Author Archives: Kenneth Berding

Five Spiritual Survival Tools for Homeschool Family Vacation – What to do When the Car Breaks Down

Editor’s Note: Has car trouble ever dampened a homeschool family vacation? Too often, it’s not just the breakdown of the family van, but the breakdown of the family spirit, and communication, that defeats us. In this post, Kenneth Berding, professor of New Testament at Talbot Theological Seminary and homeschool dad, writes about the car troubles that he and his family have experienced on summer vacations. We’re grateful he’s shared his reflection with us. Read it here, or visit his blog, Kindle Afresh.

Kid in SUV pointing down a mountainside – Spiritual Tools for Homeschool Family Vacation Blog

Just Another Homeschool Family Vacation

“It wouldn’t be a Berding vacation without car trouble!”

So remarked one of my adult daughters two days ago just after her tire shredded on the California freeway on our way to a family vacation at Lake Arrowhead. Unbelievably, this is family vacation seven (yes, #7!) in which we’ve found ourselves in an auto shop. A blown tire in New Mexico…a wiped out transmission near Klamath Falls, Oregon…then again in Central California…then again on a different vacation at Lake Tahoe (whereby I promptly sold the car to a mechanic)…a complete electrical failure on the California-Nevada border (towed all the way to Las Vegas)…another blown tire on the road to San Luis Obispo for a wedding…and finally, my daughter’s shredded tire two days ago. Maybe my cars are just demon-possessed (joking, of course). But along the way, I’ve learned a few things about how God might want us to respond in such situations. Here are five that come immediately to mind:

Five Spiritual Survival Tools for Car Trouble 

  1. Immediately remind yourself that you aren’t in charge; God is. Despite all your pre-vacation planning, God may have other purposes for your vacation than you do. Let me repeat this: God is in control, you aren’t.
  2. Remember that spiritual warfare might be involved. I can’t tell you how to know for certain that evil spirits are involved. But it is helpful to remember that car troubles aren’t always only about tires, transmissions, and tow trucks; at least occasionally you might get harassed by evil spirits. Stand strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might, as the Apostle Paul instructs us.
  3. Remember that car problems are a wonderful opportunity to teach your children how to trust in the Lord. How are your children going to learn how to lean into the Spirit and depend upon Christ when they face something truly difficult in the future? Unexpected car problems are a wonderful opportunity to model for your children what it looks like to trust the Lord during trying times.
  4. Don’t forget to stop and thank the Lord for his protection. I’m aware as I write this that some of you have actually lost loved ones through car accidents (driving is, after all, the most dangerous daily activity most of us engage in). I’m as thankful as I can be that no one has been hurt during any of our vacation car mishaps. If that’s the case for you during a car misadventure, stop and thank the Lord. Be sure to pray no matter what circumstance you find yourself.
  5. Remind yourself to treat service people (upon whom you must depend) with grace, patience, and appreciation. They didn’t cause your problem. They’re trying to do their jobs. They are people God loves and for whom Jesus died for. Be sure to treat them with respect.

More Helpful Insights for Homeschool Family Vacation

I just walked in the cabin where we’re staying and asked Trudi (wife), Grace (daughter driving the shredded-tire car), and Ana (passenger in the shredded-tire car) what they would add to my list. Here are a few of their comments:

“Stay calm.”

“Don’t get mad or blame other people in the car.”

“Pout for a few minutes, then move on.”

“Laugh about it.”

“Take pictures and post them online so everyone feels sorry for you.”

“Eat burgers and fries at an In-N-Out while your car is in the shop. No one likes to be around someone who is hangry (=hungry + angry).”

“Don’t let it ruin your entire vacation. In fact, incorporate it into your vacation memories. It can become a precious family memory for years to come if you’ll respond in a God-honoring way.”

I hope you remember a few of these thoughts if you ever find yourself in an auto shop during a homeschool family vacation.

At least you’ll know that the Berdings understand.


A Lesson in Church History: What Pliny the Younger Learned When He Interrogated Christians

Lesson in Church History: The Younger Pliny Reproved, colorized copperplate print by Thomas Burke (1749–1815)Here’s a quick idea for a lesson in church history: For many years I have been curious about a Roman governor known to us from history as Pliny the Younger. My interest initially arose because I resided for four years in one of the principal cities he governed—not to mention that one of my four daughters was born in that city. Moreover, since I have expended significant effort studying the writings of the earliest Christian authors after the period of the apostles (those authors known as the “Apostolic Fathers”), I continue to be intensely interested in learning anything I possibly can about the lives of Christians who lived during the first half of the second century.

What if someone like Pliny had come in contact with Christians? What if a Roman governor had wanted to know what Christians believed and how they lived? Read more

Walking in the Spirit

Editor’s Note: With winter thawing, today’s post, Walking in the Spirit, comes from our contributor, Ken Berding, who teaches at Biola University, and writes for the Good Book Blog. Read this, originally posted September 19, 2016, on their site. This post is an excerpt from Dr. Berding’s book, Walking in the Spirit (Crossway, 2011), which you can buy on Amazon.

Ice cream cone held against the horizon

As you daily walk in the Holy Spirit, God will fill you with his Spirit in such a way that your desires to sin lessen. Galatians 5:16—set in a chapter that parallels Romans 8 in many ways—says it so well: “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” The one who walks in the Spirit will not give in to the desires of the flesh. Walking in the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are mutually exclusive ideas; you cannot do one at the same time as you engage in the other. Read more

5 Things Paul’s Comments on the Law Teach Us About Parenting

paul_blogPaul’s discussion of the Old Testament law in Romans and Galatians connects well with a practical life concern: How do we effectively parent our children? In particular, one question parents regularly face has to do with what part rules play in raising children. Since Paul actually uses the raising of children as an analogy to explain the role of the law (Galatians 3:24-26; 4:1-7; Romans 8:14-17), perhaps we should turn the analogy on its head and ask if there is anything we can learn about raising children from Paul’s teaching about the law.

What can we learn about raising children from Paul’s teaching about the law? Five things: Read more

This Was the Year the Adults Gave Up

Teenagers looking at the camera with text "This was the year the adults gave up" - Don't Give Up on Your Teenager blog

Columnist Joel Stein in the December 21 issue of TIME (p. 174) labeled 2015 as “The Year the Adults Gave Up.”

Stein writes: “All kids know the one, immutable truth that is the source of all their power: Adults give up. They’re lazy. That’s why they still have cable and landlines, and why their kids ultimately get all the ice cream, iPad games and Smosh videos they want.  So it’s no surprise that after years of enduring all that sexting, app-ing and startup-ing, 2015 was the Year the Adults Gave Up. Even the most responsible workers in journalism, copy editors, just let me capitalize four words for no reason.”

Joel Stein has a way with words, and his article is provocative. But is he correct in his assertion that parents en masse are giving up?  Read more