Tag Archives: Parenting

To Build a Home…

building-your-home

While reading an excerpt on biblical womanhood this afternoon, I came across some challenging, yet interesting words as so many “good” things are easy to be super involved in, the family, and what makes up the foundation of a Godly home does not have priority in our lives.. It takes time. It takes energy. It takes Godly wisdom… all tough things that cannot come from man alone.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.

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Train Your Children in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord: An Encouragement to Catechize

The greatest responsibility of Christian parents is to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6.4). This responsibility is also to be one of Christian parents’ greatest joys. Certainly, we have found this to be true. Recently our hearts were blessed as our 5-year-old son led us in the Lord’s Prayer before bedtime; and then we were blessed even more because our 3-year-old daughter insisted we do it again but with her in the lead. They both did a great job. What a joy that was!

Child with Bible

Training our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord doesn’t just happen through an hour of Sunday School a week, which never equates to an hour of teaching anyway. It’s truly a 24-7 thing. We are to be instructing all the time, which is beautifully captured in the Lord’s command to us in Deuteronomy 6.4-9:

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Jesus or Your Children?

A few nights ago I was up late going through some mp3 songs to put on my phone. I’m sure you know how songs so easily take you down Memory Lane. I was well on my way when I ran across Phil Vassar’s song from back in 2000 called “Just Another Day in Paradise.” The song is all about how crazy life can be with a spouse and some kids, bills piling up, things breaking, schedules calling, juggling work and home, sour milk, but then the chorus kicks in with the following words that share the truth that although life is frustrating and crazy at times, it’s blessed:

Well, it’s ok; It’s so nice
It’s just another day in paradise
Well, there’s no place that I’d rather be
Well, it’s two hearts and one dream
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
And I ask the Lord every night
For just another day in paradise

At that point, I went from Memory Lane to rejoicing. The song just hit home in my heart because it was like Vassar was singing about my life. Life is crazy right now with three young’uns and one on the way, but man, am I blessed! I began to thank God for my wife and kids and eventually went to bed, but as I was lying there, this question came to my mind: Ben, do you love Jesus more than your children?

That’s just how the Holy Spirit works, isn’t it? And immediately the following true story from the 1999 book by dc Talk and The Voice of the Martyrs called Jesus Freaks came to mind.  I had read it years ago and had really been impacted by it, and the Lord there in my bed brought it back to mind.

The story comes from North Korea in the 1950s and is called “More Love to Thee.”

For years, Pastor Kim and 27 of his flock of Korean saints had hand-dug tunnels beneath the earth. Then, as the Communists were building a road, they discovered the Christians living underground.

The officials brought them out before a crowd of 30,000 in the village of Gok San for a public trial and execution. They were told, “Deny Christ, or you will die.” But they refused.

At this point the head Communist officer ordered four children from the group seized and had them prepared for hanging. With ropes tied around their small necks, the officer again commanded the parents to deny Christ.

Not one of the believers would deny their faith. They told the children, “We will soon see you in heaven.” The children died quietly.

The officer then called for a steamroller to be brought in. He forced the Christians to lie on the ground in its path. As its engine revved, they were given one last chance to recant their faith in Jesus. Again they refused.

As the steamroller began to inch forward, the Christians began to sing a song they had often sung together. As their bones and bodies were crushed under the pressure of the massive rollers, their lips utter the words:

“More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee
Thee alone I seek, more love to Thee
Let sorrow do its work, more love to Thee
Then shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
More love, O Christ, to Thee,” (p124-5).

What an astounding and radical demonstration of love for Jesus! Do I love Jesus more than my children? Do you? Would I, in order to save their lives from persecutors, deny my Savior and Lord? Would you?

Jesus’ words ring so clearly in my ears, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it,” (Matthew 10:37-39).

So, will it be Jesus or your children? Oh how I pray that you or I would never be put in the situation to choose like those Korean Christians had to choose, but if it were to come to be, I pray my answer would be “Jesus.” I pray the same for you as well.

But dear one, let me go a step further. The choice is really not between loving Jesus or loving your children. The truth is that you can do both. You see, in these Korean Christians choosing to love Jesus more than their children, they were actually doing the most loving thing they could for their children. They demonstrated to their children by their choice of faithfulness to Jesus that Jesus is more prized than anything else. That is the most loving thing a father or a mother can do for their children. So, it’s not an either/or. It’s a both/and. Love your children by loving Jesus more!

And more importantly, this truth is not just relevant to life and death situations. It’s relevant to every aspect of your parenting life. In all phases of your children’s lives and in all interactions, be most loving to your children by loving Jesus more than you love them.

I thank the Lord so much for my children. What blessings they are to me! But if I am to love them properly, I must love Jesus more than I love them. More love to Thee, O Christ!

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Help Children Love Those Who Are Different

It’s inevitable.  One day your young child as he or she developmentally matures will have their eyes opened to fact that people are different.  People come in many shapes, sizes, portions, abilities, tones, traits, and trappings, and up to a certain age, your little one will innocently be blind to all of this.  But that will change.  One day they’ll begin to notice differences among people.

I’ll hope to never forget the moment when my little Zachariah, who was nearing four-years-old at the time, commented in 2009 while watching President Obama on TV, “Barack Obama has a brown face.”  He was just making observations, but it was at that moment when I knew that a switch had been flipped in him because his comment was born out of the reality that Obama’s skin tone was different from Zachariah and his family’s.  He was beginning to see differences.

As you well know from both giving and receiving, sinful humanity often sees differences and then makes these differences an opportunity to make fun or oppress.  Just watch a school playground during recess for while to see what I’m talking about.  Really, it’s a depraved coping mechanism we run to when faced with something not like ourselves.  In order to make ourselves feel superior, we verbally, physically, or systematically attack those who are different.  So much strife and hurt have been produced from this sort of action.

But that’s how those who live in the flesh respond.  We as Christians are not to be ruled by our flesh but by the Spirit of God.  Therefore, when we see differences, love is our response instead of ridicule.  However, given the natural gravity of our depravity, love has to be learned.  Parents must teach their children to love those who are different from them.

It’s for that reason that I appreciate so much John Piper’s sermon from January 17, 2010.  His aim is to equip parents to train children to love those who are different.  He provides eight ways for you to do this:

1)  Help the children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in creating them with the body that they have.

2)  Help the children believe in God’s sovereign wisdom and goodness in making other people with the body that they have.

3)  Help the children believe that they and all other children and adults are made in God’s image.

4)  Teach the children that God tells us to do to others as we would like others to do to us.

5)  Teach the children and model for them that their own sin is uglier than anybody they think is physically unattractive.

6)  Teach the children that God loves them in spite of the ugliness of their sin and that he proved this by sending his Son to die for our sins and give forgiveness to all who would trust him.

7)  Teach the children that because Jesus died for them and rose again, he becomes for them an all-satisfying Friend and Treasure.

8)  Teach the children to love others who are different from them, not in order to be accepted by God, but because they already are accepted by God because of Jesus.

I would strongly encourage you to read the manuscript or watch the video of this message to get the full teaching behind these eight ways.  It’s really good stuff!

I pray that God by the power of the Holy Spirit will work mightily in our own hearts love for those who are different.  Then, may we pass this Christlike trait onto our little ones so that they’ll be encouraged to honor God in the midst of a glorious variety of people.  Love those who are different in spite of their differences because God has loved you in spite of your sin!

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