Monthly Archives: September 2013
Grandson number 3, Nathanael, turned 13 years old yesterday and we continued our family tradition taken from the biblical tradition of a boy or girl being considered a young adult at that age. The Jewish people celebrate it with a Bar-Mitzvah.
We just have a birthday party but take a period of time to speak of now some new expectations and the way he will be treated. In a culture right now that men in their late 20’s and even 30’s are acting like adolescents, the biblical mandate for men and women is to act like one. The Scriptures have no designation for teenager or adolescent but goes from child to young men or women to men and women then to older men and women. There are expectations at all phases and none look like what we have embraced in our culture.
What we did with my grandson Nathanael yesterday was this: His grandma and I gave him a journal so he can begin or continue the discipline of journaling his spiritual walk. In the front of the journal I wrote the following from Howard Guinness called “Sacrifice.”
“Where are all the young men … who will hold their lives cheap and be fruitful unto death? Where are those who will lose their lives for Christ’s sake – flinging them away for love of him? Where are those who will live dangerously and be reckless in his service? Where are his lovers – those who love him and the souls of men more than their own reputations or comfort or very life? Where are the men who will say ‘no’ to self, who take up Christ’s cross to bear it after him … willing, if need be, to bleed, to suffer and to die on it? … Where are the adventurers, the explorers, the buccaneers for God who count one human soul of far greater value than the rise or fall of an empire? … Where are God’s men in this day of God’s power?”
After a short exhortation by his dad and grandfather, I close the time with a prayer of blessing taken from Psalm 112 exhorting him to look to be this kind of man:
Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever.
He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor. (Psalm 112:1-9, ESV)
Are you inhibiting your teen from a biblical view of manhood or womanhood? Nathanael will continue to step into a world where this is not the norm but will understand when his parents address things with him and talk about manhood, he knows that expectations have changed starting yesterday.
The following is from a conversation that Tim Callies had with Dr. Joel Beeke from his book A Puritan Theology. I am a lover of Puritan writings and have learned so much from them in that the study of systematic and biblical theology is not just an intellectual exercise but is meant to be practical and lived out. One of the ways the Puritans lived it out was the priority of family worship. This conversation centers around chapter 53 in Dr. Beeke’s book. My hope is that you will find it useful for your own family and I imagine for many, you will find it a bit surprising about the Puritans for they are grossly misunderstood by most people today.
Tim C: To hear people talk about the Puritans, you would imagine they were harsh toward their children, making them endure endless hours of family worship. Is this accurate?
Joel B: Endless hours in family worship would have been impossible for most people in the seventeenth-century. In Puritan New England, many people were farmers who had to labor hard to produce food. Children also had much to do in school, household chores, and working alongside their fathers and mothers to learn a vocation. The Puritans also took time for recreation. They enjoyed hunting, fishing, shooting competitions, and wrestling—two New England Puritan ministers were famous amateur wrestlers. They enjoyed music in their homes, owning guitars, harpsichords, trumpets, violas, drums, and other instruments. There was a lot to do; family devotions were one part—albeit the most important part—of a busy daily schedule.
The Puritans aimed at pithy instruction and heart-moving prayer. Samuel Lee wrote that in all our teaching of the family we should beware of boring the children by talking too much. Long devotions overburden their little minds. It is best to hold the attention of children by using spiritual analogies with flowers, rivers, a field of grain, birds singing, the sun, a rainbow, etc.
Tim C: The Puritans regarded family worship as a duty. Did Puritan pastors ensure that fathers were carrying out this duty? How would they have helped families do this well?
Joel B: The Puritans did take this duty seriously. For example, in 1647, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland adopted the Westminster Confession of Faith. Three days earlier, they had adopted the Directory for Family Worship, and required ruling elders and ministers to discipline heads of household that neglected family worship. In another branch of Puritanism, in 1677 the congregational church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, covenanted together to “maintain the worship of God” in their families, “educating, instructing, and charging our children and our households to keep the ways of the Lord.”
Puritan pastors helped families, first, by preaching on this subject; second, by writing books about family worship, and devotional books useful for family worship; third, by writing simple catechisms or promoting an official catechism; and fourth, by visiting each family in the church and catechizing the children. Parents often invited the minister over a meal, after which the minister would lead family worship. Pastoral visits both held parents accountable by revealing the level of knowledge of their children, and modeled what family worship should be.
Tim C: I know it is difficult to speak in averages, but maybe you could tell us what the average Puritan’s family devotions might have looked like. How long would they have spent and what things would they have done?
Joel B: The Puritans did not favor the following of a precise form for worship of any kind, but they did lay out principles. They called Christian parents to lead their families in the daily practice of (1) reading the Scriptures to their families; (2) leading the children in memorizing and understanding a catechism; (3) discussing biblical truth for edification such that each family member can ask questions and share thoughts; (4) praying together, which included acknowledging God as the Lord and Provider of their family, confessing their sins to Him, thanking Him for their blessings, presenting their petitions to Him for the needs and troubles of the family, and interceding as a family for friends and the nation; and (5) singing psalms to the Lord.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to speak in a meaningful way of how long the average family devotions lasted for the Puritans. No doubt it varied, also due to the ages of the children. Personally, I recommend five to ten minutes in the morning and fifteen to twenty minutes in the evening. For more practical details on implementing devotions, see my little book, Family Worship.
Tim C: You say, “We must beware of allowing corrupting influences into our private lives and homes.” What kind of corrupting influences do we allow in our homes today that the Puritans would have forbidden?
Joel B: The Puritans would probably be more concerned with the content of the media than the form of technology. The typical American home has its doors wide open for all kinds of intruders to come in, steal, and destroy the treasures of the soul. Christians must practice great discernment to guard their homes against:
(1) Lawlessness. One recent video game earned a billion dollars in sales within three days of its release. It is obviously wildly popular. The problem is that the game revolves around theft! Again, how many popular songs promote fornication and adultery? Breaking God’s laws is a very serious matter. Are you entertaining yourself with the things God hates?
(2) Worldliness. It might be an open rejection of God, a grossly immoral life, or blatant conformity to popular culture. But it might be much more subtle. Worldliness is any love not ruled by love for God. It could be pleasing people above God, seeking physical prosperity above spiritual holiness, valuing temporal gains above eternal glories, living to move forward rather than upward, or walking in pride instead of humility. In short, it is corrupt human nature without God. Someone of this world is controlled by what the Puritans called this world’s trinity: the quest for pleasure, profit, and position. The Puritans would say that the question we need to ask about an activity is: does this help my family to love Christ more, to hate sin more, and to pursue walking in the King’s highway of holiness more?
(3) Lightness. Life has light moments when we all break into laughter, but lightness (or levity) is using humor and entertainment to keep weighty realities out of our minds. We live in a culture that tries to turn life into “Comedy Central.” The tragedy of this is that it turns us away from the overflowing joy God gives through a sober consideration of gospel truth. Are you leading your family to fill their minds with distractions, or with the hope of Christ?
The Puritans would ask us today—not out of legalism but out of jealousy for the well-being of our family’s souls: What are we bringing into our homes through the music we listen to, the jokes and stories we tell, the books and magazines we read, the images we hang on the wall or welcome onto the video screen, and the games and sports we play or watch? Read Philippians 4:8, and take inventory.
We are a family of wrestlers and love the sport. We were shaken when we found out the International Olympic Committee dropped wrestling and then relieved to find that they reinstated it. There are several wrestlers who are members of the United States World Team who are passionate followers of Jesus Christ such as Olympic Gold Medal winner Jordan Burroughs and team member JD Bergman.
This video is of the 2012 National Sportsmanship Award winner and will raise your hope in young people and for some of you, raise your respect for wrestlers 🙂
I have made several changes that are significant the past two months. One is that I resigned as a family pastor at the church I had been serving for 13 years and made a move back to my roots in education. An opportunity opened at Lincoln Christian School to assist the administration that I accepted. The job entails assisting the superintendent in leadership and staff development throughout the school and work on continued improvements in other areas.
I have been on the job nearly 4 weeks now and it has been great to be back with kids (nearly 700 of them) on a daily basis. Much has changed in the 13 years I have been gone but still enough is familiar that I am quickly fitting in. The reception by the school families has been frankly overwhelming and affirming that God was definitely working to make it happen.
I will continue to pursue to encourage living out the Word through a gospel-centered lens through this blog and have the opportunity to stimulate that in the lives of these students and faculty. I have also been asked to consider giving parenting seminars on a regular basis at the school.
My wife, Deb, and I will be making many adjustments right now but know with certainty at this time that the opportunity before is a gift from God.
(For those following these posts, sorry for the long gap but things have been changing for me. Will give an update and get back on track again sometime this weekend. In the meantime …)
The following is an excerpt from Kevin DeYoung’s new book Crazy Busy, A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem
Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be. It used to be, as far as I can tell, that Christian parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, teach them about Jesus, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no, wait, their tummies; no, never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart and surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.
It’s all so involved. There are so many rules and expectations. Parenting may be the last bastion of legalism. Not just in the church, but in our culture. We live in a permissive society that won’t count any sin against you as an adult, but will count the calories in your kids’ hot lunch. I keep hearing that kids aren’t supposed to eat sugar anymore. What a world! What a world! My parents were solid as a rock, but we still had a cupboard populated with cereal royalty like Captain Crunch and Count Chocula. In our house the pebbles were fruity and the charms were lucky. The breakfast bowl was a place for marshmallows, not dried camping fruit. Our milk was 2%. And sometimes, if we needed to take the edge off a rough morning, we’d tempt fate and chug a little Vitamin D.
As nanny parents living in a nanny state, we think of our children as amazingly fragile and entirely moldable. Both assumptions are mistaken. It’s harder to ruin our kids than we think and harder to stamp them for success than we’d like. Christian parents in particular often operate with an implicit determinism. We fear that a few wrong moves will ruin our children forever, and at the same time assume that the right combination of protection and instruction will invariably produce godly children. Leslie Leyland Fields is right: “One of the most resilient and cherished myths of parenting is that parenting creates the child.”