Parenting: Book Review

parentingI once had a parent look at me confused. I had asked him to trace his parenting practices back to the Bible. Sure, he could point to Ephesians 6:4 and could allude to principles laid out in Deuteronomy 6, Colossians 3, and Psalm 76. But for him and for the many other parents who’ve been worn down by the daily grind of parenting, these passages feel like far too little far too late. We feel that the Bible is far removed from our experience.

And, we do not need another verse or five-step program. We need a holistic biblical solution that addresses our complex parenting needs and the complex needs of our kids with the entirety of the Bible.

Thankfully, we now have resource that will help us do just that. Sensing that parents like you and me were struggling with bringing all of the Scriptures to bear on our parenting, Paul David Tripp wrote the book, (appropriately titled) Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles The Can Radically Change Your Family. In 14 short chapters, Paul David Tripp lays out the grand scriptural principles that every parent needs to grab ahold of as they search for purpose, hope, and rest.

He writes,

Parenting is not first and about what we want for our children or form our children, but about what God in grace has planned to do through us in our children.”

I do not know about you, but I find this idea to be a game changer!

In his book, Paul David Tripp shifts the focus of our parenting from forcing our kids to behave and achieve our goals to the heart of the matter. He leads us away from the things that we cannot control to the responsibilities that God has given us.

Paul David Tripp shows us why our hearts slide into depression, anger, despair, harsh words, and manipulation every time we encounter our kid drawing on the wall. And then, he goes on to reveal how all of the Bible addresses our sinful heart issues and the sinful heart issues of our kids. He show us that the Bible does indeed provide hope and solutions to all of our parenting problems. We will survive if we cling to the Bible.

paul_seated_300Admittedly, not all the Bible is about yelling kids, disrespectful middle schoolers, and lying teenagers. But, all of the Bible is about helping sinners (including parents) overcome their sinful heart issues through the saving power of the cross.

Parenting was never supposed to be reduced down to a few verses. We parents are complex sinful people in need of much grace and instruction. (So are our kids.) To parent well, we need to appeal to the whole counsel of God, which addresses our depression, anger, and every other heart issue the pops up while we tell little Johnny, “NO” for the hundredth time. And it addresses every heart issue that compels our children to be who they are.

Friends, the Bible is fully sufficient for everything that “pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Paul David Tripp reminds us (parents) of this beautiful truth with powerful precision over 224 helpful pages. Of all the parenting and family books I’ve read to date (and I’ve read a lot being parent and preschool and Children’s pastor) this is my favorite.

If you are a parent, or if you are thinking about becoming a parent, or if you simply want to understand your own heart better, I encourage you to read this book. Paul David Tripp has winsomely and powerfully shown us how the Scriptures should radically change and influence the way we parent.

Paul’s Scripture infused words, have both encouraged and rebuked my heart over and over again, blessing my soul and my family.

How about you?  Are you ready to be challenged?

Click here to buy your copy today:

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New Year’s Resolutions: From Failure To Compassion

failureI do not want to get all of you new dieters, runners, and organizers depressed. But the odds of your New Year’s Resolution coming true are not in your favor. (Sorry Hunger Game Fans.) Eight percent. That’s right. According to Statistic Brain only 8% of those self-starters will accomplish their 2017 mid-night goals by 2018. In other words if you and nine of your best friends all made resolutions, there is a chance that all ten of you will fail. How’s that for 2017?  Yikes!

Change is hard. And substantial, demonstrative character change is all but impossible when left up to you and me. Sure we might be able to put aside soda for 365 days, but we cannot be nicer, kinder, or wiser on our own. Such goals always end in disappointment. Perhaps this is why 51% of us completely forgo all pretense at change and didn’t even bother to make a New Year’s resolution.

So what do all these dour New Year’s Eve stats have to do with parenting? Everything.

We tend to get angry, disappointed, and loud with our children because they fail to change. Our kids fail to understand that biting the furniture is bad idea; they fail to see that skipping their homework is foolish; and, they fail to grasp arguing over their choirs is pointless. In short, our kids refuse to change. We tell them again and again to do better, to trust more, or to listen close. And yet, they still refuse to comply to our standards, to our hopes, and to our goals. And when we have had enough, we lose it. We shout, pound our fist, and begin the lecture series anew, wondering, “Why won’t those losers change?”

Sadly, we don’t have to look far for the reason. We just have to peer inside our own hearts.

The reason our kids do not change is the same reason we cannot achieve our New Year’s Resolutions. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot make ourselves better people on our own. Likewise, our kids are powerless to change themselves. They are powerless to change their hearts.

When our kids mess up for the umpteenth time, we should not get mad. We should not blow up. Rather, we should extend mercy and grace as we correct them. We need to approach our children with humble hearts that our ready to forgive. As the Scripture says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Eph. 4:32. Nothing your children have done or will do, we compare to what God has done for us.

parentingGod has forgiven us. And now, we can forgive our kids over and over again. We can patiently contend with them, seeking to lead them to Christ. And though the days can appear dark (horrible dark at times) we know that we can survive, because parenting is not up to us. God is working through us. He gives us to the power to hold our tongue, to ask our children’s forgiveness for our sin, and to patiently endure our kids’ new haircut.As Pastor and author Paul David Tripp said,

If your eyes ever see and your ears ever hear the sin, weakness, and failure of your children, it is never a hassle, never an interruption, never an accident; it is always grace. God loves your children and has put them in a family of faith, and he will reveal the need of their hearts to you so that you can be his tool of rescue and transformation. 

If we try to parent in our own strength, our parent success rate will probably resemble that our New Year’s resolutions. But if we rely upon our heavenly Father recognizing that we are sinners in need of mercy parenting smaller sinners in need of mercy, we will succeed. We will succeed in becoming more patient, kind, and wise. The more we look to Christ and meditate and him and his work, the more we will become like Christ! Are you ready to shift your focus from you and your kids to the God of the universe?

 

Why Don’t They Get It?

why-dont-people-get-it“Why don’t they get it?” is a question we often ask as parents. Why don’t our kids understand that crawling off the sofa, sticking Cheetos up their noses, and driving their cars via their knees while texting never ever ends well? Why? Why?

But if we are willing to be honest; it is not just the kids that we wonder about. When we look around our churches, we can be tempted to ask them same question. “Why don’t they get it?” Why doesn’t Sally see that her complaining is super unhelpful, why doesn’t Jim realize that criticizing other peoples’ kids produces nothing but useless conflict, and why doesn’t Susie understand that her constant attack on sugary drinks is not leading people any closer to Christ? Why don’t people understand the beauty and glory of Christ like we do? Why don’t people get it?

The easy answer is, “they cannot get it.” Apart from Jesus’ divine revelation none of us can get it. No one can understand spiritual things on their own. In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man in Bethsaida. But he does not heal the man in the usual way. He first touches the man’s eye and then ask if the man can see. The man responds in verse 24 saying, “I see people but they look like trees, walking.” Some people have assumed that the man did not see at first because he lacked faith. His faith was only powerful enough for a half healing, if you will.

But this is not what is going on. No mention is made of the man’s faith. And Jesus is more than powerful enough to overcome a little unbelief. Look at all the miracles Jesus performed for the disciples benefits. They were not exactly the most ardent believers as Jesus began his ministry.

Rather Christ performs the miracle in stages because he wants his disciples and us to understand an important lesson. We do not lead ourselves to Christ. Jesus is showing us that salvation and spiritual knowledge comes exclusively through him.

The man starts out blind in the narrative. Christ touches the man’s eyes; he begins to see. Jesus touches the man’s eyes a second time and he fully sees.

Right before the miracle in Mark 8:21 Jesus directly asked his disciples, “Do you not understand?” In short, he asks them,  “why do you not understand who I am and what I am about. Why don’t you get it?” The disciples have seen Jesus perform bunches and bunches of miracles. And yet they don’t get it. They don’t understand who Jesus fully is.  So, why don’t they get it?

Well, Jesus doesn’t leave us in suspense. He answers his question with a miracle. Jesus shows them that spiritual knowledge comes only through the miraculous power of Christ. Through this miracle, Jesus teachers the disciples that they are blind and that they can only see when Christ gives them sight. And by working in stages, Jesus shows his disciples that people can be a different parts of the spectrum. Some see vaguely. Others see clearly. But both have encountered the living God and have received their sight from him. Both can only see what they see via God’s help.

What does this mean for us?

First, we must embrace humility.

The reason we get something, the reason we don’t struggle with complaining, bad language, or credit card debt is not because we are something special. We have not worked hard enough nor been bright enough intellectually to earn this standing. We have received mercy through Christ Jesus our savior. We have the understanding we have because God has caused our blind eyes to see. We are started out just as blind as everyone else. We must not forget where we came from.

And we must know where we are going. We are on our way to perfection in heaven. But we are not there yet. And though God has granted us some spiritual wisdom and insight, we have not arrived. Remember Peter. In Mark 8:29, we see that Peter final gets it and declares that Jesus is the Christ! And then Peter turns around and tells Jesus to abandon the gospel. In short great growth is meet by great failure.

The same is true of us. We should want to be peaceable, kind, and out of debt. But the moment we place our hope in our nice words, or our generous giving, or in our budget, we become prideful and prone to sin. If we measure our success by our own standards and fail to realize that God also wants us to love our spouse better, to stop judging others eating habits, we still have some serious blindness in our own souls. In short, God wants us to conform ever part of who we are to who he is. This is a lifelong task. No one has arrived. No one sees perfectly this side heaven.

Second, we must extend mercy to others.

The reason we handle complaining better than our kids is not because we are superior people. We avoid the whininess of life, because God has been gracious to us. He has opened our eyes fully while our kids see only vaguely on their way to saving faith. Instead of condemning people as stupid, worthless, or worthy of punishment, we should extend mercy to them. As we discipline our kids for the hundredth time, we don’t blow up in anger telling them that we were never as reckless as them. Rather, we discipline them in love, telling them that we know obedience is hard. Instead of shouting at our cranky family member, we should endure their prideful boasts knowing that only God’s mercy keeps us from committing the same sin. And when people at church fail to see theology the way we do, we do not beat them into submission with logic. Rather, we lovingly point them to the Scriptures trusting God to work in both of our hearts.

Because here is the great truth. If God begins to open people’s eyes, he will give them full sight. He will not leave them half blind. We very well may not be God’s intended agent of change in someone’ life. But God is still working. Instead of trusting in our arguments to give sight, we must appeal to God to work. He will make the blind see!

And If we truly understand that we all begin our spiritual quest blind, we will stop asking, “Why don’t they get it?” And we will start asking, “Why do I get anything?”

S0, what question are you asking?