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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No Fowl Play! A Giveaway for I Theatre's Poultry Tales

Cluck Cluck!

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the Golden Eggs of course!

Wait a minute. That doesn't sound right.

Of course. 

She crossed the road because the sky was falling!

Oops. I meant she actually had some delicious bread to bake, but no one was there to help her!

Oh no. I got it all wrong.

But did i?

I Theatre presents a new and interactive musical production that tells the story of not one, not two, but three feathered friends!

There's The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, The Little Red Hen, and Chicken-Licken!

And the trio band together to hatch a tale which stitches together a whole host of well-known folk stories.

And it's no fowl play. The chickies will be sharing with the audience how a musical is made, and will share about the themes and morals of the stories.

As I Theatre promises, the show is "guaranteed to engage young and old alike", and is "specially designed with excitement, humour and learning points."

Coming to the Drama Centre Theatre from 27 April to 14 May!

Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with I Theatre to host an exciting giveaway of 2 sets of 4 tickets each. This will be for the 10.30 am show on Sunday, 30 April 2017.

How to qualify for the giveaway:

1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post (not on the Facebook page) and share with us one thing you like about fowl. Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

The giveaway will end on Monday 24 April and entries must be submitted by 5pm.


And the winners of the giveaway goes to....

Sophia Ong and Catherine Soon!

Winners can collect the tickets from the I Theatre office at 27 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219163 during office hours from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Please call 6341 5960 before collection.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet My New Korean Diaper Bag! (Or What's In a Homeschool Mom's Bag)

Yes, I know. It's not a new tall, dark and handsome Korean movie star in our home, but the prospect of my new Korean backpack arriving by courier filled me with much anticipation last week. 

I have been searching for quite a while for a new "Mommy" bag for myself, ever since my kids grew out of diapers. Something practical and still convenient to tote around, yet presentable and functional, which I could still wear out on most occasions, like going to church, without me looking like I was out for a trek with my boys (which happens to be my usual sort of OOTD, accompanied by a comfortable pair of shoes.) 

As a homeschool mom, my bag often serves lots of purposes, from carrying picnic food for a park outing to holding homeschool resources for our weekly Classical Conversations class. When TLO, or Thelittleonesinmylife, distributor for some of the household brands of baby products, such as Haenim and Bellamom, offered the chance to review their new range of bags, I jumped at the opportunity. 

Don't you love the sweet animal prints?
The perfect occasion for testing the new bag out came soon after I received it, because we had a family wedding to attend. I already appreciated the muted tones and sweet Korean prints - not too obviously for children, and still suitable for a mum to carry around regardless of the outfit she is wearing.

Don't you think that the whimsical designs are so pretty? And they match my wedding outfit!
I always find it a challenge keeping the kids occupied during wedding ceremonies. We've had several narrow escapes with my toddler attempting to crawl down the aisle towards the bride, and my older one trying to tie the handbag of the lady in front of us in knots. I decided on that day to maximise the space my new backpack afforded, and to pack an arsenal of supplies to keep them peacefully engaged during the wedding.

My arsenal of supplies for the kids to occupy them during the wedding!
The BlessingForYou bag is extremely spacious, as you can tell. I managed to get two Mercy Watson books (my sons' favourite series), one Star Wars pencil case, one coloured pencils set, one notebook, and two zip lock packs of Lego and foam stickers into the main compartment, with room to spare for my wallet. Impressive, no?

I love the spacious fit of the bag. The zip is easy to access.
The inside compartment also includes two separate sections for food/ water, as well as some zippered sections for more storage division. Have I told you how much I love bags with pockets? I managed to get two mineral water bottles and a pack of cheezels in as well, for good measure! The bag is also insulated and perfect for keeping milk bottles or cold drinks.

Our snacks. The bag would be great for packing picnic food or keeping milk warm!
There is also a sizeable outer pocket for small items.
The bag can be opened from both the wide zip in front, as well as a zip along the lining on top. This makes it extremely practical for us moms to reach in for whatever we might need to retrieve without having to rummage around in search of it.

The top zip for easy access.
There are side pockets for stashing stuff last minute!
The inner zip pocket! I love all these pockets.
The bag can be carried three ways - the backpack straps can be slipped out of the zipped compartment, and attached with the clasps. The straps can also be looped onto a stroller. The bag also comes with a longer strap so it can be slung over the shoulders.

The bag straps can be slipped out and attached.
All in all, I love this bag for its functionality and style! It has a perfect balance of both. There are so many uses for it and there are so many pretty designs that I feel like getting a tote bag from them as well. Can't wait to use our backpack again on our next homeschool outing!

TLO's new range of BlessingForYou bags from Korea is to be launched at the upcoming Baby Market fair this weekend from 7-9 April at the Singapore EXPO. They will subsequently be releasing the new designs fortnightly on their store website in limited quantities. Please do visit their booth at the Expo to check more of the designs! 

*Parenting on Purpose received one Roy backpack and one Mummy pouch for the purposes of this review. All opinions are proudly our own! 


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Seasons of Change: A Review of I Theatre's "The Ant and the Grasshopper" 2017

Grow and change 
Grow and change
Look around and you will see
Everyday a little difference
Nothing stays the same you'll see.

I Theatre's musical showcase The Ant and The Grasshopper is all about change. Yet not everyone is keen to embrace the changes that occur each day. There's the Grasshopper, who lives from day to day, composing songs and dancing to the beat of the springtime sunshine. There's the Ant, who attempts to deal with the upcoming winter by neurotically gathering food and neglecting the beauty of the world around her. There's the Caterpillar, a little creature who is afraid of everything and everyone, and who spends her life resisting every iota of change. There's the Ladybird, who deals with change by escaping south to a warmer climate. And there are of course the Bees, who make it their business to question every single change that happens to everyone other than themselves.


I Theatre has taken a classic tale from Aesop, and transformed it into a deeper and richer experience for its audience. From plot and characterisation to music, dance and background scenery, the local theatre company has created a magical world which delights all audiences young and old.

Having watched the original production in 2014 (our review can be found here), I have to proclaim that Artistic Director Brian Seward has again outdone himself. The 2014 production was already one of my all-time favourites, but this time round, the production was even more spectacular.

A significant change was the addition of Safia Hanifah as the neurotic caterpillar Nessa. The 2014 production featured Nessa as a puppet, but this time round the Malaysian actress brought the Caterpillar to flesh, while also doubling up as one of the bees. Hanifah's crisp Caterpillar accent and timid movements undoubtedly added a lovely touch to the show. 


Another major change was the lovely backdrops. For this production, I Theatre created a gigantic tree trunk as the backdrop, which helped to depict the characters as larger than life. As for the spectacular lighting effects, this created the colour changes in the leaves and flowers, and helped to communicate the imminent nature of change.


At the end of the day, seasons come and seasons go; and change is the only constant. But I Theatre has managed to keep up with the times (incorporating cool scooter moves by the fashionista Ladybird), while yet spinning a story that retains good old-fashioned moral values. Perhaps that is the meaning of change; to be relevant to what goes on around us, but yet to remain resilient while dealing with the turbulence that might otherwise spin us out of control.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Giveaway: What is Work? I Theatre's Tale of an Ant & a Grasshopper

Aesop's traditional tale of an ant and a grasshopper is a moralistic story about the importance of work and what happens to those who choose to idle and waste their time away. As I Theatre recounts:

Once there lived an Ant - a hard-working and ever-busy Ant who never seemed to have time for play or relaxation. And then there was Grasshopper, with time on his hands and nothing much to do all day.

And visiting from time to time, there is Caterpillar!
Somehow they were friends. All day long Ant would work hard, without stop or rest, collecting grains of wheat and storing them carefully in her larder. 
And Grasshopper would laugh, and say. 'Why do you work so hard, dear Ant? Come, and rest awhile, listen to my song. Summer is here; the days are long and bright. Why waste the sunshine in labour and toil?' 
Whilst Caterpillar calmly carried on, doing what caterpillars do best… 
But Summer does not last long – and soon Winter and the frozen cold will come… 
What will happen to Grasshopper then?What exactly will Ant do?And where will Caterpillar go?


As a fan of this local children's theatre group, we have witnessed how I Theatre chooses a popular children's tale for production, and then adapts it to become something quite different. As Artistic Director/Producer Brian Seward promises:
This is one of those stories you really think you know – until you examine it a little closer. In the original Fable by Aesop, the ants work all day, never taking time to appreciate the world around them. Whilst the Grasshopper does not see the value in working… 
In Singapore we like to think that the Ants are the perfect example of what we should be like. But is the Grasshopper completely wrong in his point of view? And are the ants really following the best path in life?
 
Parenting on Purpose is pleased to partner with I Theatre to host an exciting giveaway of 2 sets of 4 tickets each. This will be for the 11am show on Sunday, 19 February 2017.


How to qualify for the giveaway:

1) Like the Parenting on Purpose Facebook page.

2) Share this blog post on your Facebook Wall and tag three friends (not including the friend who had tagged you. Remember to ensure that privacy settings are set to "Public".)

For an extra chance to win:

Comment on this post (not on the Facebook page) and share with us one perspective that you have about work. Please leave your email so that we will be able to contact you should you win the contest!

The giveaway will end on Sunday 12 February and entries must be submitted by 5pm.


And the winners of the giveaway goes to....

Liang Jingxian & Agnes Chin!

Winners can collect the tickets from the I Theatre office at 27 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219163 during office hours from 10.30 am to 5.30 pm. Please call 6341 5960 before collection.


Check out our review of I Theatre's 2014 production of the Ant & the Grasshopper here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Moving in the Mundane

Moving house has been described as one of the most stressful experiences in life. We can attest to that. Personally. Over the past few months we have put our apartment on the market, sold the place within the span of two weeks, completed the sales transaction, moved all our belongings to our uncle's warehouse, moved to our temporary home hosted by our aunts', and finally moved in to our new place. And this is only a partial move; we have not yet installed all the lights, and all our belongings have yet to arrive (we have had a total of four separate moving trips so far)!
Getting ready for renovations after weeks of waiting for the defects checks to be completed.
Our intention was to move in before Christmas, so that we could celebrate and enjoy a fresh start in a new home. But that was not to be, due to extensive defects checking and rectification; and this was not even considering the renovation schedule. And so we chose to move in just before the New Year - but that was before all the lights had arrived; and also before the gas had been switched on - which not only meant that we did not have the capacity to cook hot food, but also that we had to bathe in cold water for more than a week!
Lights! Camera! Action! Our busy workmen getting the place ready for us.
Colour me beautiful! We had fun choosing colours for the different rooms in the house.

First night in our new home.
Moving house itself has been a strain on us physically and emotionally - this has meant us spending many late nights packing things and now unpacking them. And because I still need to get my day-to-day affairs going - such as my ongoing teaching and workshop responsibilities, I have had to focus more on my work, leaving my wife to deal almost exclusively with moving matters.
This has been a difficult period for us; but it has not been without its precious moments. For instance it has been wonderful to experience the strong support of our family and friends, who have been there for us in the packing and in the unpacking. We were indeed blessed when they showed up at our house with a hot meal and a helping hand. We are also extremely grateful to our uncle, who has helped to store most of our items at his warehouse, as well as to our aunts, who housed us at their home for almost two months. Through it all we have witnessed the love of God, demonstrated in the mundane, everyday help that our family and friends have extended to us. 
The lovely group of friends who surprised my wife with a hot meal and helping hands.
When we first disclosed that we were moving house, a number of people assumed that it was a relocation overseas. And while that prospect has always interested us, we decided not to do so mostly as we wanted to remain close to our family and friends. Instead, we chose to move to an area further away from the hustle and bustle of the city and nearer to nature. For us, this decision made sense to us given that we are homeschooling our children, and that we did not have to consider any travel time to their “school”. Moreover, the fluid nature of my work meant that I would be free to move anywhere in the island without having to worry too much about travel distances.

For the kids, it has been a period of transition, and the initial weeks were not easy for them. They kept asking to stay at their grandparents’ homes, given their familiarity with these two locations. This was also a time when they were having nightmares rather frequently, and we know this was partly due to fears and concerns related to the transition. The kids eventually got so used to staying at our aunts’ that they still asked to return there for the first few days after our arrival in our new house (perhaps in part when they were asked to bathe in cold water). We know also that they had grown fond of spending time with our aunts, and that they enjoyed “bothering” them each morning and each evening in their rooms. Yet I am thankful that kids in general are resilient, and that if change is managed appropriately, that they will be able to adapt in a healthy manner. I believe our kids are now fairly settled in our new home, even as they wander around and get used to the new locations around us.
Goodbyes are difficult. One last walk around our old neighbourhood.
The boys have lived there all their lives.
Our little carpenter hard at work.
Hard at work. We hope that a new house would mean new routines for the kids!
We are enjoying our new home. I am taking time to explore the new neighbourhood, and it is interesting to discover new locales for food, groceries and other daily necessities. Our family especially enjoys the close proximity to the beach, spending our evenings enjoying the fresh sea breezes and the calming waves, which create a somewhat hypnotic experience as you stand at the sand and gaze peacefully into the horizon. The kids of course enjoy drawing in the sand, creating their artistic masterpieces and laughing wildly to the hearts’ content. 

“We are creating memories,” remarked Sue yesterday as we took a spontaneous evening walk. “Yes we are,” I replied, knowing that our kids will enjoy many more days examining the angsana fruit, and looking for hermit crabs, among many other simple pleasures.

For it is in the mundane that we experience great beauty and joy; for it is in the mundane that we experience the fullness of God’s grace.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Spirituality of Parenting Part 2

This is the second of a two-part paper that was submitted to the Singapore Bible College as part of the requirements for my Graduate Diploma. It was for the module "An Introduction to Christian Spirituality".

Christian Spirituality & Parenting

Just as Christian spirituality is an amalgamation of a person’s relationship with God, Christian parenting adopts a similar perspective. A key understanding of parenting stems from our relationship with God the Father. Ephesians 1:3-5 articulates this relationship clearly, indicating that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”, and that in love, He “predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will”. As God adopted us to be His children, it is God who is the perfect model of parenting for us to follow. Matthew 7: 9-11 elaborates, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Christian parenting is about modelling God’s spiritual parenting. As a father to two young sons, it is my desire for them to know God as I know Him, and to pursue Jesus in the way that I do.
Christian parenting is about modelling God's spiritual parenting of us.
For our family, bedtime rituals are key, and I spent many nights sharing about the
Jesus of the Bible and what He means to me. 
The Role of the Community in Spiritual Parenting
Consider the role of the community. If we were to adopt a parenting approach based on the model of the early church, this would mean that we would need to teach our children on the importance of the community; it would refer to the importance of instructing our kids on how to share with other believers. The direct church community, as our children understand, would naturally be the local church comprising Sunday school as well as Cell Group. It would also be made up of the Bible School Fellowship group which my kids attend, as well as the Classical Conversations Homeschooling Group and the larger Homeschooling Community which they are a part of. The intention would be to instruct them on the importance of “belonging”. While my kids are still young, they have already expressed an affinity towards some of their friends, whom they are fond of, and whom they have invited to their birthday parties. The challenge would be how to build on the friendships that the young children have, and to instil the spiritual disciplines as exemplified by the early Church.

While it may be relatively easy to encourage our kids to develop closer friendships with other believers, it is however a greater challenge to help them develop a “community of belonging for broken people”. This takes time; and our kids have to learn from a young age that it is ok to be different; it is ok to have problems; and it is ok if you are hurt. The Christian community should be a safe place to share our problems and our hurts; for none of us are perfect, and we are all walking on a journey towards greater Christ-likeness.

A final consideration with regards to the role of the community would be the relational aspect as discussed by Scorgie and Reimer. The Church has to be a community that builds each other up, and spurs each other onwards towards a closer relationship with God. We strongly believe in the importance of mentoring, and have asked an older couple to be our mentors in the parenting journey. One of their suggestions has been to surround our kids with individuals of godly influence; other children whose parents love and fear God. Our mentors’ perspective is that if our kids develop strong friendships with other children who have strong godly principles, they would then consult them during the turbulent teenage years when things seem to become more difficult. It is based on the idea that as parents, we will never be able to cushion our kids from the numerous storms of life. However, when our kids’ faith is put to the test, hopefully they will listen to godly counsel from other believers, and hopefully gain the courage and strength to weather the storm.
Community is key. We want to surround our kids with friends who will be
a godly influence to them when times are tough. 
The Role of Temperaments in Spiritual Parenting
As a counselling student, I have always been fascinated with the impact of personality and how this influences the way we behave. Mulholland’s approach is interesting, as it presents the idea that individuals tend to choose spiritual practices that appear more suited to their personalities. Applying this to the concept of spiritual parenting, it would imply that we need to consider the temperament of our kids when we instruct them in the spiritual disciplines. Consider Jung’s four essential preferences as applied to my children. My 6-year-old son has a more introverted personality type. He is a sensing individual, and predominantly adopts a thinking and judging approach towards life (ISTJ). My 4-year-old son, on the other hand, is clearly an extrovert. He operates strongly in an intuitive manner, opting for feeling and perception as his modus operandi (ENFP).

If I was to adopt Mulholland’s perspectives on temperament and spirituality, this would imply that for my older son, that I would have to teach the spiritual disciplines in a manner that is more “analytical and structured” while for my younger son, I would have to adopt a more “unplanned and unstructured” approach. This methodology does make sense, as my older son appreciates a structured approach towards worship, prayer and the reading of God’s Word. As for my younger son, he does have a preference for a more unstructured approach towards the spiritual disciplines.
Parenting our two sons requires us to understand each child and to
respond to them in a different manner in accordance to their temperament.
It's a challenging, yet precious endeavour! 

The Mulholland approach can be co-related to the concept of Love Languages, as popularised by Gary Chapman. In the book The 5 Love Languages of Children which he co-authored with Ross Campbell (2012), Chapman observed, “Every child has a primary language of love, a way in which he or she understands a parent’s love best” (p. 7). He shared five languages through which children understand their parents’ love - physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service (p. 12).

Applying Chapman’s concepts to my children, I learn that my older son communicates best through the languages of quality time and words of affirmation. As for my younger child, he is more conversant with the languages of physical touch and gifts. Given my understanding of my children’s love languages, I realise that they respond to me best when I speak their primary love languages. However, while Chapman notes that our kids communicate best through their primary love language, he also observes that children also use the other languages in their communication with their parents. As such it would be prudent for us to focus on our children’s primary love languages, but also work on communicating love to them through all other means.

I am of the opinion that a similar approach can be used in applying Mulholland’s concepts of temperament and spirituality. While my 6-year-old appreciates a structured approach towards the spiritual disciplines and my 4-year-old has a preference towards a more unstructured approach, it would not be detrimental for their spiritual development if I adopt an approach that may not seem in line with their personality. This is in line with Mulholland’s perspectives on “one-sided” spirituality, which could have an adverse impact on the development of a child. Moreover, church communities are not intended to be individualistic or segmented. As such, there is synergy when people of different temperaments worship together. This exemplifies the concept of a body, as articulated in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.
When we love our children we need to do so in a way that they understand.
Each child communicates differently in the language of love; and as parents,
our responsibility is to acknowledge and address their needs in a way that
we can understand. 

The Role of Missions in Spiritual Parenting
Missions is about using our being, thoughts, speech, actions, passion and relations i.e. our spirituality, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, to “bring about the whole creation to worship or come under the Lordship of God and Christ” (Lang, 2016b). This understanding of missions incorporates our understanding of Christian spirituality and implies that we are to use our entire being for the purpose of missions work. Lang’s definition is congruent with a group of twenty global Christian bodies, which met to share a collaborative reflection on Christian mission. The Edinburgh 2010, which represents the various major Christian denominations, defined mission spirituality as an “experience of God, lived out as persons in communities through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for witness and service, following Christ’s way in the hope of reconciliation with the whole of creation” (Ma, W. & Ross, K. R., 2013, p. 7).

Considering this understanding of mission spirituality, it is imperative as parents for us to raise our children with a heartbeat for missions - and this does not only refer to the notion of taking our kids on a mission trip to an underdeveloped country with the purpose of bringing salvation to the people there. Missions involves the use of our entire being; and we use the gifts that God has given to us to draw pre-believers to Jesus. Parenting our children with a missions paradigm involves getting them to have an implicit understanding of their spirituality. It then involves sharing with our kids about others less privileged than us, in the hope that they develop a desire for outreach, and a burden to share God’s love to the nations.

We have been homeschooling our children since the older child was 2/1/2-years-old. This has allowed us to teach him various subjects not normally taught in pre-schools, such as history and geography. When our older son became 5, we became part of a group known as the Classical Conversations community. The group meets once a week, and the kids are taught about important aspects of life through biblical principles. We have therefore not shied away from teaching him about difficult issues in the world, and about how man has failed time and time over again; but that it is only through the redemptive power of Christ that the world can be saved. We were therefore heartened when our son decided one day that he wanted to sell away one of his toys and use the money to buy and cook food for a poor child, bringing the boy home with us and caring for him. We realised then that our 6-year-old had at a young age developed an understanding of the heart of God towards the less fortunate. We intend to continue the incubation of such precious values in him; and to one day bring him to visit poorer communities in Singapore and the world.


Many missionaries refer to the “call” as that turning point in their lives when they felt a prompting from God; either as a direct word from Him, through the movement of the Holy Spirit, or through the influence of godly people. The Macedonia Call, as described in Acts 16:6-10, has often been cited as a means through which God directs the movement of His people. While not all missionary calls are through visions as experienced by Paul, the prompting of the Holy Spirit is believed to be key in leading God’s people in the direction He has for them.
By helping our kids to understand what missions is all about, we share with them what is foremost on God's heart - for the whole of creation to be subject to the dominion of God, just as it was meant to be. 

Many Christian parents fear that their children will be “called” into a full-time ministry, either as a pastor or as a missionary. There is a genuine concern that as a full-time minister, that their children would always lead a life of poverty, not unlike some of the famous preachers and missionaries. The converse is true. When God calls a person to take on the role of a full-time minister, it may not be an easy job, but the vocation is no less demanding than any other “secular” position. If we were to understand the theology of vocation, we would have the perspective that there is no job too “sacred” or too “secular”; and that the difference between the “sacred” and the “secular” is merely a label created by man. In God’ economy, He calls different people to take on different roles in the Body of Christ; some to be teachers, to be lawyers, and yet others to be pastors and missionaries. There is no job that is greater or lesser. All are called; the only difference is where you are called to serve God.

From the day our children came home to us, we were very clear that both of them are God’s gift to us; and that we would be prepared for them to go wherever God has called them to go. Given how our kids came to be part of our family, we have always been inspired by Hannah and her response to the child God gave to her. In 1 Samuel 1:26-28 Hannah brought Samuel to the temple and dedicated him to God, saying that “As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” Since our children were younger we have been praying to God, and dedicating them both to Him. We desire for both of them to serve God wherever He calls them to go, whether it is in our presence or far away from us. That, I believe, is the heart of spiritual parenting with the perspective of mission spirituality; for parents to acknowledge that our children never truly “belong” to us. All that we have, including our kids, ultimately belongs to God; and all that we have, including our children, are intended for His glory.
All that we have, including our children, belongs to God. And our
key role as parents is to guide our kids to glorify God in all that they choose to do. 
Spiritual Parenting Across the Ages

Many centuries have come and gone since the early days when the Church first came to develop a notion of what Christian spirituality comprises; from the days of Acts when believers first came together after the departure of their teacher and mentor Jesus, to the present day when believers congregate in different denominations and worship God through different methods and in different community sizes. Much has changed; technology has ensured that. There was a time when the Word of God was copied by hand one scroll at a time, and when only highly educated individuals had access to the teachings of God. Today, the Bible can be found on every smart phone on the planet, and Internet sermons provide easy access to believers who do not wish to meet in a local church to listen to God’s Word. Yet despite the numerous changes experienced across time, there are things that have remained the same throughout the ages - the Word of God and the souls of men. As parents, it is our responsibility to raise our children to treasure these two quintessential elements. We need to always impart God’s truth to our kids; and to help them understand that it is God’s desire for the salvation of the world. Therein lies the essence of spiritual parenting.

The first part of my paper discusses why it is beneficial to view Christian spirituality from an integrated perspective. You can read more here.

References

Barlow, F. (1976). William Carey: Missionary-Evangelist. In Barlow, F. Profiles in Evangelism. Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey1.html.


Chapman, G. & Campbell, R. (2012) The 5 Love Languages of Children. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.


Gallagher, R. L. (2012). Mission from the Inside Out: An Analysis of the Role of Spirituality and Mission from Selected Protestant Missiological “Writings” from 1940-2000. Retrieved from http://www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Graduate-School/Degrees/Intercultural-Studies/Gallagher-homepage/Articles/Mission_From_Inside_Out.pdf.


Kraft, M. (2000). Spiritual Conflict and the Mission of the Church: Contextualization. Nairobi: Lausanne Movement. Retrieved from https://www.lausanne.org/content/contextualization.


Lang, D. (2016a). Lecture: Communal/Social/Familial Aspect of Spirituality.


Lang, D. (2016b). Lecture: Missions/Evangelism & Spirituality.


Ma, W. & Ross, K. R. (Eds.) (2013). Mission Spirituality and Authentic Discipleship. Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series, 14. Retrieved from http://www.ocms.ac.uk/regnum/downloads/Mission_Spirituality_and_Authentic_Discipleship-final-WM.pdf.


Mulholland Jr., M. R. (2016). Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


Scorgie, G. C. & Reimer, K. S. (2011). Spirituality in Community. In Scorgie, G. G., Chan, S., Smith, G. T. & Smith III, J. D. (Eds.). Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. (77-83). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


Sittser, G. L. (2007). Water from a Deep Well. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


Solomon, R. (2011). Contextual Spirituality. In Scorgie, G. G., Chan, S., Smith, G. T. & Smith III, J. D. (Eds.). Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. (205-10). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Spirituality of Parenting Part 1

This is the first of a two-part paper that was submitted to the Singapore Bible College as part of the requirements for my Graduate Diploma. It was for the module "An Introduction to Christian Spirituality".

Reflecting on Christian Spirituality

Christian Spirituality as based on the Bible has to do with “things that are of God”. It incorporates aspects of being, thought, speech, actions, passion and relations (Lang, 2016b). This definition of spirituality adopts an integrated approach and considers a person’s relationship with God in a holistic manner; not only focussing on traditional spiritual disciplines such as the reading of God’s Word, prayer and worship, but also a person’s purpose and calling, and how his or her actions serve as a Christian witness to the larger social group and global community.

This paper will discuss the “Spirituality of Parenthood”. It will examine how as parents, our understanding and practice of Christian Spirituality has a direct impact on our immediate sphere of influence - our children; and how this bears witness to the larger global community. The paper will focus on three aspects of spirituality discussed in the course, An Introduction to Christian Spirituality i.e. the role of the community, the role of temperaments and the role of missions, and how each of these three aspects have shaped my understanding of parenting.
Each of our two boys has a different temperament; and this has a significant impact on how we parent them.

The Community & Christian Spirituality


The early Church in Acts is often seen as a model for the Christian community. Acts 2:44 notes that “all who believed were together and had all things in common” (English Standard Version). The early Christian community devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They broke bread and prayed together. For them, community included the selling of possessions and distributing the proceeds to all, as according to individual need (Acts 2:42-45). Given the deep sense of belonging, it was considered a serious transgression if a member of the community chose to lie to the community, or to deal dishonestly with property that was intended for the community. The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a case in point (Acts 5:1-11). In this instance the couple sold their property to give the proceeds to the Church. But they lied regarding the amount of money, and were struck dead by God.

Gerald Sittser, in his book Water from a Deep Well (2007), shared about how the early Christian community had a deep sense of belonging to each other. Sittser pointed to the implications of what it could be like if today’s church adopted the model of the early Christians. He noted that God calls the church to be a “community of belonging for broken people” (p. 65). Such a community of believers would then be a testimony of the power of the Gospel to transform lives and to provide a sense of belonging for all who are outcast and alone.

While the early Christians emphasised community-based spirituality, many modern-day Christians are of the opinion that spirituality should be an individualised affair (Lang, 2016a). Spirituality is seen as a personal responsibility, and that it should be private, with religion confined to the private sphere and prayer conducted in a secret, secluded place. Moreover, the emphasis on individual spiritual disciplines such as quiet time, memory verses and personal evangelism seems to suggest a more personal form of spirituality. However the Bible is clear that spirituality is often community-based, with instances of righteousness and sin being transferred across familial and generational lines (Lang, 2016a).

Scorgie and Reimer (2011) argue that Christian spirituality is relational in nature. They present the thesis that God is triune in nature, and given our role as bearers of His image, that we should also be relational in nature. Moreover, loving God and loving others is inextricably related, and we cannot detach our devotion to God from our affections towards others (pp. 77-8). A key for moving away from individual-based spirituality lies in the realisation that we are not alone in this spiritual journey, and that as individual Christians that we must rely on others to help us, given our own weaknesses and blind spots (p. 80). Scorgie and Reimer quote the work of David Benner, whose book Spiritual Companions identifies people who not only provide pastoral care, but are also spiritual directors, spiritual mentors and spiritual friends (p. 81). Undergirding the idea of a spiritual community is the foundational work that such a community has on individuals, building them up in spiritual truths through elements such as Bible study and biblical preaching.


Christian spirituality is relational in nature and we need fellow believers to give us a helping hand in times of need.

Temperaments & Christian Spirituality


Robert Solomon, in Chapter 29 of the Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011), discusses the study of Christian spirituality in context. Solomon argues that spirituality can be examined from three dimensions - personality and life stages, culture and society (p. 205). Solomon observes that the personality and life stage approach considers that an individual’s brand of spirituality is determinant on his or her personality type and life stage (p. 206). Robert Mulholland (2016) takes this concept further and comments that just as psychology should not be used as a substitute for spirituality, neither should spirituality replace psychology (p. 56). He elaborates by stating that spiritual formation should not be seen as the panacea for all the worries encountered by a Christian; and that should there be any psychological issues, that these issues should be resolved through psychological means.

Mulholland considers the impact of personality on spirituality by studying the four essential preferences as identified by Carl Jung, namely extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, judgement and perception. Mulholland notes that for each set of choices, individuals generally prefer one of the pair, and this then shapes their overall personality, and constitutes an individual’s “creation gifts” (p. 61-3). In making preferences, Mulholland suggests that individuals tend to choose spiritual practices that appear more suited to their personalities; for instance thinking persons could be more “theological, analytical and structured”, while perception-oriented persons could adopt a brand of spirituality that is more unplanned and unstructured (p. 70). This “one-sided” approach towards spirituality could lead towards spiritual disintegration, and Mulholland suggests that despite one’s preferences in personality, that it would be prudent to still adopt a balanced approach towards the pursuit of spirituality.


What are our "creation gifts"? What makes us who we are?
Christian Spirituality and Missions

The biblical mandate for missions can first be found in Genesis 1:26, when God gave man dominion over all the creatures of the earth. The call to missions was again mentioned in Matthew 28:18-20, when Jesus charged His followers to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of God. These traditional verses have been used as the basis of missions, to spread the Word of God to all the peoples of the earth.

Kraft (2000) notes that the mission of the church is to “introduce people to Christ”, to “make them aware of God’s purposes for all human beings”, and to “assist them in responsibly becoming bearers of His good news”. She observes that the church must meet felt needs when communicating about the Gospel to the unreached peoples; and that felt needs must be met in order for spiritual growth to occur.

Gallagher (2012), in analysing the role of spirituality and mission from various Protestant missiological works from 1940 to 2000, noted that there were three major themes in these writings, that of Bible study, worship and prayer, and the role of these three elements in missions. Gallagher noted that the missiological works did not focus much on Bible study, but they did mention that as people studied the Bible, that the Holy Spirit would show them that the Scripture is a missionary book. People would then realise their “responsibility to witness both locally and globally - in proclamation and social activism”. Regarding worship, it was seen as an important aspect of missions, with the heart of worship coming from the “adoration and worship of Jesus”, which stems from an “inner personal communion with our Lord”. As for prayer, Gallagher noted that the missiological works did not emphasise much on this, with only some writings calling on the importance of prayer as the “most important thing Christians can do for God’s mission”. This was as our communion with God shapes our communication with people.

Missionaries always describe the “call” as the reason for their entrance into the mission field. Consider the case of William Carey, who founded the first Protestant mission in the non-English-speaking world. Barlow (1976) writes that it was in a small English town that Carey first heard the call while reading the Last Voyage of Captain Cook. Last Voyage of Captain Cook. Barlow observes that to many, the book was a “thrilling story of adventure”. But to Carey, it was a “revelation of human need”. The young English cobbler then began to read every book on the subject. He then became more and more convinced that “"the peoples of the world need Christ." Finally Carey uttered the words that Isaiah once cried out, "Here am I; send me!” Thus began a difficult journey to the mission field; but it also became a voyage that would change the course of many lives in India.


What is our "call"? How will we answer the call of God?

The second part of this paper will 
elaborate on how each of the three aspects mentioned above - the role of the community, the role of temperaments and the role of missions - have shaped my understanding of parenting. You can read the paper here.


References

Barlow, F. (1976). William Carey: Missionary-Evangelist. In Barlow, F. Profiles in Evangelism. Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers. Retrieved from http://www.wholesomewords.org/missions/bcarey1.html.


Chapman, G. & Campbell, R. (2012) The 5 Love Languages of Children. Chicago, IL: Northfield Publishing.


Gallagher, R. L. (2012). Mission from the Inside Out: An Analysis of the Role of Spirituality and Mission from Selected Protestant Missiological “Writings” from 1940-2000. Retrieved from http://www.wheaton.edu/~/media/Files/Graduate-School/Degrees/Intercultural-Studies/Gallagher-homepage/Articles/Mission_From_Inside_Out.pdf.


Kraft, M. (2000). Spiritual Conflict and the Mission of the Church: Contextualization. Nairobi: Lausanne Movement. Retrieved from https://www.lausanne.org/content/contextualization.


Lang, D. (2016a). Lecture: Communal/Social/Familial Aspect of Spirituality.


Lang, D. (2016b). Lecture: Missions/Evangelism & Spirituality.


Ma, W. & Ross, K. R. (Eds.) (2013). Mission Spirituality and Authentic Discipleship. Regnum Edinburgh Centenary Series, 14. Retrieved from http://www.ocms.ac.uk/regnum/downloads/Mission_Spirituality_and_Authentic_Discipleship-final-WM.pdf.


Mulholland Jr., M. R. (2016). Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


Scorgie, G. C. & Reimer, K. S. (2011). Spirituality in Community. In Scorgie, G. G., Chan, S., Smith, G. T. & Smith III, J. D. (Eds.). Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. (77-83). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


Sittser, G. L. (2007). Water from a Deep Well. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


Solomon, R. (2011). Contextual Spirituality. In Scorgie, G. G., Chan, S., Smith, G. T. & Smith III, J. D. (Eds.). Dictionary of Christian Spirituality. (205-10). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.