Musings on Raising My Children

Many things concerning the raising of my children (in the fear and admonition of the Lord) have come to mind of late, but especially:

1) their need to know that I am a sinner that most desperately needed the salvation of God offered in none but Christ;

2) the importance of my approach to them for the purpose of discipline.  Discipline over a fit of rage is carried out in vain if I approach the discipline in a fit of rage;

3) the necessity of actually taking out the Bible so that they might see it, and reading God’s words to them;

4) of morning prayers for both of them, both privately and, humbly, in their presence;

5) of speaking frequently to them of what they already know (or have learned from us) and how it is a dangerous thing to go against what they already know, if what they know comes from good authority and a godly source.  Acting in accord with what we know, keeping with what we have already attained in the way of righteousness is essential in making progress in sanctification;

6) speaking to them of true love and true joy, which is a love and a joy not confined to self and not sought in self, but is found most highly in God and exercised most properly upon others, in order that they too might join in the love of and joy in God;

7) of Scripture memory;

8) and the use of the memorized passages in the prayers that I make for them, so that what they hear me praying, that they are most familiar with, knowing it to be a most blessed and happy and essential thing that I am praying on their account;

9) the necessity of confronting the temptation to set aside our word, occurring when they are playing with others.  The temptation is to do what the other child is doing.  Wrong or right, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is joining the parade.  But this is what the world does.  And even though they are of the world at this point, yet I find it a good thing to stress with them the importance of weighing anything contrary to our word and wisdom as something they ought not to do without first conferring with us.  They are to learn that our word is more valuable than their friends ways, and that their friends ways do not set aside our word and wisdom.  They must be taught to hold fast to our word when the temptation tempts them to do otherwise.  This is preparation for Christian discipleship and holiness;

10) that if there is a disagreement between Jenny and me, it is to be had in private, in peace, in pursuit of what is right and best in the way of advancing the gospel in our home;

11) that discipline is not mutually exclusive with mercy.  In fact, discipline carried out in love and for the sake of righteousness is a subset of mercy.

I’m positive there are more, but these are my most recent musings on the raising of the children that God has so graciously lent us for this season.

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Fighting Sin With Worship, by Tim Keller

Originally part of a sermon, and recently posted at the Desiring God blog.

If you are a Christian and you are dealing with enslaving habits, it’s not enough to say, “Bad Christian, stop it.” And it is not enough to beat yourself up or merely try harder and harder and harder.

The real reason that you’re having a problem with an enslaving habit is because you are nottasting God. I’m not talking about believing God or even obeying God, I’m saying tasting —tasting God.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved it — moved to tears and moved to laughter — moved by who God is and what he has done for you. And this needs to be happening all the time.

Go here for the whole, really, really, really good excerpt on the enslaving nature of sin and the power of worship to set us free.

11 Reasons Why Working With Kids Is Not Second Rate Ministry, by Brent Osterberg

Sadly, children’s ministry in the local church can often be seen as second rate ministry, not much more than crowd control and waiting out the clock. This can be seen on the occasions when members looking to move on to bigger and better things will see children’s church or AWANA as merely something to cut their teeth on. Or when the church leadership, in a desperate attempt just to fill the volunteer gaps, will try and make children’s ministry as burden-less and non-committal as possible. Then, of course, there are those who take a shift with the kiddos just because they feel like they have to do something to serve.

Truth be told, I’ve thought all these things at one time or another over the years. Only now that my wife and I have kids of our own have I realized the crucial role that children’s ministry plays in the lives of the kids it serves, their families, and the church.

So then, in the hopes that more Christians and churches will begin cherishing this ministry and investing in it more copiously, here are 11 reasons why children’s ministry is not second rate ministry:

Go here for his 11 insightful reasons.

Addressing Theology With Children

The following idea has been adapted and adopted from the article at WORLD by Russ Pulliam.  The idea is simply to give you a list of fictional writings designed to engage children and their imaginations with theological and ecclesial-historical truths.  Here are some (and if you want to add some others, feel free):

1. Irenaeus of Lyons, by Sinclair Ferguson
2. Polycarp of Smyrna, by Sinclair Ferguson
3. Ignatius of Antioch, by Sinclair Ferguson
4. Big Book of Bible Truths 1, by Sinclair Ferguson
5. Big Book of Questions and Answers About Jesus, by Sinclair Ferguson

6. The Lightlings, by R. C. Sproul
7. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, by R. C. Sproul (teaching on Martin Luther)
8. The Donkey Who Carried a King, by R. C. Sproul (gives the gospel through the donkey’s perspective, teaching humility from carrying Christ into Jerusalem)
9. The Priest With Dirty Clothes, by R. C. Sproul (illustrates the imputation of Christ’s righteousness)
10. The Prince’s Poison Cup, by R. C. Sproul (explaining Christ’s suffering for us)
11. The King Without a Shadow, by R. C. Sproul (explaining holiness)

12. Children’s Stories, by J. C. Ryle
13. Thoughts for Young Men, by J. C. Ryle
14. Boys and Girls Playing and Other Addresses to Young Children, by J. C. Ryle
15. The Duties of Parents, by J. C. Ryle (ok, this is for parents, but undoubtedly involves children!)

Psalm 127.3-5: Why We Aren’t Done Seeking To Have Children After One Boy and One Girl

May 6, 2010 Jenny and I had our first child, a boy whom we named Luke.  March 28, 2012 we had our second child, a girl whom we named Kate.  And believe it or not, we aren’t done seeking to have children, although the comments from many seem to suggest a wisdom to the contrary.  This is a wisdom from the world.  Two children is to some two too many.  Two children too many is time to stop.  And apparently, when the two you have been given by God are a boy and a girl, you’re all done.  Well, we aren’t done seeking to have children.  We aren’t done seeking the Lord for this mercy.  This is one purpose for our marriage (Malachi 2.15).  Along with this, it just makes sense when our worldview is shaped by Scripture, and particularly the overarching truth that we are at war.

I do not mean war in the political sense.  I do not mean war in the present national sense.  I mean war between God and every being at enmity with God, and therefore every being at enmity with us (Psa 120.7) because we preach the gospel of God’s reign in Christ (Isa 52.7; Mk 1.15; Acts 2.30-35).

As bullets fly by, the soldier at war desires as much weaponry and armory as possible.  It is simply reckless to go into battle underprepared.  Legalos is a fool if he only carries one or two arrows into the battle at Helm’s Deep.  And I am a foolish warrior if I only carry two children with me into the fray of spreading Christ’s victory and battle cry.  Now, I have many, many friends, dear brothers and sisters whom the Lord has not granted children.  These are not fools because they cannot carry what has not been granted.  But a fool I am if I carry not what God has granted for that purpose.

So we aren’t done seeking to have children after one boy and one girl.  Why?

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate” (Psa 127.3-5).

Why?  Because the Bible tells me so.  Because in the truest sense, we are at war, not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers of the air, and God gives children, biologically (Psa 127.3), by adoption (rooted in Eph 1.5), by conversion (1 Thes 2.7) or discipleship (1 Tim 1.2), in order that we might be well-equipped for the fight — a fight fought because Christ has already won.

Honoring God in an Unequally Yoked Marriage, by Sarah Flashing

There is an important question that needs our attention: How does a wife honor God’s intended plan for marriage in a circumstance that doesn’t comport with God’s plan to begin with?

Go here as Flashing unfolds her answer while dealing with the ministry of wives to husbands, the issue of functional egalitarianism in such marriages, and the necessity of the wives own personal spiritual health and its impact upon the health of unequally yoked marriages.

Pointing Preschoolers to Jesus, by Gloria Furman

I also have young kids (5 yrs, 3 yrs, & 18 mos). Honestly, most days I just try to convince them to not kill each other because Jesus came to give us life (John 10:10). That counts for pointing my preschoolers to Christ, right? ☺

You can read about one occasion where a conversation I started was punctuated with one child climbing into the refrigerator and the other child dissolving into a sulking, hot mess. Sometimes I have great conversations with my kids about Jesus and they’re receptive and engaged; other times they’re more interested in My Little Pony. I can relate.

I think the simplest thing you can do to point your children to Christ during the day is to make them aware of the times when you have been reminded of Christ.

Go here for the rest of this article.