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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Target, Transgender, and the Sexual Revolution for Kids

Transgender BlogTarget’s decision to remove gender-based signage is the latest attempt to make our kids’ lives more balanced i.e. gender neutral.  The retail giant is following the example of TLC who recently replaced the Duggars with I AM Jazz. And TLC is following the lead of several state legislatures who passed laws that permit kids to pick their sports’ teams and restrooms based upon one’s gender expression. And as a recent serious of blogs by the Huffington Post further reveals that the sexual revolution has zeroed in our kids via the transgender debate.

Now, the arrival of the transgender debate into our grade schools while shocking is not totally unanticipated. Studies have shown (and all the articles and T.V. specials on transgender kids I’ve watched indicate) that many of the kids who struggle with the gender identity come from dysfunctional families. Their fathers have either physically or emotionally abandon the family. And their moms (either because of necessity or because of their temperament) are strong (even at times overbearing) leaders in the home. These kids have never seen a man biblically sacrifice for his family. Nor have they seen a woman bionically encourage her husband to lead. They don’t know that men are generally strong and aggressive and that women are generally more nurturing and introspective. The growing number of broken and dysfunctional homes has opened the door for the transgender discussion. In short, our kids are confused about how to express their gender because their parents and grandparents are confused.

And, our culture welcomes the confusion. America has increasingly made sexual freedom the apex of civilization. The freedom to express one’s sexual preference has even begun to trump the freedom of religion and the freedom of the press. Up till now, kids had no way to be included in the sexual revolution. Grade-schoolers can’t meaningfully declare themselves to be heterosexual or homosexual. But they can grasp what it means to a boy or what it means to be a girl. By saying they want to switch genders, kids can instantly become defined by sexuality well before puberty. Our culture welcomes such declarations. Transgender kids are given their own reality T.V shows, are praised in blogasphere, and catered to by Target. Secular society wants everyone including kids to defined by their sexual choices.

As Christians parents and grandparents, we shouldn’t fear #JazzHands and the transgender revolution that is descending upon our kids. But, we need to be ready to talk about it. Our kids will have questions. Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about gender.

What the Bible Says:

The Bible clearly states that God assigns gender and not humanity. We ready in Genesis that God created people male and female (5:2). And Jesus reaffirms Genesis saying, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4). Gender and sexual expression are determined by God from the beginning of time. My wife is a woman and I am a man because we were biologically created by God to be a woman and a man. Everything from our hormones, to our blood cells, to our sexual organs declares that my wife and I are uniquely female and male. We didn’t choose our gender identity. We were created with it.

And this inheritance is a beautiful thing. Both males and females are created in the image of God. Both are uniquely valuable. According to the scriptures, no one needs to change their gender to find meaning and love. Rather the opposite is true. We find happiness by expressing the gender God has given us. The more we follow God’s principles as outlined in the bible, the happier we become.

For a boy to choose to be a girl or for a girl to choose to be a boy, they must reject God’s design for their life. They must, as Bruce Jenner did, declare God to be a mistaken creator who carelessly sticks women in men’s bodies. To be transgender is to ultimately say that you are wiser than God. It is an expression of pride that separates men and women and boys and girls from the love of Jesus Christ.

How To Respond:

First we must not over react. A boy who loves to cook spaghetti is not necessarily a girl at heart. Nor should we think that a girl who has a killer three-point-shot is really a boy in disguise. Because both genders were created by God to enjoy his world, both boys and girls can have similar interests. Yes, men were designed to lead the family. And women were designed to nurture. And the bodies of little boys and girls are different. But such distinctions of purpose do not make all sports masculine or all artistic expressions feminine. Ultimately for the Christian, our humanity and purpose is not derived from our sexuality but rather from God’s character. God created the arts, the sciences, and the physical world. We should fully expect members of both genders to enjoy math, oil painting, and football within their masculine and feminine paradigms.

Second, we need to love transgender kids. We should not minimize their connection with the opposite sex. Their feelings are real. And we must treat them with respect and sympathy. We too were once hopelessly lost in sins.  

But love also demands that we declare the truth of the gospel.  We can only find salvation and joy by overcoming our natural, sinful feelings through the power of the cross. When we encounter Jesus, the porn addict becomes pure, the liar tells the truth, and the boy who wants to be a girl embraces biblical masculinity. The most loving thing we can do for a transgender child is to call them to repent.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life  – John 13:24-25

Lastly and most importantly, we need to follow the gospel. Kids are confused about sexuality because previous generations have abandoned God’s plan for the family. Men have failed to lead. Women have failed to follow. Both men and women have removed sex from the safety of marriage. In so doing, they’ve haphazardly shattered numerous marriages via divorce. The best and only way to combat our culture’s view of sexuality is to embrace the biblical view of marriage, sex, and family. Only once we (Christians) embrace Christ commands for the family, can we expect our kids to understand and embrace God design for gender.