Weekend Reading: June 13, 2014

Lot’s of variety out there in terms of interesting stories and news articles this week.  Lot’s going on in the political and religious world, and in foreign affairs as well.  It was a busy week!  So here are the articles I found interesting that you might want to check out as you sip coffee or hangout between US Open or World Cup matches:

Requiring Obedience of Your Kids – John Piper addresses the need to require obedience.  Sounds basic, right? Well, maybe another perspective here helps drive home the importance of this “basic” need.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor gets trounced by unknown Tea Party candidate – there are probably a gazillion stories out there on this, and the political aftershock, blame game, power shift, and other repercussions.  Needless to say, its a big deal.

How should we pronounce Augustine’s name?  A short little article to check out if you’ve ever wondered about this.

Where does your food come from??? – I found this series of maps absolutely fascinating (even though I couldn’t make it to the end of the article!).

What Russell Moore learned – Great (short) blog on what Moore has learned from 20 years of marriage.

Beowulf for a new generation – In case you didn’t hear this, JRR Tolkein’s translation of Beowulf has been released….my copy arrived this week!

The War on Boys – I posted this on Facebook a while back, but its worth a look. Good perspective on why boys are being punished in schools for…well…being boys.

What every dude needs to know about buying suits – This is a follow up to a conversation we had casually last Sunday!  Enjoy!

How memorizing Scripture helps in a Chinese prison…and elsewhere – my good friend Matt Parker sent me this one, and its short but sweet.

The Southern Baptist Convention – the SBC met this week for their annual meeting.  Here’s 9 things to know about the SBC.

It wasn’t but a few days ago (so it seems) that the Memorial Tournament was in Columbus.  If you enjoyed the tournament, check this article out to learn how Jack built Muirfield and started the whole thing (begins on page 28).

The Clinton’s were broke? – Hillary Clinton is out with a new book and as part of the media circus she’s mentioned that she and former President William J., were both broke after leaving the White House.  It take a lot of dough to maintain all those multi-million dollar homes and expensive cars…

4 Goals to Pursue in Parenting

Last week I reposted ‘s article on 5 Dangers to Avoid in Parenting, which was linked from the Ligonier Blog.  Tonight, I wanted to repost the continuation of that series.  Boekestein now gives a few ideas about the “positive” side of the equation.  I hope you find this encouraging as you start your week!

PJW

4 Goals to Pursue in Parenting

Posted: 15 Jul 2013 03:00 AM PDT

 

Near the end of Colossians 3 God speaks his will to people who play a role in six different relationships; Wives, husbands, children, fathers, bondservants, and masters. Only to fathers does God NOT speak a positive command. He simply says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Perhaps by doing so, God is accentuating the uniquely devastating problem of parental provocation. Still, Ephesians 6:4 teaches us that there is a clear alternative to provocative parenting.

So, instead of provoking our children to wrath and discouragement how do we bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord?”

1. Make Jesus Central to Your Family Life

In some “Christian” families Christ is simply not central. Too often we emphasize our own righteousness or the righteousness we expect from our children. How is this ethic different from that in a non-Christian home? We sing, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Do we apply those words in our homes?

Christ-centered parenting also means explaining to our children how they can come to Christ. Too often we tell our children to respect us, to obey us, and to grow up. But we don’t help them bring their troubles to, and find healing in, Jesus. Christ said that his yoke is easy; his burden light. He will give rest for our weary souls (Matt. 11:29-30). We need to lead our children to rest in Christ. God forbid that we would make things more difficult for our children than Jesus would.

2. Make Grace Shine in Your Family

Is the most powerful principle in your home grace or law? The law merely tells us what God’s will is and that we must obey it. It is grace alone that teaches us how to please God.

William Hendriksen explains that “Fathers should create an atmosphere which will make obedience an easy and natural matter, namely, the atmosphere of love and confidence.” Our emphasis should be on the positive.

Imagine that on the first day of a new job your trainer gave you only negative instructions. “Don’t ever be late to work, interrupt the boss during his meetings, use the phone for personal calls…” You would eventually wonder, “What AM I supposed to be doing? How do I do my job?” We often lead children to the same exasperation.

Gracious parenting especially applies to correction. Be sure that your children know that you love them as they are, not as you would like them to be. As a good rule of thumb, ask yourself, “What kind of correction is most helpful for me?”

3. Model Repentance before Your Kids

Many children are rarely shown what it looks like to seek forgiveness from others for their sins. We tell them to do it but we don’t show them how. We tell them to “apologize like you mean it.” But we don’t demonstrate what heart-felt sorrow for sin looks like. One way to model repentance is to seek our children’s forgiveness, especially if our provocation has driven them away.

4. Listen to the Advice of Others

Effective parents seek counsel from their pastors and elders, their own parents, and even their own kids. They also take advantage of good books on parenting. Two great helps on spiritual parenting are Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp and Parenting by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke.

Our children are a sacred trust. Our task is not so much to rule over them, as to lovingly, graciously, train them to fear God. If you have ever worked with concrete you know that you only have a few hours to work it into the proper shape before it becomes immovable. So it is with children. We have just a few years to help shape the spiritual impulses that will guide them through the rest of their lives. We must do all we can to avoid misshaping our children by provoking them to discouragement.

5 Dangers to Avoid in Parenting

This past Monday the folks at Ligonier had a post from Robert Boekestein on 5 traps that parents can fall into while parenting. I thought a few of these were particularly helpful so I wanted to repost the blog below.  You can find the original here.  I hope this is an encouragement to you all!

5 Dangers to Avoid in Parenting

Posted: 08 Jul 2013 03:00 AM PDT

 

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” (Colossians 3:21)

It is tempting to blame children for our family problems. But Scripture does not allow us to do this. Children bear the responsibility to obey their parents. But God commands parents to raise their children with godly nurture, being careful not to frustrate them. Inestimable damage is done by parents who provoke their children, and cause them to become discouraged.

While specifically addressing fathers in Colossians 3:21, God is speaking to both parents. The word translated, “fathers” is elsewhere used to mean “parents” (Heb. 11:23). Additionally, fathers are spoken to as covenant heads of the families. Fathers are to see that neither parent provokes the children. Fathers cannot stand idly by if their children are being provoked by their mothers.

What Does it Mean to Provoke?

The word used in Colossians 3:21 means to agitate, often to anger. Matthew Henry explains that parents provoke their children by treating them with rigor and severity, by holding the reigns too tightly and thereby raising their passions, discouraging them in their duty.

Years ago I was invited to participate in a long and strenuous horse ride. Due to fear and inexperience I held the reigns so tightly that the bit began to agitate the horse’s mouth. Before long the horse grew restless and threatened to throw me. I was provoking him to anger by holding the reigns too tightly. He was willing to be directed. But I was undermining his willingness by my heavy hand.

In Ephesians 6:4 Paul contrasts two approaches to parenting. On the one hand parents can provoke their children to wrath. On the other, parents can bring up the children in the training and admonition of the Lord. Failing to patiently, and constructively train our children in the things of God, we often substitute more fleshly methods of parenting which provoke our children’s anger.

What Is Discouragement?

The word literally means to lose energy or passion. Discouraged children lose hope, stop trying, and give up. When children say, “I don’t care” or “It doesn’t matter,” they are often conveying discouragement. It is tempting to dismiss a dispirited child’s behavior as being teenager-ish or childish. But parents must resist assuming that their child’s indifference is normal. In fact, there are hosts of young people who are passionate about life and enthusiastic in godliness. But sometimes this passion is squelched by parental provocation.

5 Dangers to Avoid

1. Mishandling the Rod of Discipline

Surely the Rod can be used too little. “He who spares his rod hates his child…” (Prov. 13:24). Children need to be taught that sin hurts. If they don’t, they may lose interest in pursuing godliness because they don’t see the danger of sin.

But the rod can also be used too much. The Apocrypha says: “He who loves his son will whip him often… bow down his neck in his youth, and beat his sides while he is young” (Ecclus. 30:1,12). This is not Christian discipline. Sometimes a wise rebuke is better than the rod (Prov. 17:10). This is particularly so as a child moves past the early years of childhood. Matthew Henry urges parents to exercise authority not “with rigor and severity, but with kindness and gentleness.” If your children can forget that you love them, either during or immediately following discipline, you might be doing it wrong.

2. Maintaining a Disorderly Home

God is a God of order (1 Cor. 14:33). He has created us in his image to promote order and thrive in the context of order. A disorderly home can discourage children. A perpetually messy, or especially an unsanitary home can help produce poorly adjusted children. A lack of regularly scheduled meal times and bed times can frustrate children’s God-given desire for order.

3. Holding Inappropriate Expectations

Some parents expect almost nothing from their kids. In such settings, children can lose energy or passion because they are never helped to “reach forward to those things which are ahead” (Phil 3:13). In other homes too much is expected. Experience teaches that unreasonable expectations are the ideal breeding ground for discouragement. If your children regularly fail to measure up to your standards, you might be expecting too much.

4. Building a Joyless Home

In some homes children are not treated with the dignity that God requires. Some parents rarely congratulate or encourage their children, focusing instead, on their faults. Parents must never forget that their children are people created in God’s image. Children of believers are even included in God’s covenant (1 Cor. 7:14).

5. Failing to Speak as “One Flesh”

Too often, dad and mom are not operating by the same rules when it comes to interacting with their kids. One parent might be more lenient. The other might be more demanding. But such “accidental doublespeak” is dangerously confusing to our children. In irreconcilable disagreements the wife must graciously acquiesce to her husband’s leadership (Col. 3:18).

There are many more potential causes for childhood discouragement. Like good physicians, parents should evaluate the spiritual health of their children and, where applicable, diagnose the source of their children’s discouragement. Sometimes the answer will be found by looking in the mirror.

Grace/Gospel-Based Parenting

One thing that we’ve touched on in class and in other activities, is how the gospel changes the way we interact with our spouses and our children.  Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick are two rock stars of helping explain this perspective, and below is an interview they’ve done where they talk a little about what it means to interact with our children in this way.  I HIGHLY recommend you watch this video, discuss with your spouse, and pray that God gives you the clarity and patience to implement the principles here.

Getting to the Heart of Parenting: Ted Tripp

This weekend Kate and I went to a homeschool convention in Cincinnati, Ohio and heard from many good speakers.  The topics ranged from teaching creation to logic, to teaching latin, but probably my favorite lecture was from Ted Tripp on addressing obedience issues from a heart perspective.

In case you don’t know who Ted Tripp is, you can find his seminal book on child rearing here, and learn more about him and his ministry here.

A short outline from my notes of what he said, this isn’t the thing in its entirety, but sums up some of the key points he was making:

The heart sets the course of life – Prov. 4:23

“All hopes and desires are all coming out of the heart.  It is the seat of emotions and desires.  Many things we think of as cognitive activities are activities the bible says are from the ‘heart’. It’s possible to setup idols in our hearts and still inquire of God.  So even though people participate in the outward structure of religion they are still idol worshiping in their hearts.  God will not disclose himself to those who are idolatrous.  Ezekiel 14:3-4”

1 John 5:21 says ‘dear children keep yourself from idols’ and John is addressing the most important question for parents. Does something or someone else have control of my child’s heart other than Jesus Christ?   Anything that rules the heart is an idol.  What is driving them?  What is capturing their attention?”

Much time in parenting is wasted in trying to remove bad from and replace it with good fruit that is completely alien to the root system of the tree instead of dealing with the root system of the tree: Idolatry.”

(Therefore, we) should look at our lives and see if there are functional idols (Fear of man, pride, image, others approval).”

Look at what our heart desires.  Where is our treasure?  Matthew 6:19 says everyone has a treasure.  Every child has a treasure.  Whatever that treasurer is will own them. It will own their hearts.  Whatever they treasurer will shape their choices and control their behavior.

There are three kinds of desires.  The desires of the flesh.  (This is from Romans 13)

1. Pleasure seeking (seeks a rush etc)
2. Sensual passions
3. Relationship cravings

“So what rules me? What rules my child?  This is the Lordship question. The world Is always inviting us to desire what it has to offer and put ourselves under its lordship.”

Behavioral sins are always motivated by these internal things (the sin from within).  Jesus focuses on the heart and not the outward behavior (murder in our hearts, adultery in our hearts).  Mark 7:20-23 This is true when he talks about what comes out of a man is what defiles him. Translation: what comes out of a child is what defiles them.  This is a heart issue.  We see this in the greediness, envy, slander, malice, deceit, etc.  ‘From the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks'”

We hang fruit on the tree instead of concerning ourselves with the root system.  We do this by shaming them, heaping guilt on them, threatening them etc.  All of these ways are just ways of manipulating their behavior.  But once you remove those external motivations the fruit rots because it’s not motivated by the life giving roots of the tree.  We are offering our children a false basis of ethics.  We are training the heart in a wrong way.  The real problem isn’t being addressed.  We are manipulating them with the fear or man, pride of life etc. and this doesn’t incorporate he gospel or make it central.  Lastly, it shows the idols of our own hearts: control, pride, etc.

So what are our motivations as parents?  Is it idolatry or a God-centered desire to please and glorify Him?

We need to make the gospel the center in all of our teaching and parenting.  If we don’t then we make hypocrisy the center of our lives because we are sinners as well.
Identify them in their struggle (as Christ identified with us) and bring them to Christ and the cross.