Tag Archives: Obedience

The First Thing to Teach Children

When Josh was somewhere between 2 or 3 years old, he was playing in the living room in our apartment in Lake Forest, Illinois (an apartment within a mansion – another story). His toys were scattered on the floor, and I noticed that he was stepping on the little trucks and such. Fearing that they might break, I warned him, “Hey buddy, don’t step on your toys.”

I’ll never forget. While holding my gaze, he slowly lifted his foot up and placed it on one of the little playthings, never breaking eye contact.

The little sinner.

But it was okay, because it turned into a wonderful opportunity to teach my son about his need to obey me. It’s the first thing that every child needs to learn:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1 (ESV)

I heard James MacDonald teach once that this verse is not written to children, but parents. Good thought…in actuality, it’s probably both. But of course, it is parents who must first understand this truth and then teach it to their kids.

“Son…daughter…you must obey me. No ifs, ands or buts.”

If they learn this, they can learn a whole host of other wonderful things from us, like

  • The fear of the Lord and
  • The truth of God’s word, and
  • Be nice to your sister, and
  • Oh yeah…the gospel!

But if they miss this first and most simple truth from Paul to the Ephesians, they may very well miss it all. So it all starts here with this one truth that the Apostle thought was pretty important and that parents must therefore be absolutely vigilant to pass on:

Obey me.


****For more on disciplining the young ones, our two favorite books on these issues were, Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Don’t Make Me Count to Three.

For Wednesday, July 1, it’s back to the gospels: Luke 1

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Father’s Kind Heart

Silhouette of Father Playing with Child Outside at SunsetI’ll never forget the day. Josh was a toddler having fun inside our little apartment in Mrs. Dickenson’s mansion at 770 W. Westleigh Drive, Lake Forest, Illinois. I was in seminary during these days while Diane cooked Mrs. D’s meals; and in exchange the grand dame provided our food and a little space for us to live rent free. Oh yeah…and cable.

That day my son’s plastic toys were scattered around our tiny little living room, and I noticed that he had begun to step on them, coming down with the full force of his massive (40 lb.?) weight.  Fearing that he might break one, I instructed him not to do that.

And…after clearly hearing my word, he maintained eye contact while simultaneously and slowly lifting up his foot and setting it down on one of the toys, somewhat like a conquering hero might do to the vanquished.

It didn’t take me long to show the defiant little villain what it really meant to be vanquished.

I like to think that neither one of us ever forgot that day – he certainly hasn’t because he’s heard me tell the story a hundred times. And yet there is a point to it all: the truth is that though at first glance, my instruction looked to be detrimental to him. However, in fact I did not aim to take away his joy, but to preserve it. My “command” came from a father’s heart that had his son’s best interests in mind – I wanted him to continue to enjoy his toys, and stepping on them might have destroyed this possibility.

And so it is with our Heavenly Father’s commands to us – they are meant for our good, most clearly illustrated in Jesus’s discussion regarding the Sabbath and his simple word: “The Sabbath was meant for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Now, I don’t believe the Sabbath command continues today, except in the truth that we are called to rest in the gospel (Hebrews 4:9), but the point remains: Jesus was saying that the Sabbath command was for our good. Get this – God aimed to give his people rest – making Saturday the best day of the week. But of course, under the Pharisees, it had become not the best day, but the worst.

But still, the Sabbath command revealed the Father’s heart, and what continues to be the His heart regarding anything He asks of His children – He aims for our good. In fact, you might say He even shapes commands for us.

As in the Sabbath, all of God’s commands are “made for” us…not we for them.


Tomorrow, April 15th: Mark 3

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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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