We honor God with our parenting. We do it the way He's called us to do it, and then we trust Him for the outcome.
We welcome you again to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. As our series, The Parenting Call, continues, we come to part four of a message on Christian parenting. Don has presented four of six principles to keep in mind as you raise your children. Be calm, consistent in authority, consistent in love, and be present at home. He's also called our attention to Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 7, where God instructs parents to teach His ways when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
You can't do that unless you're present. Well, today God has the final two principles to share with you, so have your Bible handy. As Don continues to teach God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit. My prayer as I've been anticipating this message has not been that people would start and just make immediate dramatic changes to their existing lifestyle. I'm afraid that would be too much of a superficial response. And if it's not informed by an understanding and a corresponding conviction, even that kind of dramatic change wouldn't take root and stand the test of time.
It'd just be like the seed that fell on the rocky soil and sprouted up real quickly and then withered and went away. No, what I really want for you, beloved, is to think deeply about these things. Think about these things in terms of developing, first of all, is this what the Bible says?
I've shown to you that it is. And to let your convictions and priorities start to be shaped by that and to just ruminate and think through, wow, the home, the center of the home. And many of you are already right there, and I praise God for that. You know, we're speaking to a broad group of people who are at different stages in life.
And so I understand that and take that into account with what I say here. Here's what I would say. If you just find yourself really wrapped up in a busy lifestyle and say, wow, this is convicting to me, let me give you a single word, a single word that will help you start to move in this direction. It's a single word.
You can write it down if you need to, although we find that most people can remember it. This one word will do you wonders. That word is no.
No. Sometimes well-meaning people come to you and ask for commitments when you're already over-committed, and you just have to say, no, I can't do that. And you say no without a sense of guilt for having somehow failed a responsibility that somebody has brought to you. Rather, you're saying no with a sense of assurance that this is the right thing for me to do so that I can establish the kind of structure in our home life that allows me to be the Christian parent that God's called me to be. It's not that hard. No, I'm sorry, I can't do that now.
I can't do that today. What I want you to understand is that we're not speaking just superficially about can you go bowling Friday night or whatever. What we're talking about, this is so far-reaching, this is so life-shaping that men may need to adjust their career aspirations in order to honor this principle. Ladies may need to scale back on some of their involvements so that there is an anchor in the home that the children see and can respond to, especially you young parents or you aspiring parents.
This is just really, really crucial. And you don't need to feel guilty because you're not involved in eight dozen Bible studies or that you're not involved in every aspect of community service that you could possibly be in if you're out and away all of the time as a pattern of life over the years. You know what's going to happen?
One day you're going to be like the armies that Israel fought as you've been drawn out of the fortress of your home you're going to look back and see that the enemy has set fire to it and it's burning down behind you. And then all of the activities aren't going to mean anything when your family falls apart because you neglected it over the years and as a pattern of life. See, I love you too much not to say these things. I love you too much not to make it so that you think about these things and contemplate the consequences of lifestyle choices that you make. And especially for you young people.
Now look, and just to clarify what I'm saying. I'm not saying that you have to sit at home every night. I'm not about to say what this looks like for you because my greater concern for you is to take the heart, the priority and then if you just do that, I know that the Spirit of God will guide you as you seek to apply it within your own individual family lives. I'm not setting your schedule for you, that's the last thing I want to do.
I have enough trouble setting my own schedule and guarding my own without trying to take on 200 more. I just want you to embrace the priority to say yes, this is what the Scriptures teach and how does this apply, my spouse? How does this apply?
How do you think we work this out where God finds us right now? That's the issue. But if you're never home, something's wrong. And this is a wake-up call. Look, I understand.
Dads have to take business trips. And so I just want you to understand what I'm saying and what I'm not saying. I realize life takes you away. The question is where is your anchor?
The question is when life does take you away, what are you thinking in order to keep the home fires burning properly? Your home should be such a conscious priority in your life that you shape life around it. How else are you going to talk to your children when you sit down and when you rise up and when you lay down and when you walk about the way?
How are you going to do that if you're not home? I can honestly tell you I personally declined career paths that would have interfered with this priority. I said no to jobs that I knew were going to keep me from being this kind of parent. Nancy and I closely monitored the outside activities that our children were involved in and didn't let things run away with that so that our family life wasn't being run by other people who had their own schedules and agendas. When I say be home, that's what I'm talking about. Beloved, teach your children, especially you young parents with young children, teach your children to find contentment in the home. Because you know what happens when you've taught your children to find contentment in the home? You know what happens? They probably grow up and teach their children to be content in their homes. And you start to establish, even if you aren't the recipient of this kind of parenting, if you haven't been, start a generational line that will carry this on, huh?
Start it if you haven't received it. Because the long-term fruit of that is enormous. It is incalculable. And as our society becomes increasingly hostile to the things of God and to the nature of Christian life and more openly hostile to Christ and the Scriptures, beloved, it's all the more important. This is so urgent.
It is all the more important for you as parents to establish a refuge where your children find safe harbor of the things of God under the roof that only you can supply to them. You're the only one who can do that. You're the only one who can supply that to them. Once they step outside the bounds of your home, it's different. You know that.
I don't even need to emphasize it. As a Christian parent then, you have to say, my environment is going to be one where the Gospel is honored, where Christ is loved, where children find safety and harbor and refuge under my roof. And if you're going to have that kind of home, you've got to be there to establish it. It's not going to happen by accident.
So be home. Fifthly, fifthly, be patient. Be patient. I've always thought that one of the greatest challenges of Christian parenting is that you don't see immediate results. You discipline young children one day five times for the same thing. And then you turn around the next day and you're doing it five times for the same thing that you just did the day before.
And then the next day, six times. And you wonder, is this ever going to change? Is this ever going to get better? I'm really getting frustrated here.
Why don't they get it? Well, look, I've often told parents to take the long view. Take the long view of your parenting, especially when your children are really young in those really young years, those preschool years.
You have to take the long view. Listen, listen, if you will embrace this one thing, it will change your perspective on dealing with that ongoing frustration. Your goal as a Christian parent is not to bring about perfect external compliance in your child at the age of three. If that's your goal, you're going to be frustrated because children don't work that way. They have sinful hearts that are going to find new and different ways to manifest rebellion and disobedience because that's what's driving them. The Spirit of God isn't in charge of their life yet. And so be ready.
Expect the fact that this is going to be an extended time. Your goal isn't age three. Your goal isn't what's happening today, beloved. Your Christian perspective should be this, in my judgment, is that you want to parent in a way. You want to be home in a way.
You want to interact with your children in a way that through all of the ups and downs that inevitably happen as your children are growing, when they hit their late teen and early 20 years, when they become young adults, you have established a relationship of trust with them so that you can have input in their life when they're making life-determining decisions. So be calm. Be patient.
Relax. Take the long view. And understand that the reason that you consistently discipline these things when they're young is because you're trying to shape them. You're trying to establish a character in them, and character like the city of Rome is not built overnight. It's built over time. It's built over years.
The verse that we looked at in Deuteronomy 6-7 says, teach them diligently. It presupposes the fact that this isn't a one-off event. Diligently, repeatedly, time and time again, taking the long view that you're pouring a foundation upon which their life will be built on, and skyscrapers aren't built on foundations that were poured in six hours. There's a lot of digging, a lot of rebar that's established. And you don't even see it when the building's completed.
But all of that preliminary work was necessary so that the building would stand on that foundation. You've got to take that perspective to your parenting. You have to. So that you don't overreact to incidental things day by day when they're young. And so that, and beloved, this is what I really want for you.
So that, especially those of you with young families, just coming up, your infants are just now starting to gurgle. What I want for you is that you'd have the blessing of seeing a good outcome. If at all possible, if the Lord gives grace and the Lord gives blessing, it's the outcome when they're young adults and beyond that you're looking for, not what's happening today.
You're gonna forget about the Cheerios. You won't forget the life-shaping conversations when you've taught your children to trust you. You won't forget the way their decisions are shaped by your influence and your opinions and your advice when they're old enough to start making decisions on their own.
That's what I want for you. But what I want you to see is it doesn't happen by accident. We've got to think long-term, we've got to be patient, we've got to realize that that good result that everybody wants at the end doesn't happen randomly. It's the result of being home and teaching them diligently over time. This is the Biblical pattern. Proverbs 22 verse six says, train up a child in the way you should go.
Even when he's old, he will not depart from it. Like all Proverbs, that's a statement of principle. It's not a guarantee. Sure, there's times where Christian parents honor God with their parenting and the child goes south anyway. But that's the exception. And you honor the pattern that God's called us to and you expect as the order and the nature of the universe that good results will come.
Generally speaking, children who are raised properly show the effects of it later on. And the fact that there are exceptions don't mitigate the overall truth of it. Beloved, the fact that there are exceptions doesn't mean that you dismiss your responsibility and disregard these things. We honor God as in all of life. We honor God with our parenting.
We do it the way he's called us to do it and then we trust him for the outcome. Now, here's how being patient helps you in your parenting. When you are really tired because that kid has been up for the sixth consecutive night, take the long view.
Beloved, you won't always be tired. But your devotion to good parenting will pay off later in life. When you're correcting the same problem that you were correcting six months ago and there's no seeming bend in your child's attitude, take the long view. Take the long view because training occurs over time, not overnight.
Consistently in your authority, consistently in your love, patiently, humbly dealing with things in the home and trust the Lord to direct this and to bless the fruit of your perseverance and your faithfulness to it. You can't overreact when you recognize an ongoing issue. Take the long view. Be patient. Do what the Lord's called you to do. Today we said be home, be patient. Sixthly, be prayerful.
Be prayerful. Speaking from personal experience, parenting is humbling. Parenting will inevitably reveal your own sinfulness. Parenting will show forth your own impatience, your own anger, your own selfishness. When you start to recognize that, I understand that the potential for discouragement is really great.
Well, beloved, at that point, step back and remember what we're talking about here. We're talking about how to be a Christian parent. And when we talk about being a Christian and we focus like a laser on that word Christian, that changes everything.
And here is where you find the fuel to carry on and to be refreshed day by day. You see, when we say Christian parenting, we're talking about you being the recipient of grace. The fact that God has been gracious to you, God is aware of your sinfulness, knew what your sinful life was going to be before you were born, and graciously, sovereignly saved you anyway. That you stand in Christ complete before Him.
All of your sins forgiven, the righteousness of Christ applied to your account before the throne of God. Yes, you need grace. But that's why Christ came. He didn't come to save you because you were such a great parent. He came in part to save you because you're not a perfect parent. Your life is marked by failure and sin and your parenting has been less than it should be. Welcome to the realm of grace. Welcome to the realm of the goodness of God, that He has extended favor, He has extended kindness even though you didn't deserve it. Welcome to a remembrance of the word from Paul in 1 Timothy 1.15 that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Welcome to the realm of the Holy Spirit who Romans 8.26 says helps us in our weakness. Let your failures as a parent, and for some of you maybe it's too late to reverse those failures.
I get that. To whatever extent these things convict you, let it humbly drive you back to the cross and say, Lord, this is why you came. And if your kids are still at home, ask God to cover you and make you a better parent today than you were yesterday. This is grace.
He delights in answering that prayer. Let me take it one point further as we talk about being prayerful. Remember this, there's so much that I want you to remember, but remember this especially if your kids are rambunctious and disobedient and it's been a struggle with them. Be mindful of this.
Set your heart on this. If you as the Christian adult need grace and you've received grace and you're confident of the Lord's forgiveness of your sins, then look at your children through those eyes of grace. If God has been gracious to you, if you as the adult need grace, beloved, how much more do your children need grace? How much more should they be the objects of your compassion, the objects of your prayers for their salvation if you yourself have needed to be an object of grace yourself?
If you come to God as a destitute sinner saying, God, be merciful to me, the sinner, then when you look and see, my goodness, my wife and I have produced other sinners. Then let your heart cry for grace for your own soul. Inform the way that you look at your children and bring you to pray for grace on their souls as well. And just as you want God to be gracious to you in your Christian life, be gracious and patient with your children in their earthly lives. Look beyond your frustrations and your disappointments. You know, your children don't exist to meet your emotional needs. Your children aren't there so that they can meet your emotional needs. You are there in your lives to be an example of Christianity, to instruct them, to guide them, to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And maybe they won't return gratitude to you for that fact.
That doesn't change what you do. And when they're ungrateful, when they're rebellious, when they show no sign of the love that you've shown to them, step back and remember that you have received grace and you've got another person in front of you that needs grace as well. And let that feed your prayers for them. God, you've been gracious to me. You saved me from my sins. And here I have this rebellious child in front of me. God, be gracious to my child just like you were to me. In fact, God, be more gracious to my child than you have been to me. Because God, they not only have to overcome their own sin, they have to overcome my own sinfulness and failures and my own parenting.
God, if you're not gracious, the deck is really stacked against them. So be prayerful. Look beyond the external manifestation of sin in their lives and be faithful in your prayers for them. Look beyond your own frustrations and disappointment and see their need for grace. God is good to His children all the time without exception.
And so if Paul could pray for the salvation of his fellow Jews in Romans 10, we as Christian parents all the more should be devoted to prayer for the salvation of the fruit of our own bodies. And beloved, there are no guarantees. We get that. We understand that. Our focus isn't on the outcome of our parenting so much because that's under forces beyond our control. But as we're faithful to the principles of good Christian parenting, we can be confident that in one way or another, our faithful God is going to display His faithfulness to our obedience and He's going to bless us for it. And that's what we want.
That's what we can trust. Our great and merciful God uses every aspect of our lives to bring glory to Himself and to instruct us in His ways. Parenting is indeed full of lessons we need to learn, especially the need for grace, as Pastor Don Green has articulated today on The Truth Pulpit. Don has more impactful teaching from God's Word on our next program, so be sure to join us then. Well, Don, having reached the end of our series on parenting, what are some closing thoughts from you? Well, Bill, this has been one of my favorite series in recent times.
I guess I could say that about all of them. But I really do love what God's Word says about the whole topic of parenting. This is where I've lived my life for the past 30 years with Nancy as we've raised our family together. And, you know, my friend, what I would want you to remember, first of all, preeminently, if you're a young parent especially, the Bible says in Psalm 127 that children are a gift from the Lord and to always view your children from that perspective. At the same time I've been there, I also know that children are born with a sin nature that makes them naughty and sometimes very difficult to deal with, nonresponsive even to your admonitions, your pleas, your discipline. And so I know that that can be a long sustained problem sometimes for families that simply want to live for the Lord and do what's right. Well, if you're a Christian, help is right here. God was loving, gracious, and very patient with you to bring you to Christ. He was also and has been very patient with you since you became a Christian. You haven't always been all that God would have you to be, now have you?
I certainly haven't. Well, let that goodness and patience from God toward you in a vertical dimension inform the way that you parent and let it spill over into your own attitudes and your approach to your kids. Be patient and trust God to work in their lives and in yours over the long haul. Yes, they need discipline, but you don't have to be harsh and angry when you give it to them.
You don't need to be unkind. You can love them in discipline, point them to Christ, and then you can trust God to bless the outcome according to his will. God bless you as you raise your family for the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thanks, Don. And friend, we invite you to visit TheTruthPulpit.com to learn more about our ministry. Again, that's TheTruthPulpit.com. And now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright. See you again next time as Don teaches God's people God's word from the truth pulpit.
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