6 minutes | Jul 17, 2018
YUGE Announcement! After consulting with our close friend, Al, the CongreGate Team is taking a break through the rest of the summer. We'll be returning in mid-September with new shows and a new "seasonal" format. So, please subscribe to the newsletter at congregatepodcast.com and don't miss any important updates or announcements! And don't unsubscribe! We'll be back soon! Thanks to all the men and women who've been faithfully listening and providing encouraging feedback over the last year and a half of the show. We love hearing from you and your encouragement to us is what makes us want to keep making the show for you! Talk soon! Cue the music...
34 minutes | Jul 10, 2018
Summer Travel, Supreme Court, & Basketball - CP092
We’re back after a couple of weeks of travel! This week we are catching up on a variety of topics including basketball; the Supreme Court; and Mark’s trip to Moldova, Berlin, and Prague. Micah brags about his sports prediction skills (he correctly guessed which team LeBron would sign with…), while Mark and Shawn make fun of him. We talk about the Supreme Court and some of the chatter surrounding what might happen with another conservative judge added to the group. Mark shares his impressions of Prague and his talks about his ministry opportunities in Germany and Moldova, Micah talks about his father-son camping trip, and Shawn briefly complains about the heat wave in upstate NY last week. What have you guys been up to this summer? We’d love to hear from you!
28 minutes | Jun 19, 2018
Boomerang Children & Respecting Adults - CP091
Do you know anyone with a "boomerang child"? You've probably heard about the 30-year-old man that was recently ordered by a judge to leave his parents' home after refusing to leave for months. How does this relate to children respecting adults in the current culture? Lack of respect has turned into a mental health crisis for children. We chat about an article from one of our local newspaper contributors who says giving children power in their relationship with adults weakens, rather than strengthens them. Children benefit from boundaries, both emotionally and physically. Early enforcement of our expectations helps our children to build respectful and trusting relationships with us. How are you helping your children to learn to respect authority in a loving and gentle way? Mark & Cindy are headed to Moldova to teach and disciple church leaders there. Please keep them in your prayers! Links and Recommendations: New York man, 30, is ordered to vacate parents' home after refusing to leave for months - Fox News Tucker Carlson on Michael Rotondo Respect for Adults is Good for Kids' Mental Health- John Rosemond Building Leaders in Moldova - previous episode
30 minutes | Jun 12, 2018
Did the Masterpiece Cakeshop Ruling Go Far Enough? - CP090
Did the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling go far enough? The Supreme Court ruled on the Jack Phillips case last week. The ruling in favor of Jack was a win for religious freedom. If you haven't had the chance to talk with your family about this important case, we encourage you to start a conversation with your older kids and wife around the dinner table. We've been listening to and reading many analyses of the ruling and a couple of things really stand out. First, don't believe the narrative that the ruling is as narrow as the media would like you to believe. The court goes out of its way to say that lower courts must respect American's rights for religious expression as much as they respect the rights of the LGBT community and others. Second, the court has set a precedent that a business owner can refuse service on the grounds that the service violates their religious beliefs. Though there are other similar cases in the queue, this is a very meaningful decision that will impact future rulings. Let's be encouraged by the small steps in the right direction. This is an important decision that continues to protect the religious rights of Americans. We encourage you to continue praying for the Supreme Court and others that are leading and making decisions for our country. Before our comments about the Supreme Court ruling, we speculate about how the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un might go. You don't want to miss Micah's thought about how a thumb war might decide the outcome of this meeting...😜 Links and Recommendations: Cake Bakers and the Rest of Us- The World and Everything in It Jack Phillips' big win- The World and Everything in It The Briefing: Supreme Court sides with Colorado baker, sends very clear signal that religious convictions of American people cannot be trampled upon- Albert Mohler Alliance Defending Freedom
32 minutes | Jun 5, 2018
Private Jets, Conference Recap, & Family Worship - CP089
Today's episode is a casual conversation about some recent news, Mark & Shawn's recap of the homeschool conference, and a little bit about family worship and our new family worship resource page. Mark led 2 workshops at the conference. His first talk was about time management for men. He notes that there are often time management workshops specifically for moms, but not usually for the dads. In his workshop, he addressed how to prioritize the important things over the urgent things, and shared some practical tips and habits that have been helpful in his experience. He also led a workshop about how to conquer the fear of public speaking (which he has been speaking about for 20 years now!). Shawn shares his experience as a first-time speaker and vendor. He talks about setting up a booth in the vendor hall with his wife and gives a recap of how his workshop on family worship went. We talk a little bit about family worship in general and about some of the confusion people at the conference seemed to have about this topic. If you would like to hear Mark & Shawn's workshops in their entirety, you can find the recordings at NCHE Thrive! (the cost is just $4 per talk). Links and Recommendations: NCHE Thrive! Conference Recordings Pretty Nerdy Press Todd Wilson - The FamilyMan - we didn't get to mention it in the podcast, but Todd's new FamilyMan ball caps were high-quality! Family worship resource page - CongreGate What would Jesus fly?: Six televangelists under Senate investigation frequent luxury corporate jets-and they are not alone- Warren Cole Smith for World News Louisiana televangelist seeks donations for $54M private jet- Fox News
33 minutes | May 29, 2018
Is Your Family Making Disciples Together? - CP088
This week we catch up on some basketball and add a few thoughts to our previous episode about family activities. We spend a few minutes talking about our family mission and vision before moving on to the main topic of this episode, making disciples together as a family. Scripture commands us, in Matthew 28, to "go and make disciples." Is it enough to live your life as a "good example"? Nope! Paul said "To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldlyto proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak." (Eph 6:18-20) We share some ideas about how we work together as families to evangelize and make disciples together. We have opportunities to speak boldly to our neighbors and others in our community. Many of our children have caught the vision and participate in conversations about the Lord with unbelievers. Maybe some of your children are involved in activities where they can be intentionally speaking about things of the Lord to their teammates and friends. We'd love to hear about some of the ways your family works together to minister to people in your community. How are you making disciples together? Links and Recommendations: Join us at the NCHE Thrive! Conference Pretty Nerdy Press
31 minutes | May 22, 2018
Graduation Platitudes & Trite Church Signs -CP087
It's graduation season! Graduation speeches often have similar themes and are filled with cliché catchphrases. Are any of these typical graduation platitudes actually helpful? What should we be encouraging our graduates toward? It seems we are preaching a different message on graduation day than we do in church every week. (We mostly attend graduations for homeschool and Christian school students...) You can do anything, you can be anything you want to be, follow your dreams....why are these NOT Biblical messages? Because they are contrary to what Jesus taught—deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. What if instead of encouraging our graduates to dream big dreams, we encouraged them to pray big prayers? It's okay to have dreams and it's good to work hard, but are we really preparing our children for life by leaving out the parts where life is hard and dreams change and God calls us to do things we don't enjoy? And while we're on the topic of platitudes and trite sayings, we chat about the ridiculous messages we see on church signs around town. Poor doctrine and trite sayings do not seem to attract visitors. So what are churches trying to accomplish with their signs? We don't really know, but at least you'll enjoy laughing at a few of our favorites!
36 minutes | May 15, 2018
Evaluating Family Schedule & Activities -CP086
We open with a couple of weird news stories...but today we are talking about evaluating family schedule and activities. We listened to a great talk by Jen Wilkin on FamilyLife Today regarding family activities and overscheduling. Jen says the number one issue that children are struggling with today is depression and anxiety due to exhaustion and overscheduling. She talks about how Christian families should be different from the world in this area and how we can evaluate what our family priorities should be from a Biblical worldview. As parents, we have the idea that our children need to have a broad range of opportunities and experiences in order to be "well-rounded adults. We don't want them to miss out, but does this mindset come from fear of missing out? Are we making decisions about how our family spends time because we fear they won't be fully developed adults without their activities? We also talk about what role social media plays in our decision making. People don't post about the things their kids are missing out on or share their failures regularly. This can factor into our decision making because we see what all of the other families around us are doing well, but we're missing the full picture. We talk about the things we're actually missing out on when our kids' activities consume your family time. We miss time to sit and talk and build relationships with each other. We miss family dinner. We miss the flexibility to be hospitable and build relationships with other families. Mark encourages us to be careful about how we speak to others about our children. Do we only mention their successes in activities and academics? That can easily create a performance mindset in which our children believe their value comes from what they do rather than who they are. We encourage you to sit down and discuss your vision and priorities for your family. Our children are eternal spiritual beings and we need to keep that in mind when we choose which activities to be involved in. How are you stewarding your most precious assets?
33 minutes | May 8, 2018
Did We Miss the Mark on Free-Range Parenting? - CP085
Last week we talked about free-range parenting. One of our friends commented that we have very different ideas about the definition of free-range parenting. Maybe we missed the mark? He says free-range parenting is the exact opposite of helicopter parenting, where parents set no boundaries and have no rules. He says the parents are motivated by laziness, not by an intentional plan to give them space to explore and be creative. So, we talk about the difference between intentional free-range parenting and free-range parenting that is motivated by laziness. We also chat about the motivation for lazy parenting. Why has this become a problem? There have always been parents on both sides of the spectrum, but it seems that more young parents take a hands-off approach. Parenting requires self-sacrifice and people are naturally selfish. Is this the root of the laziness? What about the "experts" that are telling parents that saying "no" is harmful to their children's self-esteem. We also failed to address the fear that drives parents to hover over their children and "helicopter parent." Some parents don't allow their children freedom because they fear the children will get hurt or get in trouble. We think it's healthy for kids to take risks, learn things for themselves, and understand the consequences of their actions by making their own mistakes. Both extremes, free-range parenting out of laziness and extreme helicopter parenting out of fear, can be sin issues. How can we address the sin and encourage parents that struggle with fear? We need to encourage them to teach their children to be wise and then trust the Lord to protect them. We realize this isn't as simple as it sounds and discuss some ways we can encourage parents that struggle with fear in all areas of their lives. As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts!
32 minutes | May 1, 2018
What Do We Think About Free-Range Parenting - CP084
A listener recently asked us what we think about free-range parenting. How much freedom should our children have to play and explore independently? Should responsible children have the freedom to play outside or stay at home alone? Utah recently passed a law to protect parents that allow their children this type of freedom. Fifty years ago, kids were free to ride their bikes around town and stay home after school alone. A recent news article talked about how children that do not spend free time outside struggle with sensory issues and coordination. We want to raise children that can think for themselves and be self-governed. Giving them opportunities to try things and explore without always jumping in and doing it for them helps the kids learn to think for themselves. What are the cons of free-range parenting? Can kids have too much freedom? We need to make sure the kids understand there are boundaries. We don't want to send kids away so that we can disengage as parents. Free-range parenting doesn't mean kids are left alone all the time with no oversight. We spend time teaching them and then allowing them the freedom to learn cause-and-effect and explore their ideas with age-appropriate boundaries. Boredom is not the enemy. We think kids should have down time so that they can learn to be creative.
33 minutes | Apr 24, 2018
Discussing Cultural Issues with Unbelieving Co-workers -CP083
First, don't miss Micah's exciting announcement! This week's topic is from a listener that wrote in with a great question about discussing cultural issues with unbelieving co-workers. Our friend asks how we should interact with people at work that have an opposite worldview. Specifically, she mentioned talking to those friends that support abortion, homosexual marriage, marijuana legalization, and related issues. As followers of Christ, our first priority should be to treat every person with respect and love. We value people above their opinions, and we can separate loving a person from embracing their views. Mark says he tells his students to be vicious with ideas and gentle with people. Not all ideas have equal value, but that doesn't devalue the person who had the idea. Disagreeing with people doesn't mean you think they are bad people or that you hate them. Loving people means we should tell them the truth. Shawn shares a recent example from our government that illustrates how people in our country can no longer separate people's viewpoints from the people themselves. More about that in the links below. Practically, we need to help our co-workers and neighbors to understand that Christianity is not only true but also good. Most people in our country do not understand the Christian worldview. They don't have any context for absolute truth and only know the "rules" without understanding our motivation for following them. Micah encourages us not to always be on the defensive side. Try turning the questions back around and lovingly ask thoughtful questions to accusers and critics.
31 minutes | Apr 17, 2018
Are You Living in A Conservative Christian Echo Chamber? - CP082
Are you living in a conservative Christian echo chamber? If you haven't heard the term, living in an "echo chamber" means that you only taking in information and listening to thoughts that reinforce your current viewpoint. As conservative Christians, we can sometimes fall into some traps, thinking only one way about theology or social issues, without considering other views. For example, do we only ever look for study materials from John Piper or do we ignore opinions from authors that we know may have some differing theological views? If we disagree with someone on one theological issue, do we discount their other thoughts entirely? What about church membership? We believe it's ok to have specific statements of belief that our members agree to. In order to worship together, we must have some views in common. We also want our children to be able to articulate their viewpoints and opposing viewpoints. It's important to allow free discussion of ideas so that our children develop the ability to think and respond logically and Biblically to other views. But there's a balance to strike. We encourage you to expose your children to other thoughts and views that are age-appropriate and with discernment. They don't necessarily need to see an R-rated movie to understand why we don't typically watch them. Regular conversation and reading time with your children is a great benefit to them, allowing you to discuss different social and theological views, and building a solid foundation of right thinking.
30 minutes | Apr 10, 2018
Should Fathers Teach their Sons to Throw a Ball? - CP081
First, Micah tells us how he got locked in the crawlspace under the house. Don't worry, the 3-year-old figured out how to open the lock for him! Today we chat about what fathers should be teaching their sons, for example, should fathers teach their son to throw a ball? What are the basic skills we as dads should be teaching our sons? Are basic sports skills that important? Dads have a responsibility for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their children. Why is throwing a ball, or learning basic athletic skills, important to our kids' development? Athletic skills are a great tool to help build perseverance and good character in our children. Mark says sports are helpful for building confidence, yielding to others, playing in your position, and knowing what you are good at. We talk about how a former Navy Seal attributes some of the critical skills he needed for military operations to the sports he played with his dad as a child. Shawn talks about some of the skills his dad taught him, including driving a manual transmission car.He also shares some of the things he wished he had spent time learning from his dad while he was still living at home. Micah remembers some of the skills he learned from Mark, like studying the Bible, public speaking, writing well, and working hard to maintain their home. They also spent time playing baseball together, where he learned to persevere through a losing season. We talk about what things we can teach our daughters. In addition to being a good example of what they should look for in a husband, we encourage you to include your daughters in athletic activities too. We still want our daughters to learn perseverance, confidence, and the value of hard work. Mark shares a few thoughts about encouraging our daughters to embrace their God-given roles as women. And we talk about why it's important to pay attention to things our daughters want to show us, whether it be art projects, athletic skills, or "show" they create. We need to be careful that we are checking our own attitudes to make sure we aren't pushing our children to work hard for our own selfish motivations. What are some skills your dad taught you that had a lasting legacy?
27 minutes | Apr 3, 2018
Paul, Apostle of Christ - Should Christians Support Movies That Depict Biblical Events? -CP080
Should Christians support movies that depict literal Bible events? Are movies about the life of Jesus (and other prominent Bible characters) helpful to the Gospel or harmful? We're not talking about all movies with Christian themes, just movies specifically about Biblical events like The Passion of the Christ,The Nativity Story, and the new movie about the apostle Paul. Just to be clear, we believe this is a Christian liberty issue. We take different sides in this debate to explore the positive and negative effects of making movies based on scripture. Shawn believes that the overall outcome does more harm than good, while Mark & Micah argue that Christian movies can help and encourage people. We encourage you to research and think about what you are watching before you decide to take your family to see Bible movies. In our visually-oriented culture, people often watch movies without reading the books. In Bible movies, we also have to add details about people's personalities and context. Are these extra-Biblical details harmful or helpful? Mark says it helps people imagine the context for themselves. Shawn says it's important to make sure people understand which details are Biblical and which details are added because they won't necessarily go find out for themselves. J.I. Packer (in Knowing God) says that visual representations of Christ are a violation of the Second Commandment. We share our thoughts about how this relates to movies that depict Biblical events. What do you think? Let us know how you feel about movies that depict Bible Stories...
26 minutes | Mar 27, 2018
Lawnmowers, DIY Projects, & Gators -CP079
It's Spring! Time to get out the lawnmower and get started on some of the DIY projects around the house. Today we're just chatting about life—basketball, the Spring projects we've been working on, and a few fun stories about DIY projects. We all have big lawns and riding lawnmowers that require regular maintenance. Find out which tasks we do ourselves and which ones we hire out. Plus, Mark tells you what alligator hunters and lawnmowers have in common. Is YouTube a helpful tool or a killer of community? Sure...you can find DIY videos about anything you need to fix, but does it keep you from connecting with your friends in real life? We want to teach our kids to be problem-solvers and YouTube can be a helpful tool for quick DIY tips. On the other hand, we also have friends and neighbors with valuable skills and knowledge to offer. We chat about when YouTube has been helpful versus when it has been easier to call a friend for advice.
40 minutes | Mar 20, 2018
Lessons From a Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family -CP078
First, we spend a few minutes catching up on March Madness, Shawn's family camping trip, and Micah's home invasion. Because of Micah's recent experience, it seemed good to talk about preparing your home and protecting your family from home invasion. We also talk about the difference between faith and fear, some lessons learned, and how our stuff is not eternal. As Christian men, we are called by God to be the protectors of our family. Are we helping our wives and children to feel safe? We need to trust that God is sovereign over our circumstances and take responsibility to protect our families. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Taking action is not lack of trust in the Lord, and blind faith without preparation is not using wisdom. Micah shares some of their thoughts about the stuff that was taken from their home and some practical tips to help you secure your home and belongings. Don't keep your fire safe in the master bedroom, look into identity theft protection and monitoring, and keep digital files and passwords in secure cloud-based applications. Mark also talks about the contrast between the things that Micah treasures (eternal things) and the things his recently deceased brother had treasured (earthly things). We encourage you to think about the things you treasure and the how you are spending your time. Are you spending time building eternal treasure by building your relationship with the Lord, your family, and other people?
30 minutes | Mar 13, 2018
Ministering to Your (Literal) Neighbors -CP077
Have you taken the time to meet your neighbors and find out how you can minister to them? We have been trained to think of our workplace as a place of ministry, but do we think of our home as a place of ministry too? God put you in your house, in your neighborhood, to be a light to your neighbors. Are you looking for ways to minister to the families in your area? We chat about different experiences with neighbors we've had over the years and opportunities we've had to minister to them in different ways. One of our pastor friends challenged us to learn the spiritual condition of every home surrounding ours and find ways to love, serve, and share the gospel with those around us. We appreciate the opportunities that our children have to spend time with neighbors of different ages and backgrounds. Many times our children are bolder than we are and find ways to bless the neighbors in ways we hadn't thought to serve them. This episode is mostly stories of different interactions we've had with our neighbors and we pray it encourages you to meet and find ways to serve your neighbors!
32 minutes | Mar 6, 2018
Engaging with Your Children One on One - CP076
Today we are talking about engaging with your children one on one. Though we encourage and promote planning family activities, we also think it's important to find time to spend intentional time alone with each of our children. As dads, we have found that meeting with our kids one on one helps build stronger relationships with them and build up the family as a whole. All of us take kids to run errands, but what we're talking about today is a little different. How can we make opportunities where the purpose of the time is to engage the child in real conversation? We want our kids to know their father loves and cares about them as an individual. We want to communicate that we care about their struggles and desire to help them. Hanging out at Lowe's is great, but intentional time and conversation meant to draw out their deeper thoughts take a little more planning and preparation. We encourage you to look at your schedule and find ways to use to use the time you already have. Shawn takes one of his girls to a one-hour dance class and always takes another child along for an ice cream date. Micah talks about how he engages his kids in conversation in the car instead of turning on the radio. Let's face it, sometimes kid conversation is boring. It takes work to draw out something longer than one-word answers. One of the tools we recommend is the Donut Date Journal, that provides helpful questions for parents to engage with their children. Many of the questions are fun for the kids, but they also provide valuable insight to the parents as well. What are some ways you find one on one time to intentionally engage your children?
34 minutes | Feb 27, 2018
Winter Olympics & the Life of Billy Graham - CP075
After some banter about the Winter Olympics and some excitement over replacing windshield wipers, we spend some time reflecting on the life of Billy Graham. As you've probably heard by now, preacher and evangelist, Billy Graham died a few days ago. He spent his life telling millions of people the good news that Jesus Christ was the solution to their sin problem. We've enjoyed reading and learning more about Billy Graham this week as others remember and reflect on his life. Some of our kids were excited to make the connection between Billy Graham and Franklin Graham (whom they know from Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan's Purse). We talk about how Billy Graham's travel affected his home life. Franklin Graham talks about this in his autobiography, Rebel with a Cause. How do we balance the call to ministry and the call to lead our families? Where does God give grace and how do we decide which ministry opportunities to pursue? We may have some seasons when God calls us to spend time away from our family, either for work or ministry. Billy Graham was a known to be a man of integrity. In a culture where men in the public eye often fall into very public sin, Billy Graham stands out as a faithful example of a man serving God in the public eye. We appreciate his life of service to the Lord and hope that you are encouraged to pursue Jesus more because of his example. Did Billy Graham have a direct influence on your life? We'd love to hear your stories!
29 minutes | Feb 20, 2018
Did You Kiss Dating Goodbye? Courtship, Dating, and More... - CP074
Back in 1997, Joshua Harris wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Twenty-one years later with over a million copies sold, Harris has been discussing some of the backlash and feedback he received and what he would do differently now. He has recently opened up about some of his regrets and lessons learned in interviews with World Magazine and on FamilyLife Today. While many people took away good and helpful principles from the book, some people have claimed that Harris's book "ruined their lives". Some people say they never married because they were afraid to date and interact with people of the opposite sex. Harris, now parenting teens himself, has been addressing some of these comments now that he has a more mature perspective on life. Shawn and Micah were both heavily influenced by Harris's courtship teaching as homeschooled teens, as were many conservative evangelicals around their age. Though neither of them followed the "courtship rules" legalistically, they mostly had a positive experience using some of the courtship principles to date with intention. There are often "movements" within the church like this that have a dramatic effect on people's lives. How can we respond to influential Christian books and movements like this? Clearly, we should not be placing a book on a pedestal above the word of God. In this case, many people took Harris's advice as gospel, instead of seeking truth from scripture. How can we help our teens, and singles in our churches, to have a healthy and balanced perspective of dating and relationships? We share some conversations you should be having with your teens about dating and relationships. Were you affected by I Kissed Dating Goodbye, either positively or negatively? We'd love to hear your stories!