Parenting: The Gospel Matters

As David Powlison says in his Forward to Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding Your Child’s Heart, “most books on parenting give you advice either on how to shape and constrain your children’s behavior or on how to make them feel good about themselves.” Of course, neither of those objectives is completely wrongheaded… they just shouldn’t be a parent’s primary objective. Tripp puts well what should be our primary objective with these words…

God is concerned with the heart – the well-spring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Parents tend to focus on the externals of behavior rather than the internal overflow of the heart. We tend to worry more about the “what” of behavior than the “why”. Accordingly, most of us spend an enormous amount of energy in controlling and constraining behavior.

When we miss the heart, we miss the subtle idols of the heart.

When we miss the heart, we miss the gospel. If the goal of parenting is no more profound than securing appropriate behavior, we will never help our children understand the internal things, the heart issues, that push and pull behavior. Those internal issues: self-love, rebellion, anger, bitterness, envy, and pride of the heart show our children how profoundly they need grace. If the problem with children is deeper than inappropriate behavior, if the problem is the overflow of the heart, then the need for grace is established. Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and died as an infinite sacrifice so that children (and their parents) can be forgiven, transformed, liberated and empowered to love God and love others.

from Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp

The Need to “Go Deep” in Youth Ministry

Here’s a very brief, but also very helpful, discussion on ministering to students…

Also… I am sharing a couple of things below that I’ve posted before on this same subject (about five years ago). However, the key ideas are still very much on point.

Good Doctrine Makes Better (Teenage) Saints

It’s so vital for Christian parents to work extra hard to make sure that their kids (and even the kids of the covenant in their local church family) are raised on and saturated with biblical truths.

Today was the first day of school for our kids (we educate our children at home if you’re new to the blog). Our oldest three (which even includes our four year old) each have their own Bible curriculum that I teach them and discuss with them one-on-one each day. We may not be guaranteed that our kids will turn out like Piper and Sider suggest (see below), but kids have a much better chance when their parents disciple them…whenever and wherever the opportunities present themselves.

PS – George Barna has also been reporting these same findings for several years. In fact, the quote by Sider in the article below sounds identical to an article I read by Barna a couple of years ago. That may be Sider’s source.

Here’s a snippet from Piper’s article…

Here it is again. More evidence from surveys what the Bible makes so plain: superficial, non-doctrinal, non-serious Christians sin pretty much like the world; but more serious, more doctrinally oriented Christians lead lives that are morally distinct. Two years ago Ron Sider flagged this in his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?
 
Now a new book by Mark Regnerus called Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers gives the same bleak picture of so-called “evangelical teenagers” who sleep around as much as unbelievers. But again the book points out that “the 16% of American teenagers who say that their faith is ‘extremely important to their lives’ are living chastely” (Gene Veith, “Sex and the Evangelical Teen,” World, August 11, 2007, p. 9).

Click here to read the whole article.

ALSO – From Barna.org

What is the connection between childhood faith and adult religious commitment? Parents and religious leaders are naturally interested in knowing if spiritual investment in young lives pays off in the long run. 

A recent study conducted by the Barna Group provides new insights into this age-old question. The survey asked adults to think back on their upbringing and to describe the frequency of their involvement in Sunday school or religious training. The Barna researchers then compared those reported early-life behaviors with the respondents’ current levels of faith activity and faith durability.

Click here to read the whole report.

What A Marriage! What A Gracious God!

When someone tells me that I “need” to experience something… or I “must” do such and such… or I just “have to” go somewhere… I often turn them off right away. I’m sure it’s a pride issue that I have. But my usual and immediate thought is… “I “need” Jesus… I don’t “need” this (whatever “this” is). Again, this is not something I’m proud of… it’s more of a confession than anything else.

So with that very clear caveat let me declare as best I can, you really ought to take 8 or 9 minutes to watch the following video. I received the following email this morning from DesiringGod which sets up the video…

The Story of Ian and Larissa

Dear Friends,

Desiring God exists to help people everywhere understand and embrace the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. And I would add, especially in suffering.

Being satisfied in God (or anything) always seems easier when all is going well. But when things you love are being stripped out of your hands, then the test is real. If God remains precious in those moments, then his supreme worth shines more brightly. He is most glorified.

The most meaningful testimonies I receive are when people tell me that it was a vision of the sovereignty and goodness of God that got them through the most difficult times of their life.

Here is one of those testimonies. I tremble with the glad responsibility of introducing you to Ian & Larissa Murphy in this video. Tremble, because it is their story and so personal. So delicate. So easily abused. So unfinished. Glad, because Christ is exalted over all things.

We have a big vision at Desiring God: we want to reach as many people as possible with our message of Christian Hedonism—the gladness of God in being God and in making people glad in him. We have at our disposal the amazing power of the Web. That is our main way of spreading.

But internet statistics can conceal as well as reveal. These are people. Each Website visit represents a real person with an eternal soul. What a responsibility! Pray for us that we would steward our influence well. And thank you for your partnership to make this ministry possible.

Love Ian and Larissa as you watch this amazing story. Pray for them. And us.

Your partner in the greatest cause,

John Piper
With Josh Etter

Here’s the video…

Scripture for this Lord’s Day (Mark 9:9-13)

Mark 9:9-13

 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

 11And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

 12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”

Scripture for this Lord’s Day (Mark 9:2-9)

Mark 9:2-9

 2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

 5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

 7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

 8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

A Prayer for Missions and Missionaries

O God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature: Make us faithful and obedient to do thy holy will. Give us compassion for all who are unaware of thee in all the world. Send forth, we beseech thee, laborers into thy harvest. Protect and guide them wherever they go. Give them patience, love, and a right judgment in all things, and give them fruit for their labors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

from The Book of Worship for Church and Home of The Methodist Church, 1965