Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Parenting (page 2 of 2)

Proverbs 4 Through A Different Lens

Seeing the Obvious

It doesn’t take the hermeneutical genius of Don Carson to realize that the first several chapters of Proverbs emphasize wisdom. That much even I can pick up on. But in the past, I’ve always read these chapters as the ‘son’ who is called to gain wisdom.

And, to be sure, that is what I need to hear:

Get wisdom; get insight;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
she will honour you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a graceful garland;
she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”
(Proverbs 4:5-9 ESV)

But now that my kids are getting older and approaching the age when they will go to school and need to begin making decisions on their own, I’m seeing these passages through a new lens. I’m beginning to see myself as the ‘father’ in Proverbs 1-9 as well as the son.

But Wait, There’s More…

The other night as I was reading through the same chapter (Proverbs 4), I began to contemplate my parenting. I read this and got reflective:
Continue reading

Parenting and My Heart

Sometimes it’s good to do what’s counter-intuitive. In fact, I’ve found that the longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I need to second-guess and examine every motive. Sure enough, there is deep-rooted sin in there somewhere. I’ve found God’s evaluation of humanity in Gen 8.21 (‘the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on’) to be absolutely correct in my case every time I’m willing to consider for longer than 23 seconds.

This examining and cross-examining of motives and actions is almost nowhere more necessary than in parenting. What can on-first-blush appear to be ‘for the baby’ can really be simply for my immediate gratification (‘I made her feel nice, now I feel better about my ability to parent’). What is really sad about this, though, is that what is often for my immediate gratification as a parent will more often than not be to the child’s long-term harm.

So, for example, we’re in a store and Susie really wants something, but I already told her she can’t have it, I had not planned on buying it, we haven’t budgeted for it, and she doesn’t need it. What do I do as a parent? The ball is only $1.99 or something silly like that. She is sad if I don’t get it. She’s happy if I get it. Why not just ‘make her happy’ and get it? Wouldn’t it also make me happier to just buy something for my daughter that I know will make her happy?

Because we teach by example, I’m teaching Susie something in that situation when I give in and buy it. I’m teaching her that it’s okay to make unplanned purchases, on an impulse, whether you have the money or not. I’m teaching her that when you complain and fuss in life, you get want you want. I’m teaching her to look for happiness in ‘stuff’ that can be purchased. I’m teaching her that it is okay to strive against an authority. In all these ways I’m doing my daughter tremendous spiritual harm by ‘making her happy’ in that moment.

If that’s true–and I know it is–then why would I give in to her? Why would I cave when she has a fit? Why would I leave her undisciplined when she breaks rules? Why would I let her go to bed late, get up early, eat what she wants, etc., when I’ve thought it through and prayed it through ahead of time? Why would decisions that my trusted counsellor (my bride) and I have talked through at length be discarded in a moment?

Because I love my daughter? Far from it. That’s the opposite of love.

Why would I be willing to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop our baby from crying and make her ‘happy’? Because the inclination of my heart is evil from my childhood on. Because my heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all else and I cannot understand it. Because my near-sighted selfishness is willing to sacrifice the long-term spiritual welfare of my child for the immediate gratification I get from feeling like a good parent; or maybe so that I can congratulate myself on how gracious I am.

I believe it. Now all I need to do is continue to preach it to myself as I make the moment-by-moment decisions I need to make in parenting. God give me grace to be faithful!

Don’t Believe Them

When people tell you that families are a drag, that kids are a sacrifice, that it’s too much work, or that you should wait and have fun before having kids… don’t believe them.

We’re heading to the cottage this morning, so I just thought I’d post some pictures from a couple of our cottage trips last year. Nothing but delighting in God through the bounty he’s given us. What an amazing blessing to have a family that enables you to worship God better! What a wonderful end to our vacation.

 

 

 






Passing It On

An old professor of mine used to say ‘The teacher’s questions become the students’ dogma.’ In other words, what the teachers fancies with, the students accept and develop.

Don Carson puts it a slightly different way. He relates the American Mennonite experience as somewhat paradigmatic of what can happen in any church setting. He says, roughly, that the first generation of Mennonites believed the gospel, and saw that it had certain social entailments. The next generation assumed the gospel and believed in the social entailments. The third generation denied the gospel, but was committed to the social entailments.

Every Christian parent and every Christian teacher I know wants to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation. But how do we do that? I would suggest, based on the above insights, that the way to pass the gospel on is to be excited about it.

As Carson has often related, he understands that as a teacher, most of what students hear will be forgotten. But what do students remember? Ultimately, students remember what excites their professors. Children will have impressed on their hearts and minds what was most important to their parents.

Do you want to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation? Then let me ask: What excites you? What occupies your thoughts? Your time? Your imaginations? Do you spend more time on hobbies than on developing gospel-passion and gospel-living?

Everyone laughs when children first begin to imitate their parents and do things we unwittingly do, but they clearly see. It’s funny. They are observant, they notice what we do, even when we don’t. Why would we expect any less when it comes to our spirituality?

What do you speak about most at home? What issues get you most passionate? What causes get you to get excited at the drop of a hat? What habits in your life are the most consistent? What priorities are evident in your home?

These are the things you will pass on… whether we are intentional about it or not.

So let’s be intentional! May it never be said of us that we passed on causes or diets or health-awareness or gender equality or views on parenting or anything that is less important and less eternally significant than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s Better to Be Christian

Life is better as a Christian… for so many reasons.

The other night, when Stace and I got back from our trip to Washington DC and our visit at Covenant Life Church, I had the pleasure of putting my girls to bed.

Susannah and Caitlyn have both had special songs that I sing to them when I’m putting them to bed since the time they were born. As I sing to them I pray for them while they fall asleep. These are precious, spiritual times that I know I’ll always remember.

Here’s what non-Christians have to sing:

Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all. 

Compare that with what I get to sing to Susannah:

I will praise You all my life
I will sing to You with my whole heart
I will trust in You
My hope and my help
My Maker and my faithful God 

O faithful God
My faithful God
You lift me up
And you uphold my cause
You give me life
You dry my eyes
You’re always near
You’re a faithful God

And here’s what I get to sing to Caitlyn:

O great God of highest heaven
Occupy my lowly heart
Own it all and reign supreme
Conquer every rebel power
Let no vice or sin remain
That resists Your holy war
You have loved and purchased me
Make me Yours forevermore 

I was blinded by my sin
Had no ears to hear Your voice
Did not know Your love within
Had no taste for heaven’s joys
Then Your Spirit gave me life
Opened up Your Word to me
Through the gospel of Your Son
Gave me endless hope and peace

Help me now to live a life
That’s dependent on Your grace
Keep my heart and guard my soul
From the evils that I face
You are worthy to be praised
With my every thought and deed
O great God of highest heaven
Glorify Your Name through me

Need I say more? Life is definitely better as a Christian.

‘O Faithful God’ by Mark Altrogge © 1987 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)/Dayspring Music (a division of Word Music).

‘O Great God’ by Bob Kauflin © 2006 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI).

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