parenting

LEADING OUR CHILDREN THROUGH AN OPPOSING CULTURAL

Ever parents faces the daunting challenge of how to walk our children through the influences and landmines of the surrounding culture.

In this Gospel Coalition interview, parents are given some practical thoughts on leading our children well through a culture which does not honor biblical values

STOP APOLOGIZING FOR GOD!

by Debbie Huber

Are you apologizing for God?

Do your children see and hear that you love God and there is no higher priority in your life?

I am sure that most of you hope so.  But we may not be aware that we, as parents, can come across as “apologizing for God” to our children.

Our children can perceive that God is a lesser priority in how we communicate his importance for our lives.

Are you afraid that your teenager will be bored in church so you feel guilty for bringing them?

Do you give up on family devotions before school in the mornings because you feel sorry that your children will be too tired getting up early?

Do you allow sports and sporting events, birthday parties, or sleepovers to keep your family from being in church together because you feel bad since “they will be left out”? 

 

Do not apologize for the things of God! 

Rather be excited for every opportunity to be with the family of God, to worship Him, to read His word, and to love Jesus more.

The Christian life is an adventure! 

Following Jesus will not be easy but let your family know that it is worth ALL of our life and our devotion.  We “get to” go to church!  We “get to” read the Bible so know who God is! We “get to” be around fellow believers!

We will not regret the sacrifices we made for God but we will regret the “apologies” we made for Him.

 

FAMILY DEVOTIONS, CAN WE LIVE WITHOUT THEM?

 

“Can our family live without having devotions together?”

This a prodigious question for parents with children still at home.

The short answer is, yes you can live.

But the fuller answer is, not anywhere near as well as a Christian family should!

Family devotions are not about parents being scholars, teachers, or having all the answers.

Family devotions are about inserting God and his Word into family life. It an essential process for making sure that the most important truths for life and eternity are given a prominent voice in our home.

If your answer is “My children get enough of God at church and their Christian school.”

My response is NO THEY DON”T!!

What your children don’t get – and this is enormous– is to see that the most influential people to them are committed to loving God and putting him first in their lives. They don’t see that your family is led by God’s Word – unless they experience your family reading and implementing God’s Word

In the end, God has placed the primary discipleship role on parents. God gave your children to you and God made you their parents. Your church has an essential role that supplements, not supplants the role of parents.

If your answer is “But I don’t know where to start and what to do?”

I understand. Keep it simple.

Gather the family

Open your Bible to the New Testament

Read a small portion (they key is consistency not amount)

If an application or comment comes to you, share it. If not, don’t worry about it

Close with prayer

Over time you will become more comfortable doing it. And if you sincerely pray for God to help, he will answer that prayer.

Be encouraged in knowing that God is always the main character in the process.

To help stir up some good ideas for family devotions, I urge you to read this article by Tim Challies. He gives 10 Ideas for family devotions and then adds 10 Tips to help make it work.

FAIRNESS vs GOSPEL OPPORTUNITY IN PARENTING

bigstock-fair-versus-unfair-69403969

by Debbie Huber

Have you ever had a situation where you felt your child was treated unfairly?  Has it happened in your church?  How did you, as a parent, respond?

Maybe your child was not chosen for a solo or asked to be a student leader in the youth group.  Maybe your child was not invited to a sleepover or to a birthday party.  Maybe it seemed like someone in authority was unfair to your child (a coach, a Sunday School teacher or youth group leader, etc.).  These things can hurt and cause disappointment.  As parents, it is hard to see our children sad and disappointed.

How should we, as Christian parents respond?

Unfortunately many times a response is seen in the church that mirrors how the world would react.  It is natural for feel sad for your child’s hurt feelings and to comfort them. But hurt feelings can easily turn into selfishness as children dwell on the “Why me?”. 

Frequently selfishness is validated by the parent letting the child know that their disappointment is justified because it was not fair.  Rather than focusing on the godly response, “fairness” becomes the primary focus.  And often the parent will attempt to fix things by making sure that the appropriate person in authority hears about your child’s hurt feelings and the unfairness of the situation. 

So how can we turn this situation into a gospel opportunity?  

When we deal with situations from the perspective of fairness, the gospel message is lost.  Emphasizing the fairness of the situation is really feeding into our natural tendency toward selfishness. That our child’s rights are more important than grace, mercy and love for others. 

This is the opportunity to turn the situation into helping our child see his great need for the gospel as we lovingly speak to them gospel truths in their disappointment.

God in His great mercy knows the tendencies of our hearts to seek out our rights.   

Remind them of the most unfair thing of all: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8.  The perfect, sinless Jesus became sin in our place so we can stand before God with the sinless righteousness of Christ.  This isn’t fair but it is a precious gift that God gives us through Christ. 

Help them to see that they cannot fix this disappointment and selfishness on their own and that is why Jesus had to come and why we need Him. 

Lead them to the God who calls us His children to seek forgiveness and help for our selfish hearts. 

Encourage them to love and show grace to those who have hurt them as Jesus graciously died for us when we didn’t deserve it. 

Show them that thankfulness for Christ’s forgiveness of our sins is the opposite of worrying about fairness. 

 

QUESTIONS FOR DADS (and MOMS)

Parenting is filled with a wide range of challenges and struggles.

As time goes on the complexities increase, and second guessing the job we’ve done can become a significant burden as our children are about to leave for college or other out of our reach places.

The truth is, none of us will become the first perfect parent.

But each of us can improve in our parenting. One tool to help us improve is asking the right questions. The best questions are those which open our child’s hearts to us, AND questions that reveal how we are doing as a parent.

It takes courage to ask questions that may reveal our failures, but the risk of continuing in failure is not a trait to be admired.

You love your children and they love you. Developing a relationship where these questions go back and forth will help create healthy communication that continues throughout our lifetime.

Rick Gamache is senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. Rick has cultivated this habit and shared these questions which he asks his children:

How are your devotions?

What is God teaching you?

In your own words, what is the gospel?

Is there a specific sin you’re aware of that you need my help defeating?

Are you more aware of my encouragement or my criticism?

What’s Daddy most passionate about?

Do I act the same at church as I do when I’m at home?

Are you aware of my love for you? Is there any way I’ve sinned against you that I’ve not repented of?

Do you have any observations for me?

How am I doing as a dad?

How have Sunday’s sermons impacted you?

Does my relationship with Mom make you excited to be married?

Gamache added, “On top of these things, with my older kids, I’m always inquiring about their relationships with their friends and making sure God and his gospel are the center of those relationships. And I look for every opportunity to praise their mother and increase their appreciation and love for her.”

 Taken from “Stand; A Call for the Endurance of the Saints”  Edited by Justin Taylor

MOM-TESTED TIPS FOR CHILDREN IN WORSHIP

children-in-church

by Debbie Huber

As each of our children turned six years old, Kyle and I decided that it was time for them to sit in the worship services with me.

Well, to be honest with you, the excitement for this was mostly Kyle’s. I was a little hesitant since that was back in the days when the pastors sat on the platform and he almost never sat with me. I had visions of my very distractible six year old boy causing some type of disturbance in the middle of a sermon.

Fortunately that did not happen but I have memories of spilt communion juice, choruses of “I have to go to the bathroom!…Really bad!”, and both girls’ heads on each of my shoulders while hearing “My tummy hurts!”…”Mine does too!”

But I am so thankful that we persevered. Too often parents are afraid to have their children sit with them in a worship service because they are afraid they will be bored, be distracting to others, or not understand.  It is important to see that one of our responsibilities as Christian parents is to train our children in worship.

To help our children learn to pay attention we began to ask them to write three points from the sermon as they listened.  We would then discuss these points as a family on the ride home. Since their writing skills were only emerging at six years old, this started out as drawing pictures of things they heard in the sermon (there were many interesting pictures of their father and grandfather).

As they got older we asked them to write five points or more. What a joy it was to see them progress from writing just the first five things they heard to writing good details about the whole sermon.  But this took time, patience, and consistency.

Training your children for worship does not just happen on Sunday mornings.  Here are a few other suggestions that are important as well:

1.  Model excitement about going to church.   If mom and dad are reluctant about going to church the children will be too.  Be joyful and excited about the Sunday services.

 2.  Prioritize family worship at home. The more your children hear God’s word at home, the more natural it will be for them to listen to it and pay attention in corporate worship.

 3.  Be patient and consistent. Training for worship will take time.  Show grace to your children as they are growing in their ability to sit and listen in the services.  Each child is different – some may sit attentively after only a few weeks and others may take a few years!  Do not grow weary with such a wonderful and worthwhile part of Christian parenting. 

 

Additional Sunday tips from Kyle:

Sunday mornings can be a little crazy for families with small children. So we started the habit of getting a head start on Saturday night. We would lay clothes and do anything else to make Sunday morning less hectic. We also served toaster waffles for Sunday breakfast, because they could be eaten in the car if necessary.

 

THIS IS POWERFUL!

5 year old Levi has Down’s Syndrome. And that is the easiest of his physical difficulties. His adversities include four open heart surgeries (and counting).

This testimony by his dad, a student at Bethlehem Seminary, is powerful, perspective correcting, and encouraging!

“Drinking Deeply of the Tenderness of Christ” from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.14.15

“The Focus of our Homes”

1 John 2:15-17

by Paul Long

What is the greatest threat that our children face? The greatest threat that our children face is misplaced love.

In vs 15 John gives us a very clear command, “Do not love the world or the things in the world”

 

3 reasons for why we should not love the world:

Reason #1  Love for the world crowds out a love for God v 15

It is not possible to be fully devoted to God and have a love and desire for the things in this world.

John defines the world we are not to love as three things:

1. The Desires of the flesh

God created us to have good desires – but our sin distorts those desires so that instead of being fulfilled in a God glorifying way they are pursued in a “me satisfying” way.

2. The Desires of the eyes

Our sinful cravings are activated by what we see.
Your children will see a world that offers them anything. They see a world that lives by one rule, whatever makes you happy is good for you – go after it.

3. Pride in possessions

It is love for what we’ve got and who we are. Life is defined by power, stuff, standing and achievements. How big is your house, and how important is your job? How high have you climbed, what have you accomplished, what makes you such a big deal?

How do each of these aspects of worldly love influence our hearts, homes and the lives of our children?

When we give into sinful desires and pride of life we are not following or obeying God.

Reason #2  The world and its desires will not last v17

Sin will not last. God will judge and punish all sin. If you love the world and if you love sin you will pass away, along with your pursuits.

This world and its sinful desires will not last forever. Yet as Christians we know the end of the story. 1 John 5:4-5

On the cross Jesus conquered sin and death. He rose victoriously and he will return to judge the world. Those who have put their faith in him, by grace will live with him forever in heaven.

Reason #3  When we love God, we get God and his blessings forever v17

To love God is to obey what He says. And to obey what He says is to love Him. John 14:15, 1 John Ch 5:3

For the Christian this world is not our home. This world is passing away but we have an eternal home in heaven with our Savior and our God.

So our goal in parenting should to be help cultivate in our children a love for God

First: we do this be evangelizing our children.

Our children’s greatest need is to know the saving Love of God the Father provided through the life death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They need to understand and believe the gospel.

Second: we help cultivate love for God in our children by our example.

We are to model a love for God before our children. As a parent where do your affections lie? What do you love? If you were to ask your children, what does mommy or daddy love the most, what would they say? The influence of your life speaks volumes to your children.

Third: we cultivate a love for God through corporate worship and family worship.

Corporate worship is the people of God gathered together to sing, pray and hear from God’s word. A great way you can help your children grow in their love for God is by bringing them to church.

Family worship is gathering your family together to read the Bible and pray.

Donald Whitney is his book on family worship offers these three reminders that help to shape the task of family worship. He says this: Be brief, be regular, be flexible

Fourth: we cultivate a love for God through correction

As we see our children going down a path of following the desires of the world, as parents we are called to correct them. Proverbs 22:6, Hebrews 12:11, Proverbs 22:15

The goal of correction is not to produce good behavior. The goal is to produce a love for God. Therefore our correction should target our children’s hearts.

Finally:  we cultivate a love for God through love for one another

We cannot change our children’s hearts but we can love them well.
Parents let’s do all that we can to raise children that – “Do not love the world or the desires of the world.” Let us raise children that love, serve and obey God.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.07.15

‘Spiritual Parenting’

2 Timothy 3:10-17

Parents have a responsibility to raise their children – to “prepare” them for adulthood. This involves the responsibility to provide care and set boundaries. As believers, this “preparation” is gospel-centered, because parenting is discipleship.

Our highest purpose as a parent is for our children to become mature followers of Christ. And the ultimate relationship we desire to have with our children is as brothers and sisters in Christ

Four Principles of Spiritual Parenting Discipleship

1. Spiritual parenting is a whole life endeavor (vs 10-11)

Paul led Timothy by how he lived as well in what he taught

Parents start with positional leadership, but we also need character leadership

Like Paul, our life needs to be “aimed” at something: we seek to be Great Commandment people!

Our values, character and aim become clearest during hardship

Paul’s sufferings revealed the depth and full beauty of his character

We hate seasons of struggle and want to avoid them; yet these seasons are memorable to our children – they will remember how we handled them

If whole life discipleship intimidates you, be encouraged, because some of the lessons our children need to learn are how to get up from spiritual failure, and how to be weak

Notice that Paul’s life story is part of how he discipled Timothy. Throwing truths at people gets old, but sharing our story is impactful

2. Spiritual parenting prepares children to live in a rebellious world (vs12-13)

All who love godliness “will” be persecuted, bcause the world loves what opposes God

This goes further than people not sharing our love for godliness, they hate godliness

And they are growing louder, bolder and more confident. Yet, we are not discouraged, for we have Christ!

Our children must navigate a world that rejects the values and rule of God

They will be opposed, they will suffer loss, and they will not always fit it

Our children (and whoever we disciple) need to be rooted (1) in truth and (2) in a loving community

Our children will observe believers who compromise, and they will be tempted join them

We want our children to be serious about God! This means they must be serious about the gospel, the church and Great Commandment living

The prominent voice evil will use with our children is deception (v13)
Deception tries to look like truth – no one counterfeits $4 bills

Our children (and ourselves) need equipping in what is true versus what is empty

They need our help (and example) to distinguish what is eternally valuable, from what is momentary

3. Spiritual parenting equips children to be ‘disciple-makers’

The main point of chapter 3 is in v14, “continue in what you have learned”

The goal of parenting isn’t to get our children to 18, to 21, on their own, or into a career

The goal is for them to stand in their generation as Great Commandment people and fulfill the mission Christ has given every disciple, which is to be a disciple-maker

Tim Jones: “We are discipling our children with our grandchildren in mind”

As spiritual parents, must ask ourselves, “What are we preparing our children for?”

If our preparation is for the same successes the world grasps after – they will be left holding the same emptiness

The obvious follow up question; “How are we preparing them?”

In v15 Paul gives the answer, train them in God’s word

Families – read the Bible together!

Just as importantly, parents, form your values and practices by God’s word

“But I’m not a Bible expert.” Read it and apply what you understand

4. Spiritual parenting enthusiastically and completely trusts God’s word

Paul reminds Timothy, why the Bible is uniquely valuable (vs16-17)

All creation exists by God speaking it into being. His word is the source of everything

Nothing can be as “profitable” for your children as God’s word

Training our children through biblical truth is how we care for them

Training our children in biblical truth is what makes life “complete”

However, training our children in biblical truth is not tossing rules at them, it is sharing truths with them

We all want the best for our children

Without biblical truth, no one is “equipped” for life – now or for eternity (v17)

Without biblical truth, there are no “good works”. As Solomon said, it is all “chasing after the wind”

 

Thoughts On Becoming Spiritual Aunts and Uncles

1. We all can (and are) an influence on the children who are in your church

We serve families by the spirit we bring to church and by the example we set in life

This example begins early: middle school kids influence small children; teens influence middle schoolers; and college students influence teens etc

2. Perhaps you were not a believer when your children growing up. You can now be a spiritual aunt or uncle to the young people of your church

THE DANGER OF “ME TIME” MENTALITY

me time

by Debbie Huber

Now that I am a new grandparent I am fondly recalling the days when I had young children to raise. Kyle and I were discussing the memories of the baby years, and it was interesting that most of our memories did not have to do with crying and lost sleep. We mostly remember the cuddles and the love, the first smiles and immense happiness.

Our new grandson Wyatt is reminding us that we were sleep deprived, that I often did not get a shower until late in the afternoon, and that parenting a baby is all-consuming — But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

I recall being thankful for the weekly outing that Kyle would take the kids on to the coffee shop or the library. I would catch up on housework, work-out or go to the supermarket alone.

An occasional break or outing can be refreshing for moms. But many in our culture would press us to believe that we DESERVE “Me-time”, that we are somehow missing all that life has to offer us if we are deprived of “me-time”, that if husbands can get breaks then we deserve them too.

Don’t get me wrong – a break can be helpful and I was thankful for them. But we need to be careful that we as moms do not take the mentality that we deserve them because that can lead to resentment of our children and our husbands. The mentality of having to be selfish first in order to be able to selflessly give to your family is not biblical. That is the mentality that leads to many divorces. Life is not about us and God has made us stewards of the time He gives us.

I thought about this during a recent sermon by Pat Tedeschi. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus is teaching us not to be anxious about the things that we need. Our heavenly Father knows that we need them all.

In the midst of the stress and busyness of motherhood do not seek “me-time” first, rather keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and run after His righteousness. Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Your rest and peace will be provided by our heavenly Father.

The time with small children that God gives to parents is very short in the whole scheme of things. When our children are adults will we look back on the amount of pedicures we were able to have alone or will our memories be of the time spent with our children?

So be thankful for the small breaks, for the shopping alone, the lunch with friends. But be grateful to God for every hectic, sleep deprived minute that you have with your children while they are young because God has given them to you to raise for this short time. And hunger for God to be your rest.