There are five things your young squire needs to know as he begins the adventure of life. Tune in to hear authors Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson discuss this important transition.
There are five things your young squire needs to know as he begins the adventure of life. Tune in to hear authors Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson discuss this important transition.
Bob: As parents, we need to help our children cultivate a vision for moral purity. That's something that can happen at an early age. Here is author Jennie Bishop.
Jennie: You know, if all we do is set up boundaries and say, "Because I said so," that's one thing.
But when you can teach your child that when they go to a pajama party somewhere that they can say, "Oh, I don't want to watch that because that's – I don't want that to go into my heart," and they can say that to a parent if you happen not to have known what was going to go on there. And your kid is so equipped to move into life on their own, to make those choices for themselves because they understand, "I want to keep my heart clean."
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 11. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we're going to talk about what we can do as parents to raise sons who have a heart for moral purity. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, your friend, Robert Lewis, wrote a book a number of years ago where he challenged dads to raise sons who would be modern-day knights. You remember that book, right?
Dennis: I do.
Bob: And if you're going to raise somebody to be a knight, there is actually a step you have to go through on your way to knighthood. You can't just go right from nothing to knight. You've got to be a squire first, right?
Dennis: Yes, and, you know, I wish, when I was a boy, in addition to Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, which are great organizations, there would have been some kind of movement among dads to have called their sons first to become a squire, and then to become a modern-day knight.
And I think we have an author with us today who is going to challenge dads as well as perhaps some grandfathers to turn some boys into squires. Jennie Bishop joins us along with Susan Henson. Ladies, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Susan: Thank you.
Jennie: Thank you for having me.
Dennis: Jennie has written a book – in fact, some of our listeners probably know her – "The Princess and the Kiss." We aired a broadcast earlier about her – well, fairy tale challenging young ladies to protect their purity and save their first kiss. And would you call this, Jennie, a sequel to "The Princess and the Kiss," or a sequel for boys or …
Jennie: No, not really a sequel but a companion.
Dennis: There you go. It's called "The Squire and the Scroll," and it's a great story about challenging young men to protect their purity.
Jennie: Absolutely, and in the book, which is about restoring the light to a kingdom, the squire is trying to take something back to a kingdom that was lost, and I believe that's a very accurate parallel with our culture today in that we've lost the light of purity. We have lost that guiding direction of morality and knowing the difference between right and wrong, especially when it comes to relationships between men and women, and that's the quest that the squire has to complete in this book.
Bob: When you had tens of thousands of moms and grandmas and daughters reading through "The Princess and the Kiss" together, I mean, it was pretty obvious that you needed some kind of a parallel story to challenge young men, and yet it's a different story because, for young boys, the purity challenge is a different challenge, isn't it?
Jennie: Yes, it certainly is, and immediately after "The Princess" had come out, I had moms come and say, "What about my son? I need a book for my son." And I heard that question again and again, so I know that there was a need there. And so "The Squire and the Scroll" is more of an adventure story, maybe closer to something like "The Lord of the Rings." It isn't very comfortable for a little boy to have a book on his shelf that says "kiss" on the front. So we kind of got away from the romance edge of things and went more toward the dragon side of things to appeal to the boys.
Bob: Well, and in the same way, I think that you challenge young women in "The Princess and the Kiss," to protect their purity, here you are challenging young men not just to protect their own purity but to be the protectors of the realm.
Jennie: Yes, yes, definitely, to set the standard for the kingdom in the book – or to set the standard for our nation, for the church. We need to have young men who will rise up and say, "This is the way that I will live my life, and I'll live the life of purity, and I'll do what's right no matter who is looking."
Dennis: The thing I liked about it is you gave young men a mission, and I think one of the reasons why we're losing our young men during their teenage years is they don't have a compelling mission, a compelling reason and purpose to be alive. And it's clear, the Bible gives both men and women that mission, that purpose, but I think young boys, six, seven, eight, which is really the target audience of "The Squire and the Scroll," can be challenged with this mission and can begin to think in terms of you know what? God's got a reason for me to be here."
Jennie: Absolutely, and we talked earlier about the fact that so many young people, men and women, boys and girls, are going through their younger years becoming boy crazy or girl crazy when those are the most opportune years to become God crazy. As our kids are growing up and able to do anything for God, just to be so imaginative in their pursuit of God, to just fully lay their hearts out before them, to do something that's really a big God thing without any of the distractions of relationship or wondering "Who likes me," or "Who do I fit in with," or "What do they think of me." They could be thinking what God thinks of them, and that's what I'm encouraging young people to do, hopefully, through these books, especially, is just to be able to say, "God has something amazing for my life, and I'm going to pursue that, and then when He brings me to the point of having a partner in that, I will know who I am and be ready to recognize that partner."
Bob: When you wrote the book, "The Princess and the Kiss," you heard from a pastor's wife, who is also a grandma, who lives in Nashville.
Jennie: Yes, sir.
Bob: She loved the book. She said, "I have come up with life lesson from "The Princess and the Kiss," and she worked with you, and the two of you wrote a companion guide to mentor or disciple young girls using the story and to teach them biblical principles about purity. And that pastor's wife was Susan Henson, and Susan is back with us again today.
Susan, when you heard about "The Squire and the Scroll," you wanted to do the same kind of thing on this story, didn't you?
Susan: Yes. Every time we would present "The Princess and the Kiss," the mothers would come to the book table and say, "Please," like Jennie said, "I need something for my boys," and so Jennie and I started talking about this and how we could actually be able to present the same message but in a little bit different way.
Dennis: But the idea is to have an interactive guide that takes the principles that Jennie's story has in "The Squire and the Scroll," and give a father and a son some very guided times to apply those truths to a young man's life.
Susan: Yes, and to give them, like you said, a vision and a purpose and also we did a little bit different with the life lessons that we – instead of being where the creative ideas that we did with the girls were more craft ideas and object lessons, that we tried to do more activity-type of things for the men and for the fathers and for the sons and to be able to reinforce the life lesson.
Bob: Are there any explosions involved in any of what you've come up with? I'm just wondering.
Jennie: Don't tell him, don't tell him, it won't be a surprise.
Bob: I just want to make sure there is an explosion or two somewhere, you know.
Dennis: Well, if it's a guy thing, it has to …
Bob: Something's got to blow up, right?
Dennis: Somewhere along the line. Yeah, and to keep young boys' attention, you've got to put it in their language that they can grasp, and you do a great job of this as you talk about a scroll that has five truths, or five principles that you're trying to pass on to young boys?
Jennie: Yes, "The Squire and the Scroll" is based on Proverbs 4, verse 20 through 27, where it talks about guarding the wellspring of the heart. And in speaking with parents about how to help children understand purity from a very young age, we talk about the five doors, which are the five senses, and you guard each sense to be able to guard your spirit and to guard your heart.
We talk about the fact that when you set a table full of food in front of a child, if you were setting food before them to eat, you wouldn't put a lot of different things that looked good and that are healthy, and then hide a glass of bleach in among that food that they might choose.
And, in the same way, spiritually, why would we pour bleach into our eyes or ears? We can give our children guidelines so that they learn how to guard their eyes and their ears by saying there are certain things that you don't put in so that you keep the wellspring of your heart clean, so that you guard your purity.
And that way, when the kids get to the age of talking about sexual purity and what that means, you can say, "This is just another aspect of what we already know."
Dennis: One of those doors that you talk about to the heart is to listen only to words that are pure. You're trying to protect what they hear and what goes into their mind at that point.
Jennie: Exactly, that's one of the issues that, with our girls, in raising our girls, we were very particular about the music that they brought into our household, and sometimes I think we were thought of to be kind of stodgy there with the kind of things that we allow, but our girls have only been allowed to listen to Christian music in growing up, and if they listened to anything outside of that, we listen as a family and discuss it and are very particular about that, because we believe that the lyrics have a lot to do with how a person turns out.
I think there are a lot of parents today who are not really paying attention. I know we are very busy, and our life is very busy. A lot of things call for our attention, but if we don't pay attention to the lyrics that our kids are memorizing, it's very difficult for us to know what's going on in their hearts and minds.
I know, I had a – when I was with my daughter one day and had a bunch of her friends in the car, we went for an outing, and they could sing all the lyrics to a particular secular singer's album, and the lyrics were very dark and unhappy and not positive at all. But they knew them all by heart.
Now, if I am having my daughter listen to those things over and over again, that's what's coming into her mind, that's what's coming into her spirit. But if I have her listening to songs that talk about Scripture and the concepts of Scripture like Christian artists and the positive messages, then that's what will go on in her heart, that's the kind of stuff she'll take in. And I think that makes a huge difference in our kids. We can't possibly act like that doesn't have any effect on them.
Dennis: I had a conversation yesterday with a friend who, because of his work, had to go to another country to live with his family for a year. And one of the benefits was that they removed all the peer pressure of the teenage years from his daughters. And he said one of the great things about being in this country is that my daughters are all listening to great Christian music.
Jennie: Yes, that's absolutely true. In our culture, we subject our kids to so much dangerous culture, so much dangerous material through movies, through music, and we, as parents, have a choice there. We can choose what we allow into our homes, and we can teach our kids to make those decisions themselves.
You know, if all we do is set up boundaries and say "Because I said so," that's one thing. But when you can teach your child that when they go to a pajama party somewhere that they can say, "Oh, I don't want to watch that because that's – I don't want that to go into my heart," and they can say that to a parent if you happen not to have known what was going to go on there. And your kid is so equipped to move into life on their own, to make those choices for themselves because they understand, "I want to keep my heart clean. That's not something I need to be seeing."
Dennis: The issue of parents diving into these delicate issues with their sons …
Jennie: It's scary.
Dennis: Well, it's scary, but it's a life-and-death issue. I've recently been reading and meditating on Samson's life. And Samson, as a man, was ruined because of his eyesight. I mean, he basically said to his parents, "I found a good Philistine lady."
Bob: "She looks good to me, to me." Boy, that sounds like every teenage boy in America, doesn't it?
Dennis: Go get her. You know, and everything about his life you see it's about his eyes. And it's interesting that he was blinded at the end of his life, and that his eyes had betrayed him, and I think, as parents, we need to do what Samson's parents didn't do, which is train them, teach them to know what to do with their eyesight – what to look at, how to turn away from evil, and to train their eyes to protect their hearts.
And I really like this, Jennie, that you've exhorted young boys to guard the wellspring of their lives, their heart. Because it is that heart that determines their choices and who they are going to become as men.
Jennie: Yes, and it's interesting that, you know, in the section where it's about the eyes, the squire is the one who makes the choice to guard his eyes. The younger man leads the older man, and in our generation, I think it is important that our young people are trained up so carefully because they may be setting the example for others who are older than they are. They are like a starting point generation – that if we can get them to recognize the importance of this that they can affect not only their peers but even those older than they are as they set the example.
I know that with many parents it's difficult if you have raised your child in a Christian home, and you may have parents who are unsaved and are living a different set of values than you are, and you send the kids to Grandma's and Grandpa's, and there is a whole different set of values there.
Well, what if you can teach your child to say, "No, Grandma, I can't watch that." It makes a whole different impact on them than it does if you just went and said, "I'm not going to allow you to have my kid watch that." You know, that makes tension between you and your parent, but when the child knows what they can and can't ingest, they can make a huge impact on the older generations, as well.
Bob: Jennie, I know you have heard from moms, both of you have, who have read these books to their sons, to their daughters, and the children have wanted to know – "Did you do this, Mommy? Did you – is this what you did, Daddy?" That can cause a number of parents to say, "Boy, I'm not picking up that book. I'm afraid to address it because I may have to get honest about my past."
Jennie: I think it's very important that a parent is honest at an appropriate age level with the child, because as you share with them your regret in wishing that you would have done things differently, you give them a great reason to pursue purity. I know that especially with Randy, my husband and I, we were not pure entering into marriage, and we wish, wish, wish, that we would have been. And our desire is to pass on a better way of doing things to our daughters, and I know that's the heart of the parents who are reading these books, too, is that they are thinking, "I have to find a better way for my son or my daughter to grow up and understand these things and do better than I did," and that's my hope and prayer is that this is a starting point for that.
Dennis: You know, I appreciate you being transparent and sharing that with our audience, but I have a tougher question for you.
Jennie: Go for it.
Dennis: How would you say that – that you have regrets about your past to an 11-year-old daughter? How are would you go in terms of explaining?
Jennie: Well, I already have. When I talk with [inaudible] about the things of my past, I am able to just sit with her and say, "Honey, I wish I would have made different choices. I let boys touch me in ways that weren't appropriate, and I wanted them to love me. I wanted them to be the most important thing in my life, and Jesus was not the center of my life the way that He should have been. And because of that, I feel guilty, and there are things that I was not able to give to your Daddy when we were married because of that, because I had already given them away to other people."
And I think the important part of that is that she can see my tears. I think it's important that a parent is not afraid to cry in front of a child and to say, "This is a deep hurt in my life, and I did make a big mistake here," and then to be able to say, "I love you so much, and I would never wish that on you. I want you to have something wonderful, and I want you to stand with your husband on your wedding day and be able to say, 'You are the only one I've ever given my heart to. You are the only one I have ever given my kiss to. I've kept my eyes from other things for you because I wanted to look just at you.'"
And when she sees the passion in my heart for that, and when she sees my regret in being able to say "I wish I would have done things differently," she is so moved. You know, kids can be so moved by the Holy Spirit even when they're young, to know that God is there and God's done something miraculous in a person's life, and when they see that in a parent's life, I know that they can be changed as well.
Dennis: And I think it's a great opportunity to share God's love, His grace …
Jennie: Oh, yes – restoration.
Dennis: His forgiveness, His redemption, His reconciliation. Our lives are filled with mistakes, and whether it's you with your daughter or a father with a son, and as you've guided us here in your book, "The Squire and the Scroll," the thing I like about your companion book, Susan, that you co-authored along with Jennie, is you teamed up to give all of us dads a chance to be real with our sons.
And that's not easy for men. In fact, I think it's more difficult for men to have these conversations with their sons than it is a mother with her daughter, and yet you've given us some practical ways that we can begin to get into some of these truths and help our sons protect their hearts for the long haul. And that's the heart of a father, Bob. We want to protect our sons, but we don't know how, and we need tools and resources, and I'm just thrilled that again here on FamilyLife Today, we are able to give a dad or a grandfather a great tool that is going to help him connect his heart and his father's heart, his Heavenly Father's heart to his son.
Bob: And that's an ideal circumstance. It may be that it's a single-parent mom who is raising boys. She can still connect with her son or her sons around this subject and get a copy of the book, "The Squire and the Scroll," read it to her boys, go through the workbook with them, or it may be that there is a grandparent or an uncle or a friend who can assist in all of this.
The resources are available. You can go to our website, which is FamilyLifeToday.com and get more information about the storybook for young boys called "The Squire and the Scroll," the Life Lessons workbook that goes along with that storybook, and we have the audio CD that features the dramatized version of "The Squire and the Scroll," which we're going to be hearing this week read by Josh Harris.
Again, all of the information about that is on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call us toll-free for more information about these resources – 1-800-FLTODAY is the number – 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you get in touch with us, someone on our team can let you know how you can have the resources you need sent to you.
And I also wanted to mention that this month we are making available as a thank you gift for those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, "The Jesus Film" on DVD. And one of the things I'm excited about is that the story of Jesus for children is also a part of that DVD. It's a separate feature designed to tell the life of Jesus through the eyes of a child. It's perfect for younger kids to understand the Gospel and to understand the life and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
If you'd like to receive a copy of "The Jesus Film" on DVD, you can do that when you make a donation of any amount this month to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. If you're making that donation online, type the word "JesusDVD" in the keycode box on the donation form that you fill out online, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, you can make your donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like the Jesus DVD. Again, it's our thank you gift to you, and we do appreciate your financial support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow we are going to hear the story of "The Squire and the Scroll." Josh Harris reads it tomorrow, and I hope you can be here to hear it. In fact, I hope you'll round up some young men and even their dads to tune in and be a part of tomorrow's program.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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