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On Parents Passing the Faith on to Their Children

In the midst of reading for my Father’s Day sermon, I ran across some wisdom about passing on the faith to our kids from one of my favorite writers. Here it is…

From D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home and Work:

One good rule is that we should never foist our views upon our children. Up to a certain age it is right and good to teach them certain things and insist upon them, and there will be no difficulty about that if done properly. They should even enjoy it. But shortly they come to an age when they begin to hear other views and ideas from their friends, probably in school or other associations. Now a crisis begins to develop. The parents’ whole instinct, very rightly, is to protect the child, but it can be done in such a way as, again, to do more harm than good. If you give the impression to the child that he has to believe these things simply because you believe them, and because your parents did so, you will inevitably create a reaction. It is unscriptural to do so. Not only is it unscriptural, but it betrays a dismal lack of understanding of the New Testament doctrine of regeneration.

An important principle arises at this point which applies not only in this realm but in many other realms. I am constantly having to tell people who have become Christian and whose loved ones are not Christian, to be careful. They themselves have come to see the Christian truth, and they cannot understand why this other member of the family – husband, wife, father, mother, or child – fails to do so. Their whole tendency is to be impatient with them and to dragoon them into the Christian faith, to foist their belief upon them. This must on no account be done. If the person in question is not regenerate he or she cannot exercise faith. We need to be “quickened” before we can believe. When one is “dead in trespasses and sins” one cannot believe; so you cannot foist faith on others. They do not see it, they do not understand it. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Many parents have fallen into this error just at this point. They have tried to dragoon their children in the adolescent stage into the Christian faith; they have tried to foist their views on them, they have tried to compel them to say things that they do not really believe. This method is always wrong.

“Well, what can one do?” I shall be asked. Our business is to try to win them, to try to show them the excellence and the reasonableness of what we are and of what we believe. We must be very patient with them, and bear with their difficulties. They have their difficulties, though to you they are nothing. But to them they are very real. The whole art of exercising discipline is to recognize this other personality all the time. You must put yourself into his place, as it were, and with real sympathy and love and understanding try to help him. If the children refuse and reject your efforts, do not react violently, but give the impression that you are very sorry, that you are very grieved for their sakes, and that you feel they are missing something most precious. And at the same time you must make as many concessions as you can. You must not be hard and rigid, you must not refuse everything automatically without any reason, simply because you are the parent, and this is your method and manner. On the contrary, you must be concerned to make every legitimate concession that you can, to go as far as you can in the matter of concession, thereby showing that you are paying respect to the personality and to the individuality of the child. That in and of itself is always good and right, and it will always result in good.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Two Prayer Requests in Act II of My Life

Enjoyed some good conversations with my college kids over this weekend. Delightful.

Josh mentioned the blessing of being used by God – and there is no greater blessing, really. It is what led Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth to call her cousin Mary, the mother of Jesus, “blessed”. After all, Mary wasn’t blessed because she was rich (she had more in line economically with a peasant). And she wasn’t blessed because everything was going well for her relationally. Her relational world was probably in a shambles when Gabriel came to say hello (the whole out-of-wedlock thing likely had something to do with that). But Mary was blessed because she was about to be used more than any human being had ever been used before. That’s blessing.

And that led me to wax eloquent about two big prayer requests I have as I am moving into Act II of my life.

  1. I want to be used by God.
  2. I want my children to know and love Jesus. That seemed to be John’s heart when he wrote memorably…

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4 (ESV)

I’ve written on this before, but we parents are pretty wrapped up in our kids, aren’t we? I think some can overdo this, but in general it is the way that God made us – He made us to have this natural, overpowering love for our children. And my kids are doing well now, and yet I will pray all of my life that they would walk with God in the truth until they breathe their last.

And more than that, I’ve begun to hear something about a phenomenon called grandchildren. We don’t have any of those yet, and we’re not rushing it, but we will welcome the day when they come. A godly friend of mine has described his heart for his grandchildren: he simply wants to spend eternity with them, a very reasonable request, and one he is regularly petitioning the Lord for.

And then there are those other “children”. After all, though my personal application on this verse is appropriate, I don’t think John was actually speaking of biological children when he wrote his letter to Gaius. He was thinking as a pastor. And he wanted his pastoral children to walk in the truth. This is my heart as well.

And when you think about it, isn’t it interesting how these two requests come together? We are most wonderfully used by God as He enables us to help others we love know and follow the Lord Jesus. Now that is true joy.

So if you think to pray for me, ask the Lord for these things, would you? And may God use you also, and cause any spiritual children…or biological children you have…to walk in the truth.

For Tuesday, December 1: Hey Jude

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The “With Him” Principle

One of the great principles of parenting, not to mention one of the great principles of discipleship, is found in Mark chapter 3. Growing up as a Christian in the Navigators, I couldn’t miss this one.

Mark is relating the story of how Jesus called the 12. Now Luke gives us the additional detail that the Lord prayed all night before making His choice. But tit for tat, Mark tells us something that Luke leaves out. Mark tells us that Jesus chose the 12, first, that they might be “with Him”, and second, that He might send them out to preach and cast out demons.

But before they got to preaching, that first principle was to come into play: Jesus wanted the disciples to be “with Him.”

Now what did that mean?

Well, I think the Lord was operating from the grand old principle that more would be caught than taught. And therefore He was intentional about seeing that His disciples would “catch” a lot from Him. He chose them that they might be…with Him. They would be with Him as He healed the leper, as he fed the 5,000 and the 4,000. They would be with Him as He rebuked the religious leaders and told the parables. And they would be with him as He got up in the morning and went to sleep at night and prayed throughout the day.

They would simply be with Him.

And so the principle is to “be with” those we are trying to influence, and the idea is simple to pass on to parents: we strive to be with our kids. I know, I know, there comes a day when they don’t want anything to do with you, but before that day, when you are heading out to the hardware store, or the grocery store, you grab one of them for the ride. When you are working on a household chore, you get one of them to help, even if their “help” is not so helpful.  It’s always easiest to make the decision to do it on your own – I made that decision many times when the kids were younger – but I’m thankful for the times that I chose to do it the way Jesus did – He chose the 12 that they might be with Him.

 

For tomorrow, April 16: Mark 4

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Of Hot Stoves and Little Girls

It was many years ago at our first home in Waupun on Church St.  Our two kids were finally in bed (Annie was not yet on the scene), and having fed the little ones earlier, Diane and I were planning a late night frozen pizza/T.V. time as we sometimes did. When the IMG_0755oven timer started going off to indicate the pizza was ready, maybe we didn’t respond so quickly, but we did hear a wee girly voice from the corner bedroom:

“Mommy, your hot stove is beeping.”

Kids say the darndest things, and perhaps especially the one we named Elisabeth.  On another evening I came into her room and called her a princess. Don’t all little girls want to be called “Princess”?

“I not a princess.”

What are you then?

A moment’s hesitation…

“I a goat-pig.”

Well, forgive your father for insulting you.  But we never took up with that name, for which she would thank us today.  In fact, she was a princess, but she was a princess I gave another nickname to: “Littlebit”

Our princess Littlebit is turning 18 today.

So we’re heading to the Windy City this morning to celebrate the big day.  The four of us are hoping to have lunch (Cheesecake Factory?) and then meet her brother outside the Chicago Theater for a “Free tours by foot” tour of the city.  Afterwards we’ll all head back to Wheaton College for Josh’s final Men’s Glee Club concert of the year. It promises to be a full and joyous day.

And speaking of Wheaton, it’s hard to believe but sweet Elisabeth is almost finished with high school and headed there to join her brother next year. It’s early, but right now she is leaning toward a Bible/theology major, which would fit well with her heart for God and love for His Word.

Elisabeth and DadI got scared recently and took her aside and asked her to begin a weekly breakfast date with me.  Time was passing so quickly and I didn’t want to miss her. An intentional date time is necessary with her – so busy with school and work and youth group (birthday party with that gang next week) and scholarship applications and piano…always piano.  For years now she has been taking lessons from a renowned teacher in the Milwaukee area.  My daughter the Maestro.  You’d have to hear it to believe it.

So if you see Littlebit and me out on the town Tuesday mornings, you’ll know what’s up. I’m trying to hold off the inevitable, when we have to pay more attention to the oven…because our little princess has left home.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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