PARENT UNIVERSITY

I have the privilege of being one of the preaching and teaching pastors at Highlands Presbyterian Church. I love it! I sometimes can’t believe I get to do this for a living.  One of the teaching opportunities that I get to have is the privilege of equipping parents to disciple their children according to the principles laid out in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  This Fall I will be teaching a six-week class called PARENT UNIVERSITY.  Please don’t be wowed by the name because I borrowed it from my dear friends at Perimeter Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

This class is designed for parents of teens and pre-teens. During our time together we will learn to help navigate your teen in today’s culture through this six-week class.  We will deal biblically and intentionally with topics like:

  • Should I let my child date?
  • How do I know if my child is a Christian?
  • How do I parent in this “high-tech” world?
  • Am I doing everything to protect my child from pornography?
  • And other challenges that parents face during the teen years.

I believe, as my friend Paul David Tripp wrote, that the teenage years are not years for parents to just survive – but to thrive. The teenage years are an age of opportunity.  Please join me.

From a Father to a Son: Proverbs 1

The book of Proverbs is a discipleship manual for parenting. Here are some key instructions from a father to a son from Proverbs 1.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, ESV)

Get wisdom! Heed instruction from the LORD! (v.7)

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” (Proverbs 1:29-33, ESV)

Son, if you choose to hate knowledge and to despise the fear of the LORD, you will be destroyed by your sin. This destruction will come by going your own way and not the LORD’s way.  Listen to the LORD’s instruction and you will be secure on a firm foundation. (vv.29-33)

Teaching My Children to Pray

One of the most over-whelming yet joyful responsibilities we have as parents is teaching our children how to pray.  I suspect that most parents struggle at teaching their children to pray because they themselves feel that they are not very good at praying.  I know I’ve felt this way and hey, I’m a pastor! I mean I’m the guy at all the family functions that has to say the blessing because “it’s my job.”

But I’m hear to tell you that consistent, daily, simple prayer with your children is one of the most profound things you can do to impact your child’s heart.  Just the other day one of my children asked if he could say the blessing at our evening meal.  I was glad to let him take leadership in doing this (after all, I’m trying to teach him how to lead a family one day).  I was moved by his prayer.  I was encouraging to see how he was able to articulate grace and thanksgiving all in a few sentences.  That evening it was his turn to pray for whatever was on his heart and some other requests that were made.  Again, I was blessed by the heart of his prayer.  Thank you Lord that from the “mouths of babes” you teach us and declare Your praise!

What was so encouraging about his prayers were not just that he was able to articulate praise and thanksgiving – it was that we believe he was truly praying out of a converted heart.  This is only something that God the Spirit can do and we are thankful for that.

As I have reflected on his prayers I realized that he did not learn this over night. He learned it in several different ways:

  1. He learned it from his parents.  When Ephesians 6:4 says that parents are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord this certainly includes prayer.  How do parents train their children to pray?  Is their a curriculum? Do they have to take a special class on prayer at church? NO! Parents teach their children to pray by simply praying with them.  It is that simple. Pray with your children.  If this is overwhelming to you, start by saying simple blessings at meal times, then move on to a season of prayer with your children before bed. The important thing to do is to do it. Give them a chance to pray and show them how to do it.
  2. He learned it from his Sunday School teachers.  I’m very thankful to work and belong to a Bible-believing, Gospel-loving church. Because of this blessing our children are around godly men and women teaching them the scriptures and teaching them how to pray. I’m thankful to those at church that pour time, energy, and love into my children to help disciple them. In the matter of prayer, my children have learned to pray because they have had the benefit of other dear believers pouring into their lives and modeling prayer for them. Do your children have this added blessing each week of being involved in a Sunday School?
  3. He learned it from school.  I’m not advocating any form of schooling for your family, that is up to each individual family, but my children have the blessing of attending a Christian school. This school is not only Christian by name but Christian in practice. What I mean by this is that everything the school does is intentional in pointing them to Christ. Part of this intentionality is prayer. Everything they do at the school is covered in prayer. Think about this, every day, before my child begins an activity or a lesson, they begin with prayer. Again, I’m thankful that while I’m away from my children, I know they are being prayed for and are seeing prayer modeled by their teachers. Maybe your child is not at a Christian school, how can prayer be cultivated throughout the day in their life? I’m thankful for the youth workers at my church who 3-4 times a week lead students in prayer over a prayer breakfast at a local eatery before school. Maybe you could think of something like that for your child.
  4. He learned it from worship. It’s the age-old debate of when should our children join us in worship. I’m not here to bind any families conscience on this matter but certainly when your child is old enough to follow your instruction and sit still for at least 30 minutes, they should join you in corporate worship. Bible-based corporate worship should consist of regular, God-centered prayers. At our church there are at least 3 key prayers through the service from different pastors and leaders. I want my child to hear these prayers. By watching, listening, and participating in corporate worship my child has been exposed to Christ-exalting prayer that I know are changing and cultivating his heart – thereby teaching him how to pray. Is it time for your child to join you in a worship service to pray with other believers?
  5. He learned it from his church family. Much of what I have just written explains this point but learning to pray is not all about programs at church. You see our church family is much like our real family. We do life with these people. Our kids interact with each other outside the church walls. My wife and I made a covenant to assist these families in raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Likewise these families have covenanted to do the same with my children. Therefore I want my children around these families because they are being prayed for and prayed over. Do your children have other families that are praying with and for them?
May the Father help us as we as parents impress the holy religion of Jesus Christ upon their hearts.
[5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

(Deuteronomy 6:5-7 ESV)

 

A New Favorite

For years I have been a huge proponent of Sally Lloyd-Jones work The Jesus Storybook Bible, and now her new work, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is another to add to my recommended list of resources for families.

I just finished previewing the book and here are some of my initials thoughts:

  • This book would be GREAT for children learning to do a personal devotion with God on their own.
  • This book would be a GREAT supplement to family devotions – perhaps a quick “thought” to read at breakfast before everyone goes their separate ways for the day.
  • Great tool to use one-on-one with a child – perhaps during “man-time” with your son or a daddy/daughter date.
  • This books is perfect for the family that wants to spend more time talking about God’s Word and discussing the magnificent truths and promises of the Bible.

I highly encourage you to pick up a copy.

Thoughts on Family Worship

I am convinced that fellowship around the Word of God is absolutely necessary for the survival of today’s family.  The souls of our children are at stake in today’s world and parents must be at the front-lines of the battlefield.  The only way I know to fight this war and win is with the Sword of the Spirit (Hebrews 4:12), the Word of God.

In many Christian homes the Word of God is taught, learned, and celebrated through an ancient tradition called family worship.  Family worship is not a church service in your home every night but it is a reverent, important, set-apart time to fellowship around the Word and to teach children about worshiping the Triune God of the Bible.  Other important elements of this time are prayer, singing, and thanksgiving.

Rob Reinow has an important word for us on the importance of family worship and teaching our children about corporate worship.

Family Worship is a foundation for corporate worship on Sunday.  If children do not regularly experience worship in their homes, how can we expect them to feel comfortable in church on Sunday morning? Without family worship as a catalyst, worship in church on Sunday can be a rather bizarre hour of their week.  All of a sudden they are expected to sit, listen, sing, follow along in their Bibles, and turn their hearts to spiritual things. The reason many children cannot sit still in church services has nothing to do with a so-called short attention span. It is most often a lack of training.

This thought was another great reminder this week to my wife and I.  It reminded us to pray about and work on our family devotion times.  We were both convinced that this is the time to talk to our young children about corporate worship and how to worship.  It is an important time for us to disciple our children (Deut. 6:4-9).

Keeping Children Safe in Your Ministry and at Home

These past few weeks I have been burdened to review and bring more quality and control to the child protection policies at our church.  In light of all the recent news about the goings-on at Penn State it should serve as a stern warning to all institutions that child safety must be a top priority.

It is easy to get discouraged about a lot of things going on in society with regards to:

  • Chick-fil-a haters (who knew?)
  • homosexual marriage
  • abortion
  • and on and on

BUT the thing that I am thankful for, right now in our great country, is the hard-line stance it has taken when it comes to protecting our children.  I’m thankful that we live in a society that protects our children and takes every measure to prosecute those who seek to harm our children.

With that said, let me encourage PARENTS to talk to their children about evil and the fac that there are adults out there who are dangerous and want to harm them.  Don’t scare your children but warn them and encourage them to tell you when an adult asks them to do something strange or if they witness something unusual.  Also, check your state’s sex offender registry and know who is living around you!

For CHURCHES, make sure your church has a comprehensive child protection policy that includes screening and training volunteers and staff.  I highly recommend MinistrySafe as resource to help you and your ministry.  You might also want to check with you insurance carrier for resources.

Let me know if I can help.

Wilson’s Weekly – Issue 8

It’s been a while … forgive me.  Here are some things that I have found good lately….

Read, Read, Read, to Your Children – I appreciate this article by Marty Machowski author of The Gospel Story Bible.  I’m so thankful for my wife, the mother of our children, because God convicted her before we had children to cultivate this habit in our home. Our children would rather have their parents read to them on most days rather than watch a TV show.  I highly recommend the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.

Recently I had the privilege to preach on the 5th commandment.  I believe this commandment has an important word for parents, not just children.  I invite you to listen here.

 

Practical Advice for Encouraging Biblical Masculinity in Your Son

Perhaps there is no greater threat to this generation of young people than gender identity.  This issue is compounded by a variety of factors.  Here in the South (my context) you are considered a man if you hunt, drive a truck, have a pretty girl on your arm, and go to football games on the weekend.  In the South to be a man means you don’t pray out loud, don’t sing in church, and you darn sure better not cry!

Pop-psychology has taken its toll as well on manhood in our culture.  Raising children has become all about making sure you don’t hurt the self-esteem of a child.  Furthermore, you are a successful parent if you child literally does not get physically hurt.

Furthermore, worldliness has had its say in the matter.  Men are told not to be “too manly” because they might offend someone.  Worldliness, is in effect, emasculating our sons.

John Piper says, “The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this deprecation of male and female personhood is a great loss. It is taking a tremendous toll on generations of young men and women who do not know what it means to be a man or woman. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic. The consequence of this confusion is not free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity.”

How do we encourage healthy, biblical masculinity in our sons?  Here is some biblical and practical advice.

  • Model manhood.  Randy Stinson says that, “Manhood is not forced – it’s forged!  What are some things you can start doing to build manhood in your son? Camping, serving, building, how to treat women are some ideas.  Invite your sons  to do the things that you do.
  • Encourage masculinity.  Show your sons what men do.  Show them how to build something, how to shave, how to grill, how to sing in church, etc…  Give him responsibility.  Teach him to be a leader and a protector.
  • Use warfare language when describing the Christian life.  Particularly waging war on sexual immorality.  Battle-language is built into the DNA of a boy – exploit that when teaching him about godly living.
  • Teach biblical manhood.  Start in Genesis and teach your son how God created Adam to work, to provide, to protect, to lead.

I highly recommend this short book:  A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas.  They have helped me tremendously in this arena.

Another Great Resource for Family Worship: The Gospel Story Bible

For almost a year now I have been recommending Marty Machowski’s Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God.  Now I’m thankful that Machowski has put out another excellent resource to add the to arsenal of solid, biblical family worship resources.  His new work, The Gospel Story Bible.

There are too many “Bible story books” out there on the market that have little teaching and instruction on the Gospel.  Machowski takes the guess work out for parents when it comes to relating biblical narrative to the Gospel.  Each story is creative, easy to read, and does an excellent job of pointing our children to Jesus in the Bible stories that we all know and love.  Order a copy for your family today!

I recommend this book for families with Children 3-8 years old.

See my previous post on resources for family worship.