Formative Instruction to meet the challenges of life.

Posted on February 25, 2013 · Posted in Parenting, Uncategorized, Worldview

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Several recent posts have addressed contemporary issues in our culture. The reasoning behind these posts is not just random thought or one person’s opinion. Rather these post reflect a systematic way of biblical thought. One of the places where this thought is collected for parents is found in the book, Instructing a Child’s Heart, by  Tedd and Margy Tripp. Following is an excerpt from the book:

“The life classroom is constant, compelling and comprehensive. The same is true of our homes as well. They are environments where our children are constantly learning.

Not only that, but we are always teaching our children. Our every response, whether it is instruction or silence, teaches. Our behavior and our love teach. But in addition to that natural process, God calls us to instruct our children about what to believe, how to think from the Scriptures, and how to live. In this book we will call that deliberate teaching “formative instruction.” Formative instruction “forms” or “shapes” our children. It is not a single event, but a lifetime of interaction that is based on God’s revelation. We are promised that our teaching will bear fruit in our children’s lives (Prov. 22:6).

We must actively teach our children, and live the reality, that God defines life. He tells and shows us the truth about what is valuable, what is worth living and dying for, what is worth doing and being, and what gives our lives significance. Rather than simply fixing short-term problems, we parents must have a vision for formative instruction from infancy to adulthood.

These realities are summed up in Matthew 22:37–39: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.” What does that love for God and others look and sound like? Where do I find wisdom, direction, stamina and the ability to overcome my sinful nature, and to love God and others? The answer is in God’s revelation—his instruction to man. The Bible is our curriculum for formative instruction. Christ is our example of how to live the Bible…

The Scriptures teach repeatedly that God’s Word alone provides truth that can bring life to the hearer. Our words must echo this. But they must not only echo word for word. A mere echo could have a hollow ring, as it did for the Pharisees. These life-giving words must be processed, applied and taught with love, so that our children learn how to put that word into practice in their circumstances. Scripture teaches that parents’ words carry weight because they are messengers of the living God. Our very lives express God’s Word as well. Christ’s physical presence in our world showed us what God was like, because Christ said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn. 14:9). When we speak and live the words of God, we too speak and live with authority (see 1 Pet. 4:11).

Honor for God, respect for authority, respect for others, and a gracious and productive atmosphere in our homes will be some of the blessings of biblical formative instruction. Modern homes can be the shelter where dignity, loyalty to family values and standards are kept, helping our children to face the world and its challenges each day. Parenting is not just child-care. We can have a vision for formative instruction that will transform our homes and communities.”

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.