About Us: A Look Back at Where We Started with the Christian Parents Network
By Mark Benedict, Christian Parents Network Editor
In 1997, when the Internet was relatively new, I first published the Christian Parents Network website. At the time our children were in high school. We kept it online until 2009. At that time I felt there was so much other Christian content popping up on the internet, and we did not have much time to spend on it so it was left untended. Today we are grandparents and as we observe our children learning to parent their young children, it made us rethink our decision. Since I retired from the Army I’ve found the time needed to reboot the Christian Parents Network website and have begun working on a book on parenting. I’ve been taking the content from some of my articles and organizing them into book format. We are older now, and seeing our children struggle to balance their busy lives and raise their own children made us realize we wanted to continue to help them and others with the challenges of parenting. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what is really most important to parents when their children are younger, based on the passage of time and reflecting on our own experiences.
I also wanted to add new content to address our role as grandparents. Today, we admire both our children and their two spouses. As parents we are tremendously thankful that our children are walking with God and teaching their children about their faith. Our frequent prayer is that their children would also grow up knowing God and aware of His presence from their earliest years. Looking back at what we posted nearly 17 years ago we’ve kept most of what was on the original Christian Parents Network site. We have added new topics to reflect some of the uniquely modern problems posed by technology and media. Parenting remains a challenge and the Bible still provides the best and most trustworthy advice for parents. We look back on the time when our kids were growing up and now it seems like it was a much simpler time. The world has grown more complex. The really good news is that the answer to our problems remains simple and unchanging. God’s truth needs no updating, but as individuals we often need to return to the first principles He has revealed in His Word and refresh our memories.
We’ve migrated to Word Press as our content management platform, it’s easier to maintain a complex website than when we started. Now we just have to spend some time capturing what we are learning in these new chapters of our lives. We’ve given some thought as to what is different today from when our two kids were little. One thing we’ve noticed is that kids today have more stuff. Ok, that’s partly our fault. As grandparents we are prone to buy them gifts, so we are part of the problem. In my opinion, they don’t really care about most of the “stuff,” it mainly becomes a burden for the parents to organize and keep neat. For my wife and I, we recently realized that we have too much stuff as well! Lately we’ve been praying about how we manage the things that God has entrusted to our care. We’ve started an effort to simplify our lives and make time for more consequential things. It’s quite a challenge and has led us to consider how important it is to maintain an eternal perspective as we spend our days here on earth.
So What About Our Family?
In our writings we share the Biblical principles we followed in raising our two children and building our marriage of 41 years. We were blessed to witness each of our children develop a strong faith and Christian walk. We are not perfect, but our friends who know us personally and have spent time in our home know that we are a happy family and have a lot of fun when the family gets together. However, many married couples experience significant conflict in the early years of marriage even though they are genuine and devout Christians. God is gracious but does not force himself and his ideas upon us. He taught us how to overcome the challenges we faced and find spiritual harmony in our home. Biblical truth, when applied to the problems and challenges of the modern family, works just as well now as it did 2000 years ago. No matter how things change, the Word of God is constant and true. The more I read it, the more convinced I am, that the Bible is truly the most amazing gift God has given to mankind. We could not have possibly understood his love and mercy if He had not undertaken to reveal it to us in Scripture.
Thankfully, parents need not do everything right to experience God’s blessing. Even though we were both Christians when we married, in the first few years of marriage we thought a few times about calling it quits. Thanks to our upbringing and religious convictions, divorce was never an acceptable word in our vocabulary. Separation, while allowable, was highly impractical! At times we thought God had made a serious mistake in bringing us together! Despite our genuine faith and regular Bible study, for the first seven years of our marriage we felt like we were only marginally successful in making Christianity work comfortably in our own home. Like many couples, we experienced frequent conflict. The one thing we always agreed on in those early years was that we truly loved our children and could not bear to see their lives torn apart by a failed marriage! God was gracious and He helped us learn how to live together and love one another, despite our stubborn ways!
What is Parental Success?
As we experienced the gradual release of our children to God, and the adventures that awaited each of them, we often thought on Psalms 127:3-5:
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Often times, parental failure is more easily recognized than parental success. It is always sad to see a family torn by divorce or see children rebel against the family and it all too common in our declining culture. We feel compelled to share our experiences because we know that much of the boldness in sharing our faith has come from knowing Gods faithfulness in our family. When it comes to witnessing to others, there is nothing so important as the state of your own family! Our testimony to family and friends has been deeply influenced by the fact that our children share our faith and were not ashamed to witness to their own friends and acquaintances. We believe one of the surest signs of successful parenting is the transmission of a vibrant faith in God from parents to children.
A second sign of success in parenting is the establishment of a warm fellowship between parents and children that continues after the children leave home to begin life as adults. Parents have a mentoring responsibility for their adult children long after they leave the home. Children raised under the influence of spiritual leadership and sound Biblical teachings willingly seek advice and a continuing relationship with parents. It is a sign of wisdom and maturity for young adults to seek the advice and counsel of their parents when facing important decisions. Successful parenting leads to a family relationship spanning multiple generations, based on respect and admiration for God’s work in each succeeding generation.
We challenge you to give serious thought to defining what it would mean in your own life to be a successful parent. When you have a picture in your mind of what “right” looks like, it is much easier to measure your progress towards your goal. We know many parents are hungry for encouragement on how to raise Godly children and hope that the materials we’ve collected on this website will meet some of their needs. We’ve written some ourselves, others we’ve gathered from other sources because we felt they were rock solid, and Biblically sound.
Our desire is to equip you to make right decisions and follow God in both the small and big matters of your life. We hope you’ll approach our materials with an open mind and a Bible nearby. If occasionally we include content that disagrees with the teachings of popular Christian leaders or movements it’s not because we are “against” anything, but because we are deeply committed to the idea that Biblical truth is more important than the thoughts and opinions of any man, including our own. We are “for” Biblical truth, and “against” anything that undermines the believers full trust in the sufficiency of God’s Word for answers to every facet of life.
Your response to the teachings of Scripture as they apply to popular ideas and movements can reveal much about your own spiritual character. Truth is not always comfortable. We do not have the option of picking and choosing to believe only those things in God’s Word that we like. When he reveals truth to us, we must obey and change our lives accordingly. Our prayer is that you will respond as the “noble” Bereans in the Book of Acts. If your response to this web site is to search the scriptures to determine if the things written here are true, then we will have succeeded in a noble goal:
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
“And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 “
Our Challenge: Test All Things by Scripture
We are closely focused on family life issues but don’t claim we are an authoritative source of everything needed for success in this field. There is so much great information available on parenting, and you won’t find it all here! We offer what we’ve learned in the belief it can help you succeed. Our two children are now young adults walking on their own with Christ so we are not “Arm Chair” theoreticians. While we still give them counsel and direction, we are trusting in God’s watchful care to finish the work we started!
We don’t claim any infallibility, the simple fact is that every man is subject to error. We should never accept anything blindly. God has charged each Christian with the duty of evaluating everything they hear or read to see if it is in agreement with God’s Word. It is always profitable to search the Scriptures. We hope that as a result of reading the materials we provide, you will be as the Berean Christians and prove everything by God’s Word, holding fast to what is good and approved of God.
Speaking from our own hard-won experiences, as well as from what we learned from others, we believe the advice on the Christian Parents Network is sound and will help lead you to parental success. We take pains to base our thoughts and opinions on scripture, but always challenge you to look carefully and draw your own conclusions. In our experience, you should not take advice about marriage or children from someone with an unhappy marriage, or whose children you wouldn’t want living under your own roof. We always took special note of those families we knew with children who were attentive and respectful. In choosing a church we particularly noted if the young teens listened to the sermon, or looked bored and tuned out. In those families where the Gospel had truly taken root we saw the clear evidence God was revealing Himself and His ways to the next generation. After you’ve had a chance to browse our site and before you leave, feel free to comment on our articles so we know you’ve visited. The Christian Family Online site is a labor of love. For us, it’s been a busy time of life and time is always in short supply. Your notes and messages on our contact form letting us know that you’ve been blessed by something you’ve read here are always appreciated.
Our Warmest Regards in Christ Jesus
Mark and Sallie Benedict