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Teaching Kids About Christmas

Teaching Kids About Christmas

Veggie Tales and What's in the Bible? creator Phil Vischer explains how parents can help children understand and celebrate the true meaning behind Christmas.

Original Air Date: November 29, 2012

Opening:

John Fuller: This is Focus on the Family and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and, Jim, it’s pretty hard to believe, but we’re already here at Christmastime!

Jim Daly: That’s right, John– we’re in the home stretch and Christmas is just a few weeks away, which most of you are probably going, “Oh, no!” It can create a lot of stress for families and we’re busy and we’ve got lots to do. One of those stress points can be “How do we deal with Santa?” I mean…and you know what I’m talking about, Mom and Dad, I want to be careful with the little ears listening. But that’s a big issue. It was a big issue for Jean and I to figure out how do we address this? How do we navigate Santa and the birth of Jesus at the same time? And it’s important to have a game plan, Mom and Dad, that’s for sure. We don’t want Christmas to be all about presents! I know a lot of parents struggle with that because we want our kids to have fun and enjoy this season but we don’t want them to miss the point of the celebration which is the birth of Christ.

John: Mhm. Yeah and that you mentioned the dilemma there and this is a perspective that might illustrate that.

Excerpt:

(Singing) Why is Christmas what we call it? Why the impact on my wallet? Why the presents, why the tree? What’s with Santa; who is he?! (Oh my.) How do meats and smelly cheeses celebrate the birth of Jesus? Now perhaps I’m overthinking when I should be eggnog drinking. And I hate to sing the blues, but Christmas time has me confused!

End of Excerpt

Jim: (Laughter)

John: And that is a great little bit. It comes from a wonderful DVD called Buck Denver Asks Why Do We Call It Christmas? and it was created by Phil Vischer. Jim, I’ve watched this video; it really is so creative and really explores some of that confusion and stress and angst that families have about this time of year.

Jim: It’s a great way to broach this topic with your kids. The best part is how Phil makes the topic so much fun! As we’re gonna hear, he helps us understand the differences between Santa and the real Saint Nicholas, who was a devout Christian man who embodied the spirit of generosity– that’s how he came on to the scene of history. A few years ago when I was out of town, Phil Vischer came to visit and you recorded a delightful conversation, John, with him about Christmas and why we celebrate and how to help our children engage with their faith through this holiday.

John: Yeah, Phil Vischer has some really great perspectives on the topic and is best known, of course, for creating the popular VeggieTales series. And today he hosts the JellyTelly Network, which is online and offers fun, family entertainment presenting God’s Word in a fresh way. And right now, let’s go ahead and listen to that conversation I was able to have with Phil Vischer on today’s Focus on the Family.

Body:

John: Alright, so Phil, since early October my kids have had Christmas wish lists posted in the kitchen.

Phil Vischer: Really?!

John: And they’re long lists.

Phil: Wow!

John: Now, I, eh, we’re not list . . .

Phil: Is that something you’ve taught them to do? To encourage . . .

John: Absolutely the opposite of what we —

Phil: Let’s do it sooner kids!

John: –we’ve taught them to do. No!

Phil: Why wait so long kids?

John: My wife and I have worked so hard to make Christmas not about stuff. Um, am I bad parent?

Phil: Uh, no! You’re not a bad parent!

John: Oh, thank you.

Phil: It’s impossible to really avoid that without, you know, packing up the kids and moving to a desert island. You know, it’s impossible to avoid that. And what we have to recognize, because we, we feel like all this materialism has encroached on Christmas, you know, and we assume it’s just like in the last, I don’t know, ten years, 20 years,

John: It’s all advertising’s fault, right?

Phil: It’s all advertise, er … TV or something like that. Uh, Christmas, you go back a hundred years, the first people to make a really big deal out of Christmas in North America, a really big deal, were department stores.

Okay, churches didn’t put on Christmas pageants. That wasn’t part of the culture, a hundred, a hundred-fifty years ago it wasn’t the Super Bowl of holidays yet. It’s become the Super Bowl of holidays really just in the last hundred years and the biggest drivers, the ones that put the huge choirs together and started putting on these huge pageants were department stores. Not churches because they saw the material benefit of it. So Christmas being the size it is in America, really was driven by the materialism.

John: Okay, now back to my question–

Phil: Yeah, your kids. (Chuckles)

John: –I’ve tried really hard not to make it about stuff and in early October they’re already saying, here is what I would like to get for Christmas.

Phil: Yeah.

John: So, I, uh … th … this is a frustrating holiday for a lot of us–

Phil: Yeah.

John: –’cause that’s not what I want, but that’s what they’re getting from friends and culture and just being kids.

Phil: Right, right. Christmas is a very complicated holiday ‘cause it was actually two holidays that we put together. It was Christ’s Mass, which was the, you know, in Europe, in the old country it was the Catholic Mass that celebrated the birth of Jesus once a year. But we combined it with Saint Nicholas Day. And Saint Nicholas Day was kids’ favorite feast day because Saint Nicholas would come the night before Saint Nicholas Day– it was December 6th in Europe– Saint Nicholas would come the night before and if you were good he would drop presents, drop toys and cookies into your shoes.

John: Ok.

Phil: If you were Dutch, it was into your wooden shoes. If you were German, it was into your stockings. And so that was a whole separate thing. So there were two different holidays. There was Christ’s Mass which was about Jesus’ birthday.

John: Very religious.

Phil: Yes! And people didn’t give gifts. That wasn’t … gift giving isn’t a part of Christ’s Mass, it’s a part of St. Nicholas Day. And it got messed up, during the Protestant Reformation when we decided we’re gonna throw away everything that’s Catholic.

John: Hm.

Phil: And so we threw away the saints. So we threw away Saint Nicholas, but kids loved that tradition so much of this guy visiting in the night and giving us presents that their parents basically said, alright, well we’ll just do that on Christmas Eve, instead of on Saint Nicholas Day ‘cause we’re Protestants, we’re not supposed to celebrate saints. And that’s where it got complicated. So, gift giving really comes out of a whole different holiday. It comes out of Saint Nicholas, and Saint Nicholas was a wonderful guy who helped kids, who saved kids from slavery by dropping … coins in through their windows.

John: Now, now, we’re talking about the real Saint Nicholas?

Phil: The real Saint Nicholas!

John: There was a man —

Phil: Yes! John: — Nicholas who became a saint.

Phil: Fourth century. He was a real man, he was an orphan. His parents were wealthy and they died in a plague of some kind. He went to the Holy Land, had a deeply moving spiritual experience in the Holy Land, came back. Went into the ministry full-time, became the Bishop of Greece and he used the money that his parents left him to help kids and help the poor. So, and the most famous story is there were, there was a poor man who had three daughters and had no money for their dowry. Which at that time you couldn’t get married if you didn’t have a dowry.

John: That was crucial.

Phil: If you didn’t get married, quite often you’d end up in slavery. So he didn’t want them to end up in slavery, so Saint Nicholas walked by their house in the middle of the night and tossed three bags of coins in through their window. Now, the legend then became, they fell into their stockings, that the three girls had hung up to dry —

John: Ah!

Phil: —after washing them.

John: Ok.

Phil: And that story spread throughout Europe and started the practice – first of all he became a saint, Saint Nicholas, and it started Saint Nicholas Day, which started the practice of hang up your stockings ‘cause Saint Nicholas, if you’re a good kid, if you’re a good girl or good boy, Saint Nicholas will come by and throw something through the window into your stockings, and kids loved that so much. See, and that’s where it gets tricky because I have Christians friends who say we’re not even, we won’t even say “Santa.” You know we won’t let our kids say Santa.

John: I was just, I was just gonna observe that St. Nick sounds a whole lot like today’s Santa Claus.

Phil: Yes! Yes. And that’s where the legend came from because kids were celebrating Saint Nicholas and then at the Protestant Reformation we said nope, nope, no more Saint Nicholas. In fact, the Puritans in Massachusetts, if you said the word Saint Nicholas, would fine you five shillings. Cause it was–

John: There was a penalty for even bringing up the name of Saint Nicholas.

Phil: (Chuckling) Yes!

John: Despite the great–

Phil: And this is–

John: –historical–

Phil: This is, this…

John: –background here.

Phil: This is the funny part, because I wanna, you know, I’m thinking we’ve got to get rid of all this materialism, let’s go back to Christmas the way the Puritans celebrated it. The Puritans made it illegal to celebrate Christmas, in Boston, in the 17th century, when they were in control, because it was Catholic. And … and if, if you sang a Christmas carol, you got a five shilling fine. (Chuckling)

John: Oh my goodness! Ok, so we can’t go back to the Puritans, uh, —

Phil: So you can’t go back to the Puritans!

John: Um, how about, oh, I don’t know, 1800, 1900?

Phil: Then you had the beginning of Saint Nicholas turning into Santa Claus, which happened with the Dutch immigrants. Dutch immigrants came over and they brought the tradition of Saint Nicholas. Uh, the Germans had thrown away Saint Nicholas and were now waiting for Christ Kindle to come visit them, which meant Christ Child. So then everyone came to America and everything got all muddied together. So we had the Germans waiting for Christ Kindle, which turned into Kris Kringle

John: I was just gonna ask, ok.

Phil: Yes, another name for Santa Claus. We had the British waiting for Father Christmas, who looks just like Kris Kringle and just like Saint Nicholas.

John: Hm.

Phil: The Dutch, in New York especially, when it was new Amsterdam, the kids were still putting out their wooden shoes, waiting for Saint Nicholas, who in Dutch was Sinterklaas.

John: Sounds a whole lot like …

Phil: That’s Dutch for Saint Nicholas, which sounds a whole lot like Santa Claus.

John: Wow.

Phil: Yeah.

John: You … you have just taken, uh … hundreds of years of … of history, and practice and theology, and, uh …and religion and you’ve whirled it all together. My mind is spinning, Phil. (Chuckles) But what I hear you saying is that Christmas didn’t have particularly have religious or non-religious roots as, uh, at least as we practice it now.

Phil: What we practice today is a combination of lot of different traditions that developed in Europe, and all came over with immigrants and melted together, so just like we’re a melting pot ethnically, we’re a melting pot of traditions. And so we added our own on top of the Sinterklaas, and, and the Kris Kringle, and the Father Christmas and then because it used to be on December 7th, but we don’t do that because we’re Protestant, so we moved it to Christmas Eve and that made the real complication. So, if you go back to the early church, they didn’t celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

John: Ok.

Phil: And the reason they didn’t —

John: But why?

Phil: — didn’t celebrate, ‘cause they didn’t celebrate any birthdays. In the Roman Empire, no one really cared what day you were born on; it just wasn’t that big a deal, so birthdays were not celebrated. The center of church history, of the church calendar, was always Easter. You know, for Christians, Easter is the Super Bowl.

John: Um-hm.

Phil: Uh, and so Christmas kind of becoming bigger than Easter is a fairly recent development and has more to do with the popularity with children than with anything else. So what I’ve tried to do with my kids, is really kind of shift some of that emphasis back to Easter. You know, because it’s very hard to do Christmas without the focus on presents.

John: Uh-m. Oh, totally! I mean, it, it’s —

Phil: Very hard!

John: — as you said, if you don’t move to a desert island —

Phil: Yes.

John: — it’s going to be impossible.

Phil: And if you try to do it, if you shut out all the elves and the Santa and the presents and all that, you just, you look like Scrooge. You know (Chuckles), you just, and you feel bad about yourself. So we’ve got some Christians that say, you know, well we’ll never mention Santa and we’re … just, you know, 100 percent Jesus. And we’ve got other Christians who say, oh come on; I had so much fun with that when I was a kid, don’t take …

John: All the traditions —

Phil: Yes, don’t take Santa away!

John: — and the Santa memories.

Phil: So what we’ve done in our family is kinda tried to turn Santa back into Saint Nicholas.

John: Uh, let me push back on this and just, I mean, speak to me, ok? I’ve got kids in the home. How do I put the emphasis on Saint Nicholas? How can I do that?

Phil: Uh, every time someone, well … first of all, tell ‘em the story.

John: Uh, and I should say, full disclosure, we have never done Santa Claus in my home.

Phil: Never ever. Okay…

John: It’s not because we had some deep, heartfelt resentment.

Phil: Yeah.

John: I enjoyed Santa Claus as a kid, but when we got married we just looked around and said, you know, there’s so much stuff —

Phil: Right, right.

John: — and we don’t need Santa bringing more. We have very generous relatives. It’s gonna be plenty full under the Christmas tree, so let’s just not do Santa Claus. (Chuckles) Alright, so with that background—

Phil: Yeah, and we didn’t, I, we didn’t do it with our kids either, but you know I have very strong Christian friends and families, you know, and a few people that have worked for me, that their kids are eight or nine and they, they’re still sustaining belief in Santa Claus.

You know, and it always kinda knocks me back and I say, re … really?! You know, it’s like didn’t you get the memo that we’re not doing that anymore? Didn’t ya, you know, like in ‘74 when we all decided that we weren’t gonna do that anymore? You can tell the story of Saint Nicholas because it helps unpack – it’s so confusing for kids to go to church and hear about Jesus and then go home and turn on the TV and it’s wall-to-wall Santa. And it’s like are we talking about the same holiday?

John: That’s a good point. I … I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that.

Phil: Yeah, and, and so rather than saying, ignore it! Ignore it! Don’t pay any attention; pay no attention to the man in the red suit. No, instead of doing that, unpack it and say, you know what? We aren’t talking about the same holiday. Let’s talk about the two different holidays that became Christmas. We have Jesus’ birthday, which was called the Christ’s Mass and we have Saint Nicholas Day which was on December 6, until Martin Luther cancelled it. And people loved it so much that we moved it over to Christmas Eve. And you can actually explain to kids, look, that part, that’s the Saint Nicholas part, and this is the Jesus’ birthday part. There are two parts to this holiday and that’s ok.

John: Hm. Well this is Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller and our guest is Phil Vischer, uh, and we’re going to get to this video in just a moment, Phil, because I love it. I really do. We watched it and I told you before we started that I think it’s right up there with Linus and Snoopy in our home for Christmas memories now. Buck Denver Asks Why Do We Call it Christmas? Uh, but before we get there, one thing related to what you’re talking about right now. Where does the Christmas tree fit into this equation?

Phil: (Chuckles) Yeah, there —

John: What part of Christmas is that about?

Phil: There are so – I think as Christians, we can get so, you know, worried about, am I celebrating this right? Am I doing this right? And you, so you start looking around and say, ok stockings. You know, somebody said is that pagan? It’s like Halloween. Do I have to throw everything away? You know, because it’s pagan. Uh, and what —

John: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation

Phil: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation that we will not get into. Christmas trees, there was a longstanding tradition where evergreens were associated with new life because they don’t die. And winter, you know back, eh, 2000 years ago, three thousand years ago, was a scary thing.

John: Yes.

Phil: And you actually —

John: Yes, life and death. Phil: — yes, wondered sometimes, is the sun ever coming back? You know, is green ever coming back? Is food ever coming back? And so they would celebrate, uh, evergreen trees as a symbol of eternal life. So, but unfortunately, Germanic tribes also did things like to celebrate they would say this oak belongs to Thor. Uh, St. Boniface was called the missionary to the Germans, the missionary to Germany – sent from England, went to the Germanic tribes to teach them about Jesus. And he challenged them on this belief. They said we have the Oak of Thor and we sacrifice slaves on it. He said I don’t want you to do that anymore and he picked up an axe and he chopped down the Oak of Thor.

John: Oh, and they were probably quite offended by that.

Phil: They were quite offended and they said Thor is going to strike you dead! And he didn’t. Nothing happened. And they said, well, wait a minute, what does this say about Thor? And so Boniface said look, you need a new symbol. Look at the fir tree, the fir tree is evergreen. It represents eternal life, the shape of it points to heaven. It’s pointing to God. And later on it was reported that he actually used the triangular shape of the fir tree to teach the Trinity.

John: Trinity, ahh.

Phil: The three points of the fir tree could explain the Trinity, so he used the fir tree as a missionary tool in Germany. And Germans as they adopted to Christianity stopped, you know, saying that’s [the] Oak of Thor and that’s the Oak of Odin, and instead started cutting down fir trees and actually bringing them into their houses and actually hanging them from the ceiling, was what they did first to celebrate Jesus.

John: Well, that, that is so assuring, I know, for a lot of our listeners, because it, as we said at the beginning here, this is a confusing time of year. And it’s, I mean, there’s guilt because I’m not sure I’m celebrating it right as you said

Phil: Right.

John: There’s guilt because there’s so much stuff and we’ve made it about stuff and not Jesus. Uh, there’s guilt because I can’t celebrate it the way I seem to remember it being when I was a kid.

Phil: Right, right.

John: Really, all of these are the reasons why you poured a lot of energy into this video, Buck Denver Asks Why Do We Call it Christmas?

Phil: Yeah.

John: Give us a little more background and tell us a little more of your heart about this thing.

Phil: Well, I, I was trying to unpack it. And it really, back when I was working on VeggieTales, I wanted to do a VeggieTales episode about Saint Nicholas. And I didn’t get the chance to and they actually produced one based on my idea after I was no longer working on VeggieTales, but it wasn’t nearly as educational as I wanted it to be. So I was like, ok, there were like two or three facts in there, but I wanna tell the whole story. You know, I wanna tell it accurately. There’s such fun things about the story of Saint Nicholas that I really wanted to unpack it. Have you ever gotten gold coins in your stocking?

John: No

Phil: Chocolate?

John: Yes.

Phil: Chocolate covered with gold?

John: Yes, that kind, not, not real gold coins.

Phil: That’s because of Saint Nicholas. Chocolate covered with gold, gold coins with chocolate in them is the symbol of Saint Nicholas d

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You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Effective Habits to Embrace in Parenting

To be an effective parent, you must be a leader in your child’s life, guiding with a gentle hand and setting a solid example. Dr. Randy Schroeder provides the insight you need to be a leader-parent. As he explores the foundational Rs—relationship, routines, responsibilities, and rules—you’ll better understand the role you play in your child’s life. You’ll learn great phrases to employ such as “Either/Or/You Decide” and “When You/Then You”. While there is no perfect parent, this nuts-and-bolts material will equip you to lead your child in a loving, confident manner.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder

Dr. Randy Schroeder has spent more than four decades writing, counseling, speaking, and teaching. For nearly 25 years, he was Vice President of Student Personnel Services, Dean of Students, and a professor of pastoral counseling at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind. He’s also led a successful counseling practice helping individuals, couples, and families to thrive in their lives and relationships.

Cover image of Dr. Randall Schroeder's book "Simple Habits for Effective Parenting"

Simple Habits for Effective Parenting

Effective parenting is now within your grasp! With this inspiring how-to comprehensive book, achieve extraordinary results in raising a child to be self-assured, self-reliant, and responsible! You will be able to successfully lead and lovingly encourage your child toward a Godly life!

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

God designed marriage to reflect His love to the world; and because of this, the enemy wants to destroy God’s beautiful design. Based on his book, Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God. Couples will be encouraged that they’re not alone in the fight for a godly marriage and better equipped to be a shining example for the world around them.

Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff Cropped

Dr. Tim and Mrs. Noreen Muehlhoff

Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is a professor of communication at Biola University in La Mirada, California where he teaches classes in family communication, interpersonal communication, apologetics, gender, and conflict resolution.  Tim and his wife, Noreen, are both on staff with Biola’s Center for Marriage and Relationships  where he is a co-host of The Art of Relationship podcast. 

Defending Your Marriage

Is your marriage under attack? Sometimes it can feel like the world is trying to tear your marriage apart. Internal conflicts or external pressures might make you wonder if something sinister is going on. How can you tell if you’re facing spiritual opposition? And what can you do about it? Tim Muehlhoff provides a straightforward resource for protecting your marriage from the threats of the evil one. He looks at what Scripture says about spiritual warfare and how our everyday struggles have deeper spiritual realities. And he provides practical steps for guarding our marriages with the whole armor of God.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 1

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Reigniting Your Passion for Jesus - Part 2

For those of faith whose passion has waned over time, Kim Meeder will reinspire you in your relationship with Jesus Christ as she tells powerful, true stories about God that will spark renewed joy in your heart and encourage you to share the Gospel with others.

Headshot photo of author Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder

Kim Meeder and her husband, Troy, are the co-founders of Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization in Bend, Oregon, that rescues abused horses and pairs them with hurting kids for mutual healing. Kim is a popular motivational speaker and the author of a half dozen books including Hope Rising and Bridge Called Hope, which feature inspirational stories from her ranch.

Revival Rising

With enthusiasm that will set ablaze your passion to reach the hurting, Kim Meeder encourages you to let the holy fire of God’s presence fill your heart, soul, mind and strength. As your fear and pride melt away, those around you who are losing their battle for hope will be transformed by encountering His redeeming love in you. This–this is revival rising.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 2

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage - Part 2

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 2

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Embracing Your Role as a Spouse

As a spouse, you have three roles to play—a friend, a partner, and a lover. On this one-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Pastor Kevin A. Thompson explores those different roles and challenges you to live them out by investing emotionally, physically, and mentally in your relationship. As friends, he suggests we learn to play and laugh together. As partners, he equips us with solid ways to handle conflict and communication. As lovers, he offers some thoughts on how to bring back the sizzle. He shares five keys to saving your marriage: humility, respect, mercy, communication, and resilience. You’ll be encouraged to intentionally invest in your marriage.

Headshot of Kevin Thompson

Pastor Kevin Thompson

Kevin A. Thompson (MDiv, Beeson Divinity School) is lead pastor at Community Bible Church, a growing multi-site church with four locations in western Arkansas. Every year he meets with nearly one hundred couples with a range of needs, from pre-marital counseling to navigating the most serious betrayals. A marriage and parenting conference speaker, he and his wife, Jenny, have two children and live in Fort Smith, Arkansas. He blogs at kevinathompson.com.

Cover image of Kevin Thompson's book "Friends, Partners & Lovers"

Friends, Partners, and Lovers: What It Takes to Make Your Marriage Work

With engaging stories and clear, simple language, pastor Kevin Thompson shows how to live out three distinct roles in marraige. Using solid biblical principles, he helps you and your spouse grow your friendship, be supportive partners through the good times and the bad, and develop a healthy and satisfying sex life.

Sharing Your Faith with Grace and Purpose

You can confidently and lovingly share your faith—you just need to learn some new tactics to do so! In this Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast, apologist Greg Koukl outlines the “Columbo” tactic of asking questions, the “self-defeating argument” tactic to find holes in your opponent’s arguments, and other specific methods for engaging in faith-building conversations with others. Greg pulls from his over 30 years of experience debating atheists and agnostics to help you share your faith with grace and truth.

Mr. Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl is a writer, public speaker and talk show host who’s spent 30 years advocating for and defending the Christian worldview. Greg has written or contributed to 15 books, including The Story of RealityTactics, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published nearly 230 articles and has spoken on 80 college and university campuses in the U.S. and abroad.

Tactics front cover

Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions

In a world increasingly indifferent to Christian truth, followers of Christ need to be equipped to communicate with those who do not speak their language or accept their source of authority. In Tactics, 10th Anniversary Edition, Gregory Koukl demonstrates how to artfully regain control of conversations, keeping them moving forward in constructive ways through thoughtful diplomacy. You’ll learn how to stop challengers in their tracks and how to turn the tables on questions or provocative statements. Most important, you’ll learn how to get people thinking about Jesus.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 1

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Giving up Sugar, Tasting God's Goodness

As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still “pedaling” away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.

Author Wendy Speake smiling as she holds up her book "The 40-Day Social Media Fast"

Mrs. Wendy Speake

With a background in Hollywood as a trained actress, Wendy Speake ministers to women as a bible teacher by applying the power of drama, poetry and comedy to the study of Scripture and real-life application of biblical truths. She has co-authored two books with Amber Lia titled Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and their latest, Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, Say Something New. Wendy is also the co-author (with Kelli Stuart) of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom.

Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!