Church Discipline Supports Parents

blog-spaceChurch discipline and children’s discipleship appear reside at the opposite ends of the local church universe. Talking to an adult about the embezzlement seems to have little relation to the preschooler pushing cars. But despite appearances, the two planets traverse orbits that often overlap. And if we neglect church discipline, we will do great harm to our children and by extension our youth.

Parents rejoice when they see their child come forward to make a profession of faith. The parents also tremble. Having grown up in the easy-believism culture that defined faith as walking an aisle and making a prayer, parents know that such faith can easily be faked. They have watched in despair as their friends strayed from the church into a life of sin and debauchery.

And yet, these unregenerate church members still possess the title of Christian. They can still walk back into their home church take the Lord ’s Table and use the church name without ever having repented of their sin. In the eyes of the church and in the eyes of the community, the wayward Christian who has fathered 25 children by 25 different women is just as much the church member as the senior lady who has collected 25 Sunday school attendance pins.

Such sentiment is often expressed in our local church vocabulary. When we learn that a lady hasn’t attended church over the last five years, we label her “misguided” or “nice” but stop short of calling her a sinner and calling her to repent. When our friend divorces his wife to chase after his younger secretary, we turn away in disgust and tell him to, “Straighten out his life,” but happily welcome him and the secretary into the church when they are ready without addressing their sin.

Once baptized, men and women are church members in perpetuity.

Functioning within this local church paradigm, parents are slow to affirm their child’s desire to follow Christ. Before baptism, the parent can enforce threats by refusing to allow their child to be baptized. But after baptism all recourse is lost. Once a member, always a member.

Christ clearly affirmed the perseverance of the saints. Once a man or women repents and believes, nothing can separate him or her from the love of God. But God does not teach the perseverance of church members.

Though the local church should strive to baptize only believers, she will make mistakes at times and baptize unregenerate men and women. Moreover, those who truly love the Lord are still being sanctified and will sin and need to be called to repent. Think of David, Bathsheba, and Nathan. God commands his church to practice church discipline in Matthew 18 and in 1 Corinthians 5. Baptism is not a blank check of admittance into the church. Those who join the church are called to be like Christ. And when they are not like Christ, the church must spring into action.

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. – 1 Cor. 5:11. 

The most important part of church discipline is the first stage of discipline. Personal confrontation. When we see a fellow church member in sin, we are to confront that brother for the purpose of seeing him restored. But how many of us have been lovingly confronted over our sin by our fellow church members? How many of us have heard Matthew 18 taught from the pulpit? How many of us have lovingly confronted another? If parents have seldom been confronted in love, they will probably struggle to lovingly confront their children about their sin.

And if the first level of church discipline does not succeed, we are to take one or two more Christians with us for the purpose of confronting the brother again. Again, how many parents have been a part of this process? How many parents have been confronted or have loving confronted another?

And if that fails, the church member should take the matter to the church. The unrepentant believer should be brought before the church. And if he still refuses to repent, he should be removed, excommunicated from the church. The church should declare that the unrepentant sinner is no longer a member of the church. Again how many parents and children have witnessed this process? How many parents and children have seen someone loving removed from the rolls because he or she refused to return to church or because he or she refused to abandon their sexual sin?

15 If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. – Mt. 18:15-17

If parents and children regularly lived and experienced all three levels of church discipline, they would have little to fear when their kids profess faith. Parents could regularly remind their children that faith is obedience and call their children to obedience. Children would see that church is not a light-hearted social club but a faith changing factory filled with the worship of God. Children would see that sin is serious and that the Christian life is a life of faith and repentance where people die to self and live for Christ. Church discipline helps families lovingly live out the gospel.

The local church must practice church discipline if she desires to empower parents to disciple their children.

7 Signs That Your Kid’s Friend Is A Fool

Ah friends. We can’t live without them. And often, we can’t live with them. Quite bad friendnaturally, we want our kids to have good friends too. At their best, childhood friends are buddies, encouragers, and fellow enthusiasts who create bonds that last a lifetime. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.” But at their worst, childhood companions are drama queens, bullies, and liars that bring a steady stream of misery into our families.

So how do discover if our kids’ friends are little angles or little demons? How do we help them determine who to get close to and who to run from? We appeal to the scriptures. According to the Bible, bad friends, fools, are defined by these 7 characteristics. Let’s take a look:

1. A Fool Hates God

We must encourage our kids not to trust themselves to those who mock God, the Bible, or the people of God. The kid who makes fun of VBS, says the Bible is not true, and lies about the pastor should not be our kid’s best friend. In Psalm 14:1 and in 53:1 we ready that, “The fool says in his heart, ““There is no God.”” Any girl, boy, or teenager who openly makes fun of church, misrepresents the Bible, and attacks God should not be welcomed as a friend. Those who hate God are by nature fools. Rather, we should encourage our kids to befriend those who enjoy being around other Christians, who read the scriptures, and who love God.

2. A Fool Despises Wisdom

If a kid or teenager is constantly rejecting the advice of his parents, teachers, and counselors, she should not become our child’s best friend. Those who despise wisdom and instruction are fools. Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.”  And in Proverbs 28:26, we read, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” Those who love the Lord know they don’t have all the answers. They also embrace the advice of those who are wiser than them. As Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We should encourage our kids to seek out friends who love wisdom.

The heart of him who had understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly (Prov. 15:14).

3. A Fool Disgraces His Family

If the parents’ of your child’s friends are discouraged, exhausted, and frustrated by their child, run. Fools and those who will lead your children to sin exasperate and disgrace their parents. Proverbs 17:25 says, “A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.” A godly friend will be a blessing and encouragement to his family (Proverbs 10:1;15:5). Encourage your child to seek out friends who have good relationships with their parents.

4.  A Fool Talks A lot

He shares every feeling, every thought, and every supposed insight (Prov. 17:28; 29:11; Eccl. 10:14). And though he freely tells all, he refuses to listen to those around him. The result is chaos both in his life and the life of his friends. He fills his Facebook feed, Instagram account, Twitter handle, and Snap Chat messages with complaints, boasts, and slander (Prov. 10:14). His words (both typed and spoken) lead to fights, drama, and quarrels. As Proverbs 18:6 says, “A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Don’t befriend this guy. Fools can’t help themselves from oversharing about pretty much everything. Encourage your kids to avoid the guy who “flaunt his folly” (Proverbs 13:16). Rather, encourage them to pursue kids who are slow to speak, and who are slow to take offense. As Proverbs 10:19 says,

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

5.  A Fool Enjoys Sinning

A bad friend will enjoy sin. They will encourage those around them to cheat, lie, and steal with them. Why? The fools views her transgressions to be nothing more than a joke. As Proverbs 10:23 says, “Doing wrong is like a joke to a fool, but wisdom is pleasure to a man of understanding.” The kid who loves breaking God’s laws should not become our kid’s friend. We should encourage our kids to befriend those who love God and flee from evil.

6.  A Fool Harms People

In Proverbs 13:20, we read that “the companion of fools will suffer harm.” If someone is a fool, he will lead his friends into detention, into conflict, and perhaps even into legal troubles. A good friend will never encourage our kid to sin. Good friends direct our kids away from sin. As Proverbs 14:16 says, “One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.” Let’s encourage our kids to befriend those who love righteousness.

7.  A Fool Is Quick Tempered

Does a kid throw is bat at the baseball game, shout at his parents, and dress down his friends at a moment’s notice? Then we should encourage our kids to avoid him. Those prone to anger are not just over competitive. They are fools. Notice what Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Pursue those kids who are humble.

 

If a child hates God, despises wisdom, disgraces their families, talks a lot, enjoys sin, harms others, and is quick tempered, they should not be our child’s friend. If our kids trust themselves to a fool, they will suffer harm. Their lives will be turned upside down by drama and sin. (This is not to say our kids should avoid all sinners. We should always reach out to unbelievers. But we should not let them direct our lives or speak into our hearts.)  As the apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

Rather, we should encourage are kids to pursue close meaningful relationships with kids who love God and their neighbors. Our kids’ friends will shape our them. Are you ready to help them pick good ones?

Family Worship: A Book Every Man Should Read

Whitney, Donald S. Family Worship. Crossway, IL 2016. 79pp. $7.99

No aspect of the faith is so unequivocally needed and yet so universally neglected as family worship. Most good church going, bible believing men and women never take whitney blogprayer together and never review the scriptures with their kids. Thankfully, Donald Whitney is attempting to change that dynamic. He just released his latest book, Family Worship, to show Christians why family worship is important and how easily it can be done.

Looking at Abraham, Joshua, and many other biblical giants, Don Whitney quickly and concisely shows his readers that the gospel was first and foremost passed down from generation to generation through family worship. Even with the creation of the New Testament church, the primary role of the family remained as seen in I Peter 3:7. And the practice should continue on. Taking a rapid-fire approach, Dr. Whitney covers over a thousand years of church history in a span of 15 little pages to reveal that Christians of every age have valued family worship. As Jonathan Edward says, “The Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.”

After blowing his readers away with the scriptural and historical need for family worship, Whitney gets practical. Realizing that most of us have never experienced family worship, the seminary professor and father discusses how to do it and do it well. He says that a good family worship session needs to last only around 10 minutes (maybe less if smaller children are involved.) and cover three things: read, pray, and sing. Read the Bible, pray together as a family, and then sing. Outside of choosing a song, little other preparation is needed except a commitment to have a family worship time.

Lastly,  Whitney shifts to answer some common questions that surround family worship. The two biggest questions he tackles were, How do women help with family worship; and how do men start leading? He encourages women to practice family worship in the absence of men.  And then he calls men to overcome their past failures by repenting and beginning to lead today.

He also provides a helpful distinction between the church and the family. The family supports the church but is not the church because baptism, the Lord’s Super, and preaching extend past the family.

Family Worship is a great read for parents, grandparents, and married couples. As  Whitney writes, “Family worship is for couples, not just parents.” If you are one of the many Christians who sees the need for family worship but doesn’t know much about the subject or where to begin, grab a copy of this book. It’s direct, easy to read, and rather short. As a friend of mines once said of a similar small sized book, “if we can’t read this book, we are really in trouble.” If you can read, you can find the time to read this book. I encourage you to set aside the eight dollars and an hour or so of your time to learn about family worship. And now I’ll let Whitney have the last word:

We need to accept the fact that in this sinful world, challenges to family worship arise regularly in every home. The blessings of family worship are too dangerous for Satan to let pass unopposed. Nevertheless, we must stand on the bedrock truth: God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families. And for that reason, start today.”