Our Kids Are Not Good Kids

February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As Christian parents we must talk to our children about some hard truths and difficult subjects that are page one headline material in the Bible, even though it might be tempting to shield our children from these truths when they are very young. The temptation is there because, in our sentimentalism and worldly conception of “love,” we do not relish the idea of giving them information that might make them uncomfortable. However, they need to know, understand, and believe that:

1. You are not a good kid.

According to the Bible, children come into the world as simple, but not virtuous. They are ignorant, but not innocent. As parents we don’t want them to be “wise” ABOUT sin, but we do want them to be humbled by the truth that they ARE sinners.

Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:2-3

We think of using these verses about wickedness when witnessing to strangers (and we should), but look at Psalm 58:1 and see to whom they are addressed: “the congregation” (which would include the children of God’s covenant people).

The Bible makes it clear that children are not exempt from the classification of “wicked sinners.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Why is it so important for our children to understand that they are not inherently “good?” Because we want them to be looking for a Savior, not a participation trophy. We want them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, not to hear that they have something about which to be proud. We, as their parents, are charged with the task of utterly convincing them of the absolutely supremacy of God.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

As a Christian father, I do not want the children that God has entrusted to my care to have self-esteem; I want them to have “God esteem.” I do not want them to have self-worth; I want them to recognize God’s worth. Children will not naturally want to admit they are evil, but it’s true. They are not basically good – they are basically evil – just like Dad and Mom. They will love God more truly and deeply when they understand that they themselves are not the initiators, nor the instigators, of God’s love for them. We ONLY love God because He first loved us. And He ONLY loves us because He is love.

Next time we will face another difficult truth for children.

Kingdom Teaching for Children

February 14, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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God’s kingdom will never merge with this world’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is already far greater than any kingdom of this world, and God’s kingdom will one day overcome this world in a very visible way. As Christian parents we want our children to start, from as young an age as possible, thinking more about God’s kingdom than this world’s kingdom.

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:7

“In thine house” means during casual times of conversation, including play and relaxation, but also during formal times of family worship. “By the way” means outdoors, but also in social settings and commercial transactions. “When thou liest down” means a review of the day’s activities, events, and lessons, including the expressing of gratitude and confession of sins. “When thou risest up” means prioritizing God (demonstrating our conviction of His supremacy), in addition to consciously consecrating our bodies and that day’s planned activities to Him.

Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.

Psalm 78:1-4 (emphasis on Verse 4)

We should glean spiritual truths from redemptive history and use them as teaching tools for our children.

Furthermore, we need to be training our children to grow mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52

Notice the order: God and then man. Here are some areas and activities where we can talk to our chldren, and teach them about the importance of that order:

I. Look for examples in nature and daily life

II. Talk about what happened in church
A. Preaching
B. Baptisms
C. Lord’s Supper
D. Singing
E. Offering
F. Prayers
G. Fellowship

III. Rehearse history lessons with them
A. The history recorded in the Bible (redemptive history)
B. Church history
C. Personal history
1. Your ancestors’ personal histories
2. Your own personal history
3. Their personal history

A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy

December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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As Christian parents we should want the children that God has entrusted into our care to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God. And, although it may be hard for us to accept, the lesson that God is absolutely supreme may have to be learned in times of trial, struggle, darkness, and even affliction. Remember, we are raising these kids for Him, and, having entrusted them to us, He wants US to trust Him with them.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71

We must bring the Scriptures to bear in our parenting, and we must confront our children with the Scriptures in times of suffering and despair. Learning God’s “statutes” (principles and precepts) will assist us in teaching them to find comfort in Him. They are just as important as a rod of correction in discipline, and more so in times of affliction that already involve pain, because we do not wish to inflict additional pain where pain has already been inflicted from above or allowed by God through circumstances.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10

Let us not, as parents, exhaust all our prayers on deliverance. Let us reserve some for the recognition – and acceptance – of humbling thorns in the flesh. And let us teach our children to pray through them, and recognize God’s strength supplanting their own perceived strength.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

We should think of this well-known verse as a reminder to try to utterly convince our children of the absolute supremacy of God, but, in its context, it is not so much a verse of victory as it is a statement of defiance by the Apostle in the midst of persecution. People were speaking evil of him and his teaching, and, rather than worrying about safeguarding or defending his reputation, he was concerned with God’s glory. For our children, the “whatsoever ye do” would include getting picked on and made fun of, as much as it would include a scraped knee, a lost purse, or the disappointment of not being invited to a best friend’s birthday party. There is no conviction of God’s absolute supremacy when we see Him only as supremely in charge of granting our favorite blessings.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25

This is a general and true statement. No created being will make a good “God.” But it is also a desperate realization. Our children must learn to think Biblically. They must not see God as all they need (although He is), or even as all they want (although that would be great). They must see Him as all that they have. In a world of vanity, deceit, hypocrisy, anarchy, uncertainty, and unpredictability, God is the God of Heaven (eternity, the sweet by and by), but He is also of God of all the Earth (the nasty now and now). He’s the God of our church, our home, our car, our refrigerator, our little league team, our vacation, and our toy box. I’m no longer talking about just looking for illustrations or spiritual lessons; I’m talking about seeing God as supreme – both better than anything AND above anything AND truly our All-in-All.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

God is so holy that no man can see Him and live. However, if we are doing our job as parents, our children should have a burning desire to see God – to “behold His beauty” – to “enquire” of Him and ask Him otherwise unanswerable questions. In teaching and preaching the Gospel to your children, tell them that God DOES want them to see Him – and look what great lengths He has gone to, to make it happen!

The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting

November 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Previously we have seen some of the problems with popular, pecuniary, and petulant parenting. The most Biblical, and therefore best, model for parenting is to parent in such a way that we are, as parents, showing our children a good example of the love of God and the fear of God. We do this by emulating our perfect paragon, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of His attributes are strictly divine and are incommunicable to us. However, as to His communicable attributes, parents, as authority figures over the children He has entrusted to our care, have a serious responsibility to portray them accurately and faithfully in our parenting. We are, in a sense, God’s ambassadors to our children.

Christ has a three-fold mediatorial office: Prophet, Priest, and King. As parental “prophets,” we must teach our children this truth:

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 11:27

Christ revealed God to men. Parents are to reveal Christ, and God in Christ, to their children.

As parental “priests,” parents must intercede for their children.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Ephesians 5:1

We can not atone for the sins of our children, and we are certainly not their eternal saviors! However, just as Christ interceded before God the Father for us, we should intercede before our Heavenly Father on behalf of our children, seeking to bring them into a right relationship with Him in Christ, and praying for them diligently.

As parental “kings,” parents must rule their children.

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:33-37 (emphasis added)

Jesus did not deny being a king. He was the King of the True Kingdom. As Christian parents, we are united to Christ, the greatest King. Good kings do not only rule by force. They rule by love. They protect their subjects. They even serve their own subjects. We must exercise our God-given authority over our children toward the end that they will be united to Christ through our ministry and united to God through His.

The Problem with Petulant Parenting

October 24, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Previously we looked at some of the problems with parents who surrender their God-given authority in order to try to be more popular with their kids. Then we looked at the danger of bribery as a parenting strategy. Now we see that petulant parents make parenting decisions based their feelings, emotions, or moods.

One of the biggest problems with this type of parenting strategy is that it teaches kids that there are good times and bad times to ask for attention from parents. In other words, it teaches the art of manipulation and the sin of scheming.

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

Titus 1:15

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

Proverbs 6:16-18

Our children come into this world as fallen sinners, so, while their “purity” is a relative purity, we still, as Christian parents, need to do our best to protect it. The last thing we want to do is coach them in the ways of wicked imagination and mischief.

It can be a daunting and even exhausting task to bring our emotions into check when dealing with our children, and to refrain from responding to their (somewhat excusable) petulance with our own moodiness, but we must spend the time and the effort to do it.

For good or ill, our children, especially when they are very young, will form some of their ideas about God’s character from the way we exercise His ordained authority over them ourselves. When we are cruel or impatient or short with them because we are angry or preoccupied – or when we are too lenient or flattering when we happen to be in a cheery mood – we are accidentally forming in our children’s minds an inaccurate and dangerous picture of God. God is certainly not moody when dealing with us.

Furthermore, allowing our parenting interactions with our kids to be governed by petulance ingrains a defeatist attitude in them concerning prayer. They will be apt to think, “Why should I pray when God might not want to hear me?” Or, “I’ll wait to pray until my obedience makes Him favorably disposed towards me,” as though God could be bribed.

The bottom line is that petulant parents are idolatrous. They are ruled by feelings rather than by Scripture and its Author.

The Problem with Pecuniary Parenting

September 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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In a previous lesson I critiqued the style of parenting in which parents make decisions concerning their children based on the popularity of the decisions. Getting input from our children, and listening closely to what they have to say, is certainly wise, but we recognize that our authority as parents comes from an authority higher than our children, and even higher than us.

Another parenting category may be called “monetary parents.” These parents tend to try to buy their children’s obedience, respect, or even love. The common parlance for this method is called “spoiling” your children. This is sometimes triggered by feelings left over from our own childhood that perhaps our parents were not as generous with us as we would have liked them to be. It helps to remember, as a counter to this temptation, that materialism breeds its own set of problems. Remember, your children are not an outlet for any lingering childhood resentments of your own, and you are not commanded in the Word of God (although you might be by society or pop culture) to give your children “all the things you never had.” Using bribery as a replacement for training, nurture, discipleship, and discipline is a recipe for rearing greedy, covetous kids.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:25-33

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I Timothy 6:10

It is not wrong to give treats to our kids, and special presents from time to time, but it is wrong to rob them of the spiritual and practical disciplines of self-control and wise stewardship. Some of the poorest families I know are really the richest.

Next time, we will take a look at a third parenting category.

The Problem with Popular Parenting

September 26, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

Genesis 21:1-11

The birth of a child is normally an occasion of joy and celebration for married couples – young or otherwise! However, that initial celebratory period can be quickly dampened as a more comprehensive view of reality starts to take hold. The time to prepare for this, and to begin to formulate a parenting strategy, really should begin before children are born – perhaps even before they are conceived. However, for parents who did not have this foresight, it is certainly not too late, and, practically speaking, most couples who have children together end up forming their parenting style without even realizing they are doing it. In these cases, the first step is to analyze which category you have slipped or stumbled into, evaluate it based on Biblical standards, and determine if a change is needed.

One common category of parenting is what Dr. Joel R. Beeke, in his book, Parenting by God’s Promises, calls “majority parents.” Majority parents make parenting decisions – especially those involving what to allow and not allow their children to do – based on majority vote. This method seems somewhat reasonable until child number three comes along, at which point the parents are outnumbered by the kids! The bigger problem with this approach, though, is that it fails to recognize the truth of appointed authority.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Ephesians 6:1 (emphasis added)

A recognition that God has ordained parents to make parenting decisions that are unpopular with their children does not mean that children may never be allowed to participate in preferential choices. Letting the kids vote to determine whether the family will play baseball or football in the backyard is probably harmless, but parents must not present an opportunity to vote on what is “right” and “wrong” as revealed by God’s Word, or in matters where an immature choice could prove detrimental to health or well-being. As parents we not only have a God-given right to exercise authority over our children, but we have a God-given responsibility. And, since our kids are really God’s kids entrusted to our care, we won’t be giving an account on the day of judgment to our children, to our parents, to our government, to society in general, to our Sunday School teacher, or even our pastor, for the parenting decisions we made. We will be giving an account to our Lord.

Next time, we will take a look at a second parenting category.

Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent

September 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Don’t be an abusive parent. The goal of parenting is to train up disciples of Christ by trying to utterly convince the children that God has placed into our trust of His absolute supremacy, as we nurture them and teach them His Word. This lofty goal involves corporal discipline, but discipline is not punishment, and it is certainly not abuse. A parent who sinfully – whether physically or mentally – injures a child out of spite or loss of control is attacking God Himself, and this is a dangerous prospect to say the least.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Don’t be an angry parent. As Christian parents, we ourselves are the children of our Heavenly Father. He is angry with the wicked every day, but He is not angry at His Own children.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Our job is to prevent our children from feeling and practicing the sort of sinful wrath that God hates to see in His creatures.

Don’t be an absent parent.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26

We have to be present if our children are going to observe our ways. Too many parents spend so much time working that they rarely see their children, leaving them in the care of nurseries, daycare facilities, nannies, babysitters, and school systems. This is not God’s plan for child-rearing. Dads, especially, however, are even prone to being absent-while-present. Tuning in to a ball game on television and ignoring the kids elsewhere in the house (or right there in the room!), going hunting, fishing, golfing, remodeling old cars out in the garage, are all ways in which fathers unwind from the stress of their occupations while forgetting the important principle of being actively present in their children’s lives during crucial formative years.

Don’t be an addicted parent (unless it is an addiction to ministry that includes ministering along with your children!) Addictions to sinful activities – and addictions that are sinful not because of the object of the addiction, but because of the time, energy, money, and affection given to it – are closely akin to idolatry.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Corinthians 6:12

Our children will not be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of the true God if we worship multiple gods.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

In a pagan land like America today, the failure of Christian parents to transfer a belief in the One True God will lead to the destruction of society and to the loss of God’s blessings on His people.

Arraignment and Prosecution

August 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Hosea | 1 Comment
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The first three chapters of the Book of Hosea deal with the sins of idolatry, ingratitude, and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is more than just saying one thing and doing another; it’s wrongfully applying the time and energy given to us by God to further the cause of something or someone else besides God. One example of this is parenting. The children that God has given me bear my last name, but they really belong to God. As an entrusted manager or steward over them, I have a responsibility to control they way they behave, so that they glorify their true Owner, God. Discipline is not easy, but if I don’t do it, I’m being a hypocrite. I’m focusing on my peace and my ideas instead of shaping what
God has given me for His purpose. In essence, I’m committing idolatry and I’m committing a form of spiritual “adultery” against God.

Hosea Chapters 4-8 deal with God’s response to His people as they are compared to adulterous spouses or disobedient children.

Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 4:1

The Lord’s “controversy” in this context is comparable to a legal claim – as if God is bringing charges or a lawsuit against the people.

The specific charges are listed in the next verse:

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Hosea 4:2

The Lord also presents evidence of their idolatry:

My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

Hosea 4:12-13

The people are given no opportunity to mount a “defense,” for this is pointless with an omniscient, omnipresent God. They didn’t even have enough knowledge to present a defense – they were forced to “plead the Fifth.”

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Hosea 4:6

They had no “knowledge” of God. They did not “know” Him. They had no intimate relationship with Him.

Catechism Question 2

February 26, 2014 at 11:21 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 3 Comments
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Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Prove it.

Genesis 1:27

Question 2: Who made everything else?
Answer: God made everything.
Prove it.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:11

This is a good place to teach children that the “days” are literal days, and not “eras” or “epochs” or “ages” or million-year-long periods of time. It is also a good opportunity to remind them that God “rested,” not because He was tired, but in order to demonstrate the completion of the work of ex nihilo creation, and to establish a principle of spiritual rest and a pattern of physical rest for believers.

Other verses to consider:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Psalm 33:6-9

This would answer a question a child might have: “If God made everything, how did He do it?” Answer: “He did it by His Word.”

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

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