Family and Children

By In Family and Children

Worship and the Act of Parental Discipline

Liturgy is grounded in acts. Every act leads to another act. In liturgy, skipping to a meal before being cleansed (washing of hands) is improper. Liturgy requires table manners. The liturgy shapes us. In particular, the Lord’s Day liturgy has a way of forming us into obedient children of the Most High God. The goal of biblical liturgy is to make us vessels of the gospel as parents and children. Liturgy is order and decency (I Cor. 14:40). This is one reason structure is so crucial to the Church, and more to the point this is one reason structure is so significant to the life of the home. A home that lacks structure is a home that lacks a well-thought out liturgy. I am not advocating perfection. Any parent who has been a parent for any amount of time knows that there is always work to be done. Parenting does not work within a 9-5 boundary marker.

This is why it is important to grasp the nature of liturgy. Its nature will indicate its purpose. The liturgy of the people of God is a holy one, and those principles which are generally fixed as we gather as God’s family are principles that can be applied to our homes also.

Worship establishes patterns of behavior. In general categories, we could summarize the nature of worship in three acts: First, we are a) cleansed, then we are b) taught, and finally we are c) commissioned. This is a synopsis of a covenant renewal model. When you apply this pattern to child-rearing you realize it is a sober method of disciplining.

First, children need to understand that they have sinned against God (Ps. 51) and against one another. Children need to confess and be cleansed. Children’s ability to understand sin is far greater than we can imagine. Part of this cleansing process is the presupposition that all sin is communal. No sin affects only self.  Children are born and baptized for the sake of incorporation. It is the individualist that prefers to see his sins as isolated. But sin in the home hurts the shalom of the house. When sins are individualized parents develop a faulty view of discipline. When a daughter sins, a father’s response should not be to simply discipline her and let it go, rather it is incumbent upon him to explain to the child (briefly) how her sins affect those around her; how her selfishness provided a poor example for her siblings; how her ungratefulness trivializes the generosity of God to our family. When a child sins he needs to see his acts in the context of his community. His sins are not merely exposed, but explained in a broader context than himself.

Secondly, the task of parenting then follows in teaching. This is didactic parenting. All parents are home-schoolers in one way or another. I am assuming here the role of nurturing and building up as part of the instruction.  As I mentioned above the act of discipline needs to be followed up by some explanation. Discipline and words of instruction need to go hand in hand, especially when dealing with little ones. The instruction needs to be age appropriate and biblically saturated, even if the verse is not quoted verbatim. Teaching needs to be done calmly and with great patience. The impatience of our children often reveals our impatience. In the same manner, our impatience in instructing our children reveals our impatience to instruct others as well. If we are not capable of explaining the consequences of sins to the least of them how will we explain the consequences of sin to those who are more maturely aware of them?

Under this training, parents need to be also aware of the need to communicate love to our children. The Christian faith is wholistic. If we end simply in the didactic, we may be training little machines to respond appropriately. But though it is often assumed under nurture, parents sometimes forget that physical affection is needed. A I wrote in The Trinitarian Father, children must feel our presence as well as our affection towards them. Jesus comforted his disciples when he commissioned them. He told them that his authority is sufficient for them to fulfill their task. Parents must hug, kiss, and reveal to their children that parental training includes more than mere words, but actions; actions that will leave a lasting impression as they are commissioned to fulfill their call day by day.

Finally, the parenting liturgy concludes with commission. The father/mother after having cleansed and instructed the child, the parent now sends the child out to go and sin no more. This commission stems from the previous steps. Commissioning is the call to be reconciled to the world, beginning with our households. When Jesus grew he grew in favor with God and man. When our sins are confessed we are not only made right with God, but we are called to be reconciled with others. Children are also called to be ambassadors of peace.

Parenting is always liturgical. A make-up-as-you-go liturgy will cause certain effects on the liturgy of the home. I argue that every child needs structure. This is not a never-adjusting structure, but a foundational structure. Liturgy is nothing more than the structure of life.<>siteпродвижение через интернет

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By In Family and Children

Are You Raising Fat-Souled Children? Part II

GK 1This is a continuation of a post I started yesterday. If you have not read that one, I would encourage you to do so before reading this one.

  • Show your children lots of physical affection. Hug them. Kiss them. Wrestle with them. Tickle them. Lay in bed with them at night as you put them to sleep.  The physical matters to God. He will raise our bodies from the grave, not just our souls. Your children need to know that you love them through physical touch. By the way, this doesn’t go away when they become teenagers.
  • Learn to enjoy and participate in sports. Sports such as basketball, golf, tennis, running, rock climbing, swimming, fishing, etc. are great for the body and the soul. In our culture, these things have become idols so we are tempted to write them off entirely. This is a mistake. Our family plays basketball. We go on long hikes. We fish. We swim a lot in the summer. We run around and play tag when they are little and throw the football when they are big. Sports teach us so many things: how to endure pain, how to recognize our weaknesses and strengths, how to work together, how to lose, how to win, and how you can out there and give it your all and still come up short. I am not necessarily encouraging organized league sports, although that is fine.  But find some way to get it in.
  • Read to your children a lot, especially fiction and poetry.  I do not know the science of this, but I do know that good fiction helps to make us fat souled. I know that poetry, whether it is Mother Goose or Shakespeare helps our souls put on another layer of the good stuff. Read to them Treasure Island, Beowulf, Johnny Tremain, Time of Wonder, Blueberries for Sal, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, etc. History is great as well.  Give them great stories whether true or fictional.
  • Give music a prominent place in your home. This should include singing Psalms and hymns. But it could also include U2,  Johnny Cash, Bach, Mozart, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King and if you are feeling particularly frisky, The Ramones. We must be careful of course. There is a lot of trash out there. But music makes us fat- souled. We should also teach our children to play instruments. One of my great regrets (and my wife’s) is that I never learned to sing or play music. I am glad my children will not suffer the same deficit.
  • Tell jokes, read funny stories, watch comedies, and laugh a lot. At our house we read Calvin and Hobbes and Peanuts. We watch older comedies that do not have the junk of newer ones. I love Far Side comics. My sons and daughters are always trying to make up new puns or funny stories to tell, usually with their stuffed animals that look like they have been run over several times. Laughter should be heard regularly. Teach your children to laugh at themselves. Fat souls laugh a lot, especially at themselves. We look funny, act funny, and funny things happen to us. Sometimes we are the butt of the joke. And that means as a parent you must learn to laugh at yourself.
  • Teach them to delight in the world God has made. When there is a thunderstorm at my house we usually go out on the deck to see it unfold. What power and majesty!  When there is full moon we take a peek out our windows. My boys feed fireflies to their toads and the fireflies glow in their mouths until they are dead. We collect snakes and spiders and flowers and weird shaped sticks. We watch Shark Week on Netflix and laugh at the evolution, while standing slack jawed at the sharks. We come back from the library with books on alligators and crocodiles and insects you hope you never meet. Have you ever looked at Surinam Toad? You should. Google it. And remember God made it that way. Fat-souled children love the world God has made.
  • Feed your children well. I am not encouraging gluttony. But often a lean dinner table produces lean souls. Sacrifice so they can be well fed. I have four sons between 8 and 14. They eat like horses and show no signs of slowing down. I can grumble about the cost. My wife could grumble about how quickly her labor over the stove is consumed. But does God grumble when he feeds the world (Psalm 104)? Also, teach your children to feast.  On occasion, pull out the nice dishes, put on the nice clothes, pop the cork on some good wine and eat, drink and be merry, preferably with friends. The end of our life is a feast. Give your children a taste of it now.
  • Enter into the joys and pains of your children. Play with your children. Get excited over the painting that is cannot be interpreted or the story you have heard seventeen times already.  Bend down and look them in the eye. Build Legos with them. Color with them. When they hurt weep with them. Don’t make them wimps or flatter them with false praise. But too often we sit back in a proud posture while our children suffer or rejoice. Enter into their life.

Most of these things do not require much money (except for feeding teenagers), but they do require time. We cannot have fat-souled children if we do not feed them with our time and energy. Is this not the problem with raising children who delight in God and his world?  Is this not the reason why so many of us give up and let their souls wither and die? It is hard work. But remember hard work produces fat souls.

What are some things you do to feed the souls of your children?<> ы копирайтинга отзывыпозиция а в гугле

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By In Family and Children

Are You Raising Fat-Souled Children? Part I

TR 1

I am not sure where I picked up the idea of fat-souled children. It could have been Angels in the Architecture.  It may have been an article in one of the obscure periodicals I read. But the image has stuck with me. Just to clarify, the image in my mind is not some fat, lazy, bum living in his mother’s basement playing Halo. The image in my mind is one of contentedness and delight: My father napping in his easy chair after Thanksgiving dinner. My wife and I slipping into bed tired, but content after a hard day’s work. Sipping beer on the back deck after chopping fire wood. Finishing a large project. Spending the Lord’s Day with God’s people. Reading Beowulf in the dead of winter. These are a few of the images that come to my mind when I think of fat souls. My next two articles list ways I think we can raise fat-souled children, children who are content, who take joy in all God has done, who are not petty and dour.

The opposite of fat-souled would be lean, gaunt, under nourished, dying.   When people see me do they see a  soul  overflowing with God’s goodness? Or do they see a dead withered tree that has no sap and no fruit?  Many Christians have entered into the abundant life our Lord speaks of and yet their souls are barren, dead, joyless places.  With this list I hope to give us and our children a path out of that type of life and into a place of fatness.

There are some points to make before I get to the list.

First, you cannot have fat-souled children if you are not growing a fat soul yourself. A fat-souled person loves God, delights in God, and delights in the world God has made and the people he has put here. If you are not working to become that type of person then your children will not look like that either. All instruction concerning children begins with “parent teach  thyself.” This one is no exception.

Second, these are not instructions for making a machine that churns out fat-souled children. In other words, it is possible to do many of these things and still not have fat-souled children. We can take these things and use them to beat our children, go through the motions or do these things without love and joy.  As in all of life, there are no automatics. But the things I list below, done in faith and love for God and neighbor, can help your children not have withered souls.

Third, I am not an expert at most of these things. Some I do better than others. Some I am still terrible at. Some I am learning to do better. I fall short of this many days and my children do as well. I make no claim to mastery of these points. The list is a sermon to myself and a target to aim at.

So without further ado, on to the list. The first four are the most important. After that I just put them down as they came to my mind.

  • Pray that God would make your children fat-souled. Pray that they would not be petty or shallow or self-absorbed.  It is true that God alone works on the heart, thus prayer is essential.
  • Teach your children they are sinners. Then teach them that all of their sins are forgiven in Christ. Nothing, absolutely nothing, frees the soul like Jesus. Nothing frees the mind from anxiety like God’s goodness shown to us at the cross. Without Jesus our souls are lean indeed.
  • Teach your children about God’s character. Tell them about his holiness, his wrath, his mercy, his providence, his kindness, his chastening rod, etc. Teach them through the study of Scripture, but also teach them through your life.
  • Teach your children to worship with joy and gladness of heart. This includes the private worship of reading the Scriptures and prayer. But I am especially talking about corporate worship. Fat-souled children need worship that feeds them. They need to know they are meeting with God and his people every Sunday. They need to know that they were made to bow before God.
  • Teach your children to enjoy hard work. Hard work makes us fat-souled. Both blisters on our hands from raking leaves and weariness of mind from doing research can help make fat souls. Do hard work together. Your children should learn to work by themselves. But they should also learn to work as a family. Build something together. Make a meal together for someone who needs it. Improve your house by laboring together on a project. Even if the little ones cannot help much let them participate where they can. Make your home a place of productivity and not just consumption.
  • Teach your children to love all types of people. Show them how to love babies and the elderly  and everyone in between. Teach them how to love the quirks in their brothers and sister and to delight in the differences between families. Look that family loves to play the accordion.  That man wears his ties too short every Sunday. Too often we disdain differences instead of rejoicing in them. Find ways to help your children meet other nationalities and people from other areas of the country (except California :-)).   There are wicked people out there. There are stupid people out there. But do not raise your children to be suspicious of everyone they meet or to be uncomfortable around different people.  Teach your children that people are fascinating. And that means you, as the parent, must delight and rejoice in your child’s quirks. You must find them fascinating.

To be continued…<>разместить рекламу в интернете

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By In Family and Children

More Mouths to Feed

by Luke Welch

We worship God for his glory, and glory means he is ever overflowing with beauty, truth, and goodness. We go to him with praise, because that’s where all the praise worthy stuff is. And when we get there, the glory of God isn’t a mere morsel that we would consume if we tasted it. The glory of God is like the feast of a great chef. If you heard the finest chef was presenting his most triumphant culinary successes to you – you would go. You would go with your fork in hand. Hunger would be a virtue, and wide eyes would be welcome. Wanting what the maker gives would be a praise to the maker.

You have begun going to this chef all the time for his manna, and for his fish, and for his loaves, and for his oil. And over time you have realized that you can take as much food as you can eat, and that at the end of every feast there are twelve baskets of leftovers. Not even a myriad munchers can out consume the service of such a chef. He never runs out, and it is as if at his right hand are delicacies forevermore. As if. (more…)

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