With Christmas almost upon us, our minds frequently turn to the children in our lives (and grandchildren). The cultural trappings of Christmas are a delight to most adults and all children. How many children go to bed with dreams of toys and sugarplums dancing in their heads!
With Christmas comes travels to relatives. With Christmas comes extra church services. With Christmas comes an avalanche of temptations for greed, selfishness, envy and jealousy over toys, clothes, techno-gadgets and almost everything else. With Christmas comes changes in schedules and late nights. With Christmas comes a tsunami of sweets and desserts. And with Christmas comes displays of sin by our children.
What are we to do about that? Write it off to the season and just put our heads down and persevere? Write it off to late nights and too much sugar? Write if off as remnants from our spouses side of the family?
Disciplining our children so that they learn self-dsicipline is a job that continues with variations until they leave home. And then we must pray for them as they are still in a learning mode as they go out into the world we have tried to prepare them for. Our goal for our children should be that each child is independently dependent upon Jesus Christ.
We have no power to give any one the new birth but we can regularly have them under the means of grace as we discipline ourselves to be in church faithfully, to have family devotions faithfully, to pay special attention at baptismal and communion services, to winsomely and straight-forwardly discuss the things just experienced in church. We need to do these things faithfully and winsomely and we must!
But when it comes to discipline as chastening, discipline as corporal punishment, discipline as training, we often struggle to be faithful, to become weary and give in ("I've spanked Reginald now 17 times and he still won't stay in bed; I'll just let him stay up until he falls asleep.").
But Proverbs 25:28 says that "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." In the biblical world right up to our so-called Middle Ages, cities were protected by great walls that surrounded them. That is why the book of Nehemiah is so focused on rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. The city was defenseless until the protective wall was rebuilt. The Proverbs says that a person who has reached manhood without learning significant self-control or self-discipline is facing life defenseless. The temptations of this fallen world will ravish his soul unless he learns self-discipline. And the best place to learn to discipline oneself is in the home with loving discipline applied faithfully by parents who love one another and practice self-discpline.
Today's Blog is about those books in print to help you learn to discipline your children. Hebrews 12:11 says that at the time of learning (applying the board of education to the seat of learning), no discipline is pleasant. It makes it plain. "For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT (emphasis mine)."
Let's see some of the tools available to instruct and motivate the faithful parent who dares to discIpline.
1. PRAYER--You thought you were going to raise your
children without laboring over them in prayer?
2. BIBLE STUDY-- You thought you were going to
raise your children without searching the Scriptures
to make sure you were on track with God's way of
3. MODELING THE TRUTH--You thought you could live
differently than you want your children to live and
they would still, somehow, get it?
4. BOOKS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU
SHOULD BE DOING AND HOW TO DO IT
a. Eric Lane, SPECIAL CHILDREN? (A Theology of
Childhood); Evangelical Press--what the Bible
says about all aspects of childhood, including
b. Ann Benton, DON'T THEY LOOK LOVELY WHEN
THEY'RE ASLEEP ?; Christian Focus--a good
complement to Lane's book.
c. Tedd Tripp, SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART;
Shepherd Press--has become something of the
gold standard among Reformed evangelicals.
d. Tedd and Margy Tripp, INSTRUCTING A CHILD'S
HEART; Shepherd Press--follow up with more
information to the above book.
e. Bruce Ray, WITHHOLD NOT CORRECTION; P & R
a classic book on child discipline that should NOT
be overlooked by parents.
f. Gardiner Spring, HINTS FOR PARENTS; Shepherd
Press--19th century biblical insights applied to
21st century learners.
g. Ginger Plowman, DON'T MAKE ME COUNT TO
THREE; Shepherd Press--personal tips of how
to apply SHEPHERDING A CHILD'S HEART.
h. Paul David Tripp, AGE OF OPPORTUNITY: P & R
What to do with teenagers.
**Gary Brady, PROVERBS; Evangelical Press--the
book of wisdom for life as a believer, especially
important in raising children and disciplining
These books do not have everything, but they do have more than enough to equip the faithful parent who stays engaged at the high calling of raising human beings to the glory of God.
Your Book Servant,
Pastor Steve Martin