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)
Several years ago I taught through the Book of Revelation in a couple of my Bible studies. It was when we arrived at chapters 11 & 12, we finally started hearing about beasts, dragons, etc.
This, quite naturally and appropriately brought up a discussion about Satan. Therefore, to help the conversation along, I shared the following “facts” on Satan that I gleaned from Wayne Grudem. I thought I might pass it along here as well.
Some Facts About Satan
1.) Satan was the originator of sin (Gen. 3:1-6; 2 Cor. 11:3; John 8:44; 1 Jn. 3:8)
2.) Demons oppose and try to destroy every work of God (Gen. 3:1-6; Matt. 4:1-11; John 8:44; Rev. 12:9; Ps. 106:37; 2 Cor. 4:4; Gal. 4:8)
3.) Yet, demons are limited by God’s control and have limited power (Job 1:12, 2:6; Jude 6; James 4:7). Wayne Grudem writes, “We should not think that demons can know the future or that they can read our minds or know our thoughts.” (Isa. 46:9-10; Mark 13:32)
With respect to knowing our thoughts, the Bible tells us that Jesus knew people’s thoughts (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Mark 2:8; Luke 6:8; 11:17) and that God knows people’s thoughts (Gen. 6:5; Ps. 139:2, 4, 23; Isa. 66:18), but there is no indication that angels or demons can know our thoughts.
4.) There have been differing stages of demonic activity in the history of redemption…
5.) Are demons active in the world today? According to Grudem, “If Scripture gives us a true account of the world today as it really is, then we must take seriously its portrayal of intense demonic involvement in human society.”
6.) Not all evil and sin is from Satan and demons, but some is.
7.) Can a Christian be demon possessed?
It depends on what the person means by “possessed.” The New Testament doesn’t use this term in the original Greek. If by “demon possessed” someone means “that a person’s will is completely dominated by a demon, so that a person has no power left to choose to do right and obey, then the answer is “no,” for Scripture guarantees that sin shall have no dominion over us since we have been raised with Christ (Rom. 6:14, see also verses 4 & 11).
However, most Christians would agree that there can be differing degrees of demonic attack or influence in the lives of believers (see Luke 4:2; 2 Cor. 12:7; Eph. 6:12; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8).
8.) Jesus gives all believers authority to rebuke demons and command them to leave (Luke 9:1; 10:17, 19; Acts 8:7; 16:18; 2 Cor. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:10-18; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8)
9.) We should expect the gospel to come in power to triumph over the works of the devil.
Taken from Wayne Grudem’s book, Systematic Theology
The practice of catechesis is vital for the health of both the church and family. Several years ago I came across the following two articles that do a great job of addressing this topic. Both deal with J.I. Packer’s recent book and his comments about the importance of catechesis, and when Packer talks, we all need to listen.
The first one is found at Christianity Today and is an excerpt from his book, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, which he cowrote with Gary A. Parrett. Here’s a snippet from that excerpt…
Historically, the church’s ministry of grounding new believers in the rudiments of Christianity has been known as catechesis—the growing of God’s people in the gospel and its implications for doctrine, devotion, duty, and delight. It is a ministry that has waxed and waned through the centuries. It flourished between the second and fifth centuries in the ancient church. Those who became Christians often moved into the faith from radically different worldviews. The churches rightly sought to ensure that these life-revolutions were processed carefully, prayerfully, and intentionally, with thorough understanding at each stage.
Click here to read the whole piece.
The other column is by Mark Earley at BreakPoint. Here’s an excerpt from it…
There is generally need for three distinct forms of catechetical ministry. They say it’s protocatechesis, which refers to teaching what many today would call “seekers” or what the ancients called “inquirers”; catechesis proper, which refers to the formal work of preparing children or adult converts for baptism or confirmation; and ongoing catechesis, which is the never-ending teaching and formation of believers.
Click here to read the whole column and make sure to see the links at the bottom of it.
Grace and Truth,
Below is an interview with J.I. Packer on the importance and need for catechesis.
I'm blessed to be a part of a great group of men at the church I serve. Each and every week we meet together for the purpose of fellowship, studying God’s Word, and prayer. God has been good to us ever since we first started meeting back in 2001.
My hope and prayer when I first started the men’s ministry was the men of our church would come to know Christ better and to have their minds renewed, their hearts renovated, and their lives transformed… in every sphere of their lives. That means personally, at home with their families, at work, at church, in the community, everywhere. Again, God has been good and I have seen firsthand how this has happened and continues to do so.
I believe one of the best ways we, as Christian men, can extend God’s Kingdom and impact our culture for Christ is by influencing men before they’re men. I think the time to begin discipling, encouraging, and developing Christian men is when they’re still boys. Wouldn’t it be great if generation after generation of boys grew up in our churches where being discipled by their fathers and other godly men was commonplace? What might God do in and through the lives of such boys when they become men?
One of the topics I’m committed to writing about on this blog is shepherding (i.e., loving, caring for, encouraging, leading, discipling, developing, etc.) our sons to become men of God. As a father of three sons I must confess I’m still learning. I still fall flat on my face as a dad. However, it’s my deepest desire for my own sons to become godly boys, then godly young men, and then, one day, godly men who are raising their own sons or daughters to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to live for him in every sphere of life. What could be better?
Grace and Truth,
I've written a great deal over the years on the subject of fatherhood. It is certainly near and dear to my heart. I guess I care so much about it because, not only am I a father, but I also recognize the significance fathers play in the larger picture of our culture... and indeed, civilization itself.
There are a good number of articles on the topic of fatherhood I think are worth passing along. I found the ones compiled in the list below several years ago. While you may not agree with every jot and tittle they are all worthy of reading and thinking more deeply about.
How a Dad's Involvement Can Change His Children's Future by Rachel Sheffield
Father's Day: Taking Dad Seriously b Rachel Sheffield
Finding Dad at tothesource
Fatherhood's Call to Duty by Ravi Zacharias
Confessions of a Bad Dad by Peter Chin
Seven Lessons I Learned from My Dad by Pat Morley
The Good Old Way by Andrew Sandlin
25 Facts on the Importance of Fathers by Joe Carter
Seven Contrasts Between Fathers and Teachers by Joseph Mattera
Fathers: The Key to Their Children's Faith by Michael Craven
Fatherhood: Man's Highest Calling by Kenny Luck
No Matter How Difficult, Resolve to Honor Your Father by Neil Kennedy
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,