Thursday, February 27, 2014

Like a Shepherd 4: Bringing the Word: Parenting as Prophet

Our Wednesday MOMs bible study continues to work through Joel Beeke's excellent book on parenting and we find ourselves this week looking at how we parent as prophets, bringing God's word of both blessing and solemn warnings to the minds and hearts of our children. Prophets speak the Word of God to God's people and in doing so, we teach our children what they are to believe concerning God and what God requires of them. The word is applied through instruction, correction, comfort, and the modeling of the Christian life by their parents.
Far from mere intellectual ascent, like the prophets, proclaiming the Word of God to our children should be an irresistible calling lit by the fire of faith and love. Jeremiah's love for the Word was "in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones. I was weary of holding it back and could not." Jer.20:9.
The words of Deut.6:4-9 are so rich in teaching. Here are but a few take-aways plus some additional helps:
1. Our parenting as prophet finds its authority in the God of the covenant. The Lord our God is one. God is identified here as Israel's Supreme Commander. This authority is not cultural or situational and is applicable forever.
2. Our parenting as prophet is motivated by love for God. How we parent is an indication of our love for God and His Word. If you love me, keep my commandments. All that we do should be an overflow of our love for God. His commandments are pressed, or embossed on the hearts of His people.
3. Our parenting is to be done as we live. While we as Christian parents should desire and carry out times of formal bible reading, praying and family worship, we are to teach our children as we live, or as Lou Priolo  author of Teach Them Diligently calls it, teaching in the milieu. Any place, any time, at home, wherever life takes us. His commandments should govern what we do, what we say, and what we think.
4.We as parents are ultimately responsible for our children's spiritual education. Home is the little kingdom, the nursery of heaven, a greenhouse for God where
seeds are planted the minds and hearts of our babies, where they are watered in love, pruned with discipline and correction, and protected from outside elements that would be harmful.
5. The voice of his mother is the sweetest sound in a baby's world. Our role as prophet begins at the moment of conception and we know that baby hears every word his momma speaks. We would do well to begin reading, praying and singing the words of scripture to baby from the moment his presence is known.
6. Use events throughout the day to apply the truth of scripture to Junior's life. Do everything without complaining or grumbling. Phil.2:4. God tells us:
Do. Do what? Everything. God is interested in all of life. Do how? Without complaining or grumbling. Junior, you may not argue or complain when:
*you don't like your breakfast
*you must stop playing
*you are told it's bedtime
*you are told to finish your school work
*what you want to do is forbidden by God or your parents
This verse reminds us that it is difficult, even impossible to do all that God commands us, and that is why we need Jesus.
7. Pray the scriptures with your children with their names in the verses. Romans 12:9,10: Help Junior to be honest. Help Junior to hate what is evil. Give Junior goodness to cling to. Teach Junior to be kind and affectionate with brotherly love, teaching him to let others go first.
8. Sing with them. As we heard this last Lord's Day, worship is the result of missions. Singing is the sound of heaven. Sounding like Pavarotti is not the goal. Filling the hearts and minds of our children through the singing the psalms, hymns, and songs of the faith is the goal. Our children will be filled with something and while they are young you still get to choose. Choose well.
9. Model godliness as you live. Luke tells us blessed are those who hear the word of God and do it. 11:28. Children (and their parents :) learn more easily, eagerly and quickly when we are living for the purpose of doing. This is how Jesus taught. He used every event to talk to His disciples and followers about God. He used fig trees, sparrows, parties, wheat, foxes, wine, camels, gates and doors, sheep and lambs, pearls, mustard seed, weather, money, dirt, and the hair on their heads truth that was useful for living that would bring glory to God. As parents we are to model godliness. Our children should see that their parents labor daily, shoulder to shoulder with a firm commitment to Jesus Christ. They need to know that their parents love one another and hate sin, that Jesus is their only hope, that forgiveness is offered and accepted, that life in Christ is the source of true joy, that children are a cherished gift from God.
10. Being a parent is not the primary goal in having children. They are to be reared for God's glory to fulfill His purposes for their lives in His kingdom.  We are rearing them to grow in wisdom, favor and stature with God and man and to leave home for the purposes to which God has called them.

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