The Family Shepherd

/The Family Shepherd

This is About That

Hi Friends,

Attending a wedding today.
This 3 minute video will be shown at the beginning by our church leadership.
You can watch the whole thing in preview mode without buying it.

I highly recommend it for your family and to discuss.
Do we really understand the gospel in this way?
Do we really value marriage because of what it illustrates?



My Family, My Growth

Children are God-given sanctification tools in our lives.

God gives us little children that we might nurture, train, and instruct them (Ephesians 6:4). But in that process of shepherding their souls, God also intends that we should grow. In fact, our children are one of God’s primary sanctification tools in our lives.

They will stress us and demand upon us beyond what we think we can handle. They will shine a floodlight on idols of our heart. But the reason God shines that floodlight is not to condemn us but so that we might mature and grow.

The first step in that spiritual growth involves repentance. Five hundred years ago, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door at Wittenberg, he began with this, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

Christian maturity happens by repentance.
But it has been my observation that Christians often forget this command and habit to repent. Especially in the home, it is easy to blame-shift, overlook, or excuse our sin. Perhaps we have had a hard day or we have been given a particularly difficult situation in our family. And so we excuse ourselves.

Growth in Christlikeness will never happen as we excuse our sin.

Five Principles
Instead, Christians who grow the most put these five truths in practice:

1. Godly repentance understands God’s standard. Jesus has rescued us from the law by giving us his forgiveness and righteousness by faith. But then he send us right back to those commands to know how to please him. And by the power of the Spirit I can follow his commands. They are not burdensome.

2. Godly repentance involves self-awareness of falling short of that standard. I want to be aware of those times that I do not walk by the Spirit in obedience. Some times that awareness will come by my own self-reflection. At other times, it will come because someone points it out to me. Just asking myself, “Did I handle that situation like Jesus would? Did I handle it perfectly (Matt. 5:48)?” helps me see any way that I fell short. Asking these questions also helps me take responsibility for unintentional actions that affect others.

3. Godly repentance does not excuse that falling short for any reason. Once I realize a standard I am supposed to walk by and how I am off that standard, then my tendency will be to excuse my sin or blame others. After all, we might  say to ourselves, “I am only human.” “I think I am doing pretty well with having to live with a husband like mine.” “You don’t know the background I have grown up in.” But no temptation comes in my life beyond what I can bear and the Lord does provide a door of escape (1 Cor 10:13).

4. Godly repentance involves motivation to please God no matter what others do. Since I am not excusing my sin, I am focusing on pleasing Christ. I can’t control others, but I can walk in the Spirit now. No matter how tough things may get in my home, I want to please Christ. I live with the final judgment in mind. I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You walked well through that trial I gave you.”

5. Godly repentance involves a focus on myself first and foremost. Finally, as a corollary of #4, godly repentance means I focus on myself. This does not mean I will excuse the sin of others. Perhaps there needs to be a conversation about some issues. I will not smooth over sin that needs to be talked about. But I realize that the only person I can control is myself.

Repentance is absolutely crucial to growing to become a mature Christian. God is working in my family life to show me areas I can grow.

Want your children to follow Christ as adults? tap_dmp_cover_final

Purchase The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Love Jesus Christ to learn more about discipling your children. Send us your Amazon receipt and receive the audiobook for free!

Living the Gospel at Home

Living the gospel at home is a key concept beneath The Disciple-Making Parent.

Listen to a recent talk outlining this concept.  I would love to see what our homes, churches, and seminaries would look like if we understood this concept.

In it we talk about:
1. Your nearest neighbor.
2. What God is doing in your heart at home.
3. Practical suggestions for living out the gospel at home.

The Family Shepherd|

Qualities of a Godly Elder and Man

Family PrayerJason Helopoulos has a good article on qualities of a great elder.

Could we say qualities of a great man? Young men are you listening? Young ladies are these in your prayer journal? Moms and Dads, you might consider printing down and sharing with your children. Or praying over this list.

Theological, but Fiercely Practical: He will know the scriptures and revel in the doctrine and theology of God’s holy Word. And at the same time, he will know how to apply those truths of Scripture to the lives he is privileged to serve.

Leader, but a Willing Follower:  He doesn’t wear a sign that announces he is a leader. He isn’t loud and demands that people follow, they just do.

Dignified, but Wonderfully Approachable:  He is serious about the Christian faith. He knows that life is short and he does not waste it.

Listener, but Wisely Vocal: He is slow to speak and quick to listen. But when he speaks, men listen.

Courageous, but Pastorally Winsome:  He does not shy away from the hard discussions, the difficult conflicts, or the trying personalities of the church. He isn’t looking for conflict, but he also won’t run from it.

Dogmatic, but Flexible: He is a rock on the non-negotiables. He will not be moved from the teaching of the Scriptures. However, he is flexible and able to concede points to others when he is proven wrong or the issue is not of extreme importance.

Gifted, but Knowingly Humble:  He is aware of how the Lord has gifted him for service in the church. In turn, he is also keenly aware of the gifts which he does not possess.

Officer, but Servant First:  He has a mantle upon his shoulders. There is responsibility and privilege.

Churchly, but a Lover of Men: He loves the church as a body and he loves men.

Loyal, but a Thoughtful Exhorter:  He is not a fault finder. However, when it is necessary, he is willing to challenge his pastors and fellow elders appropriately. He does not follow blindly.

DMPMay God raise up young men like this for our churches!

Consider ordering The Disciple-Making Parent to learn how we can train young men to be like this for the church. In it, you will learn how to disciple your young men through example, the Word, taking ground for Christ, and much more!

Marriage, Parenting|

Stability in Times of Uncertainty

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up. Isaiah 6:1

He shall be called… Everlasting Father. Isaiah 9:6

We crave stability.

In the 1940’s, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented third and fourth term as a U.S. president. George Washington had set the unwritten precedent that a president should serve only two terms.

How was the precedent of 150 years so easily overturned?

America was traversing the uncertainty of the Great Depression and World War II.  When all around is uncertain, it was comforting to look to the stability of our leaders. The comfort of stability was greater than precedent.

We want leaders we can have confidence in.

Isaiah must have deeply felt this uncertainty when he learned that Uzziah died. The king, whose name means the Lord is my strength, had reigned for 52 years. Under him, Israel had regained some of its former prosperity, rebuilt and rearmored its military.

But now he was gone. And the future was cloudy.

It was during that time of uncertainty that God gave Isaiah a vision of Jesus (Isaiah 6:1, John 12:41) seated on the throne, majestic, powerful, and surrounded with praise.

Jesus had been on the throne all the time but now Isaiah saw it.

When we face times of uncertainty, we need to remember that though we crave stable, trustworthy human leaders – all will fail. Ultimately, Jesus is that Fatherly leader we crave. This comforting role of Jesus is what Isaiah refers to when he says the titles of the Messiah will be: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Jesus is the Everlasting Father, a much better FDR and Uzziah put together.

And just as we crave stable leadership, so do our children. As our children navigate their uncertain world, rocked by changes, we have a high calling to be the steady rock. But let us remember we are merely a shadow of the true leader. Jesus is the one who brings true stability.

Let this calling drive us to our knees. And let us also make sure we point our children to the Everlasting Father – the all wise king on the throne – Jesus.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus who is a personal, strong and steady ruler in these days of uncertainty. Help me to reflect this emotional and spiritual stability to my children as his undershepherd.

Richard Baxter on Parenting Part 2

Though it may sound strange to our ears, it is good to hear from men of old. Consider the following directives from Richard Baxter.

Richard Baxter, 1664:

“Speaking of the importance of wise, holy education of children is to the saving of their souls, the comfort of their parents, the good of church and state, and the happiness of the world.

Direct XI. For sports and recreations, let them be such, and so much, as may be needful to their health and cheerfulness; but not so much as may carry away their minds from better things, and draw them from their books or other duties, nor such as may tempt them to gaming or covetousness.

Direct XII. Use all your wisdom and diligence to root out the sin of pride.

Direct XIII. Speak to them disgracefully of the gallantry, and pomp, and riches of the world, and of the sin of selfishness and covetousness, and diligently watch against it, and all that may tempt them to it.

Direct XIV. Narrowly watch their tongues, especially against lying, railing, ribald talk, and taking the name of God in vain.

Direct XV. Keep them as much as may be from ill company, especially of ungodly play-fellows.

Direct XVI. Teach your children to know the preciousness of time, and suffer them not to mispend an hour.

Direct XVII. Let necessary correction be used with discretion.

Direct XVIII. Let your own example teach your children that holiness, and heavenliness, and blamelessness of tongue and life, which you desire them and to learn and practise.

Direct XIX. Choose such a calling and course of life for your children, as tendeth most to the saving of their souls, kind to their public usefulness for church or state.

Direct XX. When they are marriageable, and you find it needful, look out such for them as are suitable betimes.”
(The Duties of Parents for Their Children, The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, Vol. 1, Chap. X, pp. 449-454)

Richard Baxter on Parenting Part 1

Though it may sound strange to our ears, it is good to hear from men of old. Consider the following directives from Richard Baxter.

Richard Baxter, 1664:

“Speaking of the importance of wise, holy education of children is to the saving of their souls, the comfort of their parents, the good of church and state, and the happiness of the world.

Direct I. Understand and lament the corrupted and miserable state of your children, which they have derived from you, and thankfully accept the offers of a Saviour for yourselves and them, and absolutely resign, and dedicate them to God in Christ in the sacred covenant, and solemnize this dedication and covenant by their baptism.

Direct II. As soon as they are capable, teach them what a covenant they are in, and what are the benefits, and what the conditions, that their souls may gladly consent to it when they understand it; and you may bring them seriously to renew their covenant with God in their own persons.

Direct III. Train them up in exact obedience to yourselves, and break them of their own wills. To that end, suffer them not to carry themselves unreverently or contemptuously towards you; but to keep their distance. For too much familiarity breedeth contempt, and imboldeneth to disobedience.

Direct IV. Make them neither too bold with you, nor too strange or fearful; and govern them not as servants, but as children, making them perceive that you dearly love them, and that all your commands, restraints, and corrections tire for their good, and not merely because you will have it so.

Direct V. Labour much to possess their hearts with the fear of God, and a reverence of the holy Scriptures; and then whatsoever duty you command them, or whatsoever sin you forbid them, show them some plain and urgent texts of Scripture for it; and cause them to learn them and oft repeat them; that so they may find reason and divine authority in your commands; till their obedience begin to be rational and divine, it will be but formal and hypocritical.

Direct VI. In all your speeches of God and of Jesus Christ, and of the holy Scripture, or the life to come, or of any holy duty, speak always with gravity, seriousness, and reverence, as of the most great and dreadful and most Sacred things: for before children come to have any distinct understanding of particulars, it is a hopeful beginning to have their hearts possessed with a general reverence and high esteem of holy matters; for that will continually awe their consciences, and help their judgments, and settle them against prejudice and profane contempt, and be as a seed of holiness in them.

Direct VII. Speak always before them with great honour and praise of holy ministers and people, and with dispraise and loathing of every sin, and of ungodly men.

Direct VIII. Let it be the principal part of your care and labour in all their education, to make holiness appear to them the most necessary, honourable, gainful, pleasant, delightful, amiable state of life; and to keep them from apprehending it either as needless, dishonourable, hurtful, or uncomfortable.

Direct IX. Speak often to them of the brutish baseness and sinfulness of flesh-pleasing sensuality, and of the greater excellency of the pleasures of the mind, which consist in wisdom, and in doing good.

Direct X. To this end, and also for the health of their bodies, keep a strict guard upon their appetites (which they are not able to guard themselves): keep them as exactly as you can to the rules of reason, both in the quantity and quality of their food.

Dating Advice for Young Men

CBMW has my latest article up here.

I wrote it to encourage young men to take manful initiative and care in a dateless world.

Have Manful Motivation
1. Treat her as a sister with absolute purity.
2. Treat her as a sister with selfless love.

Take Manful Action
1. Spend some time in groups with guys and girls.
2. Have some modesty toward her.
3. Date with Jesus, not Cupid in mind.
4. Make a formal, in-person invitation.
5. Be ready for rejection. Y
6. Go somewhere.
7. Minister to her by asking her questions about herself.
8. Thank her for her time.
9. Keep your mouth shut around others.
10. If you want to pursue things further, then repeat 3-9.
11. Repeat 3-9, until she tells you to call her father.

My last line:
Men, you can do this! You can show manful care. Bring glory to Christ by being countercultural in your dateless, sex-saturated generation where men have the backbone of a jellyfish.

Read the whole thing.

Homeschool Mistakes

This article by Reb Bradley was quite a help several years ago. It is worth rereading if you homeschool.

 Homeschool Blindspots

  1. Having Self-Centered Dreams
  2. Raising Family as an Idol
  3. Emphasizing Outward Form
  4. Tending to Judge
  5. Depending on Formulas
  6. Over-Dependence on Authority and Control
  7. Over-Reliance Upon Sheltering
  8. Not Passing On a Pure Faith
  9. Not Cultivating a Loving Relationship With Our Children
The Family Shepherd|

Reading and Discussing the Bible – Help from Henry Halley – Repost

Reading And Discussing the Bible Together 

Our church family has had the tradition of using a church-wide reading schedule. Up to the present day, our family of church has given a handout to aid in personal and family devotions. And they have used that topic for Sunday School.

The goal of this activity is to provide structure for our daily reading and connect the reading of the family members and the church. It provides the basis for our biblical fellowship.Bible

I remember when I first saw the idea in practice how helpful I thought it was. But this idea was not original with our family of churches. In the Halley’s Bible Handbook, which sold over 5 million copies, Henry Halley states,

“The most important things in this book is this simple suggestion: that each church have a congregational plan of Bible reading and that the pastor’s sermon be from the part of the Bible read the past week thus connecting the pastor’s preaching with the people’s Bible reading….

Unquestionably, the most fatal weakness of the present day church is the lack of leadership in the pulpit on this one point of guiding and leading its people into the one habit that is the source and basis of everything that the church exists to accomplish in its people…

Preaching, even in its truest sense, and at its best, was never designed of God to be a complete and sufficient substitute for the people themselves reading for themselves the word of God itself….

Bible reading is the one habit, which, if done in the right spirit, more than any other one habit, will make a Christian what he ought to be in every way.”

Although connecting the reading to the preaching has proved difficult over the years, we have had great success tying it to Sunday School.

If you are a church leader or a family leader, consider having everyone read the same thing in devotions.

“Nobody every outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” – Charles Spurgeon