Shade for Our Children

Shade for Our Children

by John MacArthur

shadetree1

An old Chinese proverb says, “One generation plants the trees and another gets the shade.” Our generation lives in the shade of many trees that were planted by our ancestors.

In spiritual terms, we derive shade from our parents’ and grandparents’ ethical standards, their perceptions of right and wrong, their sense of moral duty, and above all, their spiritual commitment. Their ideals determined the kind of civilization we inherited from them, and our generation’s ideals will likewise shape tomorrow’s culture for our kids.

There’s no question that society is in a serious state of moral and spiritual decline. So the question that faces Christian parents today is whether we can plant some trees that will shade future generations from what may well be the blistering heat of anti-Christian values in an anti-Christian world. Are we planting the right kind of shade trees, or are we leaving our children totally exposed?

The Demise of Modern Society

It should be obvious to anyone who is committed to the truth of Scripture that our culture is rapidly disintegrating morally, ethically, and above all spiritually. The values now embraced by society are badly out of sync with God’s divine order.

In fact, the only taboo these days is holding to the absolute moral standards the Lord instituted in His Word. Lifestyles of promiscuity, debauchery, rebellion, and lawlessness aren’t merely tolerated—they’re celebrated. Selfishness, greed, and dishonesty are accepted and even expected.

And the standards for the family aren’t any better. Divorce is available on demand for any reason, or for no reason at all. Married women with children are encouraged to work outside the home. Entertainment, and television in particular, dominates home life. The genocide of unborn children is aggressively defended. Gender differences have been downplayed, suppressed, and—as much as possible—eliminated from public discussion. And homosexual marriage is aggressively promoted throughout the culture—to the point that anything less than celebrating it is viewed as bigotry.

In short, our society is waging an all-out war on the biblical standards for morality, and the family is one of the key battlegrounds.

Where Is the Church in All of This?

As the building block of society, the family needs to be protected and defended. But mere moral reform is not the solution for all that ails our secular society. This is not a rallying cry for Christians to be more aggressive in pursuing political action. Far too much of the church’s effort in recent years has been squandered trying to confront anti-family trends, such as abortion and homosexuality, through legislative efforts alone. Reform is no answer for a culture like ours. Redemption is what is needed, and that occurs at the individual, not societal, level. The church needs to get back to the real task to which we are called: evangelizing the lost. Only when multitudes of individuals in our society turn to Christ will society itself experience any significant transformation.

Meanwhile, Christian families have an obligation to plant shade trees for future generations of children. But, frankly, even in the church, the family’s condition looks pretty bleak.

Not that there aren’t positive signs. For nearly three decades there has been a tremendous preoccupation among evangelicals with the need to rescue the family. Christian bookstores are well-stocked with books on marriage and the family. Christian radio is also crowded with family-oriented programming. There is no shortage of Christian programs, seminars, and ministries devoted to the family and parenting.

Despite all the ink and air time such ministries have devoted to the subjects of parenting and the family, though, statistics still show that in general, Christian families are not in much better shape than the families of their non-Christian neighbors. Children from Christian families are not immune to the lure of drugs, gangs, promiscuous sex, and all the other evils plaguing the youth of today. By and large, Christian families are suffering from all the same woes as non-Christian families.

Something is clearly wrong.

Is It Biblical, or Just “Christian”?

Part of the problem is that many of the parenting and family programs being labeled “Christian” today are not truly Christian. Some are nothing more than secular behaviorism papered over with a religious veneer—an unholy amalgam of biblical-sounding expressions blended with humanistic psychology. Even some of the better Christian parenting programs focus far too much on relatively petty extrabiblical matters and not enough on the essential biblical principles. One book I consulted spent chapter after chapter on issues like how to make a chore list to hang on the refrigerator, how to organize your child’s schedule to limit television time, games to play in the car, and similar how-to advice. Such pragmatic concerns may have their place, but they don’t go to the heart of what Christian parents in a society like ours need to address. (That particular book actually had very little that was distinctively Christian, outside the author’s preface.)

Some Christian parenting programs seem to begin well but quickly move away from biblical principles and into other things. Those other things often receive more stress than more vital issues that are truly biblical. Parents who sign up for such programs demand detailed, heavily regimented programs or turnkey parenting systems that work right out of the box. So that is what the experts try to produce. The resulting lists of rules and how-tos quickly supersede the vital biblical principles. The lure in this direction is subtle but strong, and rare is the parenting guru who successfully avoids it.

What we desperately need is a return to the biblical principles of parenting. Christian parents don’t need new, shrink-wrapped programs; they need to apply and obey consistently the few simple principles that are clearly set forth for parents in God’s Word, such as these: Constantly teach your kids the truth of God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:7). Discipline them when they do wrong (Proverbs 23:13–14). And don’t provoke them to anger (Colossians 3:21). Those few select principles alone, if consistently applied, would have a far greater positive impact for the typical struggling parent than hours of discussion about whether babies should be given pacifiers, or what age kids should be before they’re permitted to choose their own clothes, or dozens of similar issues that consume so much time in the typical parenting program.

Over the next few days, we’re going to closely examine those biblical parenting principles and others, and consider God’s design for the family, and how best to provide shade for your children by training them up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

 

(reblogged from John MacArthur)

10 Practical Tips for Dads in Discipling Your Children for Christ

I wish I knew or would have been taught these things earlier in my life - it would have saved so many mistakes! Pass this on and share with young parents.
parent-teen-talk-150x150We who are dads have some unique challenges with making disciples. Moms have a built in “disciple-maker gene” that is given by God, but dads tend to be more focused on providing income than on nurturing children.
The good news is that Jesus, the ultimate Man showed us how to make disciples. He “adopted” a group of men and “parented” them for over 3 years. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and then He personally did the discipling. As a family they lived together, worked together and ministered together 24/7. He was frequently teaching them throughout each day (Deut. 6) and He was showing them how to minister to others. Finally, He protected His disciples by physically being with them. He didn’t send them out until they were fully trained, and then He sent them out with another Christian adult for protection, and they were grown men! That is the exact model that dads (along with moms) are wise to follow today.
What are some practical ways for dads to disciple their children for Christ? Here is my top ten list:
1. Develop a habit of confessing sin to the Lord and to your family.We all blow it and we need to set the right example for our family in confessing sins. If you are just now starting to disciple your children, you can begin by repenting for not making disciples of them in the past. I didn’t start intentionally discipling my children until my daughter was almost ten years old.  I regret that fact and have confessed that to my her more than once. You might as well be real with your family and this will reduce any appearance of hypocrisy in your life. Ask the Lord to “restore in your life and your children’s lives what the locust have devoured.”  We all make mistakes, but the Lord can restore the damage that has been done by the devil.  In our own strength we can’t make disciples anyway.  We need help from the Lord!
2. Look for ways to read and discuss scripture. Like Jesus, when you are with your children teach them when you arise, when you travel in your car, when you are at home, and when you lie down (Deut. 6).  Keep a copy of the Bible in your car so that you can seize opportunities to read scripture no matter where you are.
3. Teach your children to teach. Who gets the most out of a teaching? The teacher! Give your children opportunities to teach the Bible to the family from time to time.  If you are doing the teaching, ask questions to your children to engage them and so they can articulate what they believe. This is a great way to solidify a biblical worldview.
4. Have family worship/devotions daily. Don’t make a big deal out of having devotions; this can be easy! The three elements of family worship are singing spiritual songs, reading scripture and prayer. Buy some worship song books and take turns selecting songs that your family can sing together. From the time your baby is out of the womb, read scripture to them every chance you get, but at least daily. Don’t believe the evolutionists who say that little children can’t learn from the Word of God. Children rise to the level at which they are taught.   Lastly pray with your family and for your family. You can have devotions anywhere; in your car, in your home, at the park, hotel room.  Have your family take turns reading scripture, selecting hymns and praying. Ask your children what the Lord is teaching them today.  Ask them what the scriptures are saying.  If the Holy Spirit leads you, explain what you have read or share a testimony. Adjust the length of time for ages of your children; a good rule of thumb is one minute of teaching for every year of age.  If you do this consistently family worship/devotions can become the center of all you do as a family; it can help calm your hearts and establish harmony in your family.
5. Spend more time with your family. Instead of waiting for a vacation once a year, do something fun every week; the park, the lake, the zoo. Do ministry together. Talk about the goodness of the Lord while you are together! Find ways to be together, play together, play games at home, do hobbies together. Doing so will reduce time spent with foolish peers.  Proverbs 13:20 says “Those who walk with the wise shall become wise, and the companion of fools will be destroyed.”  Since children are born with a foolish nature (Prov. 22:15), better that they spend time with you and your spouse!
6. Really get to know each child. There are no shortcuts to developing a relationship with your children. Spend time with each child; go on outings and “dates” with them. Win their hearts!
7. Be discriminating about what goes into your family’s eyes, ears and hearts. Jesus didn’t expose His disciples to false teaching; He warned them about it. Consider the fact that entertainment helps no one other than the seller of the entertainment! It is better to choose activities that will benefit your family or others that you are ministering to. Reject much of Hollywood’s junk; the lion’s share is coming from a non-biblical worldview. Watch for unbiblical themes and discuss with your children. When you select entertainment, look for Christian movies and DVD’s; there is an abundant supply of Christian offerings these days.  Get rid of cable or subscribe selectively.  Choose Christian music; it is now available in every genre. Be careful about what your children read.  Install an internet filter on your computer and locate it in a public area to protect your family.  For adults, Covenant Eyes is an excellent software program that keeps you accountable to another adult.
8.   Dads, you must find ways to involve the family in your life.  This can be difficult for fathers, especially those who have outside employment.  However, there are some things that you can do. You can choose jobs that allow for more family time.  I know a dad who took a job that allows him to be home two days per week.  Start a hobby that your family can do together. There are also home-based jobs that allow entire families to be involved with their dad.
9.   If possible, adjust your lifestyle to allow one parent to stay home. In today’s virtual work environment many jobs are being created that are home-based. Look for employers that allow work from home or consider starting a home-based business. Choose less expensive homes and cars which would allow one parent to be at home to disciple the children.
10.  Find a ministry with which you can involve your children. There are needy people all around you. Ask the Lord to lead you to a ministry you can do as a family. Show them how to minister, to meet physical needs and to pray for others.
Choosing some of the above activities and doing them on a regular basis will make a huge impact on your family. Your children and wife will begin to view you as the spiritual leader at home. You will have fewer regrets in the future. Fix your eyes upon Jesus and disciple like Him!
Article Reblogged from Disciple Like Jesus and Raising Godly Chilren

18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids

reblogged from: http://www.challies.com/

18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids

October 23, 2013
Like most parents, I have those moments where guilt and regret comes over me like a wave. I consider then how much of my parenting time has already passed by and how little remains. My oldest child, my son, is thirteen. He is already a teenager, just one year away from high school, just eight years from the age I was when I left home to get married. My girls are following close behind him. When that wave rises up, when I feel like I could drown beneath all that regret, I sometimes consider those things I will never regret.

Here are 18 things I know I will not regret doing with my kids.

1. Praying with them for them. It baffles me that one of the things that most intimidates me is praying with my kids. I don’t mean praying with the whole family before or after a meal, but praying with my daughter for my daughter or with my son for my son. Yet this kind of prayer lets them see that I am concerned for what concerns them and it lets us join in prayer together for those very things. I know I need to prioritize this because I will never regret praying with them for them.

2. Reading books to them. As summer turns to fall, as the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, we spend many of our evenings together in the living room as I read books aloud. We’ve read our way across this world and across many others; we’ve read forward in history and we’ve read about days long past; we’ve met heroes and villains; and we have experienced it all together as a family. I will never regret reading books to my children.

I know I will never regret all those goodnight kisses.

3. Kissing them goodnight. The days get long and I get so weary. By the time the children head to bed I am sometimes so worn down that the very last thing I want to do is see the kids to bed and to kiss them goodnight. But I am always glad I did and often find these the times where the children are most tender, most eager to speak, and most eager to listen. I know I will never regret all those goodnight kisses. 

4. Taking them to church. There is such joy in sitting in church together as a family, worshipping the Lord together and hearing from him in his Word together. I do not take my children to church so they can learn good manners or be better people; I take them to church so they can learn who they are, so they can learn who God is, and so they can encounter and experience Grace. I will never regret prioritizing church.

5. Taking them out for breakfast. One much-loved tradition in our family is taking my children out for breakfast on Saturday mornings—one of them each week. It’s a tradition I have lost and revived and lost again and revived again. It is a tradition worth maintaining. The $10 or $20 expense and the time it takes pales in comparison to the investment in their lives. I will never regret our breakfast daddy dates.

 

 

 

 

6. Letting my friends be their friends. I love it when my children befriend, and are befriended by, my friends. I want my children to have friends who are older and wiser than they are and friends who can help them in those areas where I am weak. I will never regret encouraging my friends to be their friends.

7. Doing family devotions. Family devotions is a difficult discipline to maintain, and especially as the kids get older and have more lessons and responsibilities. But we commit and re-commit and persevere because these are precious times—just a few minutes together to read the Bible, to talk about what we’ve heard, and to pray. I know I will never regret a single moment spent pursuing the Lord together.

8. Disciplining them. I hate disciplining my children; I hate having to discipline them. Yet I am absolutely convinced that to refuse to discipline them is to refuse to love and respect them. The lost privilege, the stern talking-to, the time spent alone in their room—these are all seen as hatred in the moment, but seen as love later on. I will never regret lovingly disciplining my children.

9. Doing special things. Life is largely lived in the mundane and love is mostly shown in the day-to-day. But there is also value in the afternoons at the ballgame, the evenings at the ballet, the business trips with dad. I will never regret doing those special things with my children.

10. Asking their forgiveness. I have more trouble apologizing to my children than to anyone else. Somewhere way in the back of my mind I am convinced that to apologize to them is to show weakness; but at my best times I know that to apologize to them—to ask their forgiveness when I have sinned against them—is honoring to God and to them. I will never regret those times I have asked their forgiveness.

11. Forgiving them. My great weakness is one of my kids’ great strengths; when they sin they are almost always quick to seek my forgiveness. I will never regret sincerely and immediately granting the forgiveness they ask.

12. Loving their mother. I know that the stability of a mother and father who are firmly committed to one another brings stability to the whole family. I can love my children by assuring them of my love for their mother through my words and deeds and affection. I will never regret regularly affirming my love for their mother.

Tree13. Identifying God’s Grace. As my children make professions of faith and as they begin to grow in godly character, it has been a joy to see God’s grace in their lives. I am learning to tell them what I am seeing, to commend them for it, and to point to the One who has generated it. I know I’ll never regret identifying this kind of grace in their lives.

14. Expressing affection. I love to walk hand-in-hand with my daughters and I love to hug my son before he goes off to school. This physical affection makes them feel safe and loved while teaching boundaries and platonic, appropriate touch. I will never regret continuing to express physical affection.

15. Planning little surprises. The small and occasional gifts when I return home from a speaking engagement; a single rose for my girls when I buy their mother a bouquet of flowers; the dinner at McDonald’s for no reason at all. I will never regret planning and delivering these special little surprises.

16. Giving them my full attention. I almost always have an electronic device within reach and often I have two or three of them. It is so easy to break out of a conversation with every buzz or beep, to break eye contact and to break concentration. I know I’ll never regret giving my children my full attention when they have something to say.

The gospel is not merely a gateway to the Christian life, but the very source of hope and joy in the Christian life.

17. Pointing to the gospel. The gospel is not merely a gateway to the Christian life, but the very source of hope and joy in the Christian life. We need to return to the gospel again and again; we need the gospel every day. And I will never regret pointing my children to the gospel. 

18. Telling them “I love you”. I love my children dearly and I can show that love in each of the ways I’ve listed above. But when they head off to school, when they go out with friends, when they call me at the office, when we FaceTime from afar, I will never regret telling them one more time, “I love you.”

What are some things you will never regret doing with your kids?