Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ 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.

The following are my notes from my address at the Gospel-Powered Parenting Conference. You can also find the audio here (link).

Ephesians 5:15–6:4 (ESV) — 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

5:15-17 “Precept and Proverb Driven Life” (Truth and Goodness)

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

–          “carefully”, “how you walk” = we must be sober in how we live our life. The Christian life is often described as a walk. In the context of parenting, the way we walk affects where our kids go. They are following us, trusting us to lead them.

  • We hike once in awhile and we are mindful of the kids staying on the path. we must be careful not to stray to the side or you might fall off, or walk into poison ivy. You must stay alert; not a good time to be looking backwards while you are walking.

–          Psalm 119:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!

–          Psalm 119:9–10 (ESV) — 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!

–          Psalm 119:19–20 (ESV) — 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

–          Psalm 119:32 (ESV) — 32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

–          Psalm 119:35 (ESV) — 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.

–          Psalm 119:44–45 (ESV) — 44 I will keep your law continually, forever and ever, 45 and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.

–          Psalm 119:54 (ESV) — 54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.

–          Psalm 119:59 (ESV) — 59 When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;

–          Psalm 119:67 (ESV) — 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.

–          Psalm 119:85 (ESV) — 85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.

–          Psalm 119:95 (ESV) — 95 The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.

–          Psalm 119:101–102 (ESV) — 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. 102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.

–          Psalm 119:105 (ESV) — 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

–          Psalm 119:110 (ESV) — 110 The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.

–          Psalm 119:117–118 (ESV) — 117 Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! 118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain.

–          Psalm 119:133 (ESV) — 133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

–          Psalm 119:176 (ESV) — 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

  • Last verse of Psalm is not triumphant, but confessional and a plea. We need grace and mercy on this journey of walking in the Lord, but walk we must. The stakes are high. Pastor Farley points out in his book how important modeling is. Do as I say not as I do doesn’t jive with kids for a reason. They will grow up jaded and bitter. They will honestly resent you when they grow older. They will have little to no respect for a hypocritical parent. They can care less how good you look on Sunday, when they see right through you at home. Your kids are watching you. You might be convinced that they aren’t watching you, but they are. Parents are still the most significant role models for kids.

 –          not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

–          We walk according to the Lord’s precepts not just because it is true, though that alone is enough motivation, but because is “good”.

–          We see the goodness of God in this text as Paul employs “wisdom” literature in brief. The contrast between wise and unwise, foolish and understanding, beckon us to God’s wisdom as being good. We need a Proverbs driven life, seeking obedience to God’s precepts, but also an abiding affirmation of the hearty goodness in God’s ways.

–          We are also told to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil”. There’s an urgency to acquire wisdom, to walk in the will of the Lord and reject our foolishness and the evil time. We must seek wisdom in Christ or perish. This is summed up quite well in the first chapter of Proverbs: (more…)

As a father and former child myself, I have found myself searching the Scriptures more and more lately in developing a Biblically grounded theology of children. The Church has been doing this for years and there is hardly any consensus on how exactly our children are initiated into the full membership of the Church community. Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans, and so on all have varying convictions on these matters. I am not attempting to resolve this doctrinal matter in its entirety, but do want to commend the following quotes from C.H. Spurgeon (from “Spiritual Parenting”)  as something that I trust we can all get behind and seek in the life of our children and Church. Enjoy.

Importance of training children in the faith: “Parents sin in the same way when they omit religion from the education of their children. Perhaps the thought is that their children cannot be converted while they are children…Let us expect our children to know the Lord. Let us from the beginning mingle the name of Jesus with their ABC’s. Let them read their first lessons from the Bible…But let us never be guilty, as parents, of forgetting the religious training of our children. If we do, we may be guilty of the blood of their souls.”

The sin of low expectations: “Another result is that the conversion of children is not expected in many of our churches and congregations. I mean, that they do not expect the children to be converted as children. The theory is that if we can impress youthful minds with principles which may, in after years, prove useful to them, we have done a great deal. But to convert children as children, and to regard them as being as much believers as their seniors, is regarded as absurd.”

The sin of cynicism: “Another bad result is that the conversion of children is not believed. Certain suspicious people always file their teeth a bit when they hear of a newly-converted child: they will have a bite at him if they can. They very rightly insist that these children should be carefully examined before they are baptized and admitted into the church. However, they are wrong in insisting that only in exceptional instances are they to be received. We quite agree with them as to the care to be exercised, but it should be the same in all cases, and neither more nor less in the cases of children.”

I highly commend these words from Spurgeon. I want to reaffirm over and over again how important it is for us to train the little ones in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God has ordained instruction as the primary means whereby our children are brought into a faithful relationship with the Father (Deut. 6:4-9). Studies show that our children’s capacity for learning is amazingly high between infancy and 5 years.  Our children’s most tender years are also the most pliable. Their sense of identity and worldview are pretty much solidified by 18-20 years of age. Why is then that many parents have abandoned instructing their kids, instead saying, “I don’t want them to believe just because I believe and taught them. I want them to grow up and then find out for themselves what they believe.” This type of thinking is deadly. We wouldn’t dare keep our children from math, literature, etc because we would rather them grow up and decide whether they want to learn or not. We wouldn’t dare refrain from teaching our children the danger of running into the street and touching a hot stove. How much more then should we be guiding our children into eternal truth for their eternal good? (more…)

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 (www.carm.org).  

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  (www.gcfonline.org) 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)

www.sovereigngracefellowship.org  208-466-0937

Schedule:

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.

(more…)

A recent piece from CNN, titled “More Teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians”, is yet another confirmation from “secular” media about what’s wrong with modern day American Evangelicalism.

If you’re the parent of a Christian teenager, Kenda Creasy Dean has this warning:Your child is following a “mutant” form of Christianity, and you may be responsible.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Translation: It’s a watered-down faith that portrays God as a “divine therapist” whose chief goal is to boost people’s self-esteem.

Wow!!! Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is now being thrown around as the common problem with Christianity. I wonder if Christan Smith copyrighted the term. Dean also calls it a “mutant” form of Christianity. Strong words!!!

Some adults don’t expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.

Others practice a “gospel of niceness,” where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

“If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation,” wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Dean calls out “spineless” faith that doesn’t merit devotion. We seriously need to ask ourselves as parents if we are emulating a fear-based rejectionist view of the world and our mission to it, or if we are passionately engaging all areas of life with Christ, not just the living room. It is not good enough to be “nice”. The world is happy with us being merely nice.

Anyhow, more sobering news to us Evangelicals. We need to get back to “normal” Biblical Christianity, which is very radical and turned the world upside down. Loving our Lord, the sacred Scripture, the family of God, and the mission of God will set us on a right path. Apparently we don’t love Jesus all that much, or prefer a distorted image of who He is, don’t know Scripture, have forsaken what it truly means to be the Church, and turned the mission of God into merely being nice to those around us, taking solace in the mutual niceness and esteem we get from those we are kind to.

Parents, awake!!! Your kids are emulating your phony dispassionate faith and they are adhering to a mutated form of the Gospel. The world is even telling us what’s wrong, which means that it is seriously time to wake up and repent and be the people of God!!!

Fresh off my post challenging parents to embrace a “whole” Gospel for their children, which includes the mission of Jesus for sinners, I now read further evidence that children are in fact falling away from the church in increasingly alarming rates. The article notes that 16 is the magic number. They are being pulled away by Facebook and other priorities. While the first instinct is to then pull away Facebook and other things from our teens, which may be necessary, let us not confuse the removal of external “distractions” as the equivalent to heart sanctification and Gospel transformation. While it may be healthy and necessary for such distractions to be removed, mere behavioral modification is not our goal…for even that is fear-based. This should not be confused with addition by subtraction, it is simply subtraction.

The Gospel calls us not only to “put off” but also to “put on”. Our Christian faith must not be measured by what we don’t do as much as it is measured positively by what we do do. This “doing” is impossible and requires the grace of God. We need to teach our children to rely on the grace of God for their sanctification. This also requires that we parents are living out our sanctification positively as “new creations” in Christ. If this radically nature of the Gospel is not modeled and taught, then our kids will removed themselves from the “vine” because they never relied upon the vine in the first place for their life. It will be seen that our kids were simply trying to please the moral platitudes of their parents and simply viewed Christianity as a religion for the sake of morals. Once they find their identity at 16 0r so and realize that the Church has already accomplished it’s perceived goal and basically telling us how to be a good person, these teens will bid farewell to the Church and instead enter into a life where they simply seek to be a “good” person who treats people well, confusing that with what it truly means to be Christian. This is the great tragedy today and the only way one can explain how some 80% of Americans view themselves as “born-again” Christians while at the same time declaring the Church to be irrelevant.