Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Book Review: Everyday Talk

I just recently read Everyday Talk by John A. Younts, published by Shepherd Press. John (Jay) Younts is the author of What About War?, In Touch with Paul Stewardship Series. An elder in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church, John has taught on and studied issues related to biblical child rearing for over thirty years. John is a frequent speaker for parenting conferences, church seminars for parents, and youth meetings. He has been interviewed on radio stations around the country. He and his wife Ruth have five grown children and reside in South Carolina (I got this information from his website)

Everyday Talk: Talking Freely and Naturally About God with Your Children is basically a guidebook to speaking to and in front of your children in a way that glorifies God and blesses children. The purpose of the book is to encourage parents to talk about God in our everyday talk in accordance with Deuteronomy 6. He defines everyday talk as follows: “talk that happens in the unplanned moments. It happens in casual, unguarded moments. It happens when you are distracted or irritated and would rather not be talking at all.” (11) This kind of talk happens no matter what. But God wants your everyday talk to be about Him! “God wants you to talk about His world. God wants you to talk about what He does and how people respond to Him. He wants you to do this when you’re at home, when you are out and about, when you relax. He wants you to talk about Him with love and awe every day. He wants you to talk freely and naturally to your children about His commands…” (12) Sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6!

This book was very helpful for me as a father of four. Younts doesn’t just leave it at the theoretical level. He goes in to detail about how to talk about some very important topics, such as the gospel, obedience, preparing for the teen years, the world, sex, and music. He explains how to use the “mundane” topics like the weather to bring out truths about God and His world.

He gives principles for parents to follow and not just dos and don’ts. One specific area where I was challenged was the way in which the truth should be presented. He used Proverbs 1:8-9 to show that we should present the truth as we would a precious piece of jewelry to a child. He explained that if we bought precious jewelry for a child we would not ball it up and throw it at them. We would put it in a special box, wrap it and present it as something special. We should do the same with the truth. Our words should be pleasant. The word of God is precious and therefore we should present it to them as such. Our words are to be spoken in love. Younts was very strong in this area and his words were used by the Lord to help me think about the way I talk to my children about the truth.

There were also several good examples found in the book (both Biblical and otherwise) to help bring these truths into focus.

This book is certainly consistent with some other very good parenting books. Books like Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp), Age of Opportunity (Paul Tripp), Heart of Anger (Lou Priolo), and Teach Them Diligently (Lou Priolo). I think the contribution lies in the broad range of the topics that he addresses. He doesn’t deal extensively with disciplining and other parenting issues because that was not his goal. His goal was to give parents a theology of God-centered speaking with practical application. If anyone were to ask me what two parenting books I would recommend if they were only going to read two, I would recommend Shepherding a Child’s Heart (first) and Everyday Talk (second) in that order. Shepherding a Child’s Heart lays the foundation and gives the big picture for goals and procedures at each phase of a child’s development. Everyday Talk delves in to some of the more specific areas and challenges.

Far from giving the impression that parents are to just talk, Younts also explains that we must be very intent and serious listeners before we will have anything that is helpful to say. In addition, our lives are own lives as parents are to reflect that we have been changed by the wonderful truths that we are seeking to impart to our children. This is nonnegotiable. I highly recommend this book to anyone with children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or anyone who knows children that need the truth. I think that covers just about everyone.


jAsOn said...

I like the new look of your blog! Wow, that sounds like a great book. Do you think that parents aren't talking to the children about God in this way for the same or similar reasons that they are not evangelising their neighbors? Like everyone is from time to time, I have to include myself in this group sometimes. On the flipside, do you think that the way John suggests that we should speak to our children about God is in some ways how we should also speak to our neighbors about God, not as though they were children, but in the Deut. 6 way?

Vinnie Beichler said...

Yes, I think some of the same reasons. Perhaps if you evaluate the reasons why most of us don't evangelize and see if they fit for the reasons why parents don't talk to their children it may be helpful. I think the following are the main reasons why I don't evangelize as much as I ought:

1. Fear of man - I don't think this is an issue for parents speaking to their children

2. Laziness - I think this applies in both cases

3. Lack of faith - I mean a lack of faith in the gospel, in the power of God to save, and the reality of hell. If we are weak in faith in any of these areas it could certainly cause us to be negligent in these disciplines - both of them.

4. Love of self/comfort - big time!

5. Earthly-mindedness. If we are not meditating on God's truth. Moses said "these things that I command you today shall be on your heart." Before we will "teach them diligently" to our neighbors or to our children they must first be on our hearts. If our minds are saturated with worldly pursuits we simply won't have anything to say.

So I think that there is a lot of overlap in the reasons why we don't talk about God to our children and/or our neighbors (except for the fear of man issue).

Also, good point about talking to our neighbors in the ways that we talk to our children about God. Very good point. I think we often think the only way we can talk about God to lost people is to go through a five point gospel presentation. Not so.