Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Christian romance novelist, home schooling sons, Spanish resources…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!

In these potpourri editions of The Mailbag, I’d also like to address the three questions I’m most commonly asked:

“Do you know anything about [Christian pastor/teacher/author] or his/her materials? Is he/she doctrinally sound?”

Try these links: 
Popular False Teachers /
 Recommended Bible Teachers / search bar
Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring It Out on Your Own
(Do keep bringing me names, though. If I get enough questions about a particular teacher, I’ll probably write an article on her.)

“Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?”

No. Here’s why:
The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?
The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.”.

“You shouldn’t be warning against [popular false teacher] for [X,Y,Z] reason!”

Answering the Opposition- Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections


I was saved in 2011 and am seeking direction on how to live my new life in Christ. Prior to my conversion, I was a romance writer (think: Harlequin). The writing bug still haunts me. I love writing and I’m attempting to write a Christian romance novel. I don’t feel like writing Christian non-fiction would be a fit for me. I have a strong creative desire for writing and graphic design. Is there a place for my fiction work for women? I’m praying about it. Any thoughts you have would be welcomed and helpful in how I pray about it.

Aw, a kindred spirit! Maybe that’s why this question warmed my heart so much, or maybe it’s because it’s profoundly touching and encouraging to hear from any Christian woman who is genuinely seeking how she can best glorify God with the gifts He has given her.

As I was contemplating your question, my husband’s favorite verse kept coming to mind:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

The verse itself is appropriate to the situation, but so is its immediate context. Whatever we do – whether it’s something as significant as our vocation or as mundane as eating supper – we should do it in a way that glorifies God, represents Him well to others, and leads people toward Christ.

How many Christian romance novels have you ever read that do those things well? Not many, I’m guessing.

One of the ways the Holy Spirit leads us is by the way He has wired us. God has fearfully and wonderfully created each one of us with unique talents and abilities. We are bent toward some things and away from others. It brings honor to God when we submit to the way He created us and use the gifts He has given us to serve others and to serve and glorify Him. Perhaps your bent toward writing fiction is God’s way of leading you to write fiction that glorifies Him and points people to Christ, and to do it well. That’s something you could pray about.

As you plan out your next storyline, ask yourself some questions like:

✏ Is there a way I can pull back the curtain on God’s glory here?
✏ How can I point the reader to Christ in this scene?
✏ Is there a (rightly handled, in context) passage of Scripture I can add here?
✏ How can this character set a biblical example (of what to do, or not to do) for the reader?
✏ How would I summarize how this finished product brings glory to God and points the reader to Christ?

I would encourage you to continue praying and asking God for wisdom and guidance. Take advantage of every opportunity (writing-related or not) He sends your way, and steward it for His glory. You might also find my article The Mailbag: Christian Fiction Recommendations to be of interest.

And don’t forget: Look back over the parables in the gospels. Jesus authored a lot of God-glorifying “Christian fiction”! :0)


For mothers who homeschool their sons, what are some ways to get more masculine influence during daily school lessons (when fathers are usually at work)?

Honestly, and speaking as a mom who has home schooled three sons, I wouldn’t worry about it unless your husband is absent from the home (military, work travel, etc.) for extended periods of time or doesn’t come home at night until the kids are already in bed.

I mean, think about it, the typical family structure since the dawn of Creation has been for Mom to stay at home and raise and nurture the kids (girls and boys) and for Dad to go out and tend the crops or make the widgets or close the business deals, and there’s nothing in the Bible that indicates that your boys will be lacking male influence because of this. The manliest men in Scripture were raised this way. Jesus was raised this way.

If your sons are spending time with Dad when he comes home in the evening and on weekends, if he’s reading them stories and throwing the ball around with them and taking them to monster truck rallies and having them help rake the leaves and wash the car and things like that, they’re going to be just fine.

I would encourage you to instead steward your energies toward walking out in front of your sons what it looks like to be a godly woman, because that’s part of God’s ingenious plan of giving boys such a close relationship with their mothers during their formative years. Every day, you are training them up to be godly men and husbands by showing them the kind of woman they should be looking for in a wife, and how their future wives and children should be treated.

Don’t worry, and entrust your boys to the Lord. He will take care of all of you.

You might find my article The Mailbag: How Can Christian Moms Raise Godly Men? to be helpful.

(And not to leave out moms of girls, here’s Avoiding the Creepers: Six Ways to Raise a Biblically Strong Woman)


My new daughter-in-law is learning English, but her first language is Spanish. I’d like to give her some good, doctrinally sound books and resources in Spanish. Where can I find these?

I would check Grace to YouLigonier, and HeartCry Missionary Society (Paul Washer). I know they all have books and resources (sermons, articles, etc.) in Spanish, and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on the site, you can contact them directly, and they can point you in the right direction.

And keep an eye on the comments section of this article. I’m sure my readers can suggest some great resources in Spanish, too.

Thanks for being such an awesome mother-in-law!


I am Lutheran. My church is very Scripture-based. I have been asked to run for church council for education. Do you think it is against Scripture?

Hello, you lovely Lutheran lady! I’m afraid I am too ignorant of what a Lutheran church council for education does to say whether or not it’s against Scripture.

I’m intrigued by the idea of “running” for a position of service in the church. I’m not sure actual campaigning for the position is in keeping with doing things decently and in order, but I guess that would depend on how it is done. And perhaps what you mean by “running” is that you’ve been nominated and you have to be approved by a vote of the church, but there’s no actual campaigning involved? I can’t see any biblical problem with that.

But I’m guessing the main thrust of your question is whether or not a woman should be serving in this position. As I said, I don’t know how this council functions, so I can’t give you a thumbs up or down. The best I can do is to tell you that as long as the position doesn’t require you to teach Scripture to men, exercise authority over men, or do anything else that’s unbiblical, and as long as your husband (if you’re married) is OK with you filling the position, it should be fine.

Let me offer you a couple of other resources that might be helpful:

1. Check out my articles Jill in the Pulpit and Rock Your Role FAQs. They may help give you a better idea of whether or not you should take the position.

2. My go-to guy for all things Lutheran is Chris Rosebrough. He is a doctrinally sound Lutheran pastor and host of the Fighting for the Faith podcast. I would recommend you contact him. He does a bit of traveling, so if he’s not able to get back to you right away, I would suggest you join the Facebook group that supports Fighting for the Faith and ask your question in that group. There are oodles of good solid Lutheran members who could probably help.


I’m praying for you…Here’s an encouraging word of Scripture…Here’s how God has used your writing to work in my life…

I have the best readers in the world – the best. I can’t imagine that any other writer has readers who are sweeter and more encouraging than y’all are. Hardly a day goes by that one of you doesn’t love me well by dropping me a few words that are so much kinder than I deserve.

I just want you to know that, while you may not think that’s much of a ministry, it is. It keeps me going and keeps me sane on the days when all the crazies are attacking and I feel like quitting. Your kindness matters. And I know it matters to all the other  people in your life that you’re being kind to, too – your family members, your friends, your co-workers, even strangers on the street. Don’t grow weary in the well-doing of ministering encouragement to others. It matters.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has offered me gracious words over the years. You are very much appreciated and loved.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Biblical Womanhood Bible Study

Imperishable Beauty: Lesson 12- Beautiful Motherhood

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Read These Selected Scriptures

In lesson 11, we looked at God’s design for women who are wives. Lesson 12 focuses on the beauty of being a godly mother.

Questions to Consider

1. In lessons 2 and 3 (links above) we took a look at some of the attributes of a godly mother that we can emulate. What are some of those attributes or character traits from Proverbs 31? In today’s lesson, rather than attributes to emulate, we’ll be focusing on God’s instructions to obey for mothers. We’ll examine how we’re to regard motherhood and our children, how we’re to train our children in godliness, how we’re to discipline our children out of ungodliness, and the example we’re to set for our children. Some of these instructions can also apply to childless women in their relationships with their spiritual children (i.e. younger women or children they disciple) and others. As you read over today’s passages, explain how childless women might apply some of these Scriptures.

2. Examine the first three passages (Psalm 127-Titus 2) together. What do these passages say about how we are to regard motherhood and our children? What should the attitude of our hearts be? In what sense are children a reward? How do we know that Psalm 127:3 does not mean that if you act in a way that pleases the Lord He will reward your good behavior with children? What does this verse mean? Is loving your children (Titus 2:4) simply a feeling of affection toward them? If so, why would young women need to be trained to love their children? When you finish today’s lesson, come back to Titus 2:4 and give a fully-orbed biblical definition of what it means to love your children.

3. Examine the next five passages (Proverbs 22-Ephesians 6) together. Why does God want us to train our children in godliness? Explain the phrase “in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). How does the gospel figure in to training your child? Look carefully at the three Old Testament passages. At what age should we begin training our children in godliness and the Scriptures and how long should this training continue? Is Proverbs 22:6 an iron-clad guarantee or promise from God that if we raise our children in a godly home they will definitely get saved and turn out to be godly adults? Why not? (Scroll down to the Deuteronomy 21 passage if you need help.)

To whom are the Colossians and Ephesians verses addressed? Does this mean they don’t apply to mothers or that it’s OK for mothers to provoke their children, but not fathers? If they apply to both parents, why are they addressed to fathers? How are we not to deal with our children according to these verses? What does it mean to provoke your children? Why are we not to provoke them (Colossians), and how are we to deal with them instead (Ephesians)? Compare Ephesians 6:4b to the Old Testament verses in this section. How are they similar?

3. Examine the next three passages (Proverbs 29-Deuteronomy 21) together. What is the purpose of godly discipline? What are the biblical definitions of the words “discipline” and “reproof”? Are discipline, reproof, and training the same as punishment? Why or why not? What are some of the consequences of disciplining your child? The consequences of refusing to discipline your child? According to Proverbs 13:24, what motivates someone to discipline her child? What motivates someone to refuse to discipline her child? Are “love” and “hate” simply emotional feelings in this verse or an attitude, posture, or orientation of mindset toward the child? Look closely at Deuteronomy 21:20. Is this passage most likely talking about a very young child or an older child/teenager? According to the Deuteronomy 21 passage, does godly discipline always result in an obedient son or daughter, or can there be exceptions to the rule?

Why is it important to both train your child in godly ways and discipline him out of ungodly ways? Explain how this fits into the “put off the ungodly, put on the godlymodel of biblical sanctification.

4. Examine the last five passages (Deuteronomy 21-Matthew 10) together. What do these passages teach us about the godly example we need to set for our children?

Sometimes we see implicit instructions to parents in passages that explicitly teach children how to treat and regard their parents. For example, if there were a verse that said, “Children, love your parents,” we could learn from that verse that we need to act in a way (lovable) that makes it easier for our children to obey that Scripture. Considering this concept, look at the Exodus 20 and Proverbs 1 passages. If your children are to honor you, in what manner should you behave? What should your teaching be like if your children are not to forsake it and to consider it a “graceful garland” and a “pendant”?

What is the context of Ezekiel 16? To whom is the parent/child metaphor in this  passage addressed? Explain the phrase “like mother, like daughter”. Why is it important to set a good example for our children with our own behavior, and why was this a good metaphor for God to use in addressing Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him?

Examine the Deuteronomy 21 and Matthew 10 passages together. What is to be a mother’s highest priority – her relationship with her child, even the life of her child, or her love for, obedience to, and loyalty to Christ? Do you love Christ more than your child? If you had to choose between your child and Christ, whom would you choose? What message does it send to our children when we show and tell them that we love Christ more than we love them? How can you demonstrate to your child that your highest love and loyalty is reserved for Christ?


Homework

Examine each of the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-9. Make a list of practical ways your family could put each of these instructions into practice and discuss it with your husband. Together, pick one of these practices and implement it with your children this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (A rabbi, Rosaria, and a boy mom walk into a blog…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question. I also like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar can be a helpful tool!


Do you have any recommendations for mothers raising Godly men? I became a believer after I was married and my husband is not a believer yet.

As a mom to five boys myself, the best advice I can offer you is this: If you want to raise godly men, be a godly woman. Model godliness for your boys. Study your Bible, and teach them to study their Bibles. Pray, and teach them to pray. Be faithful to your church, find a way to serve there, and teach them to do the same. Obey God’s Word, and teach them to be obedient. When you sin, use it as an opportunity to teach them about repentance and forgiveness. Ask God for wisdom, strength, guidance, and patience. Pray for your boys’ salvation. Submit to your husband. Pray for him and for his salvation.

Some other resources you may find helpful:

Your pastor – Set up an appointment with your pastor to get some counsel. This is part of his job in shepherding you. It would also be very helpful to find an older, doctrinally sound sister in Christ at your church (preferably one who has raised boys) and ask her to mentor/disciple you.

Imperishable Beauty: A Study of Biblical Womanhood – If you’d like to learn more about being a godly woman, join our current Bible study here on the blog.

Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson – Although I wouldn’t endorse everything from Dobson, I found this book to be helpful years ago when my sons were young. (I have an older edition of the book, so I can’t vouch for any revisions in this newer edition.)

Six Ways to Raise a Godly Man

Parenting Articles


Are you preaching to men here? Are you instructing them?

This has been my frustration with this whole issue. I read the Bible a lot and can see so very much deception here in the West but feel like I am not allowed to say anything to the males who are deceived. And there are many, many false teachers who are male.

I’m not preaching to men or instructing them in that article. As I stated in the conclusion:

…in the end, this article is not meant to be a castigation of pastors or other Christian men, but an impassioned plea from a church lady who wants to see her sisters make it out alive. Help us. Please.

But even if that article had been instructive to men, that’s not a violation of Scripture. What the Bible prohibits is women preaching to men, instructing men in the Bible, and holding authority over men in the gathered body of Believers – the church setting. A blog is not the church. I think these articles may help as you study through this issue:

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit
Rock Your Role FAQs
Are Female Bloggers Violating Scripture by “Teaching” Men?
The Mailbag: Is it OK for Christian men to read Christian women’s blogs?

The Bible also does not prohibit you from having a conversation with a male friend or relative to scripturally discourage him from following a false teacher or being a false teacher. (Obviously, you should use biblical wisdom about appearances and temptation when meeting with someone of the opposite sex, though.) That’s essentially what Priscilla and Aquila did when they corrected Apollos – they took him aside privately and explained the gospel more accurately to him.

I would just encourage you to think about your relationship with the man you’re considering talking to. Are you the best person for the job? Not because you’re a woman, but perhaps there’s someone he’s closer to or looks up to as a mentor whose correction might make more of an impact. What about you and your husband (if you’re married and he’s biblically able) approaching this man together as Priscilla and Aquila did? Just some things to consider.


Could you recommend your most trusted watchdog or heresy sites? I’m trying to find info on [a certain rabbi] as my mom has asked me to watch his teachings.

Well…if he’s a rabbi, he is – by definition – not a Christian, so you should not believe anything he says about God, Jesus, the Bible, church, theology, etc. If any Christian discernment sites have anything on him it will probably be Berean Research, Pirate Christian’s Blogs, or Fighting for the Faith. These are the sites I most often use for researching false teachers. I’ve listed a few other helpful discernment sites here (see #6).


In a recent article you said, “I’ve often cited the false teaching that prayer is a ‘two-way conversation’ (you talk to God and then He talks back to you).”

Are you saying that God never “talks” to us in reply to our prayers/talking to Him? Or are you saying that the idea of God talking to us as we talk to each other is wrong? (Thanks so much, in advance, for taking time to answer. I really think assuming things makes us vulnerable to misunderstanding…. May God bless you!)

May God bless you too, and thanks for your question.

The answer to both of your questions is “yes”. God does not “talk” to us, and the idea that He talks to us is biblically incorrect. God has already spoken to us, and even went so far as to have His words written down for us – it’s called the Bible. I’ve explained more about this in my article Basic Training: The Bible is Sufficient.


“You made a bunch of allegations in this article but didn’t back them up with any evidence.”

“You mentioned [a particular word, phrase, or concept] in your article. I don’t understand what that is. Can you please explain?”

Hyperlinks, y’all. They’re called hyperlinks. And you need to click on them to find the information you’re looking for.

If you’re reading one of my articles and you see a word in red that’s underlined when you hover over it (other sites might use other colors), clicking on it will take you to another article or resource that will provide you with more information. It’s a little bit like a footnote in a book.

If I stopped to explain every concept I thought people might not understand, gave the full details of every incident I allude to, or wrote out every Scripture that supports the point I’m making, my articles would be tediously long (even more so than usual!). Hyperlinks are a convenient way to provide you with the details, information, or Scriptures you need without adding unbearable length to the article.

All you have to do is click on them.


Our church recently did a book study on “The Gospel Comes with a House Key” by Rosaria Butterfield. The book’s theme is “radical hospitality”. She and her husband invite non-believing people into their home for meals etc. They place no boundaries on this, many are strangers to them.

Concerns my husband and I had were the lack of safety for their family, and the spiritual danger of being yoked together with unbelievers. When we expressed our concerns, no one else spoke up in agreement with us. We have no problem inviting non-believers into our home, we just want to have some idea of who they are. What is your opinion of this book?

I haven’t read the book, but I have listened to two or three interviews with Rosaria in which she talked about the book and the way she and her husband practice hospitality, so I’ve heard her explain how they open their home to those in their neighborhood whom they may not necessarily know. (For those who aren’t familiar with Rosaria – I do not follow her closely, but from what I know of her, and the people who endorse her, she is doctrinally sound.)

The Butterfields’ Method The Bible tells us to practice hospitality, but it doesn’t specify precisely how we are to do that. That’s because the Bible has to be applicable to all people across all cultures, contexts, and time. Hospitality will look different even between two families in the same church who are next-door neighbors.

You and your husband are not the Butterfields. You do not live in their town or neighborhood. Your family is different from theirs. And all of that is perfectly fine. God does not call or expect Christians to be carbon copies of each others. That means the way you practice hospitality may not look exactly like the way the Butterfields practice hospitality. And that’s perfectly fine, and biblical, too.

I don’t think the purpose of Rosaria’s book was to say, “This is the definition of hospitality and this is how every Christian has to practice it.”. I think the purpose was to explore the topic of hospitality and stress its importance. Her description of the specific way her family practices hospitality serves as an example of one way to practice it if that would be a fit for your family.

The Butterfields’ Safety I can understand why, in this day and age, you would be concerned about their safety and the security of their home. They have chosen to accept this risk and practice hospitality this way.

There are two “no-no’s” that go along with your concern and their decision. Your concern does not mean they have to change their decision (not saying you think that, but a surprising number of Christians do), and their decision does not get to dictate the way your family practices hospitality. That we practice hospitality is a biblical command. The way we practice hospitality is a matter of Christian liberty and wisdom for each individual family.

Yoking with Unbelievers The mere act of inviting unbelievers to your home for a meal or social event is not a violation of Scripture, especially when the end game is to share the gospel with them. This is the kind of hospitality Jesus practiced with unbelievers, except He didn’t have a home to invite them to. He went to their homes.

The only danger of yoking with unbelievers that could come with practicing this kind of hospitality is getting too intimate with unbelieving friends you’ve made and allowing them to pull you away from Christ and into disobedience. For Christians who are mature enough to stand firm in the faith and keep a wise amount of distance with unbelieving friends, the Butterfields’ method of hospitality should not present a problem in this respect. If your family is more spiritually vulnerable, it would probably be wise to consider other ways of practicing hospitality.

 

It’s wonderful that you’re considering ways to practice hospitality. I would suggest you and your husband pray for wisdom and guidance. Brainstorm some ways you could tweak what the Butterfields do so it’s a fit for your family, or come up with your own unique way of practicing hospitality.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ July 10, 2018

Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Want to memorize Scripture, but you need a little help or don’t know where to start? Check out the Scripture Typer Bible Memory System. Use verses you’ve already decided you want to memorize, or get some suggestions from Scripture Typer. Type in and practice your verses until you have them memorized, and Scripture Typer will keep everything nice, neat, and organized for you. Scripture Typer is available online, or in an app for Android, Kindle, iPad, or iPhone.

 

I thought Theology Gals‘ podcast episode 68, Evangelism, was just the bees knees. As a stay at home mom myself, I really appreciated Coleen and Angela’s discussion of what evangelism can look like for a mom who’s at home with her kids and isn’t out and around lost people very much. This episode was so helpful I added it as a resource to two of my own articles on evangelism. There are tons of useful links on the episode web page, too.

 

“Among English Baptists of the eighteenth-century, Anne Dutton was known as ‘the most theologically capable and influential Baptist woman of her day’.” I had never heard of Anne before, but I found this little piece about her, Lessons from the Life and Ministry of Anne Dutton by Joshua Mills over at Servants of Grace to be charming and encouraging. Take a moment to read about one of our foremothers in the faith.

 

Being a “1689er” myself, I just loved this modern English version of the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, put together by Dr. Stan Reeves of Founders Ministries. Dr. Reeves has stayed true to the original LBC as much as possible, only clarifying and updating archaic verbiage when necessary. (You can compare with the original 1689 version here.) Give The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English a read. You might even want to study the Scriptures it references during your Bible study time.

 

For regular readers, it’s no secret I’m a big fan of Josh Buice and his blog, Delivered by Grace. A few months ago, Josh started adding quizzes to his stellar lineup of blog articles, and I hope he keeps them coming. Quizzes can be a fun and helpful way to get us thinking through various issues and pointing out areas in which we need to study more. Take Josh’s most recent quiz, Biblical People—How Much Do You Know?, and find out how much you know about the people of the Bible. (And click here to check out any previous quizzes you might have missed!)

Parenting

Do You Trust God with Your Kids?: 8 Ways to Parent Your Children Like God “Parents” You

The world can be a scary place if you have kids. There’s the danger of online predators luring kids into meeting them in person. Kids can take inappropriate pictures of themselves or their peers only to have those pictures spread around on the web. Porn sites abound. Drugs and alcohol seem to be easy for kids to come by. There are kidnappers and sex traffickers and child molesters lurking where you least expect them, even in the church. And, society would have us believe, every teenager is having sex.

It’s a blessing from God that there are so many ways to protect our kids. There are all kinds of software locks and blocks and filters you can put on your electronics in order to keep your kids safer when it comes to technology. There are phone apps that allow you to track your child’s location, and do it yourself drug testing kits, and breathalyzer attachments you can put on your car to keep your child from driving drunk. And then there are the more “analog” precautions of keeping the family computer in a common room, scrolling through your child’s phone log every day and asking about each call or text, banning sleepovers, and never letting her spend time alone with friends.

Certainly, we should use wisdom about the activities we let our kids take part in. Maybe some of those locks, blocks, and filters, or restrictions on places she can go and people she can see would be a wise idea for your family, especially if your child has proved herself untrustworthy with the freedom you’ve already given her.

But, increasingly, as I hear Christian parents in a near frenzy about installing multiple security measures on their electronics or the car and making all kinds of restrictions on activities with friends – not to clamp down on a rebellious child, but to prevent children from getting into trouble who have never showed any signs of rebellion – I have to wonder, what’s the foundational mindset here?

Are we putting these safety measures in place because we’ve prayed about it and  believe it’s reasonable, godly wisdom, or are we putting these safety measures in place out of the fear of evil, or because we trust devices and restrictions more than we trust God and our kids? For the Christian, it’s not that it’s wrong or bad to take precautions – indeed, God doesn’t want us to be careless or foolish – it’s the motivation for the precautions we take that we need to examine.

Do we really trust God with our kids, or are we taking matters into our own hands out of fear?

Trusting God can be scary. We can’t see Him, hear Him, or touch Him, and He never promised us a life free from difficult or painful circumstances. It’s much easier and more comforting to our flesh to trust something tangible. Something that guarantees us it’ll do what we want it to do. It reminds me of an event that took place toward the end of King Asa’s life in 2 Chronicles 16.

Asa was one of the good kings of Judah. He “did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment.” (2 Chronicles 14:2-4) But one day, Baasha, king of Israel, came up against Judah. Did Asa cry out to the Lord, trusting Him to help, as he had years before when the Ethiopian army came out against him? No. Asa’s response was to gather up a truckload of silver and gold from the palace and the temple and bribe the king of Syria to break his covenant with Israel and attack them. Instead of fully trusting in the Lord and seeking His help and guidance, Asa took matters into his own hands and attempted to protect Judah with his own strength.

We love our children. We don’t want to see them hurt or fall into sin. We want to do whatever we can to protect them. Those are all good and godly desires of the heart. But we must make sure we are seeking and trusting God and His ways first instead of acting upon our fears and relying on our own strength.

What are God’s ways? How does He “Father” us? How can we imitate our Heavenly Father as we parent?

1. God makes clear that He is the Father and we are the children.
Throughout Scripture, God is crystal clear that He is the one in charge. He made us, He sets the rules, He provides for us, He protects and cares for us, He knows what’s best for us. Because of all this, He instructs us, our responsibility is to be obedient children.

Do you and your children understand that you are the parent? That you are in charge and that they are to obey? That you make the rules and they are to follow them? Are the roles of parent and child clearly defined in your home with a godly authority structure in place?

2. God spells out what He expects from us.
The Bible is chock full of explicit commands. Sometimes God tells us what to do. Sometimes He tells us what not to do. Often, He explains why He is telling us to do or not do a certain thing. We can always rest assured that all of His commands are for our own good, the good of others, and the glory of God, and that they flow out of His great love for us. But God never accepts excuses for disobedience. He expects us to obey.

Have you thoughtfully and prayerfully developed rules for the online and offline activities your child participates in? Have you sat her down and lovingly explained the rules to her, answering any questions she might have? Does she have a clear understanding of what the rules are and how to obey them? Does she grasp your expectation that she will obey the rules without excuses?

3. God warns us of the consequences and dangers of disobedience and the blessings of obedience.
God doesn’t hide the unpleasant truth from us that the wages of sin is death. In fact, He gives us enough of a description of that eternal death to help us understand that we don’t want to go there. He explains that He disciplines those He loves in order to keep them away from sin and harm. But God also reminds us of the blessings of obedience – that it will help us flourish, grow in joy, and bring glory to God.

Have you warned your child of the consequences for disobeying your rules about her activities? Do you carefully and consistently enforce those consequences? Have you explained to her that the reason there are disciplinary consequences for her disobedience is to protect her from danger and sin? It’s neither necessary nor appropriate to go into all of the specific, terrifying details of child trafficking or the disgusting elements of pornography, but our children must have an age-appropriate understanding of the very real dangers that are out there.

And it’s just as important to explain the blessings of obedience to your child: she won’t have to live in fear or in shame, she’ll be protecting her purity for marriage, her health, or her life, her parents will trust her, and she’ll be acting in a way that’s pleasing to God. Maybe you’ll even be more inclined to give her extra privileges.

4. God doesn’t give the consequences before the sin.
Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 with regard to lust:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus doesn’t tell us to gouge out an eye or cut off a hand as a precaution to prevent lust that has not taken place. He tells us to respond to sin with an appropriate consequence.

Is there any way you might be “maiming” your child to prevent her from committing sin – especially sin she’s never shown an interest in or temptation to? Maybe it’s time to reconsider that rule or restriction? Conversely, do you have a child who struggles with a particular sin? She may need your love and your help mortifying that sin by “gouging out the eye” of the internet or “cutting off the hand” of that destructive friendship.

5. God wants our obedience to be motivated by our love for Him.
God doesn’t want us to obey Him because we have an unbiblical view of Him as a mean old ogre and we’re terrified of Him. He also doesn’t want us to obey Him in order to get something from Him, to impress others, or just to go through the motions. God wants us to want to obey Him because we love Him.

Have you fostered an environment of sacrificial love for your children in your home? Do you lay down what you want or how you feel to do what’s best for them? Do you invest time in them, pouring the gospel into them, teaching them God’s Word, and demonstrating that we obey Christ because we love Him? Do you take time to talk and play with your children? Do you tell them you’re proud of them? Discipline them and say no when necessary? Are you generous with hugs, “I love you’s”, and encouragement? Do you encourage them to develop their talents and skills? Having parents who love their children in a godly way doesn’t guarantee obedience, but it does encourage it.

6. God doesn’t micromanage every move we make.
At least not the way humans sometimes micromanage. Have you ever noticed that there are no commands in the Bible like, “Thou shalt wear blue socks every Tuesday,” or “Thou shalt not stay up past 11:38 p.m.”? Regulating every little thing we do isn’t God’s way. He loves us and cares for us, He tells us what He expects from us and the consequences of obeying and disobeying Him, and then He gives us space within those parameters to make decisions that are aligned with His will as revealed in His Word. As long as we’re not violating any of His principles or commands and we’re exercising godly wisdom, it’s fine with Him if we want to wear red socks on Tuesday or stay up until midnight.

Our children need space to make decisions within the confines of the rules we’ve set up, especially children who haven’t given us any reason not to exercise reasonable trust in them. Nitpicking, checking, regulating, and hovering over every little move your child makes is smothering and frustrating to her. It says, “I don’t trust you to do what’s right without constant monitoring from me.”

7. God allows us to fail.
I once read the biography of a girl who went blind. She enrolled in a life skills class at a school for the blind to learn how to navigate the world. During orientation, her counselor showed her around the common room of the dorm she was staying in. The counselor took her hand, placed it on the protruding mantel of the fireplace and said, “This is a sharp corner. You’ll need to watch out for it.” The girl gasped, “That’s dangerous! Why don’t you put some padding on it?”. The counselor replied, “You need to learn to be careful and aware of your surroundings. Nobody’s going to pad the sharp corners of the world for you.”

God doesn’t pad the sharp corners of the world for us, either. He doesn’t put us in a protective little bubble where we’ll never be hurt or fail or sin. He gives us everything we need for life and godliness in His Word and allows us to obey or disobey Him. Even when we fail, give in to temptation, and sin.

Consider that your child needs to learn the skill of facing and resisting temptation on her own. Give her enough age appropriate, situation appropriate freedom to do that – and to fail at it and repent – in the spiritual safety of your home. One day you won’t be there to put a lock on the computer. God will hold her responsible for her own sin. Will your child have developed the spiritual strength to say no to temptation when there’s nobody to stop her?

8. God is always there.
He’s not a “helicopter parent,” but He’s always there to listen to us, help us, nurture us, and be our Wonderful Counselor and Everlasting Father.

If you are a parent, job one is not your career, it’s parenting. Generally speaking (yes, there are sometimes exceptions and exigent circumstances), that means, Mom, your primary vocation is to raise your own children. Don’t just assume you have to work outside the home. Pray fervently for God to make a way for you to raise your children. Be creative and look for ways to get out of the workforce and get home. Slash every possible expense. Move. Eat at home. Home school instead of private school. Sell a vehicle. Bargain hunt. Find a way to earn money from home. Make the effort. Your children don’t just need any random person to raise them, they need you.

 

Are we imitating our Heavenly Father in the way we parent? Do we cry out to Him for wisdom in the rules and restrictions we set for our children, trusting Him to help us and to protect our children? Or do we live in fear of what might happen, worrying and trying to protect our children in our own strength?

As much as we’d like to sometimes, we can’t build walls around our children to protect them from every sin or from anything bad ever happening to them. That is not how God deals with us. He loves, cares, and provides for us. He disciplines us appropriately when we need it. He clearly spells out what He expects from us. He warns us of the dangers and consequences of disobedience and teaches us the blessings of obedience. It’s then up to us to decide whether we love Him enough to obey Him, or if we’d rather go our own way.

Do we parent our children like God “parents” us?