouVersion app (it's free and all you need is a password) or you can simply book mark your bible and read two chapters a day!   

To download YouVersion:  https://www.youversion.com/apps
To begin the Romans reading plan:  https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/90-romans


By Zach Hoffman 12 Sep, 2017

Last night was a bit scary. We felt our house shake a couple times as the wind ripped through North Georgia! Things seemed to have calmed down, but there are many places without power. This means that many places are closed- especially school!

Today I am working from home. I don’t mean to brag, but we are fortunate to have both power and WiFi. Maybe you are at home today too, and if you are, this is a great opportunity to spend time with the kids! Below I want to offer some thoughts on how to take advantage of this break from the routine, and spend some time with family in prayer and devotion. Perhaps, God gives us these interruptions so that we can do just that.

1)    Read God’s Covenant with Noah in Genesis 9:1-17 (You can look over Genesis 6-8 for background) and Jesus Walking on Water in Mark 6:45-52 together. Depending upon your children’s age you can read these stories from either a children’s bible or a normal bible. This is a great time to talk about how even in the midst of a terrifying storm like the one we just had; God does not forget his promises or his people.

2)    Spend some time in prayer giving thanks for the many who were kept safe. Also, pray for anything else that might be going on in school or other activities.

3)    Have your children draw their favorite bible story or act out everyone’s favorite story together as a family.

4)    Rest. No explanation needed here.

5)    Play! Break out the play-do, Legos, board games, cards, watercolor, etc. 

What ideas do you have for an unexpected day with your kids? Comment below!

God’s blessings on this wonderful-unusual day. I pray that you and your family grow together in faith and love for Christ today and every day.

P. S. It is not too late to join Tracie and I in our 7-Day devotional challenge! Today is day three. Check it out here!

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/4157-parenting-under-pressure  
By Zach Hoffman 05 Sep, 2017
Photo by Aaron Burden  on Unsplash
By Zach Hoffman 01 Sep, 2017

You have probably seen something like this happen before. One child, the one who should know better, decides to blow air through her straw into her glass of milk. Bubbles are magically made. The younger child sees this and starts to do the same. If there are more children in the room, they all start this new and incredible activity. The raw power of creating bubbles cannot be denied. There is a brief moment where you wonder if this is what it sounds like inside of fish tanks.

Sure, you can put a stop to it, but you cannot un-teach it. They know it is fun now. The experience has captured them, and it will not let go. For the next few nights, at least, you will have to be on your guard. If you turn your back, you will hear milk bubbling.

Sure the offender who first created the bubbles is guilty of immaturity, guilty of breaking dinner table etiquette, and guilty of not drinking her milk (I am sure this is forbidden in the Bible somewhere.); but she is also guilty of leadership.

One message we try to share in our house is that our children are leaders.
By Zach Hoffman 13 Jul, 2017

It might be one of the hardest moments that you will have to witness as a parent.

Of course, it had been coming for some time now. Your child was always different from the other kids. It almost sounds cliché to say it, but your child was always different . Maybe not special or gifted to any greater or lesser degree than any of the other children...

She had a sense of humor like all the rest…

He could demonstrate confidence when needed…

Sometimes she would be the one on the playground leading a pack of other kids…

Still, your child was always just… more vulnerable than the others.

Now his head is down, and he won’t lift it up to look at you. He is not speaking. Normally he finds it difficult to be silent. You’ve never seen that reaction before.

Now, you are holding her in your arms after a miserable day. Her tears soak your shirt, and you hold her tight.

You long for the early days when a mere hug and a good cry could set almost anything right. They tell you how no one would pick them for the team. No one would sit with them at lunch. Yesterday’s friends acted like complete strangers today to your child.

What do you do now? Assure them that their best friend who has been sick for the last week should be back in school soon? Tell them next year summer camp will be better? Give them some pointers to improve their social skills?

First, know there is hope. I used to do youth ministry, and now, I serve as the sole pastor of Good Shepherd. I have seen a lot of youth who have gone through heartbreaking periods of loneliness. Perhaps, they had friends that turned against them. Maybe it was a crisis point in a years’ long struggle to find their place. Often times, this clarifies what friendship is, and what they should seek in friends; as well as what friends are seeking in them. In the more painful moments, they simply need you not solutions.  

Remember who you are in these times. You are called to do the holy work of parenting.  


By Zach Hoffman 25 May, 2017

Young Biff: What's wrong, McFly? Chicken?
Marty McFly: What did you just call me?
Young Biff: Chicken!
Marty McFly: Nobody! Calls me... chicken.

Back to the Future Part II

 

If anyone deserved a fat helping of justice it was Biff Tannen. The iconic bully of the Back to the Future movies always knew how to push Marty McFly. In fact, he successfully tormented Marty in two separate time periods! Nobody wept for Biff any time (any time period ?) he got what he had coming to him… and yet, what would life be without Biff? What would Back to the Future be like without this menace?

He is someone we love to hate. Maybe you have imagined what you would do if you were in Marty’s shoes. A swift kick? A cutting insult? An elaborate and humiliating act of vengeance?  

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