Loving Your Children

Rob Green June 25, 2016 Ephesians 6:4

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4 ways we can rightly love our children

I.  Fathers must take responsibility for raising their children (v. 4a)

Panel Issue #1: Men, please explain what you do or have done for a living, and then explain what practical steps you have taken to be involved in the lives of your children despite having heavy work responsibilities.

II. Parents are not to provoke their children to anger (v. 4b)

1 Samuel 3:13 - For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.

Panel Issue #2: Each of you explain how you worked to fulfill your command to parent your children without provoking them to an angry lifestyle and rebellion.

Panel Issue #3: If you had to give parents who are dealing with an angry child one piece of advice, what would it be?

Panel Issue #4: Pretend there are some parents who are just starting their journey into the world of parenting. What do you wish someone had told you so that you did not have to learn the hard way about preventing anger in your children?

III. Parents are commanded to teach their children (v. 4c)

Judges 2:10 - All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which he had done for Israel.

Panel Issue #5: How did you choose to speak to your children about matters like work, sex, and money? Did you arrange special teaching events? Did you hope they followed your example? Tell us about how you worked to teach about these matters.

Panel Issue #6: I started the discussion about some of the more challenging issues, but more generally, what were your checklist of items you wanted to ensure your children knew before they left home?

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 - These words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Panel Issue #7: In your years of parenting how have you tried to work in both formal times and using informal times to teach truth, especially in light of how many things people do in this culture.

Panel Issue #8: Each of you made a decision regarding the help you received educating your children. Blakes, you homeschooled and so you controlled the curriculum and the teachers; Grasses you sent your children to Faith; Jefsons, you decided to use the public schools. Please share the reasons you made your choice.

IV. Parents are commanded to discipline their children (v. 4d)

Panel Issue #9:  Please take a minute and share what passages of Scripture or ideas have helped you the most to pursue honoring Christ in disciplining your children.

Panel Issue #10: Each child (person) is different. Their responses to discipline are also different. What were the things that encouraged you when times were difficult or it seemed like your discipline was not resulting in life change?

Manuscript

Green: Well our annual theme this year is entitled loving our world and our desire was to find as many ways as possible that we can put our focus and our attention on loving others and fulfilling some of the commandments that the Lord has given us. Although our year has been focused on loving other nations, loving other cultures, others in different circumstances, we wanted to take this summer and focus particularly on loving those under our own roof. Because we recognize that it's very difficult to love the community and the world if there's not a meaningful love going on inside the home. Now we also intended this series to have a few different elements to it. You're already used to the long winded preachers speaking in their respective messages. You got that part down. We'll be doing plenty more of that in the weeks to come.

However there's also value from time to time in mixing things up a little bit and hearing testimonies of how others have been seeking to apply the word of God and that's what we're doing today. In other words our focus is going to be on loving our children and we're going to have some individuals here who are going to help us think about what does it look like to do that biblically. Now this topic I think has implications really to all of us. There are some of us who are in the throes or in the trenches of parenting right here, right now and so this is applicable like today. There are others who would be in that category from a grandparent perspective or helping their own children to do this, what we're going to be talking about this morning.

There's others who have friends who are in the trenches of parenting and sometimes it's not always going so well, the battles are being lost. Here's going to be an opportunity to learn so that you can talk to those who are in that position in order to help them. Then of course some of us are not in those days today but maybe in those days in the future. Just think about it as a scholarship opportunity. It's always best if you can learn from other people rather than having to learn it yourself in the middle of it. In order to accomplish the goal that we have this morning, I'm going to be sharing a little bit of the spiritual truth and then I have three couples who are also going to be with me and sitting in these chairs here serving as a panel in order to answer a few questions and to help us think about what it really looks like to do these scriptural commands.

I'll invite them up Joe and Susan Blake, Jerry and Emmy Jefferson and Scott and Debbie Gras. Joe and Susan have been married for thirty five years. This is a picture of their crew. They have five children. Four of them live on their own and three of them are married and then their youngest is currently ten. The next couple Jerry and Emmy Jefferson they have three daughters. They have been married for twenty years and all three of their children still live in the home. Then Scott and Debbie Gras have been married for twenty nine years and they have three children. Their youngest of which is a college student. Now just as none of the pastors would want to say that well we do like the text that we're about ready to speak perfectly, I think all of us would be ready to say we don't do this perfectly. None of us have done it perfectly.

However, having said that, I think that that actually gives us hope. Because the issue is not how to be a perfect parent, the issue is how to be a Christ honoring God glorifying parents. To know that that's actually possible is a picture of hope. At the same time each of the couples here have something valuable to contribute to our subjects. They haven't merely gone to church and assume that everything was going to be okay, instead they were parenting intentionally and with focus. Therefore they're going to provide numerous ideas that I think could be of help to you. In fact if you notice in your program there's really a lot of space available in the notes section this time. The idea behind that is to give you plenty of opportunity to write down some things that you think would be particularly helpful in your context.

What we're talking about this morning is really hope and help. It's both hope and help. With that in mind I invite you turn your Bibles to Ephesians 6:4. Ephesians 6: 4, that is on page one fifty three of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you. As you're turning there I'd like to make two observations about the book of Ephesians that I think will help set a little bit of this message in context.

The first one is that the book is roughly divided into two sections. The first section Ephesians one through three emphasizes God's work in our lives and the blessings that He has given us. In other words all those who would say that they have repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior have the privilege of reading this particular section of scripture and thinking, man praise God for all of the work that you have done in my life. Thank you for the father, for the Son, and the spirit all of whom have contributed in order to help me become a child of God. In fact even now building me up into one spiritual household into one body of Christ.

If that doesn't make a lot of sense to you or you have never come to the place where you have put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, I just want to encourage you to think about it this way. Read the first three chapters asking yourself, what does God need to do in my life? As a sinner, as a person who was offended God Ephesian two says it this way, "You were dead in your trespasses and sins." But all those who know Christ read the second half of that section with great joy but God who is rich in mercy made us alive together with Christ. If that is something that hasn't been true for you I want to encourage you to do that today to talk to one of us today in order to get that issue settled.

Then there is the second section. It's primarily about, that is Ephesians four to six, the responsibilities of a believer now that God has done that work. Therefore He explains really why it is that He has left you here, why it is that He has placed you in the body of Christ, and what it is that you need to do in order to live out that gospel. Now the second observation that I would like to make is that in Ephesian four, five, and six there's an interesting little progression that Paul seems to be taking us on. At the first part in Ephesians 4:1 to Ephesians 5:21, there is an emphasis on the individual, on the person. This is what a person who lives for Christ actually looks like. This is what they do. Then in chapter 5: 22-33 there is a shift and the shift moves from not so much the individual now as much as it is the marital role that that person has. You could say it this way, the first part is about person and the second part is about a partner.

Then there's a shift yet again in Ephesians chapter six that emphasizes the role of parents. I think that's somewhat intentional and that it's very difficult to be a Godly father or a Godly mother if that person is not first of all committed to being a Godly person or being a Godly marriage partner. With that in mind we really aren't going to be able to do the things that we're talking about today if we're not first of all committed to being the person that God wants us to be and the marriage partner that God wants us to be. Now let's go to the text, Ephesians 6:4. Thank me this is not a very hard verse in the Bible to understand. Some of the verses are kind of challenging and others are basically well, there it is. This is one of those well, there it is kind of passages.

It says fathers do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. I'd like us to think from that one verse about four ways that we can rightly love our children. Four ways we can rightly love our children.

I.  Fathers must take responsibility for raising their children (v. 4a)

The first one is this, fathers must take responsibility for raising their children. Fathers must take responsibility. Now as the first word in the text very simple. It's the word fathers and in Greek just like in English there was a word to speak about fathers and a word speak about parents. The word for parents is actually used in verse two and so therefore I think the switch from verses two to verse four is intentional. That God had designed for fathers in particular to listen to those instructions.

Now just so I get appropriate balance, the Bible is very clear about the mother's role in the home. In fact Titus 2:4 says this; that older women are supposed to teach the younger women. You might as well say, “Great, what are they supposed to teach?” The text says, "They're supposed to teach how to love their husbands and their children." I think it's pretty clear from the word of God that God cares about moms and every mom who is here on our panel has had a very significant part in raising and in caring for each of the children. One little other parenthesis and that as I realize there are some who are single moms or single dads and you would just love if you were in a position where you could parent together. I realize that's maybe not the case today. I just want to suggest to you that God in His grace is able to supply all of your need. If it is in a situation where you don't have everything that's listed here in the text that God is able to make up for that loss.

Now let's just let the word of God speak. In the passage it begins with a call to fathers. If you're a father then that means that God's word is saying that you don't just merely go to work and earn a paycheck, that's not the sum total of your responsibility. It's part of it but only part of it. The text implies that what I'm supposed to do then is after I go to work and do my job, then I'm supposed to come home and I have my second job, and that is to be a Godly father. The text is very clear that men are supposed to take some responsibility and what I've asked this for each of the men on this panel to explain a little bit about how they have been able to do that or at least have sought to do that in the midst of having a busy life and a busy job. I've asked them first of all to explain what they do or have done for a living and then to explain what practical steps they've taken to put this verse into practice. Scott.

Scott: Good morning. My name's Scott Gras and I've been married to my wife Debbie for twenty nine years. I currently serve as the school superintendent here at Faith Christian school and one of my first responsibilities was to get my bus driver's license. For all you dads, you need to get your bus driver's license, okay? Because that will provide you some unique opportunities in how you spend your time with your kids. Taking them on field trips, going to games et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But for our individual family I just remember with our oldest daughter, Linzie when she was between the ages of four and six just making special times to go out, taking her out for breakfast. Just her and I and just spending some father, daughter time. Our middle child Allison, we just connected by going on foreign mission trips. We've had the opportunity to take three, four mission trips together and that has just been a joy in that opportunity.

Lastly our son Derick, he and I share a love for sports and especially baseball. Each summer we try to carve out some time in a week in a weekend and we just go and visit various baseball stadiums and just have a lot of just really good dad and son time on the road talking about unique opportunities that the Lord allows us to.

Jerry: Morning. My name is a Jerry Jefferson and I've had the privilege of being married to Emmy for twenty years. In fact we celebrated that two weeks ago. We've got three teenage daughters that is also a blessing. It is. I've been employed as a general surgeon here in town for eighteen years. One of the blessings that comes with that is carrying this black box around called the beeper. That tends to give us some unpredictability when it comes to things like our marriage, family life, and parenting. Trying to combat that unpredictability I'll do such things as a daddy daughter dates.

In fact I've kept a journal with each one of my daughters that sort of the highlights some of the things we've done as far as some important activities, fun events, stupid things, like jelly bean tasting survey with them and just documenting that. Or important discussions we've had. I think the second thing that I've done is with the unpredictability trying to arrange my schedule as much as I can to get there for the kids important things. School events and the like. Then last thing is leaving this thing and home when you go for family vacations so just unplugging.

Joe: My name is Joe Blake. I'm a civil structural engineer and I've work for Caterpillar and Eli Lilly and have been doing real estate development the last few years. I think early in my professional life really frankly just out of pride and trying to prove my worth to myself or my employer, I had a couple of jobs that took me away from home long hours. Not far into those jobs I realized that if I was going to live out the priorities that Pastor Green was just talking about that I was going to have to make some different job choices. Through the years I've tried to move into jobs that aren't consuming and make job choices allow me to live out the priorities I believe God has for my life as a family man as a father and husband.

Green: As you listen to each of those men, an engineer, real estate developer, surgeon, Christian school administrator, those are fairly heavy responsibilities much like the ones that you carry. Yet there still is an intentionality for how is it that I'm going to get involved and to be a dad to all of my children? And even hear about choices like career advancements. Making decisions like taking time for dates, caring about their particular interests and carving out some time where you have the privilege especially rallying around those interests. Those are decisions that have to be made and none of us is suggesting that that is easy. We know how tempting that it is to simply want to come home and relax after your particular day to check out of the world for a few hours. But that's not really how God expects fathers to live.

The Lord is convicting you already. Just hearing those ideas and asking yourself, am I doing that kind of thing? If the Lord has penetrated your heart already then I want to encourage you to take action step of repenting to the Lord and then asking your family's forgiveness and making a specific plan on what you're going to do going forward so that that doesn't continue. Sometimes we think of living out the Gospel as this is really a theory or idea, this pie in the sky concept and yet anything could be further from the truth. The reality is, is that it is asking the Lord for grace and strength and wisdom on your day to day responsibilities. Well we've gotten one word so far in the text. At this rate we'll be here till Tuesday, so let's pick it up.

II. Parents are not to provoke their children to anger (v. 4b)

The second thing we find in the text is that parents are not to provoke their children to anger. It says in verse four, fathers do not provoke your children to anger. God says we're not supposed to make it easy for our children to live an angry lifestyle. God says that parents have a job to do but that job cannot be done in such a way that it crushes the spirits of our children. We know on the one hand from a passage like this that we're not supposed to be too hard on them lest we crush their spirits and exasperate them and make it easy for them to live out their lives in anger. But we also know that we cannot just simply let our children get whatever they want when they want it.  We know that with that experience leads to equally bad things.

For example in first Samuel chapter three, Eli I was told this, "For I have told him," that is Eli, "That I am about to judge his house," and notice the next word, "Forever, forever." I'm going to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. If you have been in adult Bible fellowships you know you've been studying through the book of first Samuel and you thought about this passage and when you read it initially you thought back to chapter two didn't you? And he said, "Well, wait a minute Eli had a conversation with his sons. Why is it now that the Lord in chapter three is saying that Eli was unwilling to rebuke him?

I think what you find is this, Eli was willing to have a private conversation with his sons, but when they were unwilling to listen he was in turn unwilling to allow the consequences that should come to come upon his voice. So was he willing of private conversation? Yes. Was he willing to discipline his sons? No. Was he willing to remove them from their office? No. Was he willing to have other people come along to the corrective process to appropriately discipline his sons? The answer was no. We have two biblical buoys here. On the one hand we have the 1Samuel 3:13 where we don't allow our children to do whatever they want because we know that's bad for them and it was really bad for their family in Eli's case. His entire house was judged forever for that.

Then on the other hand we have Ephesians 6:4 encouraging us not to do our parenting in a way that crushes their spirit. Somehow we have to be able to navigate between those two ideas. I have asked he panel again to answer another question for us and that is to explain how did you do that? How did you parent without on the one hand giving in to everything they want to and on the other hand not being so harsh that you provoke them to an angry lifestyle? Gras.

Debbie: This question immediately took me back to a morning in Target very many years ago, we only had one child. So that kind of rats out who that is. We were doing shopping and she was starting a major temper tantrum and of course you're going to run into somebody that you know at that time. Here comes my friend and I'm trying to dodge her which can't happen because we're so loud. She came up and asked me, "Why are you letting her do that?" My first response was like, "Well I'm not letting her, I really don't want her to do this." And so she just gently helped me at that situation but then later just talked to me with how to handle situations like that. I was taught to prepare my children in advance for what I expected from them in public. If it was grocery store day we would start at breakfast time talking about what was going to happen, we're going to go to the grocery store today, you're going to sit in the car, you're going to hold mommy’s hand, you're not going to ask for food, and just et cetera.

I'm a person who likes to know what's going to happen during the day and I'm not a person that likes my schedule to be altered and so it was helpful for my children to have an idea of what was going to happen for them during the day and sometimes they had to learn that their schedules got altered but it was very helpful. We also had two of our children that did not care for the nursery at church. So much so that they would start crying when they saw the church building from the car. We learned that we needed to start talking about church early on and so Saturday night as we were preparing bags we would start talking about what we expected from them tomorrow morning in church and then why we are going to church and what they needed to do and how they needed to respond. It just really helped me as a parent to not provoke my children by preparing them the best that I could.

Scott: I also think it's really helpful for our children to see parents in real life challenges and what better challenge than teaching your son or daughter how to drive. True. Thinking back it provided us wonderful opportunities to learn how to communicate. Provided wonderful opportunities to ask for forgiveness. Provided wonderful opportunities to encourage each other. Provided wonderful opportunities to ask for forgiveness. Provided opportunities to learn how to handle disappointment and frustrations well. It provided opportunities for parents and children to work together and lastly it provided opportunities to go get ice cream.

Emmy: Well with God's help we've tried to inculcate a spirit of humility in our disciplining of our children. Our kids know that God is the only perfect parent. We are imperfect and we're dependent on Him to parent them well. We are the authorities in the home they understand that, but we need Christ as our model and He is a servant leader and servant leaders are humble. Therefore when we run into bumps like we will do when there is bickering going on and accusations of, "She always does this or she never does that and that," critical spirit rears itself.

One thing I've learned from my friend Susan Blake and that's another point is find Godly women who are a little bit ahead of you and ask them lots of questions. I try to do that. She gave me a wonderful concept she said, "Hold up the mirror. Do that for yourself. When you see something cropping up in your child's heart, look in the mirror and just say Lord where is this pride being manifested in my heart and what do I need to be doing about it?" and repent of that. Then help your child learn to do that. When you're tempted to be really harsh on your sibling or a friend about something just to have the Lord help you learn to be discerning as opposed to judgmental about it. Holding up the mirror has really helped us.

Jerry: I'll add to that. I think our church does a great job with biblical counseling and so I've learned from that to keep the focus in the right spot. Oftentimes I would try to early on in parenting focus on the action. The wrong phrase they were saying or the wrong action that they're doing. The rotten fruit rather than focusing on the root. I think I would ask myself the question now, "Why is my child doing that? Is it because of a legitimate deficit that they have that I can help fulfill some time, a special time with them? Or is it some illegitimate or sinful desire that they have? If that's the case I think that's where pull a certain [inaudible 00:24:08] on and expose the problem. Try to excise the problem and then help in the healing process too.

Green: That sounds brutal, doesn't it?

Susan: Joe and I would sit down several times a year and we would make lists of our kids' strengths and weaknesses. Then we would discuss these with the child. We even started with like two year olds and we would say, "We see these as your strengths and these are the areas where you're really struggling," and we would make a plan. That way when we were dealing with weaknesses and sin it wasn't like we were just beating them down with that, we were encouraging strengths also. Then we would try to recognize anger in all its forms. The slow burn, the cold shoulder, the clamming up as well as the obvious forms of anger. I tried to not let any displays of anger go by unaddressed. Afoot stop, an angry look, an attitude, I was always asking. Then all that comes from an angry heart and I would say just, "Whoa whoa whoa whoa what's going on here? What are you thinking? Let's talk about this. Sometimes discipline was in order.

I do remember one time when one of our kids was very angry with me and I had no clue. I could not tell and this child had in anger thrown away an entire set of Legos, brand new. It went out to the curb and was carted off before I realize that. It was just a real wake-up call to me as a parent to just be on the alert for different forms of anger and to discipline accordingly. Then finally the issue of play. We did not realize early on, at least I didn't how important playing with your kids. It's so important from the time they're small until they get bigger because that's just a form of showing them love.

Green: There is a number of gold nuggets there right? Many of us could relate to that target story and so how do you deal with that? What part of it was preparing? You can relate to the anger story and so part of it was playing. You can relate to the deficit story. Is this a deficit that I need to provide or is this a deficit where the person is simply being sinful? There's a ton of great help right there for not provoking your children to anger. Then here's the next piece of the puzzle.

III. Parents are commanded to teach their children (v. 4c)

Parents are commanded to teach their children. Notice the text it says, fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. In God's system He designed parents to be instructors for their children. When God speaks about instruction it's not normally associated with physics or calculus or English or history, the teaching spoken of in scripture is the word of God and the actions of God.

I think one of the verses that every parent should have memorized is Judges 2:10. It's not a warm fuzzy one but it is an important one. It says, all that generation also were gathered to their father, speaking of the generation of Joshua, and there arose another generation, so their children who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. When you think about that how is that possible? Joshua's generation saw amazing demonstrations of God's power. Bringing them out of the land of Egypt, sustaining them through the wilderness, seeing them conquer the land of Israel, and settle in their various locations. They had witnessed it. They had been there to see it all happen, and now their children don't know the Lord nor the work that He has done.

One of the questions that we have to rustle with is well, how do I get the teaching part done and even what is it that I want to be teaching? What does God expect me as a parent to teach before my children leave their home? That's really the third issue. What did you want your children to know before they left home?

Debbie: A few of our desires is that their relationship with Christ is of most importance. We want them to serve and love others and be involved in a Bible believing church. We love them no matter what and to marry a spouse that loves the Lord.

Jerry: Relating to others. Just the importance of getting along whether it be around the dinner table, long car rides, also with children in the neighborhood, at school, at our church here, and at age thirty when they start thinking about dating. Also the value of commitment and especially the value as it increases in life and responsibility and the repercussions of that. Whether it's starting off with the chores around the house, following through on homework assignments, practicing their music instruments, heading off ... Now all three of them are members of church here this last year which is neat. Also as it increases in life the value of a marriage covenant and also a lifelong commitment to God.

Scott: Jerry grandchildren are okay.

Jerry: A couple of things for us just teaching the children the power of forgiveness. I love what Pastor Goode used to say that say. It said that two sinners live under my roof just like two sinners live under your roof and in our case six and then seven sinners lived under our roof and so just the need to constantly be asking and granting forgiveness. There's a great resource called the young peacemakers that we went through with the kids just about biblical reconciliation. Use of the tongue et cetera. We also I thought it was pretty important that we help our kids think about what do they do well, what's their giftedness and even get them pointed in a direction in regards to a trade that would support them through their lives and then finally I think just teaching their children about biblical priorities. What's important how should you invest your time?

I think what the other men have mentioned about having time with your kids, I always thought it was important have an agenda in front of me and you might think that's really weird let's just go out for a drink or something dad or some food, but I wanted it to be intentional, I wanted it to be a time of teaching and discipleship with them.

Susan: Okay, One of my goals was to teach my children to self-counsel from the Bible. I wanted them to be able to identify sin in their lives and to call it what the Bible calls it. For example stressed is really worried or frustration is really anger. Laid back can be really laziness and to repent and to put on righteousness and that they would have practiced the put off, renewing their minds and put on. They would have practiced that so many times before they left home that that would be a pattern in their lives. Also I thought it was crucial to teach sexual purity in our modern culture and we taught our boys to recognize and avoid, Proverbs seven women. We taught our daughters to not be a Proverbs seven woman and to dress in a way that called attention to their face and to Jesus Christ and not to their bodies.

In that regard I just must say that there were some challenges with that when we would come to church and we would see people who profess to know Christ dressed the same way as the world. My kids would ask questions and I'd have to take them home and say, "Well it was another opportunity for teaching," and I'd say, "Perhaps the woman just doesn't realize that the way she's dressed is drawing attention away from Jesus Christ into her body and we're just going to accept people when they do that." That was a real challenge and it's just not going to get any easier, so I'd encourage you to be sure that you're doing it with your children.

Green: It's a good thing we have a lifetime to teach isn't it? Because there's a lot of things to teach and one of these that you heard was actually a reflection of Deuteronomy six. It says this; these words that I'm commanding you today should be in your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. One of things that you heard is, yeah there were formal times. We had an agenda. There were things that we needed to do as a family to get taught. But then there were also some times where things just popped up during the day and it became an opportunity why? Because it was just there. Nobody had planned on it, it just occurred and so there was a privilege to have a conversation about something that was going to be very important.

Now one other aspect of teaching that I think we need to discuss is that we always have help in the process. Parents always have help in the process. Sometimes good help sometimes not so good help, but we always have help. When we think about our church in the last week got vacation bible school. Every parent who had their child here for vacation bible school was saying, "I want some other people around who are going to encourage my child to live for the Lord and understand God's word and I want them around that because it's valuable for them and it's valuable for me in accomplishing the job that I have as a parent." Same thing holds true for children's ministries or for youth group. Why do I do that? Because I want people around my children who love the Lord and are going to encourage them to love him too.

There's another aspect of getting help and that is families get educational help. In some cases they choose to get that education or help while still in the home and that is they do home-schooling kind of environment. There are others who say, "Well I want to get some additional educational help in a Christian school environment." Yet there are still others who would say that I want to have a public school environment. I thought it would be helpful if we spent a little bit of time talking about that. Each of these families have chosen a different path. The Gras' have Christian schooled their children and the Jefferson's are in the process of public education for their children and the Blake's have home-schooled and are home-schooling their children. Could you just speak a little bit about what were the reasons that you made some of those choices?

Scott: Well we realize that every child is different and so sometimes the educational choice that a parent would make would be dependent on meeting the needs of each specific child in the in the home. But when I interviewed for my position here at Faith Christian school, Debbie and I realized that our children would have the opportunity to attend a Christian school. Since both Debbie and I are both educators we realized the amount of time our children spend at school, in sports, around other children, around other teachers and coaches. To think about the opportunities that our family shared with having our children under other believers who are teachers, who are coaches, and other families was really an attraction for us and has served as a tremendous help and support to our parenting mission that we have. Also as I come to school each and every day I'm so thankful not only for the coaches and the teachers, but also for the friends that our children have developed here Faith Christian school.

Jerry: This is actually a pretty tough issue for us. We wrestled with quite a bit. We beat in prayer and we'd actually [revive 00:35:59] with the process several times along the way at check points. Three things that sort of came to mind for us; number one were by products of a public school system. [Key through 00:36:08] twelve that was us. Emmy taught in the public school system for eleven years, second and third grade. My dad was a public school high school math teacher. I hated him for four years. That was unique. We certainly knew that. That led to the second thing, being aware of that we knew that there was certain responsibilities and things we had to be very careful with. We couldn't put our brains on cruise control when it came the curriculum their kids were learning. When our first grader came home with her first four letter word we had to address that. It was not holy by the way that was another word.

Then thirdly I think it gives us a great opportunity to reach out to our world as we're talking about this year in our church, loving the world. We had ample opportunities to interact with other kids in the neighborhood, with teacher. My wife is wonderful with emails, me not so much. She uses emails to encourage teachers, Christian and non-Christian alike in that the great things they're doing and maybe sometimes even challenge them in some ways that they could have better options from our perspective as parents. Then we had one example of one of our science teachers of one our daughters was leaving the school system going to another school system. He's an atheist, a science teacher. He said he was open to different opportunities so we gave him a Bible as a greeting gift. That's the way we've reached out to the world.

Susan: Our reasons for homeschooling were spiritual, social, academic, and relational. Just briefly, spiritually we believe our children are our best opportunity we will ever have for discipleship, that's why we wanted a lot of them too. Then socially I reasoned that if I could teach my kids to get along with each other, they could get along with just about anybody. There were days when I felt like I wore black and white striped shirt and had a whistle around my neck. Then academically we were able to tailor their academic interests and abilities at each child and finally relationally it was really fun to be able to take the vacations when we wanted to take them and just have ... Our schedule was under our control.

Green: Well, the text continues. Again tons of ideas there huh. Absolute ton of ideas already.

IV. Parents are commanded to discipline their children (v. 4d)

The text continues with one more point and that is parents are committed to discipline their children. The text reads again; fathers do not provoke your children anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The scripture is very clear that our task is to include the issue of discipline because we want God's best for them and because we love them. It's not because we don't love them that we don't that we discipline them, it's because we do. One of things that I asked the panel to discuss is ... Discipline is hard. It's hard on parents. What were some of the passages of scripture that helped you stay committed to the task of discipline even when it seemed like it wasn't working so well? You discipline and you think, all right they got it now and well they don't have it yet. Then you do it again and they still don't have it. What kept you out it? What encouraged you from the word of God to fulfill the discipline role properly?

Debbie: Obviously there are many verses in the Bible that are helpful. The one that I thought of was Proverbs 3&6, trust the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways to acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Our goal was always to make our children more Christ think and we definitely didn't do this perfectly and there are many times that I wish I would have done something to handle the situation differently. Take time to pray and not react quickly to a situation. Don't expect change quickly overnight especially if it's a habit. Be patient and be consistent.

There are many helpful books. One of the books that we read when our children were younger was Sharpening a Child's Heart. I was reading it recently thinking I should have pulled that book out more often. It's very helpful but there are many books in the research center that will point you to scriptures to help you discipline your children. We also took advantage of the classes offered here at church. Our parenting classes and in those classes we met many people that had either been through things before or were currently going through them and that's always helpful to be able to bounce ideas off of each other.

Scott: I think parenting is very rewarding and just understanding to enjoy each and every stage of your child's life is very important. It also takes a great deal of humility and asking the question is my parenting pleasing to the Lord? What a great model that we have in Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:3-8 where Paul portrays Christ coming to serve instead of being served. That always resonated with me along with Ephesians 4:26-32 especially talking about are my words giving grace to those who are hearing it. As we parent our child or our children, are the words that were saying giving grace to them.

Emmy: 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and it also says that love trusts and hopes and perseveres. As I look back on my relationship with the Lord it's encouraging to see how I've grown in a lot of areas through perseverance and the Lord's help. I still have areas that I struggle with even here in middle age and I have to keep that in mind as I parent my children that sanctification is a lifelong process and one needs to persevere. As I go through that process I think a lot of some verses there's Philippians 4: 6 and 7 that tells us to not be anxious about anything but in everything through prayer and petition with thanksgiving to later request be made known to God and He will give us His peace. As you go through parenting there are a lot of things that can bring up fear in your heart. Outside influences, things that you see going on in your own child's heart even your own heart, but to be able to bring those things before the Lord and know that He is there to help us.

A pastor said years ago when we were beginning the parenting process that our goal as parents is not to help our child or children become independent, but it's to help them transfer their dependence from us to the Lord. We do that through bringing scripture into their lives and praying with them. One other quick thing related to the public school point, it's been really helpful for me to be involved in a weekly moms and prayer group that meets together and we pray for our school administrators and teachers and our kids specifically and so if you are in the public school system or considering that I really strongly encourage you to think about that.

Jerry: Micah 6:8 says, he has shown your man what is good what does law require of you, of me as a dad; do justice, love mercy, walk humbly. I think when it comes to justice we've got three daughters I can't show favoritism. I've got to be consistent with all them loving, mercy, and walking humbly. I'm reminded that this parenting process is a cool thing. If you back up and get the big picture, you've got to realize that that process of progressive sanctification not only involves my child that I'm interacting with, but also God as my heavenly father working in my life which is a very humbling thing remembering that.

Joe: We had the benefit of being college juniors when we first heard this passage that you're talking about this morning taught to us. We were blessed to be able to know that that's what God had commanded us to do and even before we were married had the idea that this is how we want to raise our children. A couple of the verses that were very helpful to us, Hebrews 12:6 says for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and so the idea that when we teach and we discipline it really is as you mentioned just a demonstration of our love for them and God's love for them. Then the last verse Proverbs 22:15 says, foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. I think just the realization that our children are in need of our guidance, in need of our teaching and they will grow up physically on their own, but they need our guidance spiritually.

Green: Good. I hope that this has been encouraging to you. In fact can we just thank our panel for a minute here? I hope you're walking away with a few notes that you jotted down about, here are some things that I need to start doing or here are some things that I need to re-plan over. Here are some things that need to change or here are some ideas that I can communicate to my own son or daughter who has children in order that they might choose to serve the Lord. Ephesians 6:4, fathers do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Let's pray. Father we want to thank you for your amazing grace and thank you for how you have worked in all of our lives. Lord I pray for those who don't yet know Christ where all of these just sounds a little bit odd. I pray that you would help them to seek us out so that we have the privilege of showing from your word how what it means to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ and all the blessings that come with it.

Lord for those of us who know the Lord and are in the middle of the parenting trenches, we asked that today was a day of hope and help. A day where there's encouragement that we really can do what you have called us to do because you will empower us and strengthen us for that task and also a time of help. We have some ideas on what we can do to strengthen and encourage our own parenting. Lord we ask that you would please help us today not only our parenting but also in our time together. Thank you for the community picnic and the privileges that we have now of just enjoying some time together and I pray that it would be fruitful in Christ's name. Amen.

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.