Mom Enough

There should be little debate that the most influential group of people in the world are Moms.  While not necessarily true in every individual situation, collectively it is difficult to image any group running even a close second.  With this in mind, John Piper plugs a new book, Mom Enough, written by a collection of godly women who are also gifted writers:

  • Carolyn McCulley
  • Rachel Jankovic
  • Gloria Furman
  • Rachel Pieh Jones
  • Christine Hoover
  • Trillia Newbell
  • Christina Fox

On a personal note, Christina Fox, and her now husband George, were members of the church I had the privilege to pastor in Chattanooga while they were both attending Covenant College.  It has been exciting to see how God has worked in Christina, and how he is now working through her writing and her speaking.  Check out Christina’s blog: To Show Them Jesus

If you are a Mom, know a mom, or have a mom, this book is written for you.

5 Reasons Church Should Not Be the Primary Place Where Children Learn About God

It Takes a Village

I agree with those who suggest that a vibrant children’s ministry is one of the five core programs essential to a healthy church or church plant.  We are fortunate at the church where I serve to have a very capable godly Children’s Ministry Coordinator on our staff.  But even having the best Children’s Ministry Coordinator or the best Children’s Ministry program is no substitute for God’s design.

In a post found on Relevant Children’s Ministry, titled: 5 Reasons Church Should Not Be the Primary Place Where Children Learn About God, we are reminded of what I consider to be the God-given pattern for raising children to grow in the Christian faith. While the church plays an important, even a vital, supplemental role, the church should never usurp the authority or the primacy of the parents.

Here are the five reasons:

  1. God has Called Parents to be the Primary Spiritual Leaders of Their Children
  2. No One Has More Influence in a Child’s Life Than His or Her Parents
  3. Kids Spend Much More Time at Home than They Do at Church
  4. The Church Compliments What Parents Are Teaching Their Kids at Home, but Cannot Replace It
  5. The Church’s Job is to Equip Parents to Lead Their Kids Spiritually

These principles are reflective of what I (and many others) would call a Covenantal Children’s Ministry.

Interesting that while studies have been conducted to discover why so many leave the church upon emerging adulthood (after high school graduation) most of those studies are revealing that in homes and churches where the principles of Covenantal Children’s Ministry are followed, not only do the kids not end up leaving church as often as they do from churches where kids are segregated and entertained, but the vast majority of Covenantal Kids don’t leave the church at all.

Pursuing Prodigals

Return of the Prodigal (Rembrandt)

by Barry York

Many Christian parents have had the sad experience of seeing a covenant child grow up and wander from the faith.  To see one whom you joyfully brought into the world, baptized in the name of the Triune God, sacrificed in love to nurture and provide for, and trained to love Christ and His church, grow up only to reject his inheritance for the pottage of this world is a tragedy whose grief is carried daily by godly parents.

If the Apostle John said that he had no greater joy than seeing his children walking with the Lord (III John 4), then certainly there is no greater sadness that to see a young person walk away from Him.

Without going into all the questions this issue raises in such areas as parental guilt and responsibility, church discipline, election, etc., what exactly should be the response of parents and those in fellowship with them that are thrust into this unwanted situation of having a prodigal? It begins with taking hope in knowing that the story of the Bible is one of God pursuing His wayward people.  Just recently the words of Isaiah 29:22-24 were brought to my attention.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

What a wonderful promise God makes here and other places in Scripture!  Through generations of time He has been faithful to redeem straying covenant children.  So how do we actively lay hold of this promise?  Here are some suggestions.

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Parental Blindspots

NOTE: This is an excerpt from a longer article found at  My Thanks to The Aquila Report for posting this edited version. 
The video above is to add some humor and to lighten things up. Lest anyone think I have aversions to homeschooling, I want it to be known that we homeschooled one of our children for two years. We have no doubt that his experience was crucial to the successes he has subsequently experienced in the classroom, on the football field, socially, and I suspect spiritually.
It should be noted that while this post addresses issues that have arisen in Homeschool families, these problems are not limited to Homeschoolers. The author has recognized spiritaul problems and idols that transcend school choice.  We all would do well to become aware of the subtle blindspots that occur whenever we functionally trust in a “thing” in addition to – or even more than – our Creator-Redeemer.
Those who have the most power to influence our hearts are those to whom we are drawn: those who succeed with our values (which is what a hero is), those who can benefit us, those who make us feel valuable, and those who have earned our respect.  If our children grow up motivated only by fear of consequence, they will eventually get away with what they can whenever we are not around (Ephesians 6.6). 
In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were leaders. These parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn’t hold to their parents’ values.
Some of these young people grew up and left home in defiance of their parents. Others got married against their parents’ wishes, and still others got involved with drugs, alcohol, and immorality. I have even heard of several exemplary young men who no longer even believe in God. My own adult children have gone through struggles I never guessed they would face.
Most of these parents remain stunned by their children’s choices, because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion.
After several years of examining what went wrong in our own home and in the homes of so many conscientious parents, God has opened our eyes to a number of critical blind spots common to homeschoolers and other family-minded people.

Trophy Kids

Who would have thunk it? Parents being obedient to their kids.  It seems to be a growing phenomena.

I have been noticing it increasingly over the past several years.  Parents whose lives revolve around the unceasing activities of their kids – especially sports.  Parents desperate for the approval of  their children, and fearing rejection.  Parents who let their children decide matters like what the family will eat for dinner, and where (or if) the family will attend church. I don’t know how many times in recent years I have heard a parent confessing: “He/She does not want to come.  He/She says it’s not fun.”

In one sense I can understand the dilemma.  No conscientious parent wants to alienate their child.  Social scholars have for years pointed out the dangers of un-attuned parenting.  The Bible warns against exasperating our children. (Ephesians 6.4) Some translations use the words irritate, provoke, or embitter as things we parents are to avoid.  And we have seen the effects of some previous generations that seem to have been guilty of those very things.  Perhaps you even experienced it yourself.  So many parents have made conscious efforts to engage their children, to become involved in their lives, to sacrifice for them.  All noble intentions and ideals. Maybe even godly.

But sometimes it seems as if the pendulum has swung too far.  The parents stop parenting.  Instead, the aim for some seems to be to gain BFF status.  They become indulgent because, as we all know, the best way to win any campaign or pageant is to be “liked”.

Here I do not even have in mind those parents who seem to be trying to relive their own childhood and teens years vicariously through their children.  No, I am talking about mature adults – godly folks, who have a genuine love for their children.    Folks who coach t-ball.  Soccer moms.  Chaperones for the middle school dances.  I am talking about people I respect and admire.  I have in mind people whose desire it is to leverage their popularity with their kids to instill values, even faith. What harm could there be in that?

No doubt conscientious parenting involves interaction, effort, and time.  So I am not criticizing those things. In fact, I have made those things priorities in my own parenting.  But an article in the July 2011 edition of The Atlantic, How to Land Your Kid in Therapy, prompted me to reflect on some of the trends in parenting I have been observing.  In short, the author of the piece, Lori Gottlieb, suggests that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of compliant parenting.

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6 Ways to Pursue Christ Thru Fatherhood

Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29 Network, has recently posted a brief article outlining Six Ways Fathers Pursue Christ in Their Fatherhood.  In other words, these six principles applied together help fathers to grow in grace even as we seek to lead our families in grace.

The 6 ways are:  

  1. See their children as a blessing from God
  2. Understand that their children are born with a bent toward evil
  3. Believe the gospel is the good news for children
  4. Train their children to honor and obey
  5. Practice and demonstrate submission
  6. Love their wives

To read the whole article click: 6 Ways.

Teenagers: Tendency Toward Legalism

Do you remember a Brady Bunch episode where Greg and his parents got into a debate about “Exact Words”?  Greg, who had been grounded from driving, when confronted about borrowing a friends wheels, insisted that his parents only instruction to him was that he was not drive the family car.    The rest of the episode is an illustration of the difficulty of livng by exact words.

What I never realized was that this episode also illustrated a more universal principle. 

According to Paul Tripp:

“Teenagers have a natural tendency toward legalism.”

What parent has not heard something like:

  • “You didn’t say I couldn’t…” or
  • “You didn’t tell me to.. today”  

I’ll have to be honest, sometimes my kids are technically correct. BUT still, …we all understand, by common sense, what should have been expected.

Such statements are merely expressions of this tendency toward legalism. 

There is no use trying to make certain we are right.  There is no sense in trying to be more clear in our instructions.  We need to recognize this for what it is: Legalism. And we need to get across to our teenagers that, in the end, legalism does no one any favors.

Our teenagers need to understand, not only the lesson Greg Brady learned in that episode, but more importantly they – and we – need to be reminded what Paul says in Galatians 3.10:

“All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law”


This is the Second in a series of six posts elaborating on the insights Paul Tripp offers in his book Age of Opportunity.  To read the others click: Teen Tendencies & Temptations.

Teenagers: Lacking a Hunger for Wisdom

No one likes to be corrected, but the wise person learns to appreciate correction that comes from a reliable source. 

Proverbs 13.18 tells us:

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame,
       but whoever heeds correction is honored

This is a lesson all of us need to remind ourselves.

But according to Paul Tripp this lesson is perhaps especially appropriate for teenagers. According to Tripp, in his book, Age of Opportunity, teenagers have a “Lack of hunger for wisdom or correction.”

What Tripp is saying is: It is not only that teens generally are lacking wisdom, one of the common traits is that they don’t even look for it. They are not aware they are in need of it. 

That teens lack wisdom should easily be understood. Wisdom comes only from experience and correction. Teens have generally not lived long enough to have developed wisdom.  And sadly, even those teenagers who have experienced too much of the hard realities of this world still lack wisdom.  This is evident in that they are often the ones who are in the most trouble. Likely this is because, while teens who have had to grow up too fast have experience, they have usually not experienced necessary correction.  They have been left to their own instincts. They have not had wisdom imparted to help them assess their experiences and learn to discern right from wrong; wisdom from foolishness. 

Realizing that teenagers are in need of wisdom is a great place for parents and teachers and youth workers to begin. But, along with that knowledge, we must also remember that teenagers’ limited experience and perspective leaves them with a lack of felt need for wisdom. Put more susinctly, teens are not aware that they are in need of wisdom, so they don’t seek it, they don’t hunger for it.

So, what do I take from all this?

1. If we who work with teens want to make a positive impact we ought to remind ourselves of a few things:

  • the importance of wisdom,
  • the need for teens to develop wisdom
  • the understanding the usual teenage apathy, even antipathy, about developing wisdom   

2. Perhaps we will be diligent in our approach to:

  • Make a priority of cultivating wisdom
  • Whet the appetite for wisdom

3. Perhaps we will use the book of Proverbs as a guide and tool in our parenting and discipling. If we do, we can help the teenagers in our lives, and in our churches, develop a positive perspective to apply to their experiences.


This is the First in a series of six posts elaborating on the insights Paul Tripp offers in his book Age of Opportunity.  To read the others click: Teen Tendencies & Temptations.

Teen Tendencies & Temptations

The teen years are both exciting and exasperating as young men and young women try to find themsleves and find their place in this world. 

When I think back to my own teen years I am regularly filled with a feeling wishing I could have a do-over, in every sense of that phrase.  There are some aspects of my teen years that were so exciting and memorable that, were it possible, like a fun ride at an amusement park, I’d like to do them all over, and over again.  Then there are other parts of my teen years, as I think of them, with a feeling like one gets when just receiving a bad grade on an exam, I wish I could go back and do everything all over again differently

I know that, while my personal experiences may be unique, almost everyone has those same sentiments about their own teen years.

What is it about those years that makes them so turbulent?

Paul Tripp, in his book, Age of Opportunity, writes:

If you were to look in your Bible concordance for all the verses about teeneagers, you would find none. The period of life we call adolescence is a fairly recent invention. Yet, at the same time, the Bible gives us wonderful descriptions of the tendencies of youth. Many of these are found in the book of Proverbs.

The first several chapters of Proverbs record a wise father giving practical life advice to his son. AS I have studied these chapters, I have found the sorts of things we will encounter with our teenagers.

What Tripp writes is in line with something I have told my own teenagers and the high school students in our church: If there is any book of the Bible written for teenagers, it is the book of Proverbs. 

Tripp outlines 6 characteristics common in teenagers that would be helpful for parents and youth workers to consider. In fact, I think they might be helpful for teenagers to consider as they try to find themsleves and find their place in this world.  Not all of these will be equally true of all adolescents, but I suspect it would be a rare teenager who does not exhibit some combination of these traits:

  1. Lack of Hunger for Wisdom or Correction
  2. Tendency toward Legalism
  3. Tendency to be Unwise in Choice of Companions
  4. Susceptibility to Tempations to Sexual Sin
  5. Absence of Eschatological (Eternal) Perspective
  6. Lack of Heart Awareness

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Wobegon Laws

For parents with small children, order sometimes comes from laying down the law.  The following are household rules patterened, in style, after Levitical Law, taken from A Prarie Home Companion

Laws of Forbidden Places

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room.

Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room.

Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room.

Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room.

Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein.

Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.

But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.

Laws When at Table

And if you are seated in your high chair, or in a chair such as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you as they were.

Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an interesting bandage to show, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke.

Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for; if you will dip your blocks in the milk, and lick it off, you will be sent away from my presence.

When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck: for you will be sent away from my presence.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister has done the same to you.

Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food; neither seize the table between your jaws, nor use the raiment of the table to wipe your lips. I say again to you, do not touch it, but leave it as it is.

And though your stick of carrot does indeed resemble a marker, draw not with it upon the table, even in pretend, for we do not do that, that is why.

And though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why.

Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

Laws Pertaining to Dessert

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert.

But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you have eaten most of your meat, and two bites of your peas with each bite consisting of not less than three peas each, or in total six peas, eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall have dessert.

But if you eat a lesser number of peas, and yet you eat the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert; and if you eat the peas, yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not even a small portion thereof.

And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

On Screaming

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not, only remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the fault.

Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming.  Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat it myself, yet do not die.

Concerning Face and Hands

Cast your countenance upward to the light, and lift your eyes to the hills, that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon you; even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon.

And in the breast pocket of your garment, and upon the tie of your shoe, rice and other fragments are distributed in a manner beyond comprehension.

Only hold yourself still; hold still, I say. Give each finger in its turn for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo, how iniquitous they appear. What I do is as it must be; and you shall not go hence until I have done.

Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub your feet against cars, not against any building; nor eat sand.

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Complaints and Lamentations

O my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly even to the littlest detail; and when I do not accede, you cry out, and hit and kick. Yes, and even sometimes do you spit, and shout “stupid-head” and other blasphemies, and hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof when you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age, yet I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But upon being sent to the corner you ask straightaway, “Can I come out?” and I reply, “No, you may not come out.” And again you ask, and again I give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may come out.

Hear me, O my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year, and yet again they mount higher than before.  For our health, that we may be covered, I give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year; but even this covers not the fifteen hundred deductible for each member of the family within a calendar year.  And yet for ordinary visits we still are not covered, nor for many medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths. Guess not at what rage is in my mind, for surely you cannot know. 

For I will come to you at the first of the month and at the fifteenth of the month with the bills and a great whining and moan. And when the month of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember that I am that I am: before, after, and until you are twenty-one. Hear me then, and avoid me in my wrath, O children of me.

Sticks, Stones & Words

Paul Tripp, in this video, offers an interesting, and important, perspective about a problem that has recently effected our youth group and our home: the use of words, or the appropriate use of words.

What makes some words acceptable and others “bad”?

Tripp offers three distinctions:

1. Some words are condemning and judgmental.  The use of these words, intentionally or unthinkingly, is always wrong.

2.  Some words are sexually graphic or explicit. These words can bring to mind things that should not be brought into a given situation. Further, the use of these words tend toward the devaluation and distortion of God’s gift of sex.

3. Some words are simply culturally impolite.

Most helpful, I think, is Tripp’s positive assertion about the use of language.  Tripp states that the purpose of words are…

To give grace to the hearer.”

Two final notes:

1. This clip is an exerpt of the topic Tripp deals with at great length in his book War of Words.

2. My thanks to my friend Seaton Garrett for introducing this video to me.  Check out Seaton’s comments about it on his blog: Are We There Yet?