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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Daly

Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.

Mackenzie Fraiser’s PowerPoint assignment for her sixth grade class was called “All About Me.”

But it turned out her Las Vegas-area public charter school didn’t really want Mackenzie to share about herself. Because when the sixth grader, the daughter of a pastor, included a slide with one of her favorite Bible verses… her teacher told her to remove it.

Mackenzie was told she wasn’t allowed to use “biblical sayings” in assignments. That left the young girl feeling like she wasn’t supposed to talk about her faith at school.

Sadly, Mackenzie isn’t the only student who has been told they have to censor themselves at school. There’s also the case of the 7-year-old California boy who was doing something so subversive in school that officials called the sheriff to stop him… from sharing Bible verses during non-class time.

Pretty unbelievable, isn’t it?

Back when I was at school, teachers stopped kids from saying bad words, not Bible verses. Last I checked, “Jesus” wasn’t a four-letter word – and students’ First Amendment rights didn’t stop at the schoolhouse door.

Yet some teachers and school officials mistakenly believe that they are obligated to shut down any mention of faith in the classroom. That leaves many Christian students – kids from kindergarten to college – feeling shunned and silenced.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Focus is sponsoring its third annual “Bring Your Bible to School Day” on Thursday, Oct. 6. This nationwide free-speech event for students is designed to remind students of their First Amendment rights – and to empower them to exercise those rights.

We’re not just talking about a small handful of kids participating, either. Last year about 155,000 students from all 50 states took a stand for their faith by celebrating their religious freedom and sharing God’s hope with their friends.

And we have every reason to believe this year’s will be even bigger – in fact, we’re expecting more than 300,000 students to participate in the 2016 “Bring Your Bible to School Day.”

Can you imagine the impact of all those students showing they’re not ashamed of the Gospel? Or the awareness those kids will raise of students’ legal right to bring their Bible to school and to read it during their free time?

I hope you’ll help us spread the word with the students in your life – your children, grandchildren or church youth group – about this opportunity to share their faith in an affirming, positive and loving way.

They can sign up to participate online, where they will also receive access to age-appropriate participation guides, including elementary, teen and pastor/parent versions.

Not only that, but this year’s participants will be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to see the Christian band Newsboys in concert in Dallas—and meet the band in person!

So please visit and share our website, BringYourBible.org, use our “Tell a Friend” graphics on your social media pages, and use the hashtag #BringYourBible. But most of all – please pray for this year’s event and for the tens of thousands of young people who will be participating.

I’d like to hear from you: how does your school treat Christianity? Do you know a student who has participated in “Bring Your Bible to School Day”? If so, how was the experience for them? Let me know in the comment section, below.

 

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Publication date: September 16, 2016

I love sports.

Athletics were always a part of my family growing up. My brothers and I built a solid foundation for life through sports. It’s where qualities like responsibility, discipline, and perseverance were expected of us. Those are skills we’ve honed through the years and carried into adulthood.

But…

As much as I believe in encouraging kids to be active in sports, I think it’s a good idea for families to set reasonable boundaries around their schedule and involvement level. There’s a lot of pressure out there for parents to get their children busy with sports early and often.

The entire focus of youth sports seems to have shifted. It used to be an opportunity for kids to learn life skills like discovering their potential, becoming the best person they can be at what they’re doing, and learning from their mistakes and failures.

Now moms and dads feel like they have to raise super athletes. Rather than our children growing through those broader life lessons, getting them a college scholarship or a trip to the pros is the goal.

A little dedication and commitment is a healthy expectation for kids, but too much does more harm than good. Some children have very little free time of their own because their weeks are consumed with practice instead of late afternoons playing Superman and Batman out in the yard.

Parents, too, are driving themselves to exhaustion.

Authors Margot Starbuck and David King even encourage parents not to attend some of their kids’ games. It sounds counterintuitive, I know. But they say that purposefully missing a few sporting events can be healthy – for the parents and the kids.

Your periodic absence lets a child know that the life of the whole family is important. The world doesn’t revolve around them. And it helps the parents strike a better balance for themselves as well. Try to make most of your kids’ games, certainly, but when you can’t be there, don’t beat yourself up.

The best scenario for a family involved in youth sports, I think, is where kids are having fun and are naturally learning deeper life lessons through the course of playing the game. How can families find that sweet spot? Over the next two radio programs, we hope to put some tools in your hands to will help you with that.

Margot Starbuck and David King will be our guests for “Finding the Balance Between Youth Sports and Family.” I hope you’ll join us on your local radio station, online, or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app.

I’d love your input. How have you found balance between sports and your family?

 

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Publication date: September 15, 2016

This Sunday the nation will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks that took the lives of almost 3,000 people and forever changed our history.

For those of us who watched that day unfold, each anniversary quickly brings to mind the horror and fear we witnessed.

Yet, for many of our children who weren’t even born when 9-11 happened, the day is just event in history.

A news story this week examines how teachers go about teaching today’s generation about an event that feels like “ancient history” to them. These teachers feel a personal responsibility to “pass on the lessons learned from Sept. 11, 2001,” – but sometimes find themselves facing an uphill battle.

A fifth-grade teacher social studies teacher in South Carolina explained part of the challenge: “Some of the parents really don’t know how to start talking about it, so they leave it up to teachers to know the most appropriate ways to talk about it.”

As a father of two boys who don’t personally remember 9-11, I can certainly understand the temptation to let someone else talk about a day we all wish never happened and would rather forget.

But, we can’t forget – especially now, when radical Islamic terrorism, ISIS, and jihadists dominate the news.

Attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, and Orlando were prominently covered here in the West, but the reality is terror attacks happen “nearly daily” around the world – in 2016 alone, there have been more than 1,200 attacks resulting in more than 11,700 people killed by some accounts.

Yet the reality is public school teachers can’t talk about the full scope of 9-11 – or any terrorist attack – because they’re not allowed to talk about sin nature, spiritual issues related to Islam and Christianity, and the hope we have in Christ even during times of turmoil.

Instead, it’s up to us, as parents, to give our children the gift of a biblical worldview, and to teach them to analyze world events through that lens. How do we understand what’s happened, and continues to happen, in our world? How do we think about people who are created in the image of God, but who don’t know Christ? How do live with the knowledge that life on earth isn’t guaranteed?

That’s why I hope on this, the 15th anniversary of 9-11, you’ll make time to talk with your children about these tough issues. I hope you’ll give them more than just a historical lesson – although that is important, too – and also include tough conversations about the issues surrounding what happened 15 years ago.

 

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Publication date: September 9, 2016

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