I have noticed a good but misguided desire among many young Christians parents. They seek to be intentional in the way they raise their children. Many have an excellent desire to be more gospel-focused. They want to treat their children the way that God is treating them – with grace. So they draw a direct line from this grace and want to parent with grace. Unfortunately, using just this paradigm for parenting flattens the gospel. When we look at the whole of Scripture we see that God adopted Israel as his son and called him out of Egypt. The Scripture tells us that God then placed Israel, his son, under the law for a time. When the proper time came, Israel would be released from the […]
I have observed a strange parenting phenomenon. Many parents are reluctant and even resistant to asking advice about their parenting. While others can see blind spots, the parents themselves remain… blind to them.
Often older parents or pastors are resistant to mention anything for fear of being accused of being a busybody. J.C. Ryle once admitted, “I would rather correct a man about anything than his parenting.”
Recently I received this email from an older leader in another part of the country,
“Over dinner tonight, my wife and I were discussing some of the interactions we have had with parents of young children in our church. Our goal has always been to encourage and try to give biblical counsel. Based on our discussion with each other, […]
Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22 6
This verse used to be popular for Christian parents. In it, God seems to promise that if we, the parents, do what we should, then our children will not leave that training.
For earnest Christian families this verse was foundational for seeking to raise their children in the faith. The thought went something like this – “If I will train them well, they will not be prodigals but will follow the Lord as adults.”
But this misunderstands this verse and sits on a transactional theology. “If I put the right amount of coins in the vending machine, God is obligated to […]
And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her. Esther 2:11
The story of Esther is the story of God’s amazing providence. Working behind the scenes, God brings the beautiful Esther to the royal position of Queen at exactly the right time so that she might intercede for her people.
But beneath this wonderful story is heartache.
The Babylonians had ransacked Jerusalem and taken away Esther’s relatives. Now
living as exiles, Esther is an orphan. Her mother and father had died.
Mordecai, her older cousin, is bringing her up.
But the heartache doesn’t end there. Esther is chosen for a beauty competition to replace the disrespectful Queen Vashti. If she wins, she will be […]
At a recent conference, a kind grandmother who was also a public school teacher asked my thoughts about overpraising.
When I asked what she meant she explained that she had noticed parents praising every little thing their child did. In a desire to be positive, encouraging, and perhaps not hurt their esteem, they were praising poor work. And she felt the children could sense their dishonesty. It was affecting her classroom.
After we talked more, I had to admit that I agreed with her. Overpraising starts with a wrong view of my child as fragile and breakable who must be protected from every evil. It makes praise cheap and contributes to the sin of people-pleasing.
Finally, I think it makes us insecure. We need evaluation and […]
Valentine’s Day is coming up next week. And I am the poorer for it.
There is something about knowing florists, card-makers, and restaurants make a killing off this self-declared holiday that drives me a little crazy. Each year I stare it in the face and waver. But my kind wife gives me a little push. And I am glad she does.
Each Valentine’s Day, my single adult daughters receive a significant gift from us. Why?
Because the truth of the matter is that Valentine’s Day celebrates romantic love. That’s great if you have a valentine. But if you don’t, it can be a prolonged cultural reminder that you are somehow deficient. You are missing a valentine to care for you. You are somehow less than complete.
The Bible does celebrate marriage and romantic love. But it also […]
I had a great time learning from Ed Shaw and Sam Allberry at the Living Out Local Course. This ministry is run by and aimed at Christian men and women who experience same-sex attraction. I believe these men and women are living heroes of the faith.
Several things bear repeating for a disciple-making parent.
Shaw and Allberry asked this question. “What narrative are we telling our young children? Many Christians will marry when they are adults. But not all. Some are eunuchs or make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom (Matt 19).”
As parents, if we idolize marriage then our narrative may go something like this to our children. “Someday God will bring the right person along for you. Keep yourself pure and the Lord […]
I am staring at an article in a denominational newspaper written by a young pastor with doctorate degree from a leading seminary. In that article he makes a statement I have heard before. “Many young Christian parents are overthinking the parenting thing. Interestingly, the Bible has very little to say about specific techniques other than, ‘Feed em, love ‘em, don’t drive em crazy, and point em to Jesus.’”
As a pastor and an author of a book on parenting, I think this statement is glib and dangerous. I agree with some of his concerns. Unfortunately, his play for a laugh is harmful and takes a flat view of the Bible. Would he also say that the Bible’s view of salvation is “Jesus loves me this I […]
Parenting is tough work. Whether toddlers or teens, there are challenges at every stage. For conscientious parents, seeking to raise their children to obey, love and follow the Lord, the to do list can grow long. Along with this comes an increased sense of failure. In the midst of those challenges, it is easy to focus on just surviving. We can fall into stern obedience or lacksidasical martyrdom. I know I alternated between those.
Looking back on those years now, I wish someone had told me this –
“Focus on joy.”
Because God loves a cheerful parent.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul encourages generous financial giving. And then he states the principal underneath that encouragement – “God loves a cheerful giver.” It was John Piper who first called my […]
If we emphasize the unity of God, we picture in our mind, a lonely, mysterious God who, we think, may have created man and woman because he was lonely. Much as a widower might purchase a dog to overcome loneliness, God made man and woman to have a relationship with.
The truth could not be further from this thought. Our God who is one in essence, is nevertheless three in persons. Before time began, God dwelt in perfect community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Tim Keller states it this way: “So we believe that the world was made not by a God who is an individual nor by an emanation of an impersonal force. But by a God who is a community of persons who have loved […]