Biblical Parenting 3…

As I previously wrote in this series (please click HERE for the 1st post or HERE for the 2nd), Christian parenting doesn’t mean we should beat and hammer our children like a blacksmith.

But what about parenting them like a potter? What about, with the gentle & loving & artistic & strategic hands of a potter, smoothing and shaping our children slowly, patiently, meticulously, lovingly, sacrificially, personally (getting our hands muddy & our backs sore in the process)?

Please click HERE for a phenomenal video about master potters.

Our children will at some point jump off our spinning wheel. But the hope in our Holy Spirit-powered and Biblically-grounded molding is that they—compelled by the grace and Truth of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit—will choose to, by faith, jump onto the LORD’s spinning wheel as He rebirths and remakes and transforms them forever.

Below are a few Bible passages on parenting…Sip through them. Ask God to help you notice both the specific descriptions/verbs of parenting, the overarching responsibility that comes with Christian parenting, and the God-chosen consequences for parenting His way or the world’s way.

These verses below should show us God’s high standard as well as our utter inability to meet those standards apart from continual dependence on the Lord Jesus! These verses should discourage us from our own abilities—thus lowering our self-esteem—but also encourage us to cling to the Father’s ability—thus raising our God-esteem!

You don’t have to read all of these passages in one sitting. Perhaps read one each day with your spouse and children, talking briefly about them and closing in prayer. May the Father, Son & Holy Spirit give us wisdom, encouragement, strength, humility, love and all of the fruit of the Holy Spirit as we intentionally guide our children to the Lord Jesus Christ through His perfect Word; may we ultimately trust them into HIS loving hands, for He did say, “Let the little children come to ME, and do not hinder them” (Matthew 19:14 NIV).

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Psalm 78:5-7
He decreed statutes for Jacob

    and established the law in Israel,

which he commanded our ancestors

    to teach their children,

so the next generation would know them,

    even the children yet to be born,

    and they in turn would tell their children.

Then they would put their trust in God

    and would not forget his deeds

    but would keep his commands.

My friends, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a beautiful relay race. The LORD graciously gives each of us a certain amount of time on earth–a certain number of laps!–as He fulfills His purposes for us and through us in our generation (Acts 13:36), as we run the race that He has marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1-3).

May we not fail to pass the baton to our children and the next generation! We cannot and should not try to force the baton into our children’s hands…but we are to offer it to them daily, to let them see us run the race of faith, the obedience that comes from faith (Romans 1:5), to let them see us follow Christ, submit to Him, confess sin to Him & grieve over our sin, rejoice over His grace & mercy to forgive us AND cleanse us from our sin, to diligently train to be spiritually fit (1 Timothy 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We diligently work hard to pass on so many lesser things to our children: finances, the importance of a college education, trinkets & toys & gadgets, etc. Not that these things are unimportant, but they are nothing compared to being saved by the Lord Jesus Christ & knowing Him & maturing in Him (Philippians 3:7-11). And our diligence in passing on these other things to our children often leaves us with little energy or desire to pass on the baton of faith, the baton of the LORD’s grace & Truth.

But the verses above show we aren’t only passing on to our children knowledge about the LORD…but knowing Him, trusting in Him as their Lord & King & Savior & God. We aren’t just teaching them to apply a few Biblical principles in life so that they can chase their dreams. We are teaching them what it means to surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, for adoption into His family, for spiritual rebirth…that we may know Him and pursue His will…

Regarding what we pass on to our children, may the LORD gives us both wisdom, strength and a willing spirit to prioritize for eternity, not just to prioritize for our 50/100 years on earth.

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Psalm 103:13-14

As a father has compassion on his children,

    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,

    he remembers that we are dust.

We often do a good job of telling our children over and over again how much the Lord Jesus loves them…and He does!!! But we often do not help them understand what that means and doesn’t mean. We often don’t help them understand the Biblical definition of love as contrasted by the culture’s definition of love.

The verses above in Psalm 103 are a prime example: the compassion of God involves us learning to fear Him (for more on this in detail, please click HERE). The Truth of “fearing God” or “fearing the LORD” occurs so often throughout both the Old & New Testaments–over 200 times (please click HERE and HERE)! Indeed the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, the kindergarten, not the end, the Phd. We must learn this ourselves and then pass it on to our children if they are to truly know and experience and enjoy the Biblical love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord,

    offspring a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

    are children born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

    whose quiver is full of them.

They will not be put to shame

    when they contend with their opponents in court.

Children are a heritage/inheritance from God—they are a GIFT from Him to us! If a loved one dies and you find out that they have left you something in their will, that’s usually a good thing, that usually causes us to be excited, that gift (inheritance) usually represents a valuable token of deep friendship/love from that person!

Do we look at our children as an inheritance from God to us? As a friend of mine so wonderfully pointed out, do we see our kids as God’s gifts to us, or as burdens/chores/projects? Do we ENJOY our children as a blessing directly from the LORD, or do we merely tolerate them & keep them out of our hair & pass the time until they become adults & move out of the house?

Notice also that this passage about children comes in the context of God revealing that we NEED Him to be at the center of our lives—especially at the center of our parenting!—for us to have success, for our efforts as parents to not be in vain. This doesn’t mean that following a Biblical formula will guarantee that certain children will be produced—discipleship is not an assembly line but a hand-made process where each person comes out unique and different. But we still need His help every moment to accurately represent Him to our children, to raise them in His power and His wisdom.

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Proverbs 13:24

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,

    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

Proverbs 19:18

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;

    do not be a willing party to their death.

Proverbs 29:17

Discipline your children,

and they will give you peace;

they will bring you the delights you desire.

While of course we are not to physically beat our children, we are to learn what it means to Biblically discipline them. That is, Christian parents are to learn to give our children clear and age-related consequences appropriate for their specific sinful behavior. We are also to learn what it means to show mercy to our children–as the LORD has graciously shown mercy to us!–while also following through on the consequences we say that they will have for sin. What a responsibility is Christian parenting!

  • We must look to Scripture to see the ways that God disciplines His children;
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  • We must continually ask the LORD for wisdom re: appropriate consequences;
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  • We must also learn from the ways that the Holy Spirit disciplines us…DOES He discipline us? Does He ever convict us parents of our sinfulness and prune away our rebellious beliefs, attitudes, and actions? If not, Hebrews 12 tells us that we ourselves are not children of God…

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Proverbs 22:6

Start children off on [train up a child in] the way they should go,

    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

This need not be a soul-crushing verse for parents who have failed to start discipling their children from infancy–nothing is impossible with God, it is never too late to start honoring Him by parenting His ways!

But what a great encouragement and warning it is to start as young as possible!

First, raising our children according to God’s Truth is a type of training, like Olympic athletes–full-time work requiring diligence and consistency and sacrifice and soreness. It is not an “8 minute abs” program that we do when it’s convenient after we have chased all our other dreams and goals. It is a crock-pot, not a microwave; it is a homemade meal from scratch, not quick & inexpensive fast food.

Secondly, from the cradle our children are being trained up by the books we read them, the music they listen to, the t.v. shows/movies they watch, the people they interact with. This happens whether we realize it or not.

  • In general, there are only two truly neutral, relatively ph-balanced items in nature–water and salt; everything else is either basic or acidic in varying degrees.
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  • Similarly, there are few things in life–if any!–that are truly neutral, truly harmless. The stimuli we experience–both inside our hearts/minds/bodies and outside in the culture–are either beneficial or harmful in varying degrees, either soften our hearts or harden them, either increase our hunger to know the LORD or deaden our taste buds to His character & presence.

As Scott Sauls says, “Whatever you spend your time doing most,
that is what is discipling [training] you.”

  • Are we diligently training our children up in the way of the LORD
    according to His Word in the power of His Holy Spirit?
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  • Are we training ourselves as well? Is Christ Jesus a hobby for us, a sprig or garnish on the meal of our lives, or is He the center around which our planets revolve, the main entree (and the side dishes and the plate itself)!

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Isaiah 1:2

Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the Lord has spoken:

“I reared children and brought them up,

but they have rebelled against me.”

Are we simply keeping our children physically alive, or are we bringing them up, are we rearing and raising them?

Are they a lawn that we quickly mow as little as possible (with our ear buds in listening to whatever will distract us & help the time pass by?), and only then when they get wild & out of control?

Or are we dedicating ourselves to the work of cultivating them like a garden–applying fertilizer and water, tilling the soil on our knees, carefully pruning, wisely protecting from harmful insects, pulling up nutrient sapping weeds, transplanting our children into the Son-shine of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ?

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Isaiah 38:19-20

The living, the living—they praise You,

    as I am doing today;

parents tell their children

    about Your faithfulness.

Oh will we tell our children how the LORD, not scientific theories, created the beauty and splendor of the universe, of a sunset, of a hummingbird’s beak and a lion’s roar, of the giant storm on Jupiter and the circulatory system of a gnat?

Will we tell our children how the LORD delivered His people from slavery in Egypt with a mighty had and outstretched arm?

Will we tell our children how the LORD sent His Son to die for the sins of all who would surrender to Him as Savior & King?

Will we tell our children the ways that the LORD has shown His faithfulness to us in our particular lives, how the LORD has carried us through the mountain tops & valleys of our lives?

Oh will we tell our children about the faithfulness of the LORD, His unchanging character and enduring promises?

(for more on “altars of remembrance”, please click HERE)

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Jeremiah 17:1-2

“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool,

    inscribed with a flint point,

on the tablets of their hearts

    and on the horns of their altars.

Even their children remember

    their altars and Asherah poles

beside the spreading trees

    and on the high hills.

Do we realize that our children are constantly learning from and watching us,
that they often see things in us that we fail to recognize?

Do we realize the devastating effect it has on them when we pursue and pamper and indulge our various sins–treating them as if they are no big deal–instead of grieving over them and turning from them and laying them at the cross of Christ, confessing them to the Lord Jesus so He can both forgive us and cleanse us from them? (1 John 1:9)

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Lamentations 2:19

Arise, cry out in the night,

    as the watches of the night begin;

pour out your heart like water

    in the presence of the Lord.

Lift up your hands to him

    for the lives of your children,

who faint from hunger

    at every street corner.

Oh will we sacrifice sleep, not to watch one more show on Netflix or scan the latest memes on Facebook, but to pray to the LORD, to cry out to Him consistently, for the earthly AND eternal lives of our children?

Will we put our children into His limitless hands because we realize there is a limit to how we can bless them with ours?

Will we cry out to Him to save & forgive & make them new and adopt them into His family through the crucifixion & resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Will we take time away from earthly hobbies so we can leave for our children the eternal inheritance of hundreds of hours of prayers for them in the presence of the LORD, at the throne of His grace?

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Malachi 4:5-6

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you
before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.

He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their parents;

or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

The closing words of the Old Testament—the importance of God getting parents & children reconnected, of turning their hearts (wills, desires, emotions) toward each other in humility, grace, Truth, wisdom, dedication and compassion!

The important work of Elijah (John the Baptizer) to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus–getting parents & children reconciled! Oh the importance of Christian parenting!

Don’t despair, Christian parent, at the dizzying heights and sheer face cliffs of the mountain of parenting–you are not alone!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,

to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).