Category Archives: Parenting

Planting Gospel Seeds in Conversations with Your Kids

One way to plant gospel seeds in the conversations you have with your kids is to explain to them why you do what you do.  Listen to Kurt Gebhards:

When a parent makes important decisions in life, he should explain to his children how the gospel download (2)influenced that decision…explain why you do not buy certain things, do certain things, and constantly point back to the gospel as the motivation (taken from Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully).

Now, in order for this to be genuine, you must actually make decisions because you have been influenced by the gospel.  So, I think the point is that planting gospel seeds in conversation with your kids will not be difficult if, in fact, you are living a life that is focused on the gospel.  Gospel conversations will take place simply because you are answering the question, “Why?”


Showing Your Kids What God is Like: Initiating Love

images (61)This morning I am thinking about Romans 5:8 in reference to my parenting.  This familiar verse says, “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  What strikes me about this verse is that God loved us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our rebellion against him.  God loved us first.  In fact, God had to love us first or else we would never have escaped our rebellion.  Romans 3:11 states “…no one seeks for God”, so it was necessary that He seek us if were ever going to experience salvation and serve Him at all.  God had to initiate our relationship with him.

So, what does this have to do with parenting?  As redeemed people who have been made in the image of God, our calling is to show the world what God is like… this includes our children.  Therefore, I want my children to see me seeking them out as God has sought me out.  I do not want to be a father who only relates to my children when they come to me first, asking me to play with them or answer their questions.  On the contrary, I want them to expect that Dad is going to come after them in love – initiating talks, play-time, and the giving of help.

Some Parenting Inspiration from Howard Hendricks

I’m thankful for this story I encountered in my reading today about the late Howard Hendricks, long-time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary:

Someone years ago called him up and said, “Dr. Hendricks, we’re having a Bible conference, and we want you to be our speaker.  Can you images (48)come?”  After he said no, the conference planner said, “This is a crucial event for our whole community.  Why can’t you come?  Do you have another appointment?  Hendricks said, “No, I’ve got to play with my kids.”  “You’ve got to play with your kids?”  questioned the incredulous planner.  “Don’t you realize that our people need your instruction?”  “Yes”, Hendricks answered, “but my kids also need me” (taken from The Master’s Plan for the Church by John MacArthur).

Somehow I think Dr. Hendricks knew that managing his household well (1 Timothy 3:4), meant more than just being faithful to discipline.

Jesus Loves Me: Two New Verses to Help Parents Teach Justification

images (40)This past weekend Keri and I took our kids to see a Slugs and Bugs kids’ concert at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX.  Randall Goodgame, the driving force behind the music of Slugs and Bugs, performed a lot of the songs our family has been rockin’ in the minivan over the past year.  One song he performed that stuck with me was Jesus Loves Me with two new verses he added.  These two verses are a great tool for helping parents teach their kids the doctrine of justification – when we trust in Christ alone to save us from sin, God declares us righteous on the basis of Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death, and, therefore, loves us as he loves Jesus.  This means that for those kids who trust in Jesus, he loves them when they do the right thing and when they do the wrong thing (see 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 4:5-8).  Here are the lyrics, old and new (the new verses are in bold print):

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong


Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so

Jesus loves me when I’m good
When I act just like I should
When I say thank you and please
Brush my teeth and wash my knees

Jesus loves me when I’m bad
When I talk back to my dad
When I stomp and whine and pout
(And) poke my bottom lip right out

When You See Kids Misbehaving at Church

images (15)My college Western Lit. professor called it “the cat cough”.  It’s that sound we make when we’re annoyed with some person or some circumstance.  We furrow our brow, flare our nostrils as if we’ve just smelled something foul, and let out a short, truncated burst of air from our lungs that says more about our mood in that moment than a ten-minute soliloquy.  The cat cough has popularly been followed by the word “whatever” with the younger crowd, but make no mistake, we’ve all let it fly.

I thought of the cat cough yesterday when I read a paragraph in John MacArthur’s book, The Master’s Plan for the Church yesterday.  In it MacArthur writes, “The families of a church should uphold each other.”  This is a statement that resonates with me because the weight of parenting has left me with a clear realization of how much I need other people who love God to also love my kids and help me point them to Jesus.  But this realization does not mean that I, myself, have always done a good job of doing that with our church members’ kids.

Later in the paragraph, MacArthur asks the question, “What is your reaction when you see unruly children?”  Sadly, for me, I have let the cat cough expel from my lungs on far too many occasions.  This response is a proud, un-Christ-like response that shames me to admit, but what should I do instead?  What should I put on after I’ve put off proud, self-righteousness?  After reminding myself of my great need and Christ’s sacrifice to provide for that need, I think MacArthur’s next question gives us a good answer: “Do you pray for them?”

Do we pray for those children and their parents?  Do we pray for the salvation of those kids?  Do we pray for their parents to have wisdom and balance in the way they approach disobedience?  Do we pray for them?  And I don’t mean in a falsely humble way like the Pharisee in the temple in Luke 18:9-14.  I mean praying like a person who recognizes that we are all dependent on the grace of God and if not for his kindness we would all be sunk.  Church, if the families in our churches are going to uphold each other, then we should start with prayer.

Redeeming Story Time: Where the Wild Things Are

images (7)I know that Where the Wild Things Are is a classic of children’s literature, but I only just read it to my boys last night for the first time.  You probably remember the story: Max, a young imaginative boy, is making mischief one night and when his mother catches him she calls him “Wild Thing”, to which Max replies, “I’ll eat you up!”  His mother then sends him to bed with no dinner and that’s when Max uses his imagination to sail to a distant land where the wild things are.  He quickly gains the respect of the monsters there and they make him their king.  They have a lot of fun together, but soon Max wants to be “where someone loved him best of all.”

When I can, I try and use the stories I read to my kids as a way to point them to greatest of stories; the true story of God sending his Son to rescue his people from their sins.  So, last night after we read the end of the story where Max returns home and finds a hot meal waiting for him in his room, I asked the boys, “Who do you think brought him that food?”  To which they replied, “His mommy.”  We then proceeded to discuss the reality that Max did not deserve the food that was waiting for him, but that his mommy had mercy on him.  I asked them if their mommy ever gave them something good when they didn’t deserve it, to which they answered “yes”.  Then I asked them why Mommy showed them mercy.  There was no answer, so I explained that Mommy shows them mercy because God showed her mercy when he sent Jesus to die for her sins.

Where the Wild Things Are has unique, eye-catching illustrations and it’s fun for boys to pretend that they are monsters, but I really think the appeal of the story for me is the mercy of a loving mother.  Having said that, it would be really easy to just end the story and appreciate the love Max’s mother has for him, and there wouldn’t be anything inherently wrong with that.  But if there is One whose mercy far exceeds any mercy we find in this world (and there is), then parents, let us tell them of God who “being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Your Kids Need You to Tell Them They’re Desperately Needy

images (6)Our second son, Justin, has the most independent spirit of our children.  Although he’s very young, he wants to do everything all by himself.  As you may expect, this makes for some maddening bouts with this child as he tries repeatedly to do something that he simply can’t do.  The kid has some serious resolve too.  While he was learning to buckle his car seat, we would for wait through numerous aggravated attempts amidst frustrated groans and tears until we had to step in an do it for him.

On my end, most of the time I just want to help Justin because he’s taking forever, everyone is waiting on him, he’s moving toward meltdown and I want to catch him before he gets there.  But there is another reason I should help Justin: because he needs to learn that he is dependent.  These times are opportunities to teach my son that God made us dependent creatures, first dependent on him, and second dependent on others, because God has chosen to give us grace through his people.

Although Justin is an unbeliever I want to teach him now what Paul heard from Jesus when he refused to remove his thorn in the flesh: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  And I want him to understand that the Church has been brought together to build each other up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).  I want him to understand that he is needy and I want him be certain of the One he needs.

Sometimes as parents I think we so badly want our kids to do things for themselves (because they need to get into a good college so they can get a good job so they can live a secure life) that we may unknowingly help to foster a spirit of independence in them, perhaps communicating that dependence is something to be frowned upon.

Don’t get me wrong, I, in no way, want to raise boys who are lazy, free-loading mooches, but neither do I want to raise them in a way that discounts the reality that, as God’s creation, he made us to depend on him (even before the Fall).  Justin is in desperate need of God’s grace that only comes through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, so when he can’t put on his shoes and he doesn’t want anyone to help, it’s a good time to remind him that God made us needy creatures.

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