Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

A Book Review of William P. Farley’s, “Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting”

William P. Farley is pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship in Spokane, WA, which belongs to the Sovereign Grace Ministries network of churches.

Farley strikes the balance beautifully between the absolute freedom of God in His sovereignty to regenerate the heart of the elect along with God’s sovereignly prescribed means for parents in raising their kids. This balance protects parents from being negligent and passive in the name of God’s sovereignty (“My kids salvation rests completely in God and has little or nothing to do with me”) or presumption that the prescribed means operate as an assembly line where we simply create Christians by pushing the right buttons (“If I parent exactly how God wants me to, then my kids will absolutely be Christians”).

We, therefore, don’t parent as if it completely depends on God, nor as if it completely depends on us. These complexities of means and God’s overarching Sovereign purposes have long confounded God’s people. Godly parents may see their children rebel, whereas Godless parents may see their children radically regenerated by God’s Spirit. Having said that, Farley acknowledges that God generally works through means and that negligent parents will generally see the consequences in their children, whereas Godly parents will generally see greater evidences of grace operating in their children.

If anything, Farley advocates parenting that is completely dependent upon God’s grace in the discharge of the prescribed means He calls us to.

The most striking and insightful aspects of the book for me personally can be summarized in the following points:

–          We must parent with one eye on eternity. Farley states, “…the Christian does not parent for this life only”.  We have 18 short years to not only influence their short time in this life, but also for all eternity.

–          Our aim is not to create “moral” kids. We ought not solely seek behavioral modification in our children. This alone will create nice little hypocrites who are further away from the Gospel of grace. While we must discipline and certainly condemn certain behaviors, we must always be pointing our kids to the cross and the Gospel.

–          Theology is enormously practical in how we parent because we should seek to emulate the “communicable” attributes of God towards our children. If we don’t know God, then we will paint a distorted picture of His nature to our children.

–          Regardless of schooling convictions (Christian school, public school, home school), the one factor that most influences our children’s Spiritual wellbeing is the faithful and consistent attention of parents. Farley concedes that public school might be too harmful for some and that all parents must use discretion. Having said that, a particular “method”  won’t work apart from parents who honor God above all.

–          Marriages preach the Gospel.

–          Dads matter more than any other factor in the perseverance of children’s interest in Spiritual things and church attendance into adulthood.

–          Lastly, Farley said, “Love God more than your children”. He cites many examples from pastoral ministry where families placed their kids above God and have gone on to pay a dear price with the apostasy of their children. If the parents weren’t valuing God more than the weekend soccer games, etc., why should we expect our kids to honor God more than __________ (fill in the blank).

Bottom Line:

I commend this book for parents. There is no shortage of books on parenting, but I think Farley brings out many good points and pastoral life illustrations that will be helpful and hopeful for most parents.

Ed Stetzer offers 6 problems with Porn based on a recent study conducted by Patrick Faban (link).

Some of the findings are as follows (quoting Stetzer):

  • Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the biological substrate of this addiction.
  • Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornography they use, become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
  • Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family disasters.
  • Among couples affected by one spouse’s addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
  • Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
  • The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual, marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens, communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach.

It’s not as if we Christians are lacking in conviction over the wrongness of pornography; it poisons everything. Pornography is like a drug. It is intoxicating and stimulating and offers ever diminishing returns, thus leading to more pronounced excursions into more vile forms, while also breeding a discontent with our spouses.

Mark Driscoll offers a resource that may be helpful for those of you in the battle. Here is a link to the book, “Porn Again Christian: A Frank Discussion on Pornography and Masturbation“.

We are reponsible for exerting all sexual desire towards our spouses or future spouses. Pornography is a sign of selfishness and laziness. There is always hope because God’s grace is always present, but let us never presume God’s grace in such a way that we can take a detour into such sin and will return home safely. Our hope must also include a trembling fear over the wrath that our lust incites in God’s character. God reserves the right to make your life miserable and even to take your life for sexual sin.

1 Corinthians 10:1–8 (ESV) — 1 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

In otherwards, a single act of sexual sin desrves this same punishment of the 23,000 who fell dead. This account speaks of how God truly feels about things. If you are alive and breathing, there is hope, because God has already been gracious to you. God, however, won’t be mocked and won’t contend with rebellion forever and will inevitably give you over. The study confirms the death that porn brings about. You reap what you sow, so stop sowing to the flesh…it will kill you.

I had the most pleasant time interviewing Bill Farley about his conversion, family life, and his book, “Gospel-Powered Parenting”. I conducted the interview as part of the show “Faith and Reason” on 10/12/2010 while filling in for Christian apologist Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (  

Here is a link to the 1 hour interview: Bill Farley on “Gospel-Powered Parenting”

I also want to mention to all that Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Nampa will be hosting a “Gospel-Powered Family” conference featuring Bill Farley. The information is below. Hope to see you there as we ponder how we can better parent for the glory of God!!!

Gospel-Powered Parenting Conference

William P. Farley is pastor of Grace Christian Fellowship  ( in Spokane, WA. He has published articles in Discipleship Journal, Enrichment Journal, & Focus on the Family magazine. He has been married to Judy since 1971, has five children & fourteen grandchildren. He is the author of “Gospel-Powered Parenting” & “Outrageous Mercy” (P&R).

October 22-24, 2010 @ Sovereign Grace Fellowship (1311 6th Street South, Nampa, ID 83651)  208-466-0937


Friday, October 22

7pm – “How the Gospel Relates to Parenting” by Bill Farley 

Sat, October 23

9am – “Fatherhood Lessons from Noah” by Bill Farley

10am – “Spirit-Filled Parenting” by Rick Hogaboam

11am – “Parenting and the Ten Commandments” by Bill Farley

12pm – Lunch Break (Bring a bagged lunch and eat with others)

1pm – “New Testament Instructions on Parenting” by Bill Farley

2pm – “Questions & Answers” (Panel will include Bill & Judy Farley)

Lord’s Day, October 24

10:45am – Bill Farley will be preaching, “The Gospel: A Narrow Angled View

COST:  FREE, however books will be available for purchase at conference. No need to register.

WHO: Everyone is invited. Married, single, whoever.

WHERE: Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Nampa (address listed above)

CHILDCARE: There will be no childcare or nursery staff; however the nursery will be available for moms to use. Children are welcome.


These are rough notes from the community group I lead:

In the Beginning…God officiated a wedding

In the Beginning, God gave a bride to Christ

In the Recreation of all things, there shall be a wedding

–          All of this is a “mystery”

–          Ephesians 5:32 (ESV) — 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Genesis 1:26–28 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Us – God is one, but 3, relational being

Image – man (male and female) reflect God’s image, different be design, reflects unity and complementary roles

God blessed them – beatitude and benediction upon the created order

Creation Mandate –

–          Fruitful, multiply, fill: children

–          Subdue, dominion: subdue does not mean to press down, but rather to exercise authority in a way that begets harmony in the created order. God rules providentially by means, though not confined to them.

  • They were co-regents over the created order


Genesis 2:18–25 (ESV) — 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

LORD GOD – Yahweh, God’s personal intimate, covenant reference, shows relational nature of God’s dealings. Generic Elohim was used in Chp. 1  

Not good – general concession for all, requires a special gift to remain single and to be relationally fulfilled. In the immediate context, it was impossible for God’s mandate to fill earth and beget a multitude of people who would be born into God’s creation.

Helper fit for him – subordinate in function, complementary,

A man shall leave his father and his mother mother…holf fast…one flesh – the ongoing normative pattern considering that God will no longer just create fully mature males and females and pair them.


I had heard plenty of good reports about Paul David Tripp’s latest release, What Did You Expect??: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (Crossway Books, 2010), and when I was recently asked to officiate a wedding for a young couple I thought it a perfect opportunity to read the book and see if it could be useful in pre-marital counseling. Tripp’s book is obviously designed to help those who are struggling in their marriages, but the foundations and practical applications are exactly what’s needed for every season of marriage. As the man himself writes, this book is “a detailed description of the daily work of love that must be done with commitment and joy when a flawed person is married to a flawed person and they are living in a fallen world.” That covers everyone in every situation this side of eternity.

The book begins with some key principals that underpin the rest of the work, namely the problem of selfishness, the focus on day by day small decisions/actions that lead to the big crises of life, and most importantly the realistic hopefulness that comes from the Gospel. After these foundations come six commitments, each of which receive multiple chapters. The commitments are:

“1) We will give ourselves to a regular lifestyle of confession and forgiveness.

2) We will make growth and change our daily agenda.

3) We will work together to build a sturdy bond of trust.

4) We will commit to building a relationship of love.

5) We will deal with our differences with appreciation and grace.

6) We will work to protect our marriage.”

Each chapter features the story of a couple in crisis, how they got there and then Tripp offers the solution that is drawn from the application of the commitment, those being drawn from the foundational principals, which in turn are all drawn from the Gospel. This is the reason that I give absolute, unabashed recommendation for this book. Tripp doesn’t lead his readers down some self-seeking inwardly-fixated therapy session. He is not prone to the modern tendency to blame one’s parents, environment or breakfast. Instead, he calls sin for what it is, points to Jesus as the only way to deal with sin and then models that same forgiveness in marriage. You see the heart of a pastor and counselor on every page.

I will admit the book is not flawless – there appear to be some repetitions of passages – but even this adds to the weight of the message Tripp is bringing. Other than the repetition, the writing is fluid and engaging, and the points are clearly made. I would love to see some study guide material for the book, especially how Tripp would vary that material depending on audience (pre-marital, marital check-up, marital crisis), but for now I’ll be working on my own so that I can employ this book for as many people as I get opportunity.

Bottom line, wherever your marriage is at, this book is worthy of your time and investment. It is both deeply theological and intensely practical. Read it, then do as it instructs, and watch as your marriage grows in health, strength and beauty.