Far and away one of the best books I’ve ever read on child-rearing is Standing on the Promises, by Doug Wilson. If you were to ask to borrow my copy, I’m not sure it would do you any good because you probably wouldn’t be able to read the words from all my notes and markings.
However, if you are looking for a “how to” book to help you raise your children, this is not the book for you. While the book is not without practical application, Wilson is far less concerned with giving you twelve easy steps to parenting godly kids as he is with giving you a firm foundation upon which to do so. But, I hasten to add, the book is anything but abstract and impractical. It is encouraging, instructive, and even inspiring. I heartily recommend it to any and all parents who are seeking to raise godly children in this ungodly age.
Here are a few choice quotes from the first chapter that I think are worth passing on…
The Fountainhead of Culture
The biblical family is an instituted government, established by God at the very beginning of human history. The constitution for this government was written by him, and revealed to us in his Word.
Parents bring up their children to be colonists at the proper time, planting families of their own.
Consequently, each family is designed to be a culture – with a language, customs, traditions, and countless unspoken assumptions. God has made the world in such a way that children who grow up in the culture of the family are to be shaped and molded by it. The duty of the husband and father is to ensure that the shaping is done according tot he standards of the Word of God.
[A common problem among modern Christians] is that of forgetting the family is a culture at all, and allowing, by default, outside cultural influences to take primacy in how the children are shaped. When the biblical cultural mandate for the home is abandoned in the home, the vacuum will not be there for long.
By nature, children are malleable. They will either be shaped lawfully, by those commanded by God to perform the task, or they will be shaped unlawfully, by outsiders. But as children, they will be shaped.
This is one of the many great series by T.M. Moore at The Fellowship of Ailbe. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the various newsletters that are offered from this Kingdom-minded ministry. Moore is a wise and godly man who walks closely with the Lord and has much to offer the church today.
This series, on how Christians ought to understand and engage culture, is a helpful tool for all who want to represent Christ well and reach the world for his sake. These studies work well as either your own personal devotional resource or as study material for your small group… or both.
1.) Repudiate (Engaging Culture, Part 1)
2.) Appropriate (Engaging Culture, Part 2)
3.) Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part3)
4.) Transform (Engaging Culture, Part 4)
5.) Innovate (Engaging the Culture, Part 5)
6.) Three “Legs” (Engaging the Culture, Part 6)
7.) Three “Braces” (Engaging the Culture, Part 7)
Christians have often truncated the scope of Christian witness one way or the other, depending on the person or group with whom you are speaking. For example, sometimes witness is understood purely in terms of evangelism and missions. Other times, bearing witness for Christ is framed exclusively in terms of social action.
Instead, the church is at her best when she views and practices her witness as a both/and… not an either/or. It’s what George Grant called in his book by the same name, The Micah Mandate (a very, very important book in my life that did much to shape me).
Bearing a faithful witness for our King and his Kingdom involves introducing folks to our King and helping them come to know him in a meaningful, transforming, personal, and saving way. Yet it also involves representing our King in the midst of the lesser kingdoms of this world. He desires to rule and reign in every sphere of life and we must go out into the highways and byways to stand for… and even fight for… his mercy, justice, and peace, according to his way of doing things. Of course, all of this is to be done with great humility, and always in the context of loving our neighbors by serving them and sharing his truth with them.
At all times we are under his authority and are not at liberty to pursue our own agendas and preferences. This means we must dig into what his Word says. The Great Commandment, Great Commission, and Cultural Mandate all require loving, serving, and obeying our King for his glory and the good of our neighbors. This is our Christian witness. It’s what I’ve elsewhere referred to as Kingdom Discipleship.
May God help us clarify our focus and strengthen our faithfulness as we seek to bear witness to and for our King.
Grace and Truth,
Volume 1 - Issue 3
2015 Sees Sharp Rise in Post-Christian Population by Barna Update
Curious by T.M. Moore at The Fellowship of Ailbe
And while you're at Ailbe, make sure to pick up their call to prayer and revival for men.
The Bird Still Sings: Why Christianity Cannot Be Silenced by Ravi Zacharias at RZIM
The Challenge of Secularization by Aiden Nichols at The Imaginative Conservative
23 Passionate Appeals from a Father's Heart by David Murray at Head Heart Hand
Discipleship: A Synonym for Christian Living by Stephen Smallman at byFaith Magazine
Worldview: An Ode to Newspapers by James K.A. Smith at Cardus
8-Second Filters by James Emery White at Church & Culture
And a video for good measure...
Why Non-Believers Do Not Take Their Beliefs Seriously
Featuring Bruce Little
Produced by FOCL
Brothers in Christ,
For over two decades I’ve been using some version of the phrase, “faith for every sphere of life.” I first started thinking about this obvious nature of our faith (that it’s for every sphere of life) as I began a deep study of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Two of the books that helped with my “aha” moment were Richard Baxter’s Christian Directory and John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. (click here for more about Richard Baxter)
What attracted me so much to the idea of finally understanding our faith being authoritative and relevant for every sphere of life (besides the fact that the Bible teaches it) was that I, like soooo very many other men, had long been an adherent of a compartmentalized faith. Men, you know the drill: the Christian faith is fine for Sunday mornings, etc., but it has nothing to do with the rest of your life. It’s embarrassing to “say” out loud, but that’s the truth of where I was.
Since that time I have observed that a comprehensive view of the Christian faith, whether practiced or not, is gaining some traction (at least by most folks in the church). The secular world would still prefer for the Church to remain silent about anything not having to do with worship on Sunday mornings. Faith, they say, is private… you shouldn’t bring it into the public square. Of course, that’s ridiculous, and I’m not going to spend time responding to that. Others far more articulate than I have thoroughly dismantled such a view.
At any rate, over the years I’ve tried to use various phrases that capture my deep and abiding commitment to the notion that my faith applies to every sphere of my life because Jesus Christ is Lord over every sphere of my life. (My most recent “brainstorm” for this idea that has helped me wrap my mind around it is kingdom discipleship) I have loved Abraham Kuyper’s quote that says something along the lines that there is not a square inch in all the universe about which Christ does declare, “Mine!”
As a United Methodist, I have naturally rejoiced that John Wesley took just such a view of the Christian faith. He called it Scriptural Holiness and said that it was his purpose in life to spread Scriptural Holiness over the land (which, for him, was England). For Wesley, holiness was inward and also outward. It was personal and it was also social. There was no picking and choosing. Faith must permeate every aspect of a Christian’s life – marriage, parenting, work, economics, politics, education, the arts, personal morality, relationships, civic duty and serving the community, etc., etc., etc. One book that has served me well in attempting to understand this concept from a Wesleyan perspective is Mack Stokes’ little book, Scriptural Holiness for the United Methodist Church. I highly recommend it… if you can find it.
Brothers, I would encourage you to pray over what it would mean to you to understand that there is not even the smallest corner in your life over which Jesus Christ, as Lord, does not shout, “Mine!” How would acknowledging and submitting to that truth change your life? How would it bless your relationship with your family and friends? What consequences would that have for you in your workplace? Can you imagine the possibilities? Men, Christ is calling you to follow him in every sphere of your lives. Do you hear him? Will you follow him?
Grace and Truth,