Sins Of The Fathers

“Wanna get away?” Those Southwest Airline commercials of a few years back offered affordable escape from awkward situations. When I first read what I’m about to share with you, I wanted to “get away.” This post from Stephen Altrogge’s blog is sure to make some other fathers wanna get away, too. At the end I’ll add a confession from a 15th Century Celtic Christian that will help you and me “get away” to the cross with a repentant heart for the sins of us fathers.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that we parents can provoke our children to anger. I’ve done many of these, and for this reason I’m grateful for the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit to change.

We can provoke our children to anger:

– By constantly criticizing them and not encouraging them. When they feel they can never please us enough.
– By having double standards – Do as I say, not as I do. Expecting them to do things we don’t do, e.g. ask forgiveness, humble themselves, etc.
– By anger and harshness
– By a lack of affection
– By telling them what to do or not do without giving Biblical reasons (e.g., Do it because I said to do it, or because it’s just wrong).
– By being offended at their sin because it bothers us, not because it offends God.
– By comparing them to others (Why can’t you act like your sister?)
– By hypocrisy – acting like a Christian at church but not at home
– By embarrassing them (correcting, mocking or expressing disappointment in them in front of others)
– By always lecturing them and never listening to them
– By disciplining them for childishness or weakness, not for sin
– By failing to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them
– By pride – failing to receive humble correction from our spouses or our children when we sin.
– By self-centered reactions to their sin (How could you do this to ME?)
– By ungracious reactions to their sin (What were you thinking? Why in the world would you do that?)
– By forgetting that we were (and are) sinners (I would NEVER have done that when I was your age).

May God give us gracious, gentle, humble, affectionate hearts toward our children.

[HT: The Blazing Center]

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Book Review: Intentional Parenting

It’s a snow-and-sleet-stay-home-from-work-and-school-day here at our house today.  What a great day to read a book about gospel-centered parenting!  ‘Cause I’m telling you, there’s nothing like having one third grader sick with flu and twin pre-teens cooped up in the house with a tired mom and a grouchy dad to make a parent acutely aware of his need for grace. [Pause for giant sigh.]

Most parents would probably stay away from a book on parenting on a day when “FAIL!” could be stamped on the living room family photo.  But Tad Thompson’s book didn’t beat me up.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, Tad’s book makes clear the responsibilities I have as a Christian parent, but it also makes clear the gospel of grace that sustains responsible parenting.  Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design encouraged me today.  I was reminded that God does indeed expect me to disciple my children, but that through his gospel and his people and his Spirit he also will equip and empower me to do that which he expects.

Here are a few things I like about this little primer on parenting:

  • Tad’s writing is clear, engaging, illustrative, and biblical.
  • He always goes back to the gospel, both as the core curriculum and motivation for family discipleship.
  • The Bible doesn’t say much about parenting really, but Tad teaches from the major passages of Scripture that do (i. e. Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78, Ephesians 6, etc.).
  • I appreciated his brief and accessible explanation of the seven categories of biblical teaching that we need to use to train our children:  Gospel, the Big Story (biblical theology), the Big Truths (systematic theology), the Great Commission, the spiritual disciplines, Christian living, and biblical worldview.  See?  I just typed all of those in order without looking back.  And though some of these words may scare parents who feel inadequate to teach the Bible to their kids, Tad does a great job of explaining these categories in a way that removes the threat.
  • I love how Tad broadens our understanding of family discipleship as training that involves more than just having “family devotions” but as a whole-life curriculum of both planned and unplanned teaching opportunities.  And he gives practical suggestions on how to use those opportunities.
  • The book is set up for use as a study guide for couples and small groups.  At the end of each chapter Tad includes questions that help the reader immediately put into practice the principles he’s given them.
  • The suggested reading list at the back of the book is a great resource for parents.  (I would add Robert Vaughn’s God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible to the “Big Story” reading list.  That short book has connections with two of the other books on his list and is a great introduction to understanding the Bible as a whole.)

This book is a fantastic introduction to gospel-centered family discipleship.  I am the pastor for discipleship at our church and I plan to recommend (if only I could require!) this book to every parent in our congregation.  I will especially be looking for opportunities to use this to train new and young parents.

In my twenty plus years of youth ministry I have seen the fruit of the lack of family discipleship, legalistic family discipleship, and also loving, grace-based family discipleship in the students I’ve served.  It doesn’t matter so much what the youth group does or doesn’t do, or whether your kids go to public, private, or home schools, if they are trained by word and example at home to repent and believe the gospel, they are more likely (though not guaranteed, as Tad explains) to treasure Jesus.  If you want to know how to build that kind of family life, Tad Thompson has designed a plan for you in Intentional Parenting.

Oh, and Tad wants to talk with you about his book and about your adventure in parenting at his new blog


Book Review: Reclaiming Adoption

“Our understanding of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of adoption.”J. I. Packer in Knowing God

Dan Cruver’s Reclaiming Adoption affirms Packer’s statement but goes on to show that not only our understanding of Christianity but also our individual and corporate practice of Christianity cannot be better than our grasp of the biblical doctrine of adoption.

Once again CruciformPress has jam-packed a little book with lots of gospel truth for the sake of gospel transformation.  Reclaiming Adoption is a fountain welling up with a biblical theology of our vertical adoption in Christ that overflows with missional living in our horizontal relationships with our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation.

As a man who is adopted by God, who has adopted two children, and is the Director of Together for Adoption, Dan Cruver writes as one whose entire life is wrapped up in adoption and orphan care.  Cruver opens the book with a brief biblical theology of our Father’s adoption of prodigals and then explores other  fascinating aspects of our adoption in the next three chapters:

  • Adoption and the Trinity:  “Through adoption God graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between the Father and his Son. Not only is this the very heart of adoption; it is also the very heart of the gospel” (page 27, bold emphasis mine).
  • Adoption and the Incarnation: “Through the incarnation, Jesus (fully God and fully man in his one Person) became not merely the means but the place—the locale—where communion with and obedience to God happens in all its unimaginable fullness. It is only in the Person of Christ that God and man meet in loving communion. The understated good news of the gospel is that the humanity of Jesus has become our communion with and obedience to his Father. Only in Jesus can true radical obedience and unending communion be found” (page 43, bold emphasis mine).
  • Adoption and Our Union With Christ: “This means that, at its source, missional engagement is not really what we do at all. It is what Jesus does. God is always the initiator. Jesus engages us in mission; we do not engage him. Our missional engagement as Christians is not an imitation of Christ and his mission. It is a participation in Christ and his mission” (page 52, bold emphasis mine).

And as if Cruver’s own practical theology of biblical adoption is not enough (and his chapters are surely worth the price of the book), he has invited other noted pastor-theologians to fill out the final four chapters by weighing in on the subject:  John Piper, Scotty Smith, Jason Kovacs, and Richard D. Phillips.

As one who loves the cruciform image of a life that is shaped by the cross into the shape of the cross, I love the book’s emphasis on how our vertical relationship with our Father impacts our horizontal relationships with people, especially the fatherless.  This book makes a great companion to Nate Palmer’s Servanthood As Worship as it explains how our service to God and others flows from our sonship.  These two books are serving me well as I finish writing my forthcoming book, Cruciform: Living the Cross Shaped Life (stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks).

Perhaps the greatest personal endorsement I can give is to say that Cruver’s book has convinced me and my wife (and even my three children) to seriously pray, asking our Father if He would provide the means and method by which our family might live out of our adoption as Abba’s children by adding another child to our family or giving us the opportunity to care for orphans.  I’m excited to see what He does with this.

Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father is another solid contribution to CruciformPress‘ effort to provide gospel-centered reading for gospel-driven living.  Each new release makes me happy that I signed up for a monthly subscription, and I’d recommend you do the same (this is one of the very few ways I’d ask you to imitate me, but it’s worth the risk).


Through adoption God graciously brings us to participate in the reciprocal love that ever flows between the Father and his Son. Not only is this the very heart of adoption; it is also the very heart of the gospel.