Monday, February 15, 2010

"He Chooses Our Inheritance For Us" - Psalm 47.4

From the reading for the evening of November 11 in Spurgeon's devotional classic Morning and Evening:
Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. . . .
Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances . . . . Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down, busy self and proud impatience; it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

New Horizons: "Faith and Child Training"

As a follow up to the previous post, this month's edition of New Horizons also has some helpful articles on child training.
Of the different articles on child training, I would call your attention particularly to Mark Sumpter's article on "A Lord's Day Handbook for Practical Parenting." In it he notes the tendency that many parents have in their approach to Christian nurture to focus on training during the week in order to get our children ready for worship. When we do this, we unwittingly separate our child training from worship--but Sumpter argues that we should reverse this. He notes that "maybe we've been overlooking a glorious gift from God that is right under our nose each Lord's Day. Fathers and mothers are sitting on the proverbial gold mine with lessons for nurture and training from public worship."

From worship, Sumpter argues that we can instruct our children in discipleship training in seven basic areas:
  1. Respect for authority
  2. Stewardship
  3. Marriage and Family
  4. Communication and Understanding
  5. Gifts, Callings and Occupations
  6. Peacemaking and Unity
  7. Beauty and Aesthetics
Sumpter does not claim that this list is exhaustive, but it is certainly foundational. The point here is to become more intentional in how we view our children in worship. In Reformed circles, the doctrine of the covenant is very important and there is often a very good focus on including children in worship--but sometimes what is lacking is the understanding that it is formative for them in nurturing that gospel seed implanted in them, just as it is formative in the faith of adults.

Sumpter concludes with a great encouragement to parents: "take our Lord's Day work of worship home! Worship is God's means for covenant nurture." In it, "He provides us with a handbook for discipleship training."

Resources on Marriage and Family

I was recently asked what my favorite books are on child training and marriage. My honest response to this question is that I haven't found my "favorite" books yet, but, I have found several that have been very helpful. Below, you will find the top three books per category that I recommend.

For child training:
  1. A Christian Directory by Richard Baxter
  2. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp (I am also interested in reading Instructing a Child's Heart, but haven't yet)
  3. Withhold Not Correction by Bruce Ray
For marriage:
  1. A Christian Directory by Richard Baxter.
  2. Reforming Marriage by Doug Wilson
  3. Strengthening Your Marriage by Wayne Mack

You will notice that A Christian Directory is listed under both categories. Back towards the end of the seventeenth century, the puritan pastor Richard Baxter wrote a large volume attempting to discuss all the different areas of living the Christian life. The volume is broken down into four main sections. First, private duties; second, family duties; third, church duties; and fourth, civil duties. Given that it was written several hundred years ago and is so large, it can be intimidating to pick up--but the section on family duties is worth it.

Well, I just saw today that the second section has been published as its own book with slight revisions as The Godly Home. If you are interested, you can read the Introduction and a sample chapter here.