Glad You Asked!

Posted on April 10, 2008 · Posted in Parenting

These commandments
that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your
children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the
road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

As a follow up to the post on April 8, Don Fields made the
following comment.

Good
stuff. I think most parents would read this and think, "Impossible.
Unrealistic. You’re dreaming." They have no foundation for this type of
conversation with their children. They might even laugh at this conversation
and think it is unnecessary or extreme. Where do you start with parents so that
they not only see this kind of instruction as possible but absolutely
necessary?

Don, your comment reminded me of a question that I asked
Tedd Tripp over 30 years ago. I had just witnessed a conversation between Tedd
and one of his children, who was about three at the time. The dialog between
father and child was similar to the exchange you referenced in the  post.
I remember saying to Tedd in a tone of amazement and incredulity, “You can’t
talk like that to children.” He looked at me and smiled knowingly and said, “I
just did.” To which I eloquently replied, “I know, but you can’t talk like that
to children.” He said, “Jay, let me tell you about Deuteronomy 6.…”

Tedd’s talk with me about Deuteronomy 6 was the first of
many. Then it was my turn to talk about this passage with others. As I watched
Tedd and Margy’s children grow up, the conversations they had with their
children changed according to their age, but the focus was always the same: ”What does God think about this situation?”

These real-life experiences of using God’s word in
day-to-day family life eventually became the basis for Tedd’s book, Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Parents,
the things that you read in that book, and now also in Instructing a Child’s Heart, are life lessons that were forged in
the battles of raising children in our culture. These books do not flow from
the theories of academia. No, the content of these books comes from the life
experience of putting God’s word into action. Were Tedd and Margy perfect
parents? Did they always have just the right thing to say? No, of course not.  But what stayed with me was that they always
attempted to show God for who he was. God was not a theory or a sermon
illustration or an anecdote. God was real and involved and his word always had
something to say to the situation at hand.

So, over the course of time, I heard many conversations like
the one in my post. Then, my wife and I started having those types of
conversations with our kids. My wife and I have had the privilege of teaching
other parents how to have the same kinds of conversations. Anytime that you
read a sample conversation in this blog like the one on which Don commented, I
assure you that it is not artificial. Conversations like the one between Sean,
Jeremy and their mom are composites drawn from many real-life situations that I
have had the pleasure of observing over the last 30 years.

Where do you start
with this?
  An essential component to
laying a solid foundation is regular family worship. If done consistently, this
be a huge help to build a foundation for
instructing your children. Make sure that your time together addresses the
things you and your children encounter each day.

To answer Don’s question directly, you start with Scripture
as your foundation. Shepherding a Child’s
Heart
and now Instructing a Child’s Heart
show you how to lay that foundation. The biblical truths taught in the
pages of these books are desperately needed today. There are no quick fixes or
shortcuts to building these foundations. I agree with Don that these types of
conversations between parent and child are essential. God’s word and his gospel
form the foundation that will enable our children to stand firm against an
enemy determined to destroy them. Instructing
a Child’s Heart
puts it this way: “In
all of our nurturing as parents the gospel must be central. It is the only hope
for forgiveness. It is the only hope for deep internal change. It is the only
hope for power to live. The grace of the gospel is the center of everything for
Christian parents.” (180)

So, when you see your children squabbling over a toy, look
beyond the issue of the moment. You have an opportunity to present to them the
only thing that really matters. Take the time to plan and prepare how you will
use the Bible to engage your children in the life that is really life.

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