christian parenting Posts

Biblical Families: Spiritual Growth

Rick and Judy discuss what it looks like to grow spiritually as individuals and as a couple, seeking Him first in all things (Matthew 6:33). They provide some ideas about how you can find your personal rhythms and how a husband and wife can grow spiritually together.

Biblical Families: Discipline

Discipline is not about controlling children. Rick and Judy explain the point ofdiscipline is teaching children the purpose, value and habit of self-discipline. It’s about helping them explore life while allowing appropriate freedoms so they learn to make their own decisions and become responsible adults.

Biblical Families: Parenting

There are a lot of misconceptions about parenting. Rick and Judy discuss what the Bible says about helping children learn how God designed life to be lived, and how they should respond appropriately to a parent’s authority, and ultimately, to the authority of God.

 

Children Come With a Job Description – Part 4

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As I said in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series, I believe all children come into this world with one primary job description: “To figure out how God designed life to work.” And He puts them into the arms of parents to help them fulfill that job description.

Consider this passage:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

There are two imperatives in this single verse. The first is “do not provoke.” The second is “bring them up.” There are three key words and phrases in this command statement. The first is the imperative, or command, to “bring them up.” The second is “the discipline…of the Lord.” The third is the “instruction of the Lord.”

The Greek words used here for discipline and instruction both speak of education and teaching, but by different means.

The Instruction of the Lord

The Greek word used here for instruction is the idea of educating, teaching or instructing – with information. This is the idea of giving children the information, truth and verbal guidelines they need to live life by God’s design.

Going all the way back, deep into the Old Testament, we see this emphasized as well. Moses told the nation of Israel:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart (so you can show them with your life). You shall teach them (give them information) diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”[1]

Our children need to know a lot of information, and the more from us as Christian parents, the better. Judy and I wanted our children to hear about sex from us before, and rather than, hearing it from their friends. We wanted our children to hear about a philosophy of life from us rather from the world around them. We wanted them to hear about God and His design for life from us rather than from others.

When Bryan and Eric were seven and eight. I told them I would be in a certain small room in our house at 6:30 in the morning for a half hour. If they wanted to be part of the boys’ club, there was a special knock on the door, a special handshake and special rules. The rules were that they had to bring their Bible, read their Bible for the first 15 minutes of our time, and then we would talk about anything they wanted during the last 15 minutes.

Sometime we talked about what they read in their Bibles as they came across questions. Sometimes we discussed what I read from the Bible during that time. And sometimes the conversation was about very different things. It was during this time that the boys asked about the birds and bees for the first time. “Where do babies come from? How does that happen?” Fun morning!

We as parents can’t and won’t give children all the information they will get to live life by God’s design. There is just too much information and too many sources providing it. But as parents, we are the ones God is holding accountable to make sure they get what they need and to help them process that.

During high school our children were in a very intense educational situation, but some of what they were learning was being taught by people with very different values and beliefs than ours. They were all in different classes with different teachers, and there was a lot of debriefing that needed to take place, mainly around the dinner table.

We would ask them what they were learning at school, and when we heard something a little off from what we believed to be God’s design, we would ask, “What do you think about that?” They would tell us what they thought, and if we were still concerned, we would ask things like, “So if that is true, then how does that fit with…?” We asked many similar questions, trying to help them critically think through what they were hearing.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but we worked hard to bring them up in the instruction of the Lord and learn how to be adults in a world they had to maneuver through on their own.

 

[1] Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (NASB95), content in parentheses added

Children Come With a Job Description: Part 3

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As I said in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I believe all children come into this world with one primary job description: “To figure out how God designed life to work.” And He puts them into the arms of parents to help them fulfill that job description.

Consider this passage:

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

There are two imperatives in this single verse. The first is “do not provoke.” The second is “bring them up.” There are three key words and phrases in this command statement. The first is the imperative, or command, to “bring them up.” The second is “the discipline…of the Lord.”

The Greek words used here for discipline and instruction both speak of education and teaching, but by different means.

The Discipline…of the Lord

The Greek word for discipline that Paul uses is the idea of educating, teaching or instructing – with actions. We might call this modeling or training in a skill today. We are being told that one of the means of bringing up a child is to show them and get them involved in living life by God’s design.

Our actions and words need to be consistent or it will confuse children. Old joking statements by parents such as, “Do what I say and not what I do” are not part of God’s design. In Philippians 3:7-11, Paul talks about how he has given up everything to follow Christ. Then in verse 17 he says, “join in following my example….”[1] He is essentially saying, “follow me as I follow Christ.”

That is a great admonition for parents. We should desire and grow as disciples of Jesus so that we can say to our children, “Follow my example of following Christ.”

So what does the “discipline…of the Lord” look like in practical terms?

Nothing more than being a model, an example of how God intended life to be lived. That’s all.

But whoa. That’s pretty overwhelming.

And the more we understand our role as parents the more it ought to humble the knees of our heart before God until we say, “God we can’t do this on our own. We need your help!”

This whole set of instructions speaks more to parents than it ever does to our children. We so often focus on the kids and wonder how they are going to turn out, but here God is saying to us, “Look at your own life.”

Are you living and growing as a disciple of Jesus? Are you continuing to follow Jesus with the goal and desire to become like Him? God put us in our children’s lives to “show them” (the word for discipline here) who God is and what He is like, as they observe our lives.

You have to ask yourself:

  • “Is your heart increasingly Humbly Submitted to Jesus as the Lord of your life?”
  • “Is your mind being increasingly Biblically Formed by His Scriptures?”
  • “Are you becoming increasingly Sacrificially Generous in your choices?”
  • “Are you becoming increasingly Morally Discerning in your choices?”
  • “Are you becoming increasingly Relationally Healthy in your choices?”
  • “Are you increasingly being an Intentional Blessing in your compassions?”
  • “Are you increasingly being Culturally Engaged in your compassions?”
  • “Are you increasingly practicing Inclusive Community in your compassions?”

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A number of years ago a famous basketball star, Charles Barkley, made a short black and white Nike commercial. He bounces the ball a couple of times, looks into the camera and states, “I am not a role model.”

There was such an outrage by the public that Nike pulled the commercial in just a couple of weeks. The next month Sports Illustrated had an editorial response to the commercial by another famous player, Karl Malone, a friend of Barkley. In his comments to Barkley, he said, “Charles, you can deny being a role model all you want, but I don’t think it’s your decision to make. We don’t choose to be role models, we are chosen. Our only choice is whether to be a good role model or a bad one.”[2]

So it is with us. And it never stops.

When my son Eric was 28, living away from home and pursuing his new career, he called me. He kept asking a lot of questions about me, how I was feeling, how I was handling certain things. Finally, I had to ask him, “Eric, what are you doing? Why the 64 questions about me?” Eric simply said, “Dad, you’re my dad. I just want to learn how to live life when I’m your age. I’m watching you.”

Now he’s 37, and just the other day he texted me and talked about looking forward to being a granddad. Then he asked, “Got any tips?”

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

[1] Philippians 3:17

[2] http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1138690/

Children Are Like Arrows?

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Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior….[1]

This passage is simple but potent.

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord”

It is so natural in the ebb and flow and chaos of daily living to treat our children as possessions, instead as gifts from a loving and almighty heavenly Father. It is easy to start seeing our children as obstacles to keep us from doing things we want or desire, to see them as annoyances that irritate us and distract us from things we deem more important. But the biblical reminder is children are a gift.

“The fruit of the womb is a reward”

The idea David relates here is that God entrusts His children to their parents. The children belong to Him, but He has gifted them to us for a period of time to accomplish certain things He has designed. It is as if God has contracted parents to participate in the raising of His children. This is a good thing that can get lost as our patience is tested, as our busy lives keep getting interrupted by a cry, a complaint, or another mess that needs to be cleaned up.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior”

Arrows were the long-range artillery of the ancient world of war. Sling stones were the intermediate range, and the sword was hand-to-hand combat. But the archers would send arrows deep behind enemy lines where the soldiers could not go. So it is with God’s children that He has entrusted to us for a time. He sees us as warriors in the midst of battle and He wants us to prepare and then send our children far into a future that we will not be a part of.

I read books and hear teachers talking about the world our children live in, and knowing that world is important. But ultimately God has entrusted children to parents so that parents will prepare their children and then send them to a far away, future world to which the parents cannot go. I get concerned that we as parents focus so much on the world of the here and now that we lose sight of the fact that God entrusted us to prepare children for the world of the future, not just the world of the present.

Could I encourage us as parents to stop from time to time, and get away and think about how our children are doing, where they have grown and where each one needs to grow if they are going to be prepared for that future world where we cannot go with them?

How is your son or daughter’s heart? Is it growing more Humbly Submitted to God?

Is their mind being Biblically Formed?

Is the growth in their heart and mind showing up in their choices and compassions?

In the midst of our busy routines, let’s remember: “Behold, children are a gift” – on consignment – arrows to be prepared and sent out with a message and life for a future world.

[1] Psalm 127:3-4 (NASB95)