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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

God's Plan for Parenting - Part 2

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Daily Scripture Reading - Hebrews 12

Puritan Catechism
Question #48 - What is required in the third commandment?

Answer - The third commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Ps. 29:2), titles, attributes (Rev. 15:3-4), ordinances (Eccl. 5:1), Word (Ps. 138:2), and works (Job 36:24; Deut. 28:58-59).

Devotional Thoughts
We are learning this week why God has created us as male and female. Part of the answer is that God has created us so that we might have a lifetime partnership through marriage and a lineage through parenting. We have seen in the last few days that God has a purpose for children and that He has a plan for parenting. We started in our last devotional to look at Proverbs 22:6 which tell us, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."

We train up a child in the way he should go by being sensitive and discerning, recognizing God’s call, gifts, and talents in the life of our children. Picking up where we left off last time we will examine a few specific steps for training our children in the way they should go. Remember, we all need to be trained! We all need to be taught. And we all need to know the difference between right and wrong. This absolute truth brings us to our need for a Savior, because without Him we cannot do what is right and will only do what is wrong, bringing shame upon our family and our lives.

How then do we train up our children in the way they should go? Simply put, we TRAIN them. We can use the word itself to serve as an outline to remind us and teach us how to do what we have been commanded to do. Let us see then what each letter in the word TRAIN stands for as we apply God's Plan for Parenting.

T

The T stands for Train. Simple enough. We are to train our children. Training means that we treat our children as if they were students, or learners. The Biblical word used to describe this is the word "disciple." Our children are our disciples! The word disciple means literally, "a learner, student, or apprentice."

In the day to day reality of family life we will teach our children to be like us, either by trying, or by not trying! They will learn from us how to act, speak, and even how to think. Children are more observant and teachable than we often give them credit. They can mimic us in ways that would shame us. This is often illustrated with stories about things children say when the pastor is invited over for dinner. And the humor is there because of the element of truth behind those stories. Children have no inhibitions. They are brutally honest. And often they give us a very good glimpse of ourselves if we would take the time to look and listen.

What are you teaching your children? What are you teaching them actively and what are you teaching them with the way you act? We cannot train up our children to be godly if we are not godly. It does little good to take our kids to church with the hopes that something good will rub off on them all the while we tell them to do as we say not as we do.

To train a child is to teach a child to be like us, to follow us. Luke 6:40 tells us, "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." To perfectly train, that is to really teach someone means that they will share in our knowledge and experience. Those we disciple in the church and in the home will be like us. Do we really want our children to be completely like us? If not, then there are things we need to change!

Jesus of course is our best example of a Teacher. His disciples learned to be like Him. He came to "seek and save that which was lost" and He said to His disciples "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Luke 19:10; Matt 4:19). Paul also taught Timothy and Titus and others how to "follow me as I follow Christ." He asked the church at Philippi to "join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern." And he said to those in Thessalonica, "you became followers of us and of the Lord" (Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:6).

What kind of example are we setting? The example we are for our children will do much to train them in the way that they should go. When they watch us do what is right no matter the cost they will know how important it is to do what is right. When we teach them from Scripture and then live out before them the truths they have learned we will reinforce to them how it is that they should live to the glory of God.

We must be careful though, for the Bible warns us about being a bad example! Peter writes about false teachers telling us that "They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children." (2 Peter 2:13-14) Further the Book pf Proverbs tells us that when we fail to train our children they will remain full of foolishness and will bring shame to their families (Prov 17:25; 19:13).

To train our children then we start by setting a good example. So the first step to fulfilling God's plan for parenting is that we walk with God so that we might be godly - for unless we are holy and godly then we cannot set a good example for our children.

R

The R tells us that it is part of God's plan for parenting that we should Restrain our children from Evil. This refers to discipline. Discipline Biblically has several components, three of which we will apply to parenting. Before we look at these components though we need to make one thing clear. Discipline is not the same as punishment. Listen to that carefully, please. Too many parents think that it is their job to punish their children and they miss opportunities to discipline them!

What is the difference? Discipline is in fact training! It is teaching, through both positive and negative reinforcement. Punishment on the other hand is inflicting the cold hard consequences of an action. To punish is to make someone pay for what they have done. So many parents misunderstand their roles here and so many are confused by what the Bible teaches about spanking because they have substituted punishment for discipline.

Punishment is often carried out in anger. There is a score to settle and a point to be made as a consequence to an action. But parents are never told in Scripture to punish their children. In fact, Jesus does not punish His children! Think about this for a moment - Jesus promises us that He has paid for our sin and while there may be consequences, He never threatens us with punishment. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. He was punished in our place! He paid for our sin. But let us not forget, God does disciple those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-6). God chastens, He disciplines His children.

So what are the elements of discipline? For this study we will look at three elements of disciple. They are instruction, restraint, and correction.

Instruction is just that, instructing our children in how to think, talk, and act. It is positive in that we model this for them and also instruct them giving them steps to follow in order to be obedient. This involves teaching our children. We teach them through catechisms, through activities, through the parables we find in daily life, through family worship, through discussing the sermon from Sunday, though taking every opportunity to use daily life to reinforce the truths of Scripture. We will speak more to this later in our study so for now let us move to the second element of discipline.

Restraint is keeping our children back from sin. Think of it in terms of a busy street. If your child is playing in a park near a busy street would you for a moment take your eyes off of him and let him wander anywhere near the street? Of course this assumes we truly love and care for our children - but we would do whatever it takes to keep them from playing in the street. Why? Because we do not want them to experience the street? No! It is because we do not want them to experience the bumper of a fast moving car that will severely injure or kill them!

Restraint is teaching them to avoid things that will harm them. It is positive and negative, for at times they must learn the hard way and at times there must be swift action to keep them from harm. Discipline restrains our children from those things that will hurt them.

Correction is also a part of discipline. It is pointing out what we have done that is wrong and working to correct it - to make it right. Just as a teacher corrects homework, we as parents must correct our children. When we see areas out of line we need to work with our children to correct them, to steer them in the right direction. This is also done at times by example, but usually this is the most negative type of discipline. At times the corrective action is a consequence and it is usually unpleasant. But the end result, the goal is to teach our children what is right and what is wrong.

Remember we do not discipline to express anger or frustration. We do not intend punish our children. Instead we work to motivate them toward right actions and right thinking.

We will pick up with the AIN in our next devotion. But for today, let us remember that we are expected and equipped to train up a child in the way he should go, and that starts with our own relationship with God. If we are not right we cannot lead by example. And if we are not walking with God ourselves then we will mislead our children!

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Secrets of a Happy Home Life by JR Miller
The Christian Family by John Bunyan

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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